Samsung's half-phone/half-tablet is now officially all-American.
In a joint press release, AT&T and Samsung announced that Samsung's 5.3-inch phone-tablet crossover, the Galaxy Note, will be available in stores on Feb. 19 for $299 with a two-year contract.
Though the Note has been dubbed a "phablet" in the popular press, a Samsung rep said that the company is not officially endorsing the term, and that Samsung is pushing the Galaxy Note as a smartphone, rather than a smartphone-tablet Frankenstein.
As a smartphone, the Galaxy Note is just huge. It has a 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED display screen, along with 4G LTE capability on AT&T's just-launched 4G network. Aside from the very large, very bright screen, the Galaxy Note also comes with what Samsung calls an S-Pen, a stylus that recalls those bundled with Palm Pilots. The press release notes that among the uses for the S-Pen, users can "sketch drawings, jot down notes, or write emails and texts quickly and easily in free-form handwriting."
Upon release, the Galaxy Note will be running Samsung's version of Android 2.3 "Gingerbread." Samsung has previously said that the Galaxy Note will receive the new Ice Cream Sandwich flavor of Android sometime in the first quarter of 2012.
Samsung prominently displayed its Galaxy Note at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2012, and the don't-call-it-a-phablet is certainly audaciously large. While quite thin, its length and height make the 4.7-inch HTC Titan or 4.65-inch Samsung Galaxy Nexus seem miniature in comparison -- a prominent modern smartphone has simply never been as gigantic as the Galaxy Note. The Note's touchscreen is indeed as responsive as you'd want from a notepad, and doodling with the S-Pen is a fun diversion. The Galaxy Note will live or die, however, by whether consumers cotton to its mammoth, boundary-blurring size. While it seeks the middle ground between a smartphone and tablet, it could be that shoppers want a smartphone or a tablet, not both at once.
At $299 on contract, the Note is certainly priced to compete with premium smartphones, not premium tablets. For comparison, an entry-level, WiFi-only iPad costs $500; to add 3G, an iPad starts at $629. Budget tablets like the Kindle Fire ($199) and the NOOK Tablet ($249) do not come with options for mobile data. Samsung's Galaxy Nexus smartphone is also $299, as is the starting price of the Motorola Droid RAZR; and although those screens are large, they are not Note-large.
The Galaxy Note will arrive with a rear-facing 8 megapixel camera and a front-facing 2-megapixel camera, 32GB of storage and 1GB of RAM. Pre-orders at AT&T begin on Feb. 5 and will arrive on Feb. 17; the Galaxy Note will be available in AT&T stores on Feb. 19.
Check out the slideshow below to see other gorgeous smartphones that stole the show at CES 2012, including the Galaxy Note.