Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Review: Bigger and Better
If you want a happy medium between an Android smartphone and tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will delight you. The jumbo size isn't for everyone, but you get to enjoy quick performance, cutting-edge software and a solid build.
The Note 2 is an entertainment powerhouse and an equally potent communication center. It cuts a thin profile at just 9-millimeters, and despite its generous height and width, you can still juggle it with one hand. At just shy of six inches tall, it looks like a super-sized version of the Galaxy S3, and you may feel a little silly with it up to your ear. But the big size speaks to the enormous power.
It features a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED screen -- one of the most colorful and vibrant displays on the market, and absolutely massive to boot. Movies and videos look fantastic -- so detailed and sharp, and with equally excellent sound quality, you may have to restrain yourself from yelling in fear as you watch "Avatar" or muffle your impulse to sing along with "Glee." But the larger size means you should look elsewhere if you want a compact gadget to slip in your pocket without a noticeable bulge.
With a 720-by-1,280 resolution, and a true 16:9 aspect ratio ideal for multimedia, the Note 2 comes with a few less pixels than the original Note, which clocks in with an 800-by-1,280 resolution. But you won't notice the 80 missing pixels, since the screen looks detailed and very clear, with fine-tuned color representation and very dark blacks. Images keep their clarity from any viewing angle, so it is ideal for crowded subways when you have to squeeze in among strangers and can't hold the device in front of you.
You may see the stylus and assume it's a relic compared with trendy touch-only display set-ups, but it's actually an innovative instrument -- when you pull "S Pen" out of its cozy hiding place along the bottom of the phone, you're removing a powerful tool. The original Note introduced S Pen, Samsung's software-stylus combo that lets you write and draw with pressure sensitivity.
Samsung touts it as more accurate that other input methods, but the original had mixed results. S Pen transforms the Note 2 into a full-fledged digital notepad and added templates, making it easier to write with a variety of nib sizes, so you draw with precision or paint in broad strokes. Plus, it's amazing if you're a college student who studies science or math: when you write a formula, it'll change it into the correct typed characters.
You don't even have to touch the stylus to the screen for many functions -- "Air View" lets you browse while you hover the pen over the display. That means you can do some cool tricks, like record things that happen on your screen -- a moving screenshot -- perfect if you want to show a demo without blocking the view. And for websites with drop down lists, you can hover over them to see the options.
The only negative about the stylus: it's kind of hard to figure out. Download a copy of the user manual from Google Play, since there are a number of shortcuts and tricks you can learn that aren't immediately obvious, as well as customization options.
Meanwhile, the 8-megapixel camera snaps clear, vivid photos and records 1080p high-definition video -- on par with the original Note. You can focus with the touch of the screen, and illuminate dim environments with the exceptionally powerful LED flash. All the Galaxy S3 filters are here too, like Best Photo, which takes a rapid succession of photos and chooses the best one. I found it to be a lifesaver when I wanted to capture a great group photo. Best Photo is my favorite, and fits neatly into a roster of equally useful apps, like Face Detection and Panorama. If you enjoy photography, you'll appreciate the ISO and exposure settings, which you can fiddle with to get a precise look.
But the camera comes with a few flaws. A slow shutter means you'll miss the unexpected photo-op, so if you have a skateboarding enthusiast kid or you are an avid birder, you'll find yourself frustrated. I did. The second 1.9-megapixel front-facing lens is functional, but not especially noteworthy.
The Note 2 runs on the Android, 4.1, dubbed "Jelly Bean." Bolstered by Google's Project Butter, Android is smoother and easier to navigate than ever before. If you plan on using the S Pen, stick with the pre-loaded TouchWiz skin, since they're configured to work together. TouchWiz's cutesy look and annoying water droplet sound effects is kind of annoying, but it's easy to figure out, especially if you've used the S3.
Jelly Bean comes with Google Now, an assistant app that grows more customized the longer you use it. It organizes information on "cards" that you can pull up when you need them. Some are great, like the traffic card, since it uses Google's sophisticated Maps program. But if you want to do more than find your way to an appointment or look at your flight schedule, Google Now is pretty limited. Hopefully, the next update will make it more useful.
Google Now is the biggest change to Android, but the notifications area on the Note 2 improves on the original, and you can also now pinch to look at your e-mails. Voice control is better too, but "S Voice" needs improvement. It's overly fickle when it comes to spelling: if the voice thinks you say "Call Merry" instead of "Call Mary," it won't recognize your contact. So if you have homonym-sounding friends, or accented English, you're in for a disaster.
While the software has some disappointments, the Note 2 comes with unimpeachable hardware. Take, for example, its powerful 1.6-gigahertz quad-core chip -- one of the fastest on the market -- and 2-gigabytes of RAM, which powers apps smoothly, no matter how many are in the background. They keep the Note 2 up to speed.
On a phone so perfect for movies, music and other multimedia, storage is a concern. The Note 2 comes with an ample 16-gigabytes internally, but you can slip in a microSD card with up to 80-gigabytes on it. In other words, you can start a pretty impressive library on the slim device.
