Clarification: Yes, it is 5 million sold to end consumers, officially confirmed by Samsung to Phone Scoop.

The Galaxy Note - it's a device that stirs up passions among many technology enthusiasts. It's big - so big that is just looks silly held up to your face. But its gorgeous, 5.3" HD display (1280x800) has owners absolutely loving the phablet (alright, I won't use it again - promise).


Apple iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy Note

It was panned by critics, and online magazine Slate even called it a "disturbing trend," saying Samsung should "take a lesson from [Apple's] success and realize that bigger isn’t necessarily better and that a phone’s utility decreases as its screen inflates." The Galaxy Note debuted with an MSRP of $800, and while carrier subsidies have seen many consumers avoid that price, it's worth mentioning that still means the Note is pricier for carriers than the iPhone 4S.

Samsung has now sold 5 million of the large devices, with a limited international launch (most of Europe, parts of Asia, and a much more recent American launch) expanding into the Japanese market next month.

The sales aren't unprecedented for a smartphone, and next to Apple's "4 million iPhone 4S's in three days," it doesn't actually sound all that impressive. In the same time period the Galaxy Note has been on sale, Apple has sold well-over 40 million iPhones. And Samsung sold about 10 million Galaxy S IIs, the company's flagship device, in that time (given a released figure of 20 million over 10 months). But that's where the numbers get interesting.

The Galaxy S II is, hands down, the world's second most-popular model of high-end smartphone, with the top spot being held by Apple's iPhone 4S (exact sales figures unavailable). While the Galaxy Note is only half as successful as the S II, it's also available in fewer markets, sold on just one carrier in the lucrative US market, has a higher price, and isn't even the first Android phone with a 5"+ display (admittedly, the Dell Streak was pretty terrible).

It hasn't hurt that Samsung's advertising efforts (especially on US TV) have been absolutely unprecedented for an Android smartphone, including a 90-second Super Bowl ad that was absolutely terrible my god why was it so bad? But then they go and come out with stuff like the vide below of an elephant playing with the Note - and if you don't find that so-cute-it's-actually-making-me-uncomfortable, you just aren't human.

Samsung has sold 5 million of a phone that everyone in the tech journalism world (myself included) immediately defined as a "niche device" for "enthusiasts," and that was even openly ridiculed by many (once again, myself included). But clearly, the Note has shown that there is a real, substantial demand for a "tweener" device that everyone else seems to have missed.

How did they miss it? Dell's massive commercial failure with the Streak probably didn't give manufacturers warm, fuzzy feelings about the market for tablephones. Either Samsung missed the memo on that one, or it realized what a horrible phone the Streak was, and knew it could do better. The Note is actually a really great piece of hardware, too. There's also the fact that phones are just getting bigger in general - HTC's new flagship, the One X, has a 4.7" display. And Motorola's upcoming Verizon device codenamed "Fighter" is sporting at least a 4.7" screen.

While the iPhone has proven that a 3.5" LCD is something a great many people are content with, the Galaxy Note is showing that a different trail can be blazed in the smartphone market - something no other Android phone has really done. That's not to say it was for a lack of trying, either - big flops like the Kyocera Echo, Dell Streak, and Xperia Play all tried to break the form-factor mold. None were successful. And don't forget the dying breeds of slide-out keyboard and candybar phones, riding off into the sunset with the first decade of the 21st century.

If there's one thing you have to give the Galaxy Note, it's that it's unique in the marketplace. And when unique things succeed, they're inevitably copied. I'm excited to see where this trend takes us in the next couple of years, even if it means I'll eventually have to buy a gigantic phone to be on the "cutting edge" of Android.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://facebook.com/choooo Jason Choo

    living in korea right now, and while most people carry around the SGS2s, ive seen quite a number of people with the Note here (interestingly, by my eye tests, mostly women carried it around of course in the white variety)

  • Samcobra

    The truth of the matter is that the Galaxy Note was PROPERLY MARKETED. Sure, it's an absolutely great device, hardware-wise. But then again, so are most flagship phones right when they are released. The difference here is that Samsung adequately differentiated it and marketed it based on the unique capabilities that made the Galaxy Note special and nobody else. I think the marketing campaign for the Galaxy Note (minus the terrible superbowl spot) has been amongst the best of any android phone save the OG Droid. Things like the ad where it stacked up to an iPhone user in simple tasks and this elephant one shows that in order to sell your product, you have to actually SHOW IT and demonstrate how it's better and desirable.

