Remembering the original Samsung Galaxy Note, 10 years on

Galaxy Note RetroSupply: Alex Dobie / Android Central

The Samsung Galaxy Be aware celebrates its 10th birthday this month with out a present handset on sale and the collection’s sturdy probability of being utterly retired in early 2022. Even supposing the spirit of the Be aware will continue to exist throughout the Galaxy S22 Extremely, it nonetheless looks like the tip of an generation.

It is becoming, then, that the plain cancellation of the Be aware comes as each high-end cellphone is a Galaxy Be aware — or a minimum of provides the 1st Be aware’s outstanding standout function: A huge display screen for extra productive paintings and immersive play. For a lovely very long time, the Be aware was once the one position to get that have. And it began in past due 2011 with the release of the 1st cellphone within the collection.

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Because the S Pen was once the principle function that gave the Be aware its identify, the telephone was once so monumental for the time that a lot of the early protection fascinated by its sheer dimension.

A trailblazing cellphone held again via the Android of the time.

The primary Be aware was once simply one of the vital best possible Android telephones of the time — a trailblazing instrument held again via the Android instrument and ecosystem of 2011. Nonetheless, as a giant wager on a big-screened long run, the Be aware paid off handsomely, spawning a decade of successors plus a number of pill spin-offs. It additionally helped to quell the belief, on the peak of the early-2010s smartphone wars, that Samsung was once simply an opportunistic copycat making rip-offs of the iPhone.

Galaxy Note

Galaxy NoteSupply: Alex Dobie / Android Central

Bodily, the 1st Be aware was once necessarily a supersized Galaxy S II, proper all the way down to the half-capacitive, half-clicky button setup underneath the display screen, the Eight-megapixel digicam at the again, and the textured “hyperskin” end of its battery door.

The massive WXGA (1280×800) show was once the center-piece, boasting the most efficient “HD” elegance show in a cellphone on the time. (The Samsung/Google co-branded Galaxy Nexus loved upper pixel density, however used an inferior panel with a grainier look.) The built-in Exynos 4210 dual-core processor simply about controlled applicable body charges, regardless that, like many Android telephones of the time, the UI was once vulnerable to occasional lag and stuttering.

In the meantime, the 1st S Pen stylus dockable throughout the cellphone mixed with that enormous show made the Be aware really feel like a kind of next-gen PDA. Customers must deal with Android 2.three Gingerbread out of the field, regardless that, which wasn’t in particular suited to greater shape issue telephones. A few of Samsung’s apps have been redesigned to make use of the additional display screen actual property in comparison to a conventional phone-sized system. Nonetheless, core Be aware options like split-screen multi-window and floating windowed mode for apps were not provide within the unique Be aware firmware.

In different phrases, there was once numerous attainable left untapped within the instrument.

Galaxy Note launch event

Galaxy Note launch eventSupply: Alex Dobie / Android Central

The potential for the Be aware was once transparent, however most commonly left untapped within the OG fashion.

As for the pen, you have to draw with it or take notes. And the to hand shortcut key permits you to temporarily take screenshots or summon a small notepad app. Alternatively, having used the unique Be aware for an inexpensive time 10 years in the past, I have in mind maximum of its software as one of those mouse pointer for zipping round apps. It took Samsung a number of extra years to construct further capability into the pen, like air gestures (Be aware three) and Bluetooth far off functions (Be aware nine). However even the first-gen pen presented a lovely stable function set.

The Be aware were given a splashy global release marketing campaign, as Samsung took the instrument to main towns throughout Europe and Asia. The corporate was once prepared to spotlight the Be aware as a 3rd instrument class, becoming in between a smartphone and a pill. And certainly, merchandise just like the Be aware in the end birthed one of the vital extra cringe-worthy techie portmanteaus of the previous decade, the “phablet.”

Opinions of the OG Be aware again in 2011 have been in most cases certain. Reviewing the telephone for Engadget, Zach Honig praised the Be aware, pronouncing, “its jumbo show makes it the easiest candidate for a notepad alternative and, with the incorporated S Pen stylus, you’ll be able to haven’t any drawback jotting notes at the fly, marking up screenshots or signing paperwork electronically.”