With such a large display it makes sense to assume the Note 2 goes through power quickly. But Samsung anticipated the power drain and included a whopping 3,100 mAh battery for plenty of juice, enough to last you through two days with reasonable use. If you love apps and multimedia, you can still expect to stay juiced up throughout the day. Short of Motorola's Maxx HD, it doesn't get any better than that.
The Note 2 is a unique product, and while it's a great phone, the tablet functions are its most attractive qualities. It's a great device to consume media on the go and an equally competent Web browser. The stylus makes digital note-taking a pleasure, though S Pen isn't the easiest to use. So if you're a doodler or a scribbler, it's a fun gadget. But if you want for an everyday phone, the Note 2 is cumbersome. So hold it, slip it in your pocket, try it out -- just make sure you see it in person first. ♦
Super AMOLED HD (Gyroscope / Accelerometer / Compass / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
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April 17, 2013
Lost 2 screen
Speed, look, apps of google play.
But have basic screen design problem.
After a week it got slip from my hand and screen got cracked and stopped working.
I bought a new screen, after a month that got cracked in my pocket only (without any impact).
So I recommend you not to by this model or any Samsung big screen phone as the screen is exposed.
And if it is cracked then expansive to replace them.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.
September 30, 2012
Better Than the Best
I used to be the proud owner of the original Galaxy Note -- I say "used to" because as soon as I got the Note 2, I never picked up the Note again -- and I couldn't be happier!
When the phone arrived, I couldn't wait to turn it on. Fortunately, it came in the package with some juice in it. Once I charged it up, I was able to get a full day's worth on it, whereas I'd usually die three quarters into the day with the original.
I'll start from the exterior -- it's absolutely gorgeous. The screen is bigger, and amazingly, it retains the same size. It's really easy to hold and comfortable in the hand. The display is easy to view and feels too.
This sounds like a small issue, but the speaker is even better -- it's the best. Calls blast out loud and clear, but did you know you can even play music aloud? It's fantastic to listen to. I just set it on my desk and play away.
The S Pen function is more comfortable now too. You can hover over things to bring up a display of an e-mail or other tasks. The pen itself is more comfortable too, and you really don't realize how useful it is until you use other phones.
It runs on Jelly Bean, so you won't have to wait for an Android update to get pushed out. Overall, it's sleeker and more streamline. And it's easier to move around the menu and get notifications. Speaking of interface, the Note 2 has a better gallery display. You can choose patterns to show off your photos -- like a circular format, or a spiral -- it's kind of fun.
Lastly, Android makes transferring over contacts and content a breeze. Just sign in with your Google account and everything happens automatically -- like magic.
I'm telling everyone to buy a Note 2.
The small grumble I have isn't with the phone. I can't find accessories. I guess they weren't released at the same time. Anyway, until then, you'll have to be very careful with the phone.Was this review helpful to you?
85 out of 90 people found this review helpful.
September 28, 2012
Even Better Than the Original
This is my second Galaxy Note. After using the original Note, I was excited to get my hands on the Note 2. I've always felt the iPhone and S3 were too small, and I needed a larger screen to do things like read e-books, VNC into my PC and browse the Web. Tablets are a bit too large to fit into my pocket, so the Note seemed like the best of both worlds.
First off, the thing that surprised me out of the box was the screen size -- and that's a good thing. The display is larger than the original, and yet, Samsung managed to reduce the overall size of the device. Bigger screen, smaller package -- the display now takes up more of the front, with a smaller bezel around the edge. Amazing.
It's a bit narrower than the original, but now it's easier to use with one hand. There's not much difference in the weight, which can be a bit heavy, but personally, I've gotten used to the heft after using the original for so long. The build material is so-so, and I sort of wished they used a premium metal casing, despite the heavier weight.
The image quality and clarity is as good as it gets -- it's not much different than the original's screen, but it was already top-notch. It's just awesome.
There have been a lot of gripes on S Pen, and rightfully, it wasn't the best. The Note 2 improves on the stylus and software with a better connection to the LCD -- so you have far more options to control the writing and drawing functions. The stylus itself is longer and much easier to hold too.
Aside from this, the other major improvement is the performance. I had problems with the original sometimes lagging when several apps were running in the background. There's none of that on the Note 2. I've yet to be able to slow this phone down. The Note 2 just flies through everything I throw at it, and much more.
I get around 20 percent more juice from the battery, and the speaker is louder and clearer too.
Overall, I couldn't be happier with the Note 2. After using the original Note, I was hesitant to switch because I was pretty satisfied. But boy, if you're looking for a smartphone to watch videos, browse the Web and read e-books, it's a fantastically big device.
The few gripes I have are with the camera. It's not bad, but there's no improvement over the original's lens. Of course, the size isn't for everyone, so try to play with it in person. That's about all I can think of.Was this review helpful to you?
87 out of 93 people found this review helpful.
January 01, 2013
Good But Annoying Interface
Aside from the features everyone always talks about, I'd like to point out that the battery is great. I can get through the day, which is a major hurdle for most phones with a screen this big. After 24 hours, I'll still have around 5 percent of juice left.