  • crackinthewall

    They still don't have any decent competition in the tablet space. I don't know how anyone would choose an LG Vu over a Note. The Note is technically the superior device not to mention that Samsung's abysmal support for Android updates is an improvement over LG's nearly non-existent support.

  • http://150waystowin.tumblr.com/ krzaq

    I'm a proud owner of Galaxy Note and I need to say one thing. This phone is simply amazing!

    My previous phone was Samsung Galaxy S but right now I just can't live without Note.

  • brgulker

    Count me among those who hopes he never owns a phone bigger than his current GNex.

    • reala

      Until you do and you decide that your GNex is just to small for you to go back to.

  • Ryan

    I would love to buy the Note except... except... its not on the Sprint network.................. Yet (me wishful thinking)

  • here

    Look, when the Iphone debuted in 2007, it took something like 70 or 80 days to reach its first million. In other words, sales were just OK. Why? In retrospect, the capacitive touchscreen and interface made it superior to Palm/Blackberry/Symbian/WM. Much superior. Some will argue that it lacked apps, 3G, etc. and in 2007 was still basically a beta product.

    But there's another factor: consumers fear the new. Sometimes a product like Kinect strikes a chord from the first time, but usually, when there is a new take on an old problem, consumers are distrustful and keep buying the old - how did you feel when you used a touchscreen for the first time? Was it really better than physical keys? No, not the first time.

    But after using a touchscreen for some time, or after using the Note for a few days, you realize that it's the future and there's no going back. Everybody was simply wrong about phone size: something above 5 inches is not only

    This may irk many Android fans, but the original Iphone and Ipad were really defining products. How much did they sell at first?

    Well, I just checked and from July to September 2010, the Ipad's first full quarter, it sold 4.2 million units. Everybody considered it a roaring success although, compared to 90-100 million for smartphones and PCs, it was in fact quite small. But it was remarkable to see a new concept with such sales.

    The Note's first full quarter still has 4 days uncounted, but Samsung has already shipped 4 million. And yeah, the market for smart stuff is larger, but the period of the year is also the slowest one for consumer electronics. In fact, sales have accelerated a lot since the holidays only sold 1 million in November-December). And this is just the beginning.

    Btw, every manufacturer reports "shipped", no matter what you hear in the blogosphere. Direct sales to consumers are a small fraction of the shipments of any consumer electronics company, most of their stuff is sold to retailers.

    In other words, yes, even by Ipad standards the Note is a roaring success. I have one, and like any Note owner will tell you, I'm never going back to anything smaller. And although I personally find the display to be its greatest asset, looking to the future it's the S-Pen that is going to change everything.

    Mark my words: in the long run, the Note 10.1 or something similar is going to kill pen and paper. And that's a good thing, considering that there are 7 billion of us using pen and paper, and it's terribly inefficient.

    • David Ruddock

      It's not shipped, it's sold. Samsung says "shipped" when they mean shipped to retail, and "sold" when they mean end consumer sales. See update.

  • Russell Holly

    Shipped, not Sold. Fairly critical difference.

    • David Ruddock

      It's not shipped, it's sold. Samsung says "shipped" when they mean shipped to retail, and "sold" when they mean end consumer sales. This has been confirmed - see update.

      • reala

        Tell them Dave!

  • eddie

    Having owned both the ipad and s2 at the same time it kind of annoyed me switching between two devices. Having had the note for the last two weeks i have not used the ipad once and could not be happier. Obviously there is a compromise in having a large screen and portability but i think samsung have got it perfect in terms of size for surfing and reading but still small enough to fit in your pocket. If apple had made this device the media would be calling it wonderous and innovative.

