Until a few days ago we’d heard surprisingly little about the Galaxy Note, a handset rumored to be launching alongside the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Wave 3 at IFA. It’s ironic, really, because of all the phones to have kept a low profile, this is a memorable one. Behold, a 5.3-inch handset with a stowaway pen for note-taking, drawing and grabbing screen captures. In other words, a Dell Streak-esque hunk of a device that blurs the lines between phone and tablet. You’re looking at a Gingerbread-running HSPA+ handset with a 1280 x 800 Super AMOLED display, dual 8MP and 2MP cameras, a removable 2,500mAh battery and the same Samsung-made dual-core 1.4GHz processor you’ll find in the just-announced Galaxy Tab 7.7. For a phone this gargantuan, it’s actually quite thin at light, at 9.65mm (0.38 inches) thick and a reasonable 178 grams (6.3 ounces). We had a few minutes to handle the phone in advance of today’s press conference, and found it surprisingly easy to grip, even in our small hands. As with the Infuse 4G –whose own 4.5-inch screen once seemed impossibly sprawling — the thin shape makes it tenable, as does the lightweight, textured plastic lining the back.
As you’d expect, Android 2.3 comes layered with TouchWiz on top and, in this case, seven home screens and a touch-optimized interface dubbed “S Pen” designed to take advantage of that pen. These include S Planner, a native calendar and to-do list app, from which you can drag and drop appointments, changing time slots without having to open an entry. S Memo for note-taking, meanwhile, accepts voice, photo, text and handwritten input. We also got a quick glimpse of Virtual Whiteboard, a more collaborative form of note-taking. On top of that, Samsung says it’s releasing the S Pen SDK to third-party developers, and the company’s banking on more apps for organizing photos and drawing, among other things. For now, this is merely a global launch: Samsung says it’s still in discussions with carriers worldwide, so depending on your neck of the woods it might be awhile before you hear anything definitive about pricing or availabilit