Samsung Galaxy Note I717 review: Pushing the envelope
Just like the rest of its Qualcomm packing cousins, regardless of their brand, the Samsung Galaxy Note I717 did quite well in some of the benchmark tests, but fell short of the mark set by the N7000. The truth is that the Exynos chipset of the latter is still the most powerful one out there. Like we mentioned earlier however, you do get LTE on board of the AT&T Galaxy Note, so the trade off is well justified.
Performance benchmarks aside, we found the Galaxy Note I717 to be just a tiny bit laggy, compared to the global version. It is barely noticeable though - you must look really hard with both phones sitting next to each other.
The phonebook is great as usual
Samsung have moved a few things around on the Note but the phonebook is pretty much the same as it was in the Galaxy S II. It has a wide range of features and practically unlimited storage capacity.
The U.S. Galaxy Note also features Yellow Pages built-in, which allows you to browse local phone number directories, or look unknown numbers.
The Samsung Galaxy Note can display your Google, phone, and SIM contacts simultaneously or any subset of those.
There are options to filter contacts that have phone numbers, show/hide some of the groups you've created (including groups from social networks) and change the sorting (by first or last name).
The phonebook keeps the Quick contacts feature, which lets you tap the contact photo for a popup menu with shortcuts to call, text, or email. The Samsung-specific swiping gesture is here too - swipe a contact right to make a call and left to compose a message.
There are many info fields that you can assign to each contact, but it still remains perfectly organized. You have all the types listed (numbers, email addresses, etc) and there's a plus sign on the right - tapping it adds another item of that type. Pressing the minus sign under it deletes the unneeded field.
Of course, the talent of the phonebook becomes apparent when you sign into your social networks. After syncing, the phonebook will automatically merge contacts (you can do it manually too), so that the contact details are pulled from the social networks too.
The contact info screen is tabbed. The first two tabs are pretty standard - one displays the person's contact information the other keeps call and message history. The third and fourth tabs handle the social stuff - status updates and the contact's online galleries.
Telephony is top notch, voice commands work well
The Samsung Galaxy Note had great in-call quality and the sound was crisp and loud. Reception was good and we didn't suffer dropped calls though in areas of very poor coverage the sound would break up.
The dialer and call log have been integrated into the phonebook, each with a separate tab. Smart Dial is available and works like a charm - it searches names and numbers simultaneously. Only one contact is shown (with contact photo) and you can tap the down arrow to view the rest (the number above the arrow indicates how many contacts have matched your query). We also notice the familiar quick shortcuts for making a video call or sending a message.
Voice dialing is also available - a double tap on the Home key activates voice commands. All you need to do is press the large virtual button at the bottom of the screen or say "Hi Galaxy" and speak your command (e.g. "text Dexter").
In fact the Vlingo-powered service applications stretch well beyond voice calling and texting. You can use it to start your applications, dictate notes, set up appointments, update your social status, start navigation and whatnot.
The Galaxy family voice commands are more of a direct competitor of the Siri service that Apple promoted so heavily on the iPhone 4S. The customized Vlingo services carries the benefits of further-fetching functionality and better work with accents, plus the fact that it doesn't carry the US-only restrictions found on the iPhone. However, it lacks the natural language commands support - you need to keep to a strict syntax here.
Thanks to the proximity sensor, your screen will automatically turn off during a call. The available options during a call include taking a note, using the keypad, muting, holding the call or adding another call to this conversation.
The call log is the tab next to the dial pad. It displays all the dialed, received and missed calls in one list sorting your call history by contacts.