Launched in 2011, the Galaxy Note was the first entry in Samsung’s hugely popular phablet series. Beloved by power users for its top-tier specs, enormous displays, and the iconic S Pen, the Galaxy Note has become a mainstay of Samsung’s winter release schedule every year.
The glowing reviews and fan following the Galaxy Note family has today wasn’t always a given, however. In fact, the original Galaxy Note was mocked by many consumers and media outlets for being too large for everyday use.
The phone featured a display that measured 5.3-inches across. It was considered massive at the time, especially when compared to other high-end phones released the same year. For example, the Galaxy S2 had a 4.3-inch display, while the iPhone 4s’ screen measured just 3.5 inches. For that reason, the initial reaction to the phone was one of shock and, in some cases, outright ridicule.
The media had a field day with the Galaxy Note.
In its review of the device, ZDNet said “you’ll look faintly ridiculous” making a call with the Galaxy Note. Android Central described the phone as “more of a technical showcase than a product with mass appeal,” while SlashGear said that the phone is “simply too much to pocket” for the average user.
I hate to admit it, but I was a skeptic as well. I much preferred smaller devices at the time; phones I could use with one hand and slide into my pocket with ease. Along with many other journalists, I was under the impression that the Galaxy Note will turn out to be a flop. Boy was I wrong.
Samsung proved everyone wrong
Consumers quickly realized the benefits of a larger screen and pulled out their wallets. Samsung managed to quiet the critics by selling more than 10 million units of the original Galaxy Note in the first 10 months. Although these sales numbers weren’t record-breaking and were lower than those of other popular high-end phones at the time (like the iPhone 4s), they were still way above expectations.
Not only did the Galaxy Note turn out to be a big success, but it also went down in history as one of the most influential Android phones ever made. It changed the market by revealing that consumers want phones with big displays and are willing to pay top dollar for them. As a result, the market responded. Manufacturers hopped on the bandwagon and gradually began increasing the sizes of their phones, which is a trend we’re still witnessing today.
While the Galaxy Note with its 5.3-inch display seemed massive at the time, it’s considered small by today’s standards. For example, the latest Galaxy Note 10 Plus has a 6.8-inch display, while the S20 Ultra goes a step further with a 6.9-inch screen. Although phones today sport much smaller bezels than they did 10 years ago, both flagships mentioned have a larger footprint than the first Galaxy Note.
With all that in mind, we have to give credit where credit is due. Samsung believed bigger is better before anyone else did, and it was right. The tech giant showed the world back in 2011 that it was a true innovator. It knew what we, the consumers, wanted and not what we thought we wanted.
The company’s vision and mindset at the time reminds me of those of the great Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company and the brains behind the Model T, which was named the most influential car of the 20th century. The man who brought cars to the masses said, “If I had asked the people what they wanted, they’d say faster horses.”
This is the first in our “Did you know” series where we’ll be diving into the Android history books to uncover important and interesting facts or events that have been forgotten over time. What do you want to see us cover next? Let know in the comments below, and be sure to share your memories of the first Galaxy Note!