Samsung Notes for the Galaxy Tab S (2023)

PROS

  • GIFs
  • edit photos and GIFs
  • instant Character Conversion (ICR)

CONS

  • Available on limited devices
  • Custom colours are difficult to use
  • No font options for text

Pricing and supported OS

Samsung Notes is a free handwriting note-taking app for Samsung devices on Android. It’s not available on iOS/iPadOS or any desktop OS (macOS, Linux or Windows). If you’re using the app on a device that is NOT a Samsung one, let us know in the comments section. For this review, we’re using the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, running the latest Android of course.

Creating notes

Samsung Notes has an impressive collection of page templates, for a free app. You can choose from the ones the app has, or add custom ones to the app’s library. Your templates can either be images or PDFs. We imported our digital notebooks into Samsung Notes to use as templates and we love this setup. You don’t have to keep importing the notebook each time you want to use it! You can save it as a template that is just a few clicks away.

Page customisation is important for a note-taking app, users ought to have options. For the native templates in the app, Samsung Notes doesn’t tell you the size of your paper templates. That is why we love the fact that you can import your custom templates that you’re familiar with. That way, you won’t fret over the size of the paper templates in the app.

You can get a copy of our minimalist digital notebooks, from our online shop. We will have a link in the description below. In Samsung Notes, you can even change the colour of your pages from a decent variety. This also changes everything in the app, except the toolbar.

User interface

The user interface in Samsung Notes is minimalist and modern. By default, the toolbar is on the top of your screen, but you can move it to your preferred side of the screen and pretty much anywhere. The app looks more minimalist with the toolbar on the side. Since Noteful, toolbars make sense on the left side of the screen. For an even more minimalist look, you can go full screen mode to remove the status bar at the top. You can also customise the second part of your toolbar, in Samsung Notes, by removing, adding or rearranging the icons.

Pen tools

Samsung Notes has four pen tools, you will definitely find something that works for you. The app also has a pencil tool with opacity options. For all these writing tools have a thickness ranging from 1-100 (the widest range we have seen in a note-taking app). You can also get a colour palette with some preset swatches that you can’t customise, but you can choose which ones appear on your palette.

Though the app has all the necessary tools for picking custom colours, adding them to your colour palette is not very intuitive. It requires several steps, especially when you have many swatches on your palette. That is why we love the favourites toolbar where you can save your frequently used pens for easier access.

The handwriting experience in Samsung Notes is amazing! You don’t get that writing-on-glass feeling you get on the iPad. It feels like the S pen rubber tip helps a lot with that. You get a smooth writing experience on the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra that produces accurate handwriting, every note-taker’s dream. Adding stroke sounds to your pen tool enhances your handwriting experience in Samsung Notes, which we absolutely love. The thinner and smaller S pen is much better than the Apple Pencil but we’ll cover that in a different video.

Highlighter tool

Samsung Notes has two types of highlighters that go behind your ink, which makes information pop out. You can adjust the size, opacity and colour of your highlighter, as well as save it to the favourites toolbar.

Zoom tool

The writing tools in Samsung Notes all use vector ink. It doesn’t pixelate when you zoom in, we expect nothing less. The app displays your zoom percentage as you zoom in and out of pages, which is awesome! You can zoom your pages up to 600%. Pages snap at full width but we would love them to snap at 100% as well. You can then lock your zoom level to keep your notes consistent.

The zoom tool in Samsung Notes only zooms in a tiny section of your notes. It makes it difficult to use, it should have a wider range to fit in a bigger chunk of the page. You can auto-advance your zoom window or move it manually. This is probably our least favourite feature in Samsung Notes.

Eraser tool

The eraser erases per stroke and per pixel. It has a size range from 1-10. You can erase the highlighter only or clear all your handwritten annotations/notes (for the entire document or just the current page).

Text tool

Samsung Notes supports body text that you add directly to the page and you can also use text boxes; few apps support both. You can format your text, to make it bold, italic, strikeout, underline or highlight. You can change your font size but not the font itself. Samsung Notes has one font, which is a bit limiting for those of us that like playing around with fonts.

You can align your text to the left, centre or right. The app supports interactive checklists that get dimmed and struck out as you complete them; the best kind of interactive checklists. You can also create very basic numbered and unnumbered lists. These have one numbering and bullet point type that does not support levels in your lists. Lists are more useful when we can create levels for them.

Samsung Notes has very simple text boxes that you can move them around on the page and rotate. The background colour for your text is actually a highlighter. Text boxes in Samsung Notes are the simplest we’ve encountered in a note-taking app.

