MWC 2013: Hands-on preview of Samsung's Galaxy Note 8.0
24 Feb 2013
Is it a phone? Is it a tablet? Who knows, but it's bloody nice
Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphones have caused many drunken arguments in the Mobile Choice lair. The original 5.3-inch Galaxy Note was a beast, but could just about get away with its mobile phone credentials. However, last year’s Galaxy Note 2 was so massive it would look silly even pushed up against Brian Blessed’s enormous noggin, and at 5.5-inches it wasn’t a great deal smaller than tablets like the Nexus 7. So, is it a phone or a cellular tablet?
Those arguments are going to get bloody now that Samsung’s unleashed its mighty Galaxy Note 8.0, which as the name suggests is an eight-inch slab of beauty. It has a SIM card slot (sadly only 3G is supported, so no speedy 4G web browsing yet), but holding the Galaxy Note 8.0 in one hand is a tough enough task, and speaking into it as you walk down the street will make you look like a 21st Century Dom Joly. We’re thinking a Bluetooth headset might be the way forward.
Still, as a tablet the Galaxy Note 8.0 is just as user-friendly as the rest of the range. The iconic S-Pen stylus can be slipped from a rear corner and used to scribble on the screen, proving as responsive as usual to every poke and swish.
The display itself is typically bright and vibrant, but we were surprised to see Samsung went with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, the same used by budget rivals such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and less sharp than the Nook HD tablet’s seven-inch screen. Despite this, the photos we checked out were still crisply reproduced and we’ve got to admit, the rich colours of the Android 4.1 desktop (overlaid with Samsung's custom interface) made us go all gooey.
If you’ve got reasonably-sized hands, you’ll have no trouble clutching the Galaxy Note 8.0 one-handed while using the other hand to poke or wield the stylus. The overall build is similar to the iPad Mini, impressively slender and also pleasingly light. The glossy body feels good in the hand, although we wouldn’t want to drop it on a hard surface for fear of it splintering into chunks.
Samsung has included classic Galaxy Note software such as S Planner and S Note to maximise your use of the S-Pen, and if you have any hint of creative talent (unlike us), you can produce works of art like this...
As usual, you can multi-task to a ridiculous degree, opening all kinds of email, browser and app windows side-by-side, making this a great choice for uber-busy business types. The eight-inch screen makes it easy to do this, so you won’t have to resort to squinting.
As for specs, the Galaxy Note 8.0 packs a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, ably backed up by 2GB of RAM. You get either 16GB or 32GB of storage for your media and apps, while the mighty 4600MaH battery should keep it going for a good few hours, even with intensive use. Camera fiends get a 5MP snapper on the back and a 1.3MP front-facer.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.0 should hit UK stores in Q2 (i.e. before summer), but pricing is yet to be revealed – stay tuned for more info.
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Editor: Chris Barraclough