A Galaxy of Functionality: Samsung gives the iPhone a run for it’s money

The Samsung Galaxy NoteHere’s my mini-review of the Samsung Galaxy Note SCH-1605. Chris Horner turned me onto this amazing device and, in short, if it weren’t for my unlimited ATT data plan and iMessage, I would be jettisoning my beloved iPhone.

The Note is easier to read, and just enough smaller than an iPad mini to really work well as both a telephone and a pad device. Samsung has Apple beat with Swipe technology. My biggest iPhone frustration is typing. It’s a breeze on the Note.

Google beats Siri hands down when it comes to audio commands. The Google Cards functionality quickly got to know me and somehow gives me exactly the information I need at the right time.

The bigger screen takes exquisite pictures and videos. Still looking for an iMovie substitute in the Play Store, but I haven’t had the time to look hard. Assuming there’s something out there.

imagesAnd then there’s Pebble. I got my Pebble watch last week and the thing hasn’t been off of my wrist since. The subtle vibration and the ability to discretely check my watch to see a push notification sets the standard for smart timepieces to come. Naturally, Pebble works much better with an Android device. iOS only lets you push text messages, while the Note gives you pretty much total control over what goes to your wrist. I’m an early adopter here and there are surely many enhancements to come, but for the first device out of the gate, Pebble gets 5 stars when paired with the Note.

Wifi? You bet. The Galaxy was worth the investment, just as a replacement for my Verizon MiFi device. Flip one virtual switch and you’ve got a hot-spot. I’m guessing this is why Verizon has their rate structure set up as it is. I use the Note on my train rides from East Lansing to Chicago and it’s a darn good companion for my Macbook.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 8.28.08 PMAs for the service, Verizon has better coverage where I seem to go than does ATT, although when 4G is cooking, both are noticeably fast Internet devices. Using a VPN is a breeze on both phones. I only had to set mine up once and switching my DNS location to England to sneak under the Silk Censorship in China gave me full access to all my favorite sites. Parenthetically, many of the Chinese I talked with privately admit to having VPNs, proof that the free flow of ideas can’t be stopped in the Internet age.

Where iMessage is concerned, Apple’s easy integration across platforms is a tough act to follow. Google Hangouts definitely compete, but it will take some sociotal shifts to break us away from the ease of facetime and free texting that pops up on your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 8.32.36 PMI gave Leigh Graves Wolf a GSM Note I bought in Seoul. She reports that she’s loving it as she starts her stint in Ireland. Over there, you buy sim cards with ease and the culture encourages travelers to stay connected. Skype is our telephone of choice internationally. It worked great in London, Beijing and Chaing Mai. And if you’re in wifi range, it’s a virtual replacement for the telephone features of your device.

The Bottom Line? Apple’s device integration, coupled with AT&T’s unlimited data plan is keeping two phones in my pocket these days. If the kids migrate to Hangouts & Google Talk with me and Verizon stops charging by the megabyte, you’ll see my iPhone 4S up for sale. We live in a world where the state of the art is continually changing and Samsung has built a reputation that deserves your attention when you consider your next smart phone purchase. Thanks again to Chris Horner for helping me experience the Galaxy Note. Samsung knows how to identify and feed an evangelist!