Samsung Galaxy Note I717 review: Pushing the envelope

GSMArena team, 19 February 2012.
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Introduction

Samsung has high hopes for the LTE packing Galaxy Note I717 in the United States. Since its launch during CES, the AT&T exclusive device has enjoyed a marketing push like no other Samsung offering to date, including the Galaxy S II lineup. It appeared in a Super Bowl commercial, it starred in New York's Fashion week, etc.

Samsung Galaxy Note I717 Samsung Galaxy Note I717 Samsung Galaxy Note I717
Samsung Galaxy Note I717 official photos

The subject of this review is yet another case of an international Samsung device, gone through a character makeover before hitting the U.S. shores. To be in line with its American siblings, the I717 features four touch sensitive buttons under its screen. A Snapdragon S3 chipset with two 1.5GHz Scorpion cores has replaced the capable Exynos silicon of the global version.

The changes however are not in any case a downgrade. LTE connectivity has been added and with a 5.3" Super AMOLED screen and an S Pen on board, the Samsung Galaxy Note I717 has a market niche of its own.

Here is a look at the key features of the Note I717.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G support
  • 21 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • LTE network connectivity
  • 5.3" 16M-color Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen of HiDef resolution (800 x 1280 pixels)
  • Android OS v2.3.6 with TouchWiz 4 launcher
  • 1.5 GHz dual-core Scorpion CPU, Adreno 220 GPU, Snapdragon S3 chipset, 1GB of RAM
  • Pre-bundled with the S Pen active stylus
  • 8 MP wide-angle autofocus camera with LED flash, face, smile and blink detection
  • Video recording of up to 1080p@30fps
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g and n support; Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi hotspot
  • GPS with A-GPS connectivity; Digital compass
  • 16 GB internal storage, microSD slot
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Charging MHL microUSB port with USB host and TV-out (1080p through optional adapter) support
  • Stereo Bluetooth v3.0
  • Great audio quality
  • 9.7 mm slim and weighs a reasonable 178g
  • 2MP secondary video-call camera
  • Full Flash support and GPU-acceleration for the web browser permit 1080p flash video playback
  • Document editor
  • File manager comes preinstalled
  • Extremely rich audio and video format support
  • 2500 mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • Won't fit comfortably in every pocket
  • Difficult for one-handed use
  • No dedicated camera key
  • The Exynos chipset of the global version is significantly faster- both in benchmarks and real life
  • HD screen uses PenTile matrix lowering perceived resolution
  • No FM radio (the global version has one)

As you can see, the AT&T Galaxy Note's spec sheet is long enough to satisfy even the most demanding users. As far as the phoneblet's disadvantages go, the substitution of the powerful Exynos chipset for a Qualcomm made one is probably the biggest letdown in the U.S. Galaxy Note. The Snapdragon S3 is simply not as powerful. You do however, get LTE connectivity thanks to it - a nice way to ease the pain over the lost oomph.

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Samsung Galaxy Note I717 live shots

So, does the Samsung Galaxy Note I717 have what it takes to make people ditch their current smartphones and tablets for a device, which tries to do it all? Read on to find out. As always, we will begin with an unboxing, followed by design and build quality inspection.

Editorial: You might notice that this review is shorter than usual and doesn't include all of our proprietary tests. The reason is it has been prepared and written far away from our office and test lab. The Samsung Galaxy Note I717 for AT&T is a US-only phone, so it will probably never get to the shores of the Old Continent. Still, we think we've captured the essence of the phone in the same precise, informative and detailed way that's become our trademark. Enjoy the good read!

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