Samsung’s bigger picture arrives: the 5.3 inch Note

Mobile phones have been getting bigger for the past year, and now they’ve reached a turning point, with a phone that’s so big, it’s like having a tablet you can hold up to your ear.

Launched this week, the Samsung Galaxy Note is a new Android handset featuring a massive 5.3 inch Super AMOLED screen with 1280×800 resolution, roughly the same as what you find on Samsung’s tablet range.

Aside for a bigger screen, Samsung has equipped the Note with a stylus, called the “S-Pen”. Rather than just be a rubber or foam-tipped stylus, Samsung has actually come together with Wacom here and created a proper stylus, complete with a small tip – like that of older PDAs and pocket computers – and thrown in pressure sensitivity. Specific apps will be made to take advantage of this technology, potentially giving artists more control in their digital drawings, while potentially changing how other apps function long term.

From a technology standpoint, customers should find the technology inside the Galaxy Note more than enough, with a dual-core 1.4GHz processor inside, 16GB storage with support for more memory through microSD, Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash and 1080p Full HD video capture, 2 megapixel front camera, and a massive 2500 mAh battery.

Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread is loaded on out of the box, but Samsung tells us that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be arriving shortly.

We went hands on with the Note yesterday and found it to be a surprisingly comfortable phone, albeit a very very big phone. From our brief experience, the design of the handset fit into our hands nicely, and wasn’t that bad in the pocket either. We’re not sure how this would be long-term, but it’s certainly comfier than you’d expect from a phone with such a large screen.

The 4.3 inch Galaxy S2 sitting on top of the 5.3 inch Galaxy Note. We weren't kidding, people: this is a big phone.

That said, it won’t be a phone for everyone. This is easily the biggest handset we’ve held to our ears, and it can look a little strange when you’re holding something this large up to your head. Despite the size, it’s still relatively thin and light, coming in at only 178 grams and 9.65mm thick.

We’re eager to review this as soon as possible, but if you can’t wait until we put ours thoughts to paper, Vodafone and Optus will get the first models with Voda grabbing it for $5 on a $59 plan and Optus for $0 on a $79 cap. Telstra will also be getting the handset in April, while outright purchase is also available for $899.