Samsung Galaxy Note Review: A Decent Travel Companion

I recently took a road trip my new Samsung Galaxy Note and it performed great for a few things – entertainment, GPS, and note-taking at the convention I attended. However, my positive experience with the Galaxy Note soured a bit on this trip due to the horrible battery life.

The Big Screen Shines Bright

We drove from North Carolina to Atlanta, then Mobile, Alabama and then on to New Orléans and back over an eight-day period. We didn’t know the routes we took by heart, so using Android’s excellent turn-by-turn directions helped a lot. I love seeing my destination on the large 5.3-inch screen so that I know exactly what to look for upon arrival. The large display also helps when you need to quickly glance at the next turn on the maps while driving.

Samsung Galaxy Note Travel Companion

Read: Samsung Galaxy Note Review: One Week Later.

As I sat in meetings for two days at the convention, I took notes using the Samsung Galaxy Note’s S-Pen. I used Papyrus, a great note taking app designed for the Note. It lets me use my finger to erase and the pen draws and writes. I don’t need to tap an eraser icon with the pen before getting rid of my unintended scribbles. I wish the S-Memo app included this feature.


As my son and wife shared some of the driving, I plugged in my ear buds and watched some videos I loaded on the phone before we left. This helped while away the hours. I also listened to music and read a book on the Amazon Kindle app. Video and text look awesome on the spacious screen.

The Big Screen Kills the Battery

Despite performing great on many tasks, the Note fails in a key spec – battery life. The Note under heavy use lasts at the most ten hours. Let me define heavy uses. They include:

  • Screen on for GPS directions or viewing video
  • Bluetooth on for hands free calling
  • Wi-Fi turned on for wireless sharing of data so others can get online
  • Occasional phone calls, checking email, Twitter and Facebook

No problem. Just plug into the cigarette lighter and keep the battery topped off. However, the battery on the Samsung Galaxy Note still drains even when plugged into the charger under the above usage. I didn’t experience this issue on my iPhone 4S.

I tried many chargers and can’t find one, including Samsung’s own charger, that keeps the phone powered with all that running. It drains slower, but it still drains. If any Samsung Galaxy Note users can recommend a car charger that really charges the phone even with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and the screen turned on, let me know.

Unfortunately, I just learned about the new 10,000 mAh battery backup from Satechi, and wish that I had had one with me on my trip. It offers a lot of extra juice for power-hungry phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note.

When you use an iPhone for years, iPhone accessories are easy to come by. I own an iPhone cable that plugs into the 30-pin dock and charges my phone while sending audio from the phone to my auxiliary input on my car. That way I could keep my iPhone charged while listening to music over my car stereo.

I can’t do that with the Samsung Galaxy Note or any other Android phone that I know of and it’s something that made traveling with the Galaxy Note more difficult than it should have been.