The Galaxy Note 2. The ultimate ‘phablet’ smartphone that is taking the nation by storm. Released at the end of 2012, Samsung’s larger sibling to the Galaxy S III is a huge success for Samsung. So you may be thinking to yourself, is this phone for me? What makes it so special? Will the phone size bother me? All this will be answered in our full review of Samsung’s Galaxy Note II.
If you hold the smartphone in your hand, you’ll notice that, yes, it is quite a large device. The first time I held it in my hand I couldn’t get over the fact how large it really was. Compared to other smartphones, it’s gigantic. It sports a 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED screen (1,280 x 720-pixel resolution) which makes this screen very nice and bright to see. Even in direct sunlight. Compare this to the iPhone’s 5′s 4-inch screen (or the 4S’s 3.5 inch) it makes it look like David and Goliath. It’s 16:9 ration allows for superior playback quality. This device is massive, however, it doesn’t feel like a brick. It’s 5.9 inches tall by 3.2 inches wide by 0.37 inch thick and weighing 6.4 ounces. It has a standard smooth feeling plastic that Samsung is used to implying in it’s smartphones. Yet, it may be cheap plastic but it has aluminum trim around the screen edges. The Note II also is a bit slippery. So you may want to invest in a case just so it doesn’t slip out of your hand. I’ve had a couple close calls myself.
Going back to the screen size, you might have a little trouble with one handed features. I have big hands so it’s not problem working the phone with one hand. However, you do get used to it after just a couple of days of use. Holding the phone up to your head and talking may look a little funny at first but you get over it very quick but if it still bothers you, you could invest in a nice bluetooth device to answer and make phone calls.
Along the sides you’ll find the power button and volume rocker. Then on the top you’ll find a 3.5 mm headphone jack which will fit almost any headphone set, however Samsung provides you with a nice pair inside the box when you get your new smartphone. You don’t have any physical key buttons besides a rectangular home button right smack dab on the bottom on the screen. You’ll notice that it has home and back touch sensitive that light up when you need them. The device all around is a good looking device but it’s nothing compared to the build quality and sexiness that Android phones HTC makes. It’s still plastic and scratches easily. However, the touchscreen is protected by Gorilla Glass, so unlike the Galaxy Nexus, you won’t get those scratches on the screen in the first couple of days.
Once you open the box and power on your Galaxy Note II, you can see that it’s running Google’s Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean) OS. Samsung also overlays it’s TouchWiz UI which as greatly improved over the years. It’s snappy, great appearance and they removed a lot of the unnecessary apps and features that a lot of us didn’t care for.
Powering the device we have Samsung’s Exynos quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A9 processor and pair that with the 2 GB of RAM we have ourselves a VERY fast device. Over the few weeks that I have been using the smartphone, I’ve noticed only one or two hiccups when using the Note II. It will do more than you can imagine. Playing games, watching movies, and not to mention the multi-window feature is amazing (check that out in our video review). The only thing I wish Samsung would get rid of is S-Voice. When you hold down the home button, Samsung’s S-Voice voice command feature appears and is so much worse than Apple’s Siri. It was like Samsung through it together in a quick hurry and they haven’t improved it since. Google Now is my ultimate go to. By holding down the menu touch button Google Now opens up. I wish there was a way to substitute S-Voice’s home button with Google Now. If anyone knows, let us know! That would be great!
The Galaxy Note II comes with a massive 3100 mAh battery which in my tests last about a day and a half with very heavy use. This includes playing some games (i.e. MC4, Ruzzle, ect) checking emails, texting all day long, watching some YouTube videos and surfing the web. I am very impressed with the battery life. I did notice in the Samsung owners manual that you are not to let your phone drain out all the way before putting it on the charger. I know we do this from time to time to ‘condition’ our batteries but Samsung claims it depletes the longevity of the battery. An interesting point I thought I would point out.
The phone comes in three different memory sizes, 16/32 and 64 GB of internal memory. However, I noticed that on the T-Mobile 16 GB version, they only give you around 10 GB of memory while on the Sprint side they give you 14 GB. Now before we go further on sizes, I wanted to point out something to you about the Micro SD card. Apps do not install on the SD Card. Google removed the ‘Apps2SD’ feature sometime in the Jelly Bean update. So only pictures, videos and music install on the SD card. While I have tons of games I love to play on my smartphone, I feel like I’m limited to what I can download and install because I do not want to take up all of the internal memory. Google… WHAT WERE YOU THINKING when you took this feature away!?!?! If you have your device rooted, then you should have no trouble at all transferring all your stuff to the SD card.
The phone comes with a nice 8MP rear camera (3264×2448 pixels) with auto focus, LED Flash and tons of cool little photo editing tools. It also sports a 1.9 MP front facing camera for video chat and snappy some quick ones. You can record in full 1080p video which records at 30fps. You also have the usual Bluetooth (v.4.0), GPS, NFC proximity and light sensors, and so on. The speaker on the back is nice and loud which gives for some great hearing when your on the phone or playing games. You can especially hear it well when your outside, like most phones, you’ll have to hold the speaker to your ear. Another bonus point for the Note 2. However, when you have it at full volume the phone will buzz, which isn’t a bad thing but can annoy some people.
On T-Mobile’s network it works very well with it’s 4G HSPA+ network. You’ll get download speeds between 10 – 21 mbps. Rumor also has it that the T-Mobile GN2 has a hidden LTE radio dormant inside that when T-Mobile ever rolls out it’s LTE network, you’ll be able to take advantage of those LTE speeds. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint are already LTE enabled.
The S-Pen Stylus:
The best thing about the Galaxy Note II is it’s Stylus S-Pen. It takes no batteries so we aren’t sure what magically powers this stylus. Once you wield out the phone’s signature pen from it’s holster you’ll come to notice that it is very easy to hold in the hand. All it has it has on it is one simple click button which is easy to click. Instead of going into the writing portion of this review, we made a nice video showing you all what the S-Pen can do! Check it out in the video below.
If you wanted a phone with a big screen but don’t feel the need for a tablet then this is the device for you. It may be large but it does fit snugly in my side pocket. A lot of you out there are concerned with the size but once you use this phone for the first few days, you do grow accustomed to it. However, if you do want something a little smaller, we recommend on getting the Galaxy S III or wait for the new HTC One. The S-Pen is huge bonus for this device and definitely draws us to this phone. The downside to this device is the hefty pricetag. At $299.99 (with a new two year contract), could be a major turn off for some. However, due to it’s amazing specs and storage space the phone is future proof. You’ll most likely get the next Google OS (rumored as Key Lime Pie) and Samsung will totally support this device for the length of it’s life. It’s an investment that is totally worth it.
So do you have the Galaxy Note II? Are you liking it so far? What are your pros and cons? Or are you still debating on getting this one? Are there more questions you have before you go get one of your own? Let us know in the comments below. We want to hear what you all think.