Blog Post

Samsung goes big with a 5.3-inch, high-res phone

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

In a challenge to the iPhone 4’s(s aapl) Retina Display, Samsung introduced a new high-resolution smartphone, the Samsung Note, at the IFA Exhibition on Thursday. The Samsung Note doesn’t pack all of its 1280×800 pixels into a small screen, however; the new Note uses a 5.3-inch display with Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology for vivid colors and wide viewing angles. If that sounds like a large phone or a very small tablet, it really is both. But Samsung is touting the extra screen space as better for browsing and note-taking with an included digital pen.

The large display, high pixel density — 285 pixels per inch — and abilities to take notes or draw with the pressure sensitive stylus are the stars of this short overview video:

Other hardware features in the Samsung Note, which runs Android 2.3(s goog) are attractive as well: a dual-core 1.4 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 or 32 GB of internal storage, 8 megapixel rear camera with 1080p video recording (24 – 30 fps), 2 megapixel front camera, and microSD card slot. The usual host of radio connectivity is there as well: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and aGPS, plus support for 21 Mbps HSPA+ networks. Essentially, the Note is a small tablet with voice capabilities.

The other way of looking at it isn’t as a small tablet, but a big phone, of course. I’m partial to larger screened devices and can’t wait to take the Samsung Note for a test drive. Yes, holding a 5.3-inch phone to one’s head will look goofy to say the least. But I’m not thinking about products like the Note as a traditional phone for two reasons.

One, we’re actually talking on our handsets less and less. Far more of our time is spent in apps, browsing the web or watching videos, for example. These activities are sure to benefit from the larger, higher resolution screen. Second, for the few calls I get, it’s simple to use a Bluetooth headset — sometimes tech that’s been around for a number of years can actually supplement new tech. I say bring on the big screen phones. If I can carry a 7-inch tablet everywhere I go these days, surely I can tote a smaller slab.

21 Responses to “Samsung goes big with a 5.3-inch, high-res phone”

  1. Tom Urbanek

    i saw the 60 minute long presentation at the launch in europe of this phonetab and was blown away! quick questions: does the note recognize your handwriting, as the palm does, to digitalize entries, or is it just a jpg type of thing? and the most important: how is the battery life? i own a samsung 551, great phone, but i always have to remember not to browse too much, or else my battery will be dead in 5 hours (or less, if i have to put the screen on higher brightness). i’ve been searching for a replacement battery, but since this phone is new here in colombia, south america, i haven’t found any yet. so this is really a big issue!

  2. If they replaced the stylus with a detachable bluetooth headset (i.e. one that charges with the phone), I’d make the switch from my iphone to the note. I don’t want to hold something large next to my year, and my bluetooth headsets have been collecting dust because I cant be bothered to charge them every day.

  3. Jon Hallstein

    FINALLY, is right! Every time I walk into a Verizon store I annoy the crap out of the sales people by asking them: “So, when is Verizon going to stop milking billions of dollars in sales out of separate tab/phone devices and enable the phone in the US market?” Manufactures have held off on this for that one reason: keep the devices separate to make billions in additional sales. For those who think it’s “too big” for phone calls, apparently they’re not familiar with a good bluetooth headset or earpiece.

    • Jon Hallstein

      Tal, I’ve been telling everyone “I told you so,” as well. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a lot of us want an integrated, all-in-one device; and the manufacturers know that. They’ve just been obsessed with milking all the sales out of separate devices they can. Honestly, I’ve been telling everyone that the 7-inch form factor is where most things will settle, it looks like it may end up being a bit smaller.

  4. I owned a Dell Streak and really liked the profile. Granted, that it looked ridiculous plastered to my head during a call. But alas, I make a call a day if that, and prefer using headphones anyway.

    I predict that this profile will ultimately become more popular than expected, especially as the cases thin out. The Dell was pocketable but needed a thinner wallet case.

  5. iPhone 4 (with 640×960 3.5″) has 326 dpi spec. With 800×1280 5.3″, it’s 285 dpi. To get to the same density with the same resolution, it has to be 800×1280 4.6″ (328 dpi) or smaller. Even 4.6″ seem too big… I think I would be more interested in 800×1280 4″ (377 dpi) or 4.3″ (351 dpi)…

    5.3″ display seems a bit too big… Workable, but I wouldn’t think of it as a large “phone”, more like a small “tablet”, for sure.

  6. I’m not interested in a phone that large, but I do see how a lot of people would want it. However, I can’t wait until that resolution gets into 4.3″-4.5″ phones (and no Pentile).

    I also hope they are moving to 16:10 resolutions for phones (like 1280×800) rather than 16:9 one (like the qHD phones), which makes the phones too narrow and tall.

    Either way, they should stop at the 1280×800 resolution for phones under 5″. It’s high enough for them (over 300 PPI). But I do want to see 300 PPI in 7″-10″ tablets soon, which should make the tablets more enjoyable when reading book on them.

    • FYI, the known issues with pentile diminish as the resolution goes up. It’s a big a compromise technology at the moment, but may be at the forefront of displays in the future.

  7. Jeff Jackson

    If I were in the market for a phone and it were available on Verizon, this would be the one I would get. Unfortunately, everytime I manage to cut my expenses, my employer comes up with a new way to screw me, so I can’t spend money on anything like this right now.