Samsung Galaxy Note: Half Phone, Half Tablet

Dennis Faas's picture

Just when you thought you understood the difference between notebooks, netbooks, tablets and smartphones, Samsung has come up with a totally new device: it's a phone with a 5.3-inch display, which may make it the biggest smartphone ever released.

The Samsung Galaxy Note bridges the gap between smartphones and tablets. To put its size into perspective, most smartphones have a 3.5-inch screen, most tablet computer screens range from the RIM (Research in Motion) PlayBook's 7-inches to the Apple iPad's 10-inch display.

The new "phablet" (phone / tablet) will be sold in the same way as a smartphone: it will cost $299, but users will need to sign a two-year contract with AT&T.

There won't be any provision for buying the device outright and using it solely via WiFi. (Source:

Built-In Stylus Allows Picture Editing

Aside from the larger screen, the main difference between the Galaxy Note and other, ordinary smartphones is that it includes a stylus, which slots into the device itself when not in use.

The stylus allows users to make handwritten notes the device converts into text, drawings, and commands for carrying out basic image editing tasks, such as for tidying up or cropping photos taken with its built-in camera. (Source:

Another feature of the larger display is a split-screen mode, supporting two applications running at the same time, each taking up half the screen.

The split-screen mode could be handy for, as an example, writing an email while referring to a document or a website. However, in split screen mode the display space available for each app will be fairly small.

The device runs Google's Android operating system. That's a good choice for this device, as Android is specifically designed so that applications can work on varying screen sizes.

Potential Audience Remains Uncertain

Whether the device sells well or not will depend on whether Samsung has correctly identified a gap in the market.

Samsung believes there are lots of people who'd like to use a larger screen, but don't want the expense of buying and running both a smartphone and a tablet.

On the other hand, users may conclude the Galaxy Note is an unsatisfactory compromise: an expensive and bulky smartphone that's too small to offer the pleasurable browsing experience of a full-size tablet.

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