For a while now I’ve been very keen to get my hands on Samsung’s phone/tablet hybrid, the Galaxy Note and the lovely folks at Three and Brando have duly obliged once again by loaning me one for a couple of weeks so here are my thoughts…..
The first thing you notice about the Galaxy Note is the sheer size of it, the Note has a 5.3” screen but once you actually start using it you soon get used to it although you do look a little ridiculous holding it to your ear to make/receive a call! It does pass the all important “can you put it in a trouser pocket and still sit down” test as well I’m glad to say!
With regards to the screen, as with most Samsung phones it is stunning, a Super AMOLED screen with truly bright and vivid colours, no complaints on that. Being a phone/tablet hybrid, the Note comes with a stylus, the S-Pen, this can be used with Samsung’s note-taking app, S Memo, for writing notes, drawing maps even creating works of art! The stylus is comfortable to hold and responsive.
The Note comes with an 8MP back camera and a 2MP front camera, the 8MP camera is not quite as good as the camera on my iPhone 4S (in my opinion the best mobile phone camera there is) but still very impressive.
The screen also lends itself very well to browsing full websites rather than mobile versions which is great as you get to see the site the way it was meant to be and they look fantastic too!
A feature I did like is that it comes pre-installed with what I consider to be the best and most intuitive Android keyboard around, Swype, a nice touch.
As with most Android phones I’ve tried, the battery life is not great, with moderate use it will almost certainly run down before the end of the day and am sure that if I went on a day trip somewhere and used Twitter and checked in a lot on Foursquare it would run down to zero before the end of the day, I would add that I’ve taken all the usual Android battery saving measures such as turning off WiFi, GPS & Bluetooth, turning the brightness down etc. This was the one factor that put me off from getting this phone as overall I really liked it, the size of it is not that much of an issue once you get used to it, the screen is stunning, the stylus responsive and the size of the screen is excellent for watching video but please sort out the battery life for the Galaxy Note 2!
Well the lovely folks at Three and Brando have once again given me another mobile phone on a fortnight’s trial and this time it’s the Samsung Galaxy Ace - an Android phone running version 2.2 of the operating system, and after immediately thinking “this looks a lot like an iPhone 4” started to put it through it’s paces…..
The phone comes supplied with a choice of two back covers, a shiny white one and a ridged black one which provides excellent grip and stability when the phone is placed on a shiny surface - nice touch.
A mention firstly for the Galaxy Ace’s screen - it’s a really impressive display, a 3.5” HVGA TFT LCD affair - sharp, bright, colourful and extremely responsive with only the very minimum of pressure required. All the usual pre-installed Android apps are supplied and also included are trial versions of Brickbreaker Revolution, Bejeweled and Tetris. I was particularly impressed by the fact that a full version of the excellent Seesmic Twitter app comes pre-installed but not the latest version (this can be updated via the Android Market however) and also the free version of Shazam. Also supplied is ThinkFree Office, a MS Office-compatible suite of programs so the Galaxy Ace is certainly well equipped. Also supplied is Samsung’s own SocialHub app for displaying texts, Facebook and Twitter updates all in one place.
My current mobile is the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini which I had, until now, considered to be pretty powerful and zippy but with an 800 MHz processor under the hood of the Galaxy Ace and it being the first Android phone I’d tried running 2.2 was curious to see if the existing apps I had installed on my X10 Mini experienced an improvement in speed and response on the Galaxy Ace so I logged in and installed TweetDeck (my Twitter app of choice), Foursquare, Friendcaster (excellent and far superior Facebook app) and also tried the improved GMail. GMail in particular showed a dramatic increase, the GMail app on my X10 Mini takes forever to update and display new messages but this took literally a few seconds on the Galaxy Ace. The other three apps were also considerably faster and a lot more enjoyable to use, in fact everything on the Galaxy Ace positively zips along!
