International or AT&T Galaxy Note; which one do you prefer?

International or AT&T Galaxy Note; which one do you prefer?

Summary: While you may only be familiar with the Samsung Galaxy Note, there are two models with several differences for the mobile enthusiast to choose from.

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I took a look at the Samsung Galaxy Note over the last couple weeks and fell in love with the device. I ordered the AT&T model, that was the one I reviewed, but cancelled it before it arrived and went with the GSM international model instead. My buddy Kevin Tofel from GigaOM is debating which model to buy and I think there may be many in the mobile community who are trying to make the decision about which is best so I though I would offer my take on the two models and show how they compare.

International GSM Galaxy Note, GT-N7000

The international GSM Galaxy Note went on sale starting in October in Germany and can be purchased through importers such as Amazon for $575+. This actually isn't a bad price for an unlocked large screen device that comes with no contract obligation. It doesn't support T-Mobile USA's 3G data so it really is only useful on AT&T or via a WiFi connection. Since I don't have AT&T, I went ahead and purchased a Straight Talk SIM and a month of service that gives me unlimited talk, text, and data for $45. I can confirm that this SIM works fine with HSPA+ on AT&T and so far I am seeing download speeds of about 4 Mbps.

Pros of the GT-N7000

  • Dual-core 1.4Ghz Exynos processor (Samsung's own processor)
  • No AT&T bloatware
  • Central physical home button, serves to unlock device too
  • No contract price is lower than AT&T no contract price

Cons of the GT-N7000

  • No support for LTE in the USA
  • No support for T-Mobile 3G data
  • No NFC radio

AT&T Galaxy Note, SGH-I717

The AT&T Galaxy Note can be purchased in Carbon Blue or Ceramic White for just $250 on Amazon Wireless, which is a great deal if you don't mind paying the $80+ a month for the next two years on AT&T.

Pros of the SGH-I717

  • Subsidized price on Amazon of $249 for new customers
  • Support in the US, if ever needed
  • NFC and T-Mobile HSPA+ can fairly easily be enabled
  • Accessories on the Samsung site are for this model
  • LTE support, if you have AT&T coverage

Cons of the SGH-I717

  • No physical hardware button
  • Non-subsidized price is higher than international version ($649 to 749)
  • Lots of AT&T bloatware is preinstalled
  • 1.5 GHz Snapdragon dual-core (tested to be slower than Exynos processor)
  • FM radio removed
  • Limited access to Samsung apps

Why I went with the international version and one caution for you

One of the reasons I purchased my own Galaxy Note was the amazing updated S-Pen features included in the upcoming Premium Suite update that also includes ICS. I figure the international one will get the update much faster than the AT&T one. I also LOVE the physical hardware button since it makes unlocking it much easier than using he power button on the upper right. I also did not want a contract and found this one a bit cheaper. My only real reasons for hesitating is the lack of NFC support and the fact I can't hack it to get T-Mobile 3G working.

One thing to keep in mind if you purchase a Galaxy Note is that the back panel of the Note is different between each of these two models and thus the Samsung Flip Cover must be purchased for your specific model. I bought an orange one from Amazon, but it doesn't fit the international model so I had to send it back and find another one on ebay. The clip size and openings are different between the two models.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Processors, Samsung, AT&T, Wi-Fi

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11 comments
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  • galaxy note

    So how are you liking the international model? Do you find any speed differences between ATT and international model? Was it easy to reset the APN to work with ATT?
    dentalexel
  • Why do carriers...

    in America have different standards and different models of each phone?

    To the outside world it is bewildering and distinctly odd, that the "same" phone often gets reviewed several times, yet although it is the "same" model, it has different specs and a slightly different name...

    Here, I walk into my local electronics store, select from the models available and then see what discount my carrier of choice offers on that phone.

    At the most, going into a carrier store gives me the same basic phone, but with carrier logo and bloatware. The specs don't change and it is easy to compare.

    I am currently looking around for a different contract and I can get some good deals, with unlimited data for $9 a month, and no / few inclusive minutes and SMS for another couple of bucks. As I send an average of half a dozen SMS a month and generally talk for less than 10 minutes, my current talk flat and unlimited SMS on my network are overkill...
    wright_is
  • LTE

    Isn't the lack of LTE support an issue? I assume this means you are limited to AT&T's 3g/edge network? (I admit I know LTE is a widely used not tightly defined term). I have a Pantech Element from AT&T (which is a great bargain) and I find the LTE speeds very impressive and the coverage is great (but I live in NYC). I would like to get the note and almost bought the international, but I don't want to tied to lower data speeds for the life of the device?
    df-zdnet
  • My Apologies...