Items you can add to your notes

Shapes

You can draw simple shapes with your S pen. Samsung Notes limits this to basic regular shapes; circles, triangles, squares, etc. We feel this is the best way to draw shapes in the app because you can erase them. They pretty much behave like ink, which is intuitive. The shapes tool lets you draw irregular shapes, curves, and arrows. Samsung Notes can’t add arrows to your curves though. So, all your curves don’t have arrows and all arrows are straight ones. It’s a bit limiting.

The app automatically snaps the edges of your shapes together. The problem with using the shapes tool is that the app doesn’t register them as ink. You, therefore, can’t erase them with your eraser tool. It can be a bit confusing. We prefer just drawing our shapes, without relying on the shapes tool. You can then do the following:

  • change the border thickness and its colour.
  • rotate and resize your shapes.
  • Autofill regular shapes drawn with the shapes tool. This does not work for freehand drawn shapes or irregular ones. Once drawn, you can’t change your shapes.

Photos

You can add images (both .jpeg and .png) and gifs to your notes in Samsung Notes. Your GIFs only animate when you’re not editing your notes. Cropping your images can use a rigid/rectangular shape, or freehand.

You can wrap text around your images, resize and rotate them. Samsung Notes also lets you shrink or stretch your images. The coolest feature is the ability to edit your images and gifs, which has too many features that it requires a dedicated video.

Audio recording

You can record audio while handwriting or typing your notes, in Samsung Notes. The app syncs your audio recording to both, which we’re always excited to see in a note-taking app.

You can speed up the playback up to 2.0x or slow it down to 0.5x. You also have 10 sec fast-forward and rewind options. Tapping on a section of your notes skips through the audio. The timeline indicates different audio recording sessions in your notebook and you can rename each of them. You also have an option to turn off the sync if you don’t like it. The app can also export your audio recordings, just the recordings, out of the app. That is pretty much all you need for a decent audio recording tool in a note-taking app.

Drawings

You can add drawings to your notes in Samsung Notes. The app takes you to a completely different canvas with a grey background. Those who are more artistic than I, will certainly love this feature. Can’t help but wonder if these tools are enough for professional drawing. You also get an eraser that erases per pixel; appropriate for drawings.

When you add the drawings to your notes though, it keeps the grey background. We were hoping that would disappear. Your drawings behave more like images, so you can resize, rotate, etc. Everything you can do with images, you can do with your drawings in Samsung Notes. If you like drawing, let us know if this is a feature you’d love to try out.

Scanning

You can scan documents into your notes. Samsung Notes can automatically recognise documents. You can then crop your scan to remove any edges you don’t want before adding it to your notes as an image. The app doesn’t have a PDF option for your scans. We have seen better scanning features and we hope this is something Samsung can work to improve. You can’t even search your the text in the scans, this is Samsung Notes’ worst feature so far.

Lasso tool

Samsung Notes has freehand and rectangular lasso tools that picks up everything on your page (at once). It’s also possible to pick up individual items by carefully selecting them (in case of your handwriting). You get different options for you lasso tool depending on what you’ve picked up on the page. You can check out the full list of these on our website.

FeaturesHandwritingTextImages
Cut, copy, paste, delete✔️✔️✔️
Change style✔️
Convert to text✔️
Straighten✔️
Move forwards or backwards✔️✔️✔️
Clipboard✔️✔️✔️
Share✔️✔️
Crop✔️
Select all✔️
Anchor to text✔️
Lock
Wrap text around✔️
Fit to page width✔️
Edit image✔️
Share✔️
Save image✔️

Changing the style for your handwritten notes adjusts the pen thickness and colour. Samsung Notes does not show these changes in real-time. You can only see them after you’ve saved them, which is not ideal. Seeing your changes in real-time helps you decide if you like them or not, before saving. Let’s hope this is something our developers can bring to the app.

When using plain paper templates, it’s difficult to write in straight lines. Samsung Notes can straighten your handwritten notes. You can also copy anything to the clipboard, which you can access, pretty much anywhere. It contains all the items you copy from the app. We love the clipboard as it lets you paste items for longer use than the copy and paste feature. You can still use items you copied last week and delete them when you no longer need to use them.

Final verdict

There’s still a lot we need to cover for this app, but, we’re very excited about all the things you can do in Samsung Notes. We love it so much that we don’t hesitate to recommend this app for anyone with a Samsung tablet. In fact, this app is so impressive, it’s probably worth considering getting a Samsung tablet over an iPad. Especially because Apple is pushing more and more apps towards subscriptions. For note-taking, this free app is all you’ll need if you get this tablet.

Share:

Leave a Reply

*

On Key

Related posts