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TAG | Samsung Galaxy Note

Where to start when reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Note really is a no brainer… the size! It is 5.7 inches high and 3.2 inches wide with a 5.3 inch screen. It not only looks big but feels big fueling the argument whether it is in fact a phone or a tablet. If you class a phone as being able to use in one hand well then the Note is a tablet! It is in the same class as the Dell Streak whatever that class is, is up to you!

On The Outside
The front holds the 2mp camera and a couple of proximity sensors next to the slot for the speaker on the top, to the bottom is a single square physical button used as a home button, either side of this are touch buttons, menu on the left and back on the right. These light up when the device is active.

Top edge of the phone has a built in mic for noise cancellation and also the 3.5mm headphone jack. I personally prefer the jack to be on the bottom of my phone but most samsungs keep them on top. With the supplied earphones you can also control the volume from the remote on the earphone cable.

The right side edge has your power button again a samsung standard, which I think is an excellent position, although on this big phone a small hand my struggle to get to grips with it!
Bottom edge to the right there is the pen stylus, it slides into the phone and discreetly clicks into place. (more on that later) The micro usb port is also on the bottom, smack bang in the middle.
Left side, up near the top we have the standard issue rocker style volume buttons.
On the back face at the top there is the 8mp camera and a single LED light for the camera flash, at the bottom we have a little grid behind which is the microphone.

Build Quality
For its size the Note is pretty light weight, in fact the battery is the main culprit for the any extra weight gain. With light weight comes a feeling of poor build quality… which is a shame as its’ not terribly bad, sure, you have the flimsy plastic back like the samsung galaxy s2, which is and always has been questionable but to me its functional and acceptable when its traded for weight.
The back is secure but easily removable to gain access to the battery, Sim card and the micro SD card. Its a plastic body with a shiney/metaly surround again it’s ok but it still lacks the spark of class an iPhone has. One thing it does share with the iPhone with regards to quality is the screen, both have Gorilla Glass, but the Samsung Galaxy Note has a alot more Gorilla!

The SCREEN it’s 5.3 inches! Boom big, truly amazingly big, bright and sharp, without doubt the best feature of the phone. Contrast is excellent and colours are vibrant. Its takes a while to adjust to its size but once you get used to it you’ll love it and use nothing less!

A bigger screen of course means a bigger keyboard… in portrait mode the keyboard is almost as spacious as any normal sized phones landscape keyboard, its a joy to use… chubby fingers have a friend here. Turn it to landscape mode and your thumbs get great exercise as they stretch across the glass!

The camera, is said to be as good if not better than the latest iPhone’s… I’m not going to argue! At 8 MP it packs a punch and is loaded to the hilt with different setting options, flick the button and you’re on to HD quality video, combine the camera with the beautiful screen and its almost like looking straight through the phone the image quality is very impressive.
The one led flash is adequate, a nice touch is the ability to leave the flash turned on during video recording giving light if you are recording in the dark.

The stylus… purest such as Jobs would sigh to see a phone with a built in stylus, why do you need a stylus when you have 10 on the end of your hands? Jobs would ask.
Well it depends on what you use the phone for I suppose, Samsung are pushing the Note’s ability to take notes…! surprise surprise. For this the stylus is good, its a quick option if you want to jot down a few random thoughts or draw a sketch perhaps as a reminder, pull out the stylus, tap the screen and draw away. For quick notes it’s better than typing. the stylus also has a number of buttons for added flexibility. What you need to remember with this stylus is that it’s not the same as the ones of yesteryear, the Note has a capacitive screen making it very responsive and the stylus thrives allowing pressure sensitive interaction.

On The Inside
The note has some slight differences in its OS compared to the standard samsung software, it runs on the Android 2.3 platform but Samsung have spruced it up and added a number of extra apps to enhance the usability of the Note. Some say the extra software is bloat ware and can be a strain on the resources of the phone, either way, most of the apps can be removed!
Rumors at the moment lean towards the Galaxy Note soon getting Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) which will be nice.
As for processing power, a dual core 1.4 GHz Cortex processor is well able to handle the OS, its nifty and reactive just as you’d expect. 1GB of Ram will suffice.
Internal storage options are 16 or 32GB depending of the model you buy and the micro SD is expandable to 32GB.

Battery life
A standard battery for a 3.5 to 4.3 inch screen phone is about 1400 mAh, the samsung note holds a 2500mAh battery and every milliamp is needed. It’ll take about 110 minutes to charge from empty to 100% and I’m guessing this baby will need to be charged during the day if you are a heavy user. 5.3 inches is a lot of screen to power!

All in All
Get the full specs for the Galaxy Note. If you can handle the size and rein in the heavy usage its a great option for a phone. Enough said!

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Every year the bar is raised and new leaps in technology push our Android expectations higher. 2012 promises to be no different. This list explores some of the delights we have to look forward to in the coming 12 months.