Galaxy Note Retro

Galaxy Note RetroSupply: Alex Dobie / Android Central

In one in every of my previous opinions for Android Central on the time, I wasn’t fully on board with the Be aware as a day-to-day driving force:

“In my view, I could not use the Be aware as my number one instrument, just because it is too large. I desire a cellphone I will dangle and use conveniently in a single hand, and the Galaxy Be aware isn’t that instrument.”

“Some other folks might be completely pleased with a two-handed smartphone, regardless that. In case you are one in every of them, then, via all method, check out the Galaxy Be aware. Presently, it is the quickest Android cellphone you’ll purchase. It has the most efficient show on any cellphone, and sure, that incorporates the iPhone’s retina show. The S Pen integration is considerate and helpful. For the best particular person, that is one hell of a tool.”

The unique Be aware was once for sure now not a one-handed cellphone.

As I learn that again ten years later, I lately have a Google Pixel 6 Professional sitting in my pocket, any other very massive cellphone that I am lovely at ease one-handing as a rule. The adaptation, I assume, is a decade of muscle reminiscence and a model of Android that is a lot more at house on massive monitors.

Different reviewers have been even much less satisfied concerning the Be aware. For veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg, the telephone’s software as a real cellphone was once questionable.

“Whilst you dangle it as much as your ear, it just about covers all of the aspect of your face. So you seem like you are speaking into a work of toast,” Mossberg wrote in AllThingsD in February 2012, reviewing the rejigged, 4G-equipped U.S. variant of the telephone.

“The Be aware is so large, an iPhone can virtually are compatible inside its show,” he mentioned. “And it dwarfs even the more-bloated crop of new Android telephones, like Samsung’s personal Galaxy S II collection, whose display screen can also be as massive as four.Five inches. And whilst it will probably are compatible into a big pocket or purse, the Be aware is not going to slide unobtrusively into your denims or a small handbag.”

Galaxy Nexus Galaxy Note launch event

Galaxy Nexus Galaxy Note launch eventSupply: Alex Dobie / Android Central

Whilst the theory of a four.Five-inch instrument being “bloated” would possibly appear comical nowadays, Mossberg was once proper at the cash when it got here to the unique Be aware’s problematic pocketability. Its fatter 16:10 facet ratio made it nice at writing paperwork, viewing spreadsheets, or surfing the internet, however horrible at becoming into a thin denims pocket. Because of this, the Galaxy Be aware 2 would undertake the taller 16:nine facet that become well-liked as display screen sizes ballooned in 2012. (It is usually the rationale telephones, normally, have got taller greater than they have got gotten wider in recent times.)

Seems customers did need large monitors.

Samsung was once in the end confirmed proper in that customers did need larger monitors, however the “note-taking cellphone” as a definite product class most commonly didn’t materialize. Various producers attempted their hand at higher handsets within the years following the emergence of the Be aware, however those who tried stylus enter failed to provoke on that entrance. The stylus studies on, for instance, the LG Vu or HTC One Max have been rubbish in comparison to the usage of the S Pen with a Galaxy Be aware.

As an alternative of spawning dozens of direct clones, the Be aware served as a tool to check the waters for giant telephones in most cases — to turn out that a large (and moderately goofy-looking) handset can be a industrial good fortune — and from there, the floodgates opened.

Be aware house owners additionally become a few of Samsung’s maximum dependable fanatics, with many claiming that just a more recent Galaxy Be aware was once just right sufficient to switch their present Be aware. 5 years from the 1st Be aware, this buyer loyalty helped Samsung climate the worst smartphone release in historical past.

These days, maximum flagship telephones are to be had in sizes now not too some distance off that unique “piece-of-toast” footprint — together with Samsung’s non-Be aware flagship, the S21 Extremely. A decade on, the Be aware graduated from a unusual area of interest instrument to the default shape issue for flagship Android telephones.

Whilst the Galaxy Be aware emblem may not be with us anymore, it is becoming that the next-generation Samsung flagship seems like it will be a Be aware in all however identify.

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