The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Samsung Galaxy Note Lightning Review: Wait, Who Ordered This?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Great technologies are often met with the response "I never knew I wanted that!" So, uhm, here's the Samsung Galaxy Note! It will only fit in raverpants, and its trademark feature is a stylus. Well, we certainly never knew we wanted those features... but do we?

What Is It?

Big-ass smartphone? Or teeny-tiny tablet?

Who's it For?

Giant-handed peeps, stylus-loving scribblers, and media eaters.


The obvious bit first: It's frickin' big for a phone. Other than that, it looks like every other tablet: a rectangle of glass. It's surprisingly thin, especially given that there's a stylus jammed into it. Feels a little plasticky though—too bad that that's becoming Samsung's rep.


Using It

The UI is laggy, but the pen is actually kind of fun—maybe it's the novelty factor of using an outdated technology on a modern product? It's also buggy.


The Best Part

Big, beautiful Super AMOLED HD screen.

Tragic Flaw

When you are trying to justify putting a pen in your phone, you need to nail that biddy. Samsung didn't: The stylus misses way too many touches,

This Is Weird...

Stylus doesn't work on capacitive home keys.

Test Notes

-Though the TouchWiz UI lags a bit, the Note performs pretty well once your app is launched.
-Despite the very large battery, I still had to charge up in the middle of the day—the gigantic screen and the LTE radio bled the phone dry.
-You want to have your finger on the S-Pen's button so you can grab a screencap or to bring up S Memo, but if you accidentally press the button (and you will—it has a bit of a hair trigger) the stylus stops writing.
-The S-Pen's is so short and thin that it's actually hard to hold. It's like trying to write with a bamboo skewer.
-Not being able to use the pen on the the capacitive buttons is extremely annoying.
-Camera takes excellent photos and video (as you can see in the gallery). Certainly on par with the Galaxy S II. BUT, the shutter is insanely slow. Like often more than a second between when you hit the button and when it takes the shot (even after focus was set).
-The pen is supposed to differentiate between hundreds of levels of pressure. I'd say there's more like... 8. When you're pressing very lightly it doesn't sense the touch at all.
-Handwriting recognition was terrible.


Should You Buy It?

Only if you have giant hands, bad eyesight, and watch an imperial crapton of video on your phone.


UPDATE: When this article originally published there was a problem with the specs box and Giz Rank. The actual rank is 2.5 stars. My apologies to Samsung and our readers for the mistake.

Samsung Galaxy Note
• Network: AT&T
• OS: Android 2.3 Gingerbread
• CPU: 1.5-GHz Dual-core Snapdragon processor
• Screen: 5.3-inch 800 x 1280 pixel LCD
• RAM: 1GB
• Storage: 32GB + up to 32GB microSD
• Price: $300 w/ 2-year contract, $650 w/o
• Giz Rank: 2.5 stars