BUSAN, South Korea — The most – uh – noteworthy thing about the Galaxy Note is its almost irresponsibly huge screen. It comes in at 5.3 inches diagonally and, I’m telling you, this is exactly how big a smartphone screen should be. No longer am I straining my eyes to read blogs and news articles. YouTube is no longer an exercise in absurdity. The real estate in hand is comforting and just right. Not only that, but the AMOLED screen with 1280×800 resolution makes everything – from sharp fonts to HD video – jump from the page with a clarity I didn’t even get on my laptop, let alone any phone I’ve ever had. The best part is that giant screen really doesn’t effect the battery life much. I’m out of my apartment 11 hours a day, and it’s rare that my Note dies before I can get home to replace the battery.
However, that screen leads to some pretty sizable compactness issues. While you can fit the thing into the pocket of a pair of jeans, you’re going to have a pretty obnoxious bulge in your pants. And that’s without a case. Frankly, I’m dreading having to carry the thing around once summer hits. I might have to start wearing cargo pants for the first time since 2007.
A great feature is how goddamn fast the thing is. I got a relatively cheap 4G plan from U+, and that combined with the Note’s 1.5Ghz processor to produce some of the fastest browsing I’ve ever done – even on U+’s mediocre network. Web pages load almost as fast as I think of them. I’ve stopped using my laptop because, honestly, this phone browses faster than the internet hooked up to my apartment. It’s at least twice as fast as my previous Galaxy S II.
Of course, the Note is an Android device, and the apps look simply awesome. The included stylus is great if you’re as addicted to Draw Something as I am.
Other recommended apps include: Pulse to utilize all that text screen real-estate, Dolphin Browser HD for the fastest mobile internet experience on the plan; StumbleUpon for the fastest and most efficient waste of time you’ll ever have, and Google Drive because the screen is honestly large enough that writing papers and setting up spreadsheets becomes painless.
Hell, I just wrote this whole review on my Note alone.
Five Korean Apps Worth Checking Out
Those familiar with Korean history will know that Busan was once part of the Silla Dynasty that ruled from 57 BC – 935 AD. The kingdom was based in nearby Gyeongju, a city whose slogan is “The museum without walls.” The Korea Tourism Organization has developed a storytelling app complete with photos, maps and other interesting tidbits about Silla for your trip to Gyeongju.
Though somewhat poorly put together and lacking in quality sound, this app samples several traditional instruments and allows you to play them simultaneously. If your friend has the same app you can get a little jam session going or you can listen to a prerecorded tune by Korean fusion band, Oriental Express. The app is free and is available in both the American and Korean iTunes store.
This app, put together by the Jogye Order of Buddhism, allows you to experience Korean Buddhist monastic life. The menu bar offers up five options: “What is Templestay?”, “Etiquette,” “Temple Information”, a “Gallery” and “About Templestay”. Comes with telephone numbers, websites and locations of templestay options around the country, all in one easy to navigate app.
A one-stop source for news about Korea this app, put together by The Missing Lynx, combs various news sources in real time including blogs. It also allows you to share your favorite stories via Facebook, Twitter or email. You can personalize the news tabs in your app and read particular topics of interest, as well as read content offline from the last time you downloaded. You can stay up to date about Korean issues and news, no matter where you are.
A very handy little app that gives you all the maps of each city’s subway system as well as a timetable, transfer information and an area guide. You can use your iPhone’s location services feature and the app will direct you to the nearest subway. It also features multi-language support with English, Korean and Japanese, as well as real-time user reviews about the area nearby the station.