Sony Xperia S
Sony Xperia S
The Sony Xperia S was unveiled at CES 2012 and will be released in the UK in March of this year. This phone is shipped with a 4.3 inch LED display, 1.5 GHz dual core processor and a 12 mega pixel camera. The Xperia S will not ship with Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), but an update to Androids latest OS is expected early in 2012.
The Sony Xperia S is a great looking phone with good specifications out of the box and many users will be enticed by the predicted low pricing point, which will drop throughout the year. Some hardcore speed freaks may opt for other manufacturers promising Quad-Core processor phones later in 2012.

Motorola Droid 4
Motorola Droid 4

Fans of smartphones with a qwerty keyboard will be happy to fest their eyes on this little beauty. The Motorola Droid 4 is a surprisingly thin phone considering it’s hiding a keyboard underneath the screen. A keyboard which has been receiving rave reviews and is said to have a similar feel to that of a laptop keyboard.
The Droid 4 has impressive specs to boot. With a vivid 4 inch touchscreen, 1.2Ghz dual core processor, 8 megapixel camera and 16 GB internal storage you wont be left wanting. The Droid 4 is a great offering from Motorola and will be shipped with Android’s Gingerbread OS. Motorola has stated that this phone will receive an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich in the second quarter of 2012.

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
The Droid Razar Maxx boasts similar specifications to it’s qwerty keyboard cousin, including processor and memory, but obviously minus the qwerty keyboard. The phones look very similar in their general design and feel.
The standout feature of this phone is the 3300 mAh Li Ion battery which the manufacturer says gives up to 21.5 hours of talk time. These manufacturer numbers have always been somewhat over exaggerated but with this claim one must stand up and take notice. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone and you’re sick of your current device’s battery dying just as you pound that paper toss, this should be a consideration for you.

Samsung Galaxy Note

Samsung Galaxy Note
The Samsung Galaxy Note is, in a word, a monster! It looks big and feels BIG in the hand. Which is not surprising as it boasts a 5.3 inch touch screen. This phone appears to be an inbred cousin of a tablet and a phone. It seems confused and I’m guessing it lays awake at night wondering….’Am I a tablet, or a smartphone’? Another result of this inbreeding is the stylus pen, which may suggest a form of mutilation has occurred from the mammy tablet / daddy smartphones nasty hi-jinks.
I’d almost feel pity for this sorry lump, but it needs no pity from me or anyone else. The specs on the Galaxy note are top notch and the screen is amazingly clear. If you want your phone to be a portable cinema in your pocket this could be for you. But be warned, it feels like you have an actual cinema in your pocket, no exaggeration!

Samsung Galaxy S Blaze
Samsung Galaxy S Blaze
This is yet another Samsung phone coming under the Galaxy umbrella, and it’s promising to be kick ass. As usual this Galaxy phone has great specs including a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S3, and a Super AMOLED display. Screen size and resolution are yet unknown.
There’s a distinct lack of information available on this phone. We do know its coming in 2012 (whop di doo), and that it will feature on T-Mobile in the US. Apart from that we just have to sit tight and keep entertained watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

LG Spectrum

One of the best features of this phone is the excellent display, which is not surprising considering LG’s background . The phone ships with 4GB of internal storage, with room for expansion up to 32GB. A dual-core 1.5 GHz Scorpion processor adds to the appeal of this upper end phone. As with many phones on this list the LG Spectrum will ship with Gingerbread and an upgrade to ICS is expected by June of this year.
But hold your horses… theres bad news! As with other manufactures using the Android platform, LG has made some modifications, many of which we feel are unnecessary. For example the app’s list is split into several categories which makes finding an app a painful process for you and your finger.
Looking and feeling this phone did not stir emotion in my pants and left a feeling of middle aged complacency when I was wishing for youth and happiness. I’d recommend buying this phone after the entry price drops and when your granny is feeling generous.

Kyocera Speaker-less Smartphone (Prototype)

Kyocera Speaker-less Smartphone (Prototype)
Its good to see a phone maker pushing the boundaries of what’s currently expected from smartphones. The Kyocera Speaker-less smartphone sends vibrations into your ear canal which vibrate your ear-drum / bone and causes your brain to intemperate the sound.

The benefits of this system include:

  • Increased ability to hear the phone in a crowed place, or somewhere with a high level of background noise.
  • Beneficial to people who are hearing impaired.
  • Reduced battery consumption.
  • Reduced damage on eardrum.

At this point it’s hard to say if this innovative and new technology will make it onto mainstream handsets, just keep your ‘ears’ pealed for further updates.

Lenovo S2
Lenova S2
The Lenove S2 is designed with supple rounded edges which, at first glance, make it similar to the the Google Nexus S. But that’s where the similarities end. This chunky monkey ships with Gingerbread inside its big belly. Lenovo have decided to modify the Android OS and have added several skins to ‘enhance user experience’. I’m not going to comment on these modifications, but some might say the added skins could be described by a word that starts with S and sounds like Pucks.

The Lenono’s spec’s are, well, adequate. The 3.8 inch screen does offer a good alternative to the smaller handed folk  of the world. This phone may be to someones taste, but for me too much salt has been added to the cake.