    My question is the same, although I see that the inernational does support HSPA+ but I still wonder about LTE.
    df-zdnet
  • I bought N7000 in Aus through importer with Austalian 3rd part warranty

    That was at the end of last November.

    It has only just been released officially in Australia on two of the three top telcos, but the free apps (like Navigon) were enabled for Aus back in January.

    It was the first phone I ever bought outright, but it was worth it to get the functionality.

    Whether it gets ICS or not is not a concern for me, as I bought it for what it was, not for a possible future feature. However, I think it would be great with Win8 on it.

    One thing that is overlooked about it is that its display is 'retina' at 14" which is the distance at which I use it.

    We have a 4G USB dongle running on a laptop running ICS (Internet Connection Sharing), so I can directly compare 4G (LTE via the Note's WifI) vs the Note's native HSPA+ connection. Generally, the HSPA+ is half the speed of 4G for downloads (8-12Mbps) and a 1/5 for uploads (1-2 vs 10Mbps). Measurements were done with the Speedtest.net OOKLA app.
    Patanjali
  • almost got the international

    but, I saved the couple hundred and bought the ATT. I live in LTE country and have seen better than 30M down and 10M up.

    I've been with ATT since 1997, so the two year contract doesn't bother me at all, and the speed is better than my Cox cable speeds.
    timspublic1@...
  • Int'l or AT&T??? I don't care, I just want it on Verizon!!!

    I liked Matthew's article (have read other articles of his) and enjoyed it. I can see the conundrum that many Note Users would face.....Int'l version or Carrier supplied? As you can tell by my Subject Title, I would welcome either since I reside on Verizon's awesome network and exposed to their somewhat lackluster line up of smartphones. So I would take either Note'. I would just be happy to have one in my pocket, on my desk or in my hand. The funny thing is my spouse finally saw all the hoopla that I've trying to get her to notice about the Note and she wants one....period. So I explained to her, 'If we leave our grandfathered Unlimited Data Usage plan at Verizon.....well, it will cost us at AT&T'. She said she would be more than willing to make the change....that is, "if" Verizon doesn't get it's version of the Note. Which I'm sure will come with it's own bloatware and Verizon's twist and tweaks. For those who have Note's.....enjoy them....because at least you have them. :o)
    DJISNOONE
  • One Con you forgot.

    Absolutely no support from Samsung or your wireless provider in the USA. I have been stuck with a troublesome Omnia II with all of the Pros that I fell for - no contract, bloatware, etc. But try and repair it without a warranty! They will not even take it back to S. Korea, Singapore or wherever it originated. Never again will I shell out $600 for a dream (at the time) machine. Give me a contract!
    dave_deb@...
  • "straight" talk?

    Maybe I missed it, but is no one else curious about the Straight Talk option? I read an article (http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/2705) that stated the unlimited data is only unlimited for apps preinstalled on the phone. Internet and streaming not allowed?!?!?! That renders the plan useless doesn't it? Why have a great device like the note and not have a good data plan?
    Matthew, please expand a little on what your experience with Straight Talk has been, I'd love to think this is an interim option until Verizon gets the note...
    bigbluebadger
  • Galaxy Note: GT-N7000

    Great review Matt, thank you. I am reluctant to sign a two year contract with AT&T, or anyone else for that matter, but do want a Galazy Note. This article mentions that the GT-N7000 works well with a Straight Talk SIM card. In the intervening month have you changed your mind or made any new observations? I read in a 'Public Knowledge' review, Oct 19,2009 by Michael Weinberg, that Straight Talk, in its fine print heavily restricts Data usage. Also, are you aware of any other forums I could visit that discuss this issue and how the N-7000 works in the USA with 3rd party SIM cards? Thank you Sir for any help you can provide.
    Dognutz
  • Help

    I just received a Pink Note today. I'm currently on ATT network. I placed my sim card in and I get voice, but not data. When I called, of course ATT was no help at all. Does the phone require an LTE sim card? Mine is the reg 3g one since I've been using the Samsung Infuse. Please help!!!
    doraemon216