The supplied web browser is excellent featuring full pinch-to-zoom, always a handy feature for viewing full web pages. Moving on to the Ace’s camera, this is a 5MP camera auto-focus affair with LED flash and the test photos I took with it were crisp and certainly of decent enough quality for e-mailing, displaying on a computer or in a digital photo frame or uploading to Facebook and Twitter.
A widget I found especially useful was the Program Monitor (I’m assuming this is a supplied widget with 2.2 only as I don’t have it on my X10 Mini), which is effectively a built-in task killer, enabling you to stop background apps/games from running with just a touch of one button, an excellent widget to supply. The battery life is excellent, with fairly moderate use I got about 2 days battery out of it before the message was displayed advising me to connect the charger.
To sum up, I really liked the Galaxy Ace as an Android phone, it looks great, the screen is fabulous and responsive and thanks to the processor it’s a powerful phone too and extremely well equipped, I would have no hesitation in recommending this phone, it’s a pleasure to use and thanks once again to the kind folks at Three and Brando for loaning it to me, it’s gone straight into my list of mobiles to for possible upgrade next April when I’m eligible to do so on my contract.
Just the one update but it’s a cracker, Nokia’s new short film, The Commuter has just been released, filmed entirely in HD on a Nokia N8 mobile phone, the only way to describe it is total genius, should win many awards for sure! WATCH IT!!!
Well the day I’d been waiting for for ages finally came last Sunday – the day I was able to go to my local 3Store for an upgrade on my mobile phone. I’d decided some time ago that I wanted an Android phone, the question was – which one? I had a shortlist of several possibilities but in the end I plumped for the dinky little Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini.
I hesitated in going for this initially due to it’s size (barely the size of a credit card) and wondered how easy the screen and on-screen keyboard would be to use and how easy applications would be to see. In the end I needn’t have worried, the on-screen keyboard is no problem at all to use and the touchscreen is fast and responsive as is scrolling through lists of contacts, tweets etc.
This phone is in fact a miniature marvel, everything loads pretty much instantly and the internet seems much faster than it ever did on my previous phone, the LG Viewty KU990i. The build quality is excellent and it feels really good to hold thanks to the curved back cover designed to fit nicely in the palm of your hand. Pre-installed on the phone are Google Mail, Facebook, Spotify, Sony Ericsson’s PlayNow store, RoadSync, Google Maps and Sony Ericsson’s own Timescape app allowing for Facebook, Twitter updates, missed calls and text messages to all be viewed in one place, so plenty of apps all ready to use from the outset. Also included are the usual mobile features such as calculator, stopwatch, photo album, and rather impressively for a phone of this size, and an excellent FM radio complete with RDS.
As with all Android phones more apps are available through the pre-installed Android Market, you should be aware though that not all applications are available for this particular phone due to it’s size. I had expected this but it was still a disappointment not to be able to install excellent apps such as USA Today, New York Times, the Skyfire browser and the official World Rally app. That said, the vast majority of apps that I’d wanted to install I was able to and am more than happy with what I have. There is plenty of room for apps as well thanks to the supplied 2GB MicroSD memory card.
The X10 Mini’s camera is a 5 megapixel, auto-focus affair with flash and digital zoom and takes crisp, bright and sharp photos, I was extremely impressed with this camera for a phone of this size.
The battery life as with most Android phones is a problem, however by turning off Wi-Fi, turning down the screen’s brightness, turning off automatic syncing of Google Mail, Calendar and Contacts, and installing two excellent apps called Advanced Task Killer Pro, which closes down apps running in the background which drains the battery quicker, and JuiceDefender you should be able to get 12-15 hours out of it on one full charge.
Overall, despite the expected disappointment of some apps not working on this phone, I’ve no regrets at all about picking this phone in favour of other, bigger Android phones. It’s powerful, fast, responsive, packed with features and brilliantly designed. If you’re looking for a small, truly pocket-sized Android phone you really won’t be disappointed with this pocket powerhouse! I absolutely love it! RATING : 4/5 (1 point off for the non-availability of some apps)