  • here

    .....something over 5 inches it not only possible, but for a ton of people it will be the best solution. That's what I wanted to say. After all, with 7 billion people on Earth, Samsung would be happy if just 10% decided to get a Note.

  • Zachary Jacob Zblewski

    Samsung was the first smartphone company to have the balls to openly call out Apple. Their commercials present iPhone users as pretentious douchebags. No other manufacturer has been able to say "by this instead of an iPhone" quite like Sammsung has.

    • Cory

      Well said, although the 1st round of OG Droid ads & commercials also called out the iphones short comings.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

      Not nearly as effectively, but HTC was calling out the iPhone even back in the Windows Mobile days before the first G1 came off the line. The HD2 was publicly marketed by T-Mobile as an upgrade to the iPhone.

      They've all called out the iPhone at one time or another, Samsung has just done better at it than anybody else so far.

      • reala

        HD2 was ahead of its time. Even today it is running ICS before many Android phones. That is the one phone I always wanted, but never ended up with. In contrast I ended up with an Evo4g. Prior I had a TP2.

    • Idle Time

      Can you guys lead me to these commercials? I'd love to see them. I don't watch a lot of TV. Tx.

      • reala

        Samsung Super bowl commercial google it.

  • Grant

    I am waiting Verizon..............

    • L boogie

      +1 for that, hopefully they would release it before the galaxy s 3 or would the Journal be the reason verizon doesn't carry the gs3. Lets just wait & see what happens

  • spydie

    I love my note. I don't love the lack of samsung support for the international model unless it was sold/bought in the country it was shipped to. Here in the U.S., those of that bought an imported international model (with the better xenos (sp) processor and the GREAT home key) can't get any support and a LOT of apps on the market say "incompatible" just because it's the international model. Omnisketch comes to mind. I could never go back to a smaller phone, but I'm afraid I may sell this and get the ATT model just for support. I love the phone. It's the coolest thing since the first iPhone.

  • Mike W.

    Sorry, but I have to play the devil's advocate here. Comparing the Note to the first iPad is not accurate. The iPad was something completely unique, the Note is and will also be, a cellphone with a 5.3-inch display. Is that bad thing, certainly not. But it's not a new class of device, the only reason people call it a hybrid is because it's big. Does it do anything that no previous device has? Nope, just a smartphone with a large display and a stylus. Hell, even Dell had a 5-inch phone.

    So let's stop saying it's numbers are "amazing" and "stunning" just because it's a big phone. Any way you slice it, it took 5 months to "ship" 5 million units. For comparison (I know you'll all hate this) the iPhone 4S, and it's "tiny" screen "SOLD" 3 million phone in just 3 days, yes three days and SOLD. In just just one quarter, it made up 87% of Apple's 37 million iPhones sold (in other words 32.1 million).

    So stop saying the market wants bigger phones, instead, say "some" people want bigger phones. I think the iPhone 4 and 4S proved, the majority of people are fine with a 3.5-inch display.

    Overall though, the Note is a great device, with a gorgeous screen. The sales, while good, are not "stellar" or "amazing" by any means.

    • David Ruddock

      Again, it's sold, not shipped, as Samsung has specifically clarified, and is shown at the very beginning of the article.

      5 million sold of a device in what is, practically speaking, a new form factor (I fail to see how size isn't a form factor determiner, when the iPad is essentially an iPhone without the ability to make calls, enlarged to 9.1 inches), is impressive.

      • Mike W.

        Regardless of shipped or old, it's not that impressive when compared to a device like the iPhones 4S, that was only a hardware refresh that went on to sell 32 million units in 16 weeks.

        Broken down, it goes like this. A device with a new, as you say, form factor, takes 5 months to SELL 5 million units. Whereas a device that essentially looks the same as a one year old device, with a small 3.5-inch display in only 16 weeks, managed to sells 32.1 million units. Hmm, you tell me which one is impressive?