Polaroid’s SC1630

At what point is a phone more of a camera than a phone? Well seeing that Polariod are now bringing out a camera with the Android operating system I think we can safely say the line is well and truly blurred. The device sports a 16MP camera for pictures and HD quality video. it has 3x  optical zoom and a 5x digital zoom  with a built in flash. As a phone it has a 3.2 inch screen and the usual 3G radio, wifi, bluetooth etc.

Polorid have added their own version of Android and there are reports of lags, hopefully these will be ironed out by the released date of April. For me the look is the best thing about this phote it hints back at 70’s camera with the black cracked vinyl and its great to see the polaroid logo on some mod technology. One question though… will you look odd with a camera held to your ear as you walk down the street?

Motorola DEFY+ JCB Edition


Builders and phones do not mix, that is a fact!! Show me a builder or painter or anybody who works on a building site and I’ll show you a phone battered and abused to within an inch of its digital existence, (John Crean’s phone comes to mind). But fear not Motorola may have a solution… they teamed up with JCB give us a very rugged looking Motorola DEFY. Not only have JCB added their “patented visco-elastic protective sleeve” to bulk up the phone, extra apps have been added to give you a Toolbox on your phone. Apps such as a spirit level, a torch, a decibel meter and even a theodolite, which sounds pretty cool.

Fujitsu’s ARROWS µ F-07D

Fujitsu Arrows µF07D.

Ok its got a strange name thats for sure and looks may not be to everybody’s liking but Fujitsu’s ARROWS µ F-07D has got some very unique features and a great spec. Starting with a 4 inch screent he smartphone also has a 1.4 Snapdragon processor, pretty nifty! Throw in 512MB RAM and a 1GB ROM and it’ll be a flyer. What sets it apart I hear you ask….? Well its waterproof! and only 6.7mm thick… also has the latest e-wallet functionality otherwise known as near field communications (NFC) and I did say its unique… Fujitsu have added a digital tv tuner just just for good measure, not sure it it’ll pick up saorview though!

Samsung Galaxy Y

Samsung Galaxy Y

Most android users will be familiar with Samsung and their range of Galaxy smart phones, for 2012 Samsung are bringing an economy version to their Galaxy family. Enter the Samsung Galaxy Y. Economy means cheap, in the states you can get this for €129 on a prepay package, no doubt this baby will be renamed/rebranded and launched in most every other nether region of the world, bringing Android bargain basement bitesize phones to the masses, but be warned, with low price comes low specs… and you cant get much lower than a 3 inch screen on a smartphone, needle fingers are the ready! that said it has all the usual android functions and hardware including GPS, Wi-Fi, bluetooth etc. Not quite throw away prices but it’s getting there!

HTC Velocity 4G

HTC Velocity 4G

Also known as the HTC Raider 4G in the USA the Velocity 4G is available now in Australia. It is the first 4G smartphone on any Oz network and this one packs a punch. A huge 4.5 inch screen with a 1.5GHz dual core processor it’s a top notch high end smartphone. The Velocity 4G is an example of the type of phones which will become more popular as 4G networks take hold in the USA and around the world, big screens deserve better quality meaning more bandwidth! It launches with Android 2.3 Gingerbread but undoubtedly the ice cream sandwich update will become available for it.

Spice Mi-350n

Spice MI-350n

Sugar n’ Spice… is it all things nice…? Well considering the price bracket this phone is targeted at that being similar to the Samsung Galaxy Y it’s not a bad bit of kit at all. You have a slightly bigger screen than the Y at 3.5 inches (still small by all  accounts though) and you have the dual sim functionality which is not an option on the Y. Design wise I quite like it although it may not be to everybody’s tastes… the aluminium body makes it somewhat chunky but gives it he feeling of being well built. It also has a rubber surround offereing a sung fit in your hand.

HTC Ville

HTC Ville

HTC have let things slip in recent times with regards phone design, allowing Samsung to swoop in. The Galaxy S II being the one of the best phones currently on the market, fullstop. HTC will want something special to claw back customers… the HTC Ville might just do that! Immediately you’ll notice the VIlle is extremely thin at only 8mm its thinner than the iPhone 4s but also the Samsung Galaxy S II, not an easy feat of engineering! Early rumors suggest you’ll get a 4.3 inch screen, Icecream sandwich, 1.5GHz dual core processor and an 8MP rear facing camera with a flash and not a single flimsy plastic back in sight! This phone really will be one to watch

Huawei Blaze (U8510 IDEOS X3)

Huawei Blaze U8510 IDEOS-X3

Huawei, a manufacturer you think you’ve never heard of but the name looks eerily familiar… thats because Huawei have been, for a number of years been making USB internet dongles and phones but the products are rebranded with your service provider’s logos. Now they have decided to launch their own phone, the Blaze and are planning of being among the top 5 mobile manufacturers in the US. The specs for the blaze are decent, given its very affordable pricing range. It has a 3.2 inch screen and robust feeling exterior, the 600MHz comfotably runs Android’s gingerbread. Sound quality lets this phone down somewhat but at a price of about €80 some things can be easily forgotten

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