A number of cell phone manufacturers these days are trying to figure out just how one can stretch the concept of a phablet (a device that blends a phone and a tablet) without breaking it. A year ago, people blanched at the idea of trying to make calls from a device with a display larger than five inches. Today, the likes of Asus are trying to convince us to make calls from 7.0 inch-display devices.
That’s where Samsung’s Galaxy Note 510 (also referred to as the Galaxy Note 8, because it has an 8.0-inch display) comes in. On first glance, it seems like a marriage between Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range and its Galaxy S phones. The bezel around the 8.0-inch display is a tad wide with buttons below it — a hard rectangular one for Home, flanked by two touch buttons for Menu and Back. It looks more tablet than phone, notwithstanding the earpiece which lets you make and receive calls by holding the device to your face (yes, it looks odd and at 340 gms, holding the phablet for many minutes is tiresome. The call quality is decent, though). The S pen stylus fits smartly on the bottom right corner.
Like all devices in the Note segment, the Note 510 comes packed with some very powerful hardware. It is powered by a quad core 1.6 GHz processor, backed up by 2 GB RAM and has onboard storage of 16 GB (expandable using a memory card). Connectivity options abound, including 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, and for imaging purposes, there is a 5.0-megapixel camera at the back and a 1.3-megapixel one in front. All this on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean).
If you are the sort who wants a large, portable touchscreen to work on, it works very well indeed. Just like on the Note, you can open and work on multiple windows. The large display makes browsing and playing games a delight, and those who believe in the power of handwriting and sketching will simply adore the large S-Pen (bigger than the one on the Note 2). Thanks to Samsung’s excellent software, handwriting recognition remains the best we have seen on an Android device. The stylus is pressure sensitive, too, which works well during most games and videos can be handled with ease, too. The camera is a bit of a disappointment but then we do not see too many of you buying this device because of its camera. The Note 510 is too big to use comfortably as a phone, but it is just the right size for those looking for a portable computer — it is a mere 7.95 mm thick and is much lighter than most tablets of its size. Some might think the build plasticky, but we have no problem with that because it feels solid, and hey, it works! Battery life is impressive - we got through a day and a half of hefty usage with social networks and mail buzzing.
But should you be buying it? At R 30,900, the Note 510 does not come cheap and ironically faces some very stiff competition from its own brothers from Samsung. It is priced perilously close to the still excellent Galaxy SIII and the Note 2, both of which boast of better cameras, super AMOLED displays, powerful specs, and are more convenient when it comes to phone calls. There is also the spectre of the iPad mini which might not come with calling and a stylus, but which is much easier on the eye and has a fantastic app reservoir. But if you are looking for something the size of a diary, with the functions of a phone, a computer, and a diary as well, the Note 510 does make a lot of sense.