        The only reason most Android sites are making a big deal about this, is because it's Android. It's a glimmer of hope that an Android device is selling a few million. While Android has more market share (simple because the the market is flooded with a new Android device each week, with prices ranging from free to by one, get one, to $299), what Android phones don't have are massive sales. The iPhone simply destroys any single Android phones sales and in the 4th quarter of 2011, it outsold every Android device combined. I'm not talking from a fanboy's perspective (but it's hard to fight that fact from the way I'm defending Apple), I'm talking factual terms.

        I have a Galaxy S II on Sprint, which I absolutely love, I also own an iPad, cause let's face it, Android tablets suck, I don't care what processor they're packing, they suck. They're glitchy, apps selection sucks and updates are just ridiculously slow. All I'm saying is that Android, despite its marketshare, has a way to go to catch up to Apple, not only in sales, but performance, apps and design.

        • Luly

          You've missed the whole point of this article.

          It's NEITHER comparing which device has the most impressive sales figure NOR ranking what's the most popular smartphone out there.

          It's discussing the potential and substantial demands in phones with a huge display which many people, including myself, thought was a gimmick instead of a welcomed feature.

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

          Sorry, but you're crossing into strawman arguments here. The discussion isn't an 'OMG clearly Android beat Apple cause of super-size-me-screen-of-death', it's about 'Wow, nobody thought a phone this size would get any penetration with average consumers and we were wrong'. Sure, 5 million isn't record breaking numbers for an individual model, not even among other Android phones, but it's substantially higher than educated estimates expected it to be. The likely result isn't going to be that every person is going to be carrying around 5"-6" screens in the next few years as their primary phone, but it's clearly reasonable that every manufacturer is going to now consider it a market segment they don't want to ignore.

          Oh yeah, and just to add, while I agree Android tablets do stand to see numerous improvements in several regards, so does the iPad. To me, an iPad is virtually useless as anything except a web browser while my Samsung tablet is a relative rockstar thanks to alternative software keyboards (and other input methods), an aspect ratio that suits what I want to do, and despite your rant there are plenty of great tablet apps. It's fine that you like iOS for tablets, I'm not going to pick on that, but you gotta understand that the experience on an Android tablet is a hell of a lot better than it was just 3 months ago (especially with ICS)...The iPad remains predominately a media consumption device, which is the primary demand on tablets, but I can do a lot more with my tablet than can be done on an iPad, so I'm not at all displeased with my choice.

    • AndroidTyrael

      people buy iphones because are made by apple and not by 3.5" display.
      If the iphone 5 got 4.3" display would sell the same or more likely ...

      • reala

        and if the display shrinked the same fans would still want the apple device. Apple says smaller thats all they hear is I want smaller.

    • greg

      I have an iPad and a galaxy tab 10.1, sorry but the galaxy tab destroys the iPad. I don't even use the iPad anymore, I really don't enjoy watching movies on a 4:3 screen, its pathetic and the amount of customization I can do instead of being tied down to iTunes and an update only once a year. Is not fun and its not funny and 4:3 screams grandmas TV to me

  • here

    Would you compare it to the first Iphone then? It sold a lot less.

    For the record: Apple sold 8 million Iphones in Q12010. That's twice as many as Notes sold, but then again it was already into the 3rd iteration of the product. Sure they would have been happy to sell 4 million in their first full quarter in 2007. (They didn't).

    4 million in 3 months is good sales, and for a "different" product it's just great. Btw, among the 800 or so Android products ever sold, can you find any other that had a pen AND stored it inside? Specially a phone. Because everybody keeps ignoring the "stylus" as you call it, but it's the most interesting part of the device.

    • Mike W.

      No I wouldn't count the first iPhone, like the iPad, when it launched, no other phone on the market even looked like it. No other phone had a multi-touch display, pinch and zoom web browsing, it was "completely" unique. The Note offers nothing more than a larger display. Other than the pen, the Note does nothing special that no other phone can do. I'm sorry, but the Pen is a novelty, it isn't really as big of a selling point as you'd like to think. Most people who buy the Note, talk about the display and how they like it being bigger, the pen is an after thought. It offers no real benefit that can't be accomplished by a finger. Even certain drawing apps allow for pressure sensitive brushes using your finger. So no, I don't consider it a factor.

