The Samsung Galaxy Note has two standout features: its screen-size and its S-Pen. The 5.3-inch super AMOLED panel is a sight to behold with a resolution of 1280x800 and Samsung's bright, vivid screen technology. What you also get is the most precise capacitive stylus input available along with that of the HTC Flyer. This makes it a very unique proposition and there are certain apps that elevate it from good to nigh-on mind-blowing. Here they are:
1. Go Launcher.
It's not that we don't like Touch-Wiz, it brings some usability enhancements over Android 2.3 and looks pretty sweet in the process. With a phone like the Samsung Galaxy Note however, Go Launcher adds gesture support, allows you to specify how many rows and columns fill your home-screen and even hides pre-installed applications that aren't needed or other settings and keys you don't use.
On a 5.3-inch display, the thumb has to travel considerably further to reach the top right hand corner than, say, on an iPhone's paltry 3.5-inch screen. In turn, gesture support can be applied to the GoLauncher dock (the portion at the bottom of the screen with 5 icons). Docks usually contain shortcuts to the dialer, contacts, apps-drawer, messaging and web. Upon installing GoLauncher however, a simple swipe up on any of these shortcuts can activate a secondary shortcut.
Why would this be useul? With no physical camera button on the Note for exaple and a fantastic 8-megapixel camera on board, it's easy to make a simple swipe in the right portion of the display activate the camera. This frees up your homescreen for widgets and means you have an additional 5 frequently used applications accessible without any thumb travel to speak of.
2. Sketchbook Mobile
With the best capacitive stylus support on the mobile market, the Samsung Galaxy Note is an artist / illustrator / doodler's best friend. Anyone who wants to sketch more freely and doesn't find the pre-installed applications comprehensive enough should definitely check out Stetchbook Mobile.
Available in both a free and paid version, it enables a huge choice of brushes and control over them. You can work across layers, include pictures and even export your files as multi-layered PSD (PhotoShop files) should you upgrade to the pro version. The app even allows you to input text into your sketches available in a range of styles with the option to change colour and size at will.
Thanks to the fantastic S-Pen, we can’t think of a device better suited for Sketchbook mobile than the Samsung Galaxy Note, with the free version being a must-download and the paid version a great investment for enthusiasts. Below is an example of a quick sketch we threw together:
3. Android 2.3 Keyboard
The keyboard on the Samsung Galaxy Note looks good, but for us two thumbed typers, we just can’t get the speeds we’re going for. What if there was a keyboard on the market that let us control key-size, height and borders so that we could make this over-sized screen work for us?
If you haven’t used it already, Steven Lin’s Android 2.3 keyboard is the very solution to our problem. We can set key height, row gaps, and even key text size and get typing speeds with just two thumbs that give our hands and a full-sized keyboard a run for their money. What’s great about this resizing option is you can change the landscape and portrait keyboard sizes independently of one another for a totally bespoke user experience.
This resizing option is only available in the donate version of the application available for just £1.27. While costing more than a lot of keyboards out there, with typing speed tests as evidence, we definitely found that it was £1.27 well spent.
4. MX Video Player
While the default video player on the Samsung Galaxy Note is amongst the better pre-installed players in terms of codecs, when it comes to playing absolutely all file formats and adding gesture support to the mix you can't beat MX Player.
In MX Video Player, a vertical swipe in the left portion of the screen controls brightness, while a vertical swipe in the right portion controls volume. There are a range of aspect ratios you can choose from: Stretch, crop, 100%, 150% and fit to screen. There is the option to select the audio track and video encoder and you can even view subtitles.
Once you’re settings have been decided upon, you can then lock your video so it doesn’t change. Given the Note’s beautiful display and the great job it does of up-scaling video content, it makes sense to have a video player on board up to the job.
5. Amazon Kindle
Being the largest Android mobile device, that alone is enough reason to try out an eBook reading app on the Samsung Galaxy Note. With its HD Super AMOLED display and stonking resolution, you can expect text to look great with pin sharp detailing and clean lines. What’s more, thanks to the AMOLED screen technology, the black doesn’t emit light so night mode is an absolute dream, with brightness turned down making for very comfortable night time reading.
While not as comfortable to read as, say, a Kindle, when compared to other tablets and mobile phones, it’s easily one of the best eReaders available with relatively low levels of light being hurled into the back of your retina and in turn minimal eye strain. We got through a whole book on the Note, so are proof it can be done.
What you end up with however is also is a great complement to a Kindle, especially if you make a habit of forgetting yours at home. With the app’s Whisper Sync function, you can resume reading a book on your Note from where you left off, then pick up on your Kindle later seamlessly.
So that's our top 5 apps list for the Samsung Galaxy Note taking full advantage of the fantastic screen, S-Pen and form-factor. If our suggestions of a Launcher, a Sketchbook, a Keyboard, a Video Player and an eBook reader aren't rocking your world and you've got other suggestions of Note, please share them in the comments section below.