Samsung showed its new Note smartphone today at IFA, just 12 months after it showed the Galaxy Tab to great acclaim, and when history judges the 5.3" supersized smartphone it just might play a much greater role in the development of the personal computer form factor. The incorporation of a stylus and the 1280×800 high-resolution Super AMOLED screen give the thin Android phone additional functionality by way of both sketching and note-taking and when Gizmag's Tim Hanlon tried the phone with its 1.4GHz dual-core processor, he's now thinking of trading in his Galaxy SII.
"It might look like the awkward stepchild of a phone and tablet, but as soon as I went from my iPhone to the Galaxy SII, I became used to the additional screen-size instantly", said Tim.
"My old iPhone now seems like a toy compared to the SII and although the 5.3 inch Note looks awkward, it just might be indispensable once you get used to it. It is bigger than the Galaxy SII, but because it's thin, at 9.65mm, it's still small enough to slip into my jeans pocket."
"I wasn't crazy about the note taking feature as there was a slight lag, but it's likely to be a lot quicker than typing for a lot of people. The Note also loads web pages very quickly, and the camera seems much snappier than the Samsung Galaxy SII."
"It's funny, but I think the odd form factor is the type of thing that people might mock until they try it, then they'll have their opinion turned around like mine was. I pull out my iPad or laptop noticeably less with the Galaxy SII in my pocket, and I expect this would be amplified significantly if I had a Note...and although the Note won't replace my iPad, it will probably replace my Galaxy SII."
"Last but not least, it's surprisingly comfortable to use as a phone."
Computer research done on desktop computers has shown many times that the amount of screen real estate is almost directly proportional to productivity, so it may well be that the 5.3" HD Super AMOLED display offers considerable productivity advantages over existing smartphones.
Samsung also demonstrated two apps which leverage the Note's large screen and are sure to be sought after. One is the S Planner, a cross between a personal organizer and a management planning tool which integrates a To-Do list and schedule and will make a very useful life organizer. The other is a multimedia app named S Memo, which can take any form of user-created content (pictures, voice recordings, typed text, handwritten notes and sketches) and combine them in a memo which can be edited, annotated and shared. Those two apps alone will make the Note a very useful tool.
There's also a really easy-to-use screen-capture which means you can capture any screen and make notes on it before being filing or sharing - a genuinely useful tool .
There are several other trump cards associated with the Note. Firstly, its connectivity speed is exceptional as it has both HSPA+ and LTE, making it fast enough to stream video in real-time or participate in online gaming.
The other is via the use of Juniper Networks' Junos Pulse SSL VPN which enables secure remote access to corporate networks. This last one could prove to be a killer app as large enterprises have until now had very little choice in the smartphone arena and the SSL Virtual Private Network meets high-volume secure access and authorization requirements. By offering a smartphone that enables IT managers to centralize control and protect corporate data, Samsung has produced a device which can finally go head-to-head with the iPhone.
The Note will also no doubt sidestep most of Apple's legal complaints about "look and feel" too, as it's entirely different to either the iPad or iPhone and hence it looms as a real competitor to both as Apple is unlikely to be able to block its arrival in the marketplace.
The Note has enough smarts to significantly influence the form factor of the personal computer once more.