      Again, I'm not saying the sales aren't "good," they just aren't amazing like some people are saying. Especially when you consider its competitors.

  • Asphyx

    I'm not surprised at all merely for the fact it is in essence a small pad with Phone capability!

    Target market is clearly folks who don't like to carry two gadgets when one will do.

    People saying you look silly with such a large device held to your head. Those people I suppose didn't have one of the very first cell phones that were ever invented and as large as a wired handset or larger plus long antenna!

    The next step here is to put phone capability into the larger Tablets. Bluetooth headsets and even small BT touchscreens with mics and speakers (even smaller than the current phones) could be paired with these tablets to operate all the phone functions without having to pull the tablet out of your bag.

    This design seemed rediculous but not to anyone who has asked from the beginning why don't these giant cell phones (which is what we all thought the tablets were essentially when they came out) have Cell service built in?

    They have Data so why not Voice as well?
    I would love not to have to carry both a phone and a pad when one device can do both!

  • p51d007

    I had a streak for over a year, loved it! Even though Dell & at&t couldn't market gold bars without screwing that up. When the Note was announced, I jumped to get one (international version). It's FAST, BRIGHT and does everything I need. It's a great device!

  • anamika

    I think everyone especially tech journalists should watch this


    • duplissi

      hah. that was interesting. very true.

  • PY

    Probably very popular within the Asian region. Interesting, what I've observed is that Americans and Europeans find this phone gigantically big (yet love the iPad-size), while Asians actually love such phone size - especially with Asian ladies. Why? There's finally a touchscreen phone, which allows them e option to use a stylus at times - very important when they're sometimes vain abt keeping their phones free from smudges. Phone too big? No issue, they put their phones in their handbags, not pockets.
    I'm in Singapore, and yes, most Note users I see are ladies - petite ladies in fact. Of course, their Notes are white versions.
    Samsung has done it right this time. Not a disturbing trend - a good trend in fact.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

      I had predicted something like this back when it was announced, though I didn't think to specify by region so clearly. I figured it would be really popular with girls because it was small enough to keep in their purse/bag but big enough to be highly useful. Bluetooth headsets easily circumvent the issue of phone size, and considering how stylish (read: trendy) a lot of the headsets have become in the last year or two, accessorizing becomes a reality. Truth be told, the only reason I had doubts about it catching on much with the girls had more to do with the price, but that never stopped my last girlfriend. ;)

  • Adryan

    One thing to note(no pun intended) is that on the subject on bigger phones is this whole size issue wont be as big an issue with the dissapearence of the capacitive buttons. So even though the screen is say 4.65 inches like on the gnexus its really not that big overall with the onscreen home,back, and multitasking buttons which in reality only makes the phone screen about 4.3-4.4. So that could help bigger phones or could make them bigger say like a 5.5 inch screen with the on screen buttons. It will be interesting to see what becomes of that.

    • Asphyx

      Not to mention Google seems to have a new Virtual Visor product coming out that could make operating and using the phone capabilities of a larger pad type phone irrelevant because it will be controlled by other devices than the phone/pad itself!

      Kind of what I was alluding to above!


    AT&T has 6 months exclusivity on the Galaxy Note - let's just hope if VZW does get it, there is some other upgrade than LTE...

  • Freak4Dell

    I think I'm just going to go back to a dumbphone. Call me when history cycles back to small phones again so I can bust out an old Razr and be ahead of the curve.

  • kevro55

    im getting my note tomoro after using iphone 3gs for over 2 years il come back once iv had a play with my conclusions to be honest im looking forward to it!

  • R j

    I have an iphone 4S and its gorgeous... i have used an iphone 2g for more than three years(never had a problem).. tried the Note at a store. Its big dosent fit in my pocket easily, not as user friendly as the iphone and the camera is inferior to the iphone camera. The good part is the black handling capacity of the screen. Never seen black on a screen like that.

  • B12d

    it's the pen that makes it - I don't need to mess with a tiny keyboard I can simply write notes to myself. handwriting recognition isn't that difficult (Evernote does it!)