The display, of course, is the highlight. But if you were expecting one of the best screens on the market, you'll be disappointed. Now, it's good, but it's not great. It's just not that bright, even the screen on the S2 is more vivid. Very disappointing, considering HTC can throw a superb display on a 5-inch behemoth like the DNA.
I've never really been a fan of Samsung's TouchWiz interface. I guess there are some features that are useful, but overall, it adds too many warning menu popups that make it annoying to use. It's as if Samsung designed it for the novice in mind. I'm pretty knowledgeable about Android, and all these popups, which add a second or two, make the software a pain to use.
Another gripe is how it clears all the default apps whenever I reboot. That means I'll have to waste a minute or two to choose the launcher, keyboard, browser, and other features.
I guess it's good for people who set the wrong feature and don't know how to set it back, but, again, it's completely slows down people who know what they're doing.
TouchWiz isn't all bad, I suppose. There's a nifty gesture control that lets you, for example, make a call just by lifting the phone up to your ear. If you want to take a screenshot, you can do it by just swiping a finger across the display. These little things make the phone more enjoyable to use, but unfortunately, not enough to cover up the annoyances.
Don't get me wrong, it's a good phone. But I can't give it full marks.Was this review helpful to you?
44 out of 49 people found this review helpful.
October 03, 2012
Cutting-Edge Tech in Your Hand
I got my Note 2 earlier this month, and I haven't put it down yet!
If you're worried about the size, don't be. It doesn't feel uncomfortable in my pocket, and it just takes a week or two to get used to. After that and you'll think other devices are too small. Hah.
Anyway, this phone is incredibly fast -- all the apps load smoothly and it doesn't lag or slow down one bit. The 5.5-inch display is just amazing. It's by far the best screen I've seen and I don't think I could go back to a smaller device.
The Note 2 used to have multitasking issues, but Samsung just updated the software a few days ago, so the problems are fixed.Was this review helpful to you?
38 out of 45 people found this review helpful.
November 05, 2012
A Little Too Big
I was debating whether to get the Galaxy Note 2 or a tablet, and I went for the Note 2. Listening to music is great too. Samsung's phones are pretty great at playing lossless files.
The display is great, but it's a pretty big device, almost to the point of being too big to use comfortably -- I have average-sized hands.
After a few weeks, I'm still a bit uncomfortable when typing on it. I'm hoping I'll eventually get used to it like what other people say, but I have my doubts.
I have a bit of buyer's remorse, and think I should have gone with the Galaxy S3, which feels much better. But, when browsing the Web, the Note 2 is unmatched -- same when you watch videos, view pictures and read the news.
The battery life is not that great, so I'd suggest getting another battery -- in case you forget to charge it. I leave my Wi-Fi on all the time.Was this review helpful to you?
34 out of 42 people found this review helpful.
October 29, 2012
Blazing Is an Understatement
I bought the Note 2 knowing it would be big, but I didn't know it was this hulking huge. It took me about a week to get used to it, but now I'm hooked. I won't be able to go back to a 3.5-inch device anymore.
The other thing that surprised me was the speed of the phone. Blazing is an understatement. For instance, loading Chrome is nearly instantaneous. Webpages fly by, it's so fast -- also partly due to Verizon. It's by far, one of the best phones you can buy. The iPhone 5 and iOS 6 look like last year's models compared to the Note 2.
If you're debating between the S3 and the iPhone, go with the iPhone. You won't regret it. I didn't.Was this review helpful to you?
38 out of 47 people found this review helpful.
November 28, 2012
What attracted me to this phone was the extra-large screen. And it's exceeded all my expectations. The big display makes everything easier to read -- webpages, emails, texts. Watching videos is equally enjoyable. I take it with me on business trips and use it as a note-taking, saving me from bringing a laptop. If you're working if it's too big, let me tell you that I have no troubles with the size. There's plenty of power from under the hood, and the battery life is long. Coming from the iPhone, after using the Note 2 for a day, I was hooked -- and you will be too.
The power button is located on top of the device -- sort of in an awkward position. It's also hard to tell if the button is pressed or not.Was this review helpful to you?
9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.
December 06, 2012
Great Phone with a drawback
Screen size, durability, ease of phone, fast processes, 1 handed dialing, Big Numbers
S voice is great, Internet fast with wifi, battery life is good, Probably the best phone I ever had
I hate how you have to answer phone with swipe, voice answer does not work good, only had the phone freeze once, Just reset phone, has not happened againWas this review helpful to you?
6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.
January 19, 2013
i LOVE the multi tasking features it has, I'm a person who wants to do everything at once... and this phone is awesome for that! Huge screen. Loud speaker, very user friendly. So many things this phone does. Its sUPER FAST! and for an impatient person (me) ITs AMAZING!
I had a bad experience with my 1st one I got brand new almost when it came out, the phone literally tumbled over my flip flop on the floor at home and my screen broke, so that can happen VERY EASILY with this phone because it its size. I was so mad I almost went back to the iphone. But I stuck it through AND its fallen again but nothing happened. Its all good though. Its a keeprWas this review helpful to you?
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.
March 21, 2013
i love about this phone that it has large screen.it is android.awesome camera.
nothingWas this review helpful to you?
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.
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