Samsung Galaxy Note 2, The Big brother of Samsung Galaxy S3 arrived in Pakistan in October last year and is available in two colors: Titanium Grey & Marble White at a price of PKR 66,000.
Our friends at Samsung got little late in sharing this review unit with us, but its never too late, so let’s get straight to the business:
[Un-boxing & Hands-on video is available at the end of review]
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 looks very similar to the popular Samsung Galaxy S3, but It’s Big – Really Big. It has an enormous 5.5 inch screen. Overall it is around 6 inches tall and 3.2 inches wide. Good news is that this phone is thin (about 0.37 inches) and not too heavy (around 183 grams).
The body is mostly made of glossy plastic – even the bezel is made of plastic with metal coating over it. The back of the phone is a finger print magnet. No doubt the plastic is very durable but a little touch of metal would have given a premium feel.
Above the screen there is a front-facing camera, along with there are light and proximity sensors in addition to ear speaker. Below the screen is a physical Home button with two touch-sensitive buttons for Menu and Back.
The Power/Lock button is on the right and volume rocker is on the left. The top houses the 3.5mm headset jack, the bottom has mic, Micro-USB port and the S Pen slot.
On the back, there is the primary Camera with LED flash. Beneath the back cover you have Battery slot, microSD card slot, which can hold up to 64GB in external memory and Micro-SIM card slot. The back cover is embedded with NFC.
Despite being this big Galaxy Note 2 provides a very comfortable hold. You can easily hold it with one hand while using other hand for operating phone. But if you have small hands then you might have to face some issues.
Galaxy Note 2 can fit easily in your jeans or even in the dress pant pocket but it looks terrible. A Jacket pocket would be fine though and same goes with ladies handbags.
Galaxy Note 2 is one of the most powerful devices in the world. Packed with Exynos 4412 chip-set, it has a speedy 1.6GHz quad-core Cortex processor and 2GB of RAM.
5.5 inch Super AMOLED display with 720p resolution and 267 ppi, Galaxy Note 2 provides stunning color contrast for movies and pictures.
The S Pen stylus is powered by Wacom’s digitizer technology which gives a very accurate writing experience.
Galaxy Note 2 is packed with Android Jelly bean 4.1.1 with the familiar TouchWiz interface on top, which offers great customization for lock screen, gallery and settings.
On booting up you get 7 screen with the option of selecting easy mode interface that provides widgets for frequently used apps and contacts. You can customize them all.
The buttons below the screen have secondary functions too, press and hold the menu touch sensitive button to get the new Google Search app with Google Voice Actions and Google Now.
Press and hold the Physical Home button to pull up your list of most recent apps. You can kill an app or go to task manager from here too. Double pressing the home button takes you to the Samsung voice assistant, S Voice which is not good as Apple’s Siri but still it is fun.
Pressing and holding the back button pops up a sidebar which offers split-screen multitasking. Using this feature will enable you to simultaneously open two apps on the same screen – You remember Note 2 has an enormous screen so let’s put it to some use, Navigating on the Maps and texting to your friends on same screen will sounds great, no?
This feature works in both landscape and portrait mode but the number of apps which support this feature are very limited.
Galaxy Note 2 has a variety of Motion features, like smart rotation and smart stay, which use the front camera to detect your face and keep the screen on and orientation according to your eyes as long as you are looking towards it. The pop ups will appear to guide you about the motion and other settings while using the phone.
Galaxy Note 2 has a Blocking mode similar to iPhone that lets you block calls, notifications, alarms and LED notification light, either all day or between certain hours. The block mode has an ‘Allowed contacts’ so only those people can call or text you.
S Pen Stylus:
We told you that the main attraction of Galaxy Note 2 is the gigantic screen, but S Pen makes the deal even more attractive. The Stylus is very comfortable to hold with Wacom’s digitizer technology 1,024 levels of pen-pressure sensitivity, which means you can press lightly or hard for different results.
The Pen has a physical button by pressing which you can perform different tasks.
When you take out the S Pen, a page pops up that allows you to perform various S Pen related tasks, also the Notification panel shows apps that can be used with S Pen.
Writing with S Pen is very accurate. The phone comes with a dedicated app for writing notes, which is called S Note, but you can bring a pop up note anywhere, while calling or texting or even watching a video – Just press the S Pen physical button and double tap the screen.
You can also digitally sign the Photos and add custom signatures to Email.
S Pen comes with Air View, a technology with which you don’t need to touch the screen instead you just hover the S Pen over photos and videos and a small thumbnail preview would pop up. You can also view frames of video by hovering just like you do with YouTube.
You can also scroll up and down, and from side to side. The Air View also gives you tool tips when you hover over them.
You can also take screen-shots using S Pen or take clippings, just press the S Pen and draw a closed shape around the area you want to copy.
The image can be sent to the clipboard, sent as an email, MMS, or can be saved in the S Note application. To make sure you don’t leave the S Pen, there is a detachment indicator which beeps when you walk without the S Pen (This feature normally doesn’t work as intended).
Camera & Video:
The Galaxy Note is packed with two Cameras – The Primary 8 MP camera is on the back powered with a LED flash light and 1.9 MP front facing camera. Sadly there is no dedicated key for Camera, but still you can take good photos if you hold the phone in two hands when shooting.
The Camera is powered by BSI (back side illuminated) technology which allows better quality shots in dimly-lit locations and the flash light is also very powerful. The pictures come out very sharp both outdoor and indoor and the SuperAMOLED screen makes them look even better. The Camera automatically focus itself but you can always tap on a specific object to focus it. Sadly the shutter speed is not the ideal and you might end up with blurry images if the subject is constantly moving.
There are lots of Camera settings and modes to play with, you can also take snapshots by voice, just say “Cheese” or “Capture” and it will take the shot (This feature mostly didn’t work for me). The front facing 1.9 MP also does the job well but a no match for the primary camera.
Video quality of Note 2 is also very good. You can record videos in 1920 x 1080 (HD) resolution to 320 x 240. The mic performs also very well. There are lots of effects and filters to play with. You can also record videos in slow-motion and fast-motion. We didn’t face any issue while recording videos of constantly moving objects. The camera focus worked well too.
Another interesting feature about video is that like any good camcorder you can also take still photos while recording the video. The volume rocker buttons can be used to zoom in or out.
The 3,100mAh battery of Galaxy Note 2 does the job very well. I have tested it by playing an online 3d multiplayer game, which uses Screen, Processor & GPU, Wi-Fi and Speakers. Note 2 battery provided 10 hours of continuous game play.
Remember this phone has a huge screen and a quad core processor which consumes more battery than any other device. There is also a power saving mode available which turns off the haptic feedback and lowers the brightness etc. You can also customize the settings and turn off the motion features to increase the battery time.
Packed with a speedy 1.6 GHz quad-core Exynos 4 processor, Galaxy Note 2 performance is very impressive and the jelly bean experience makes it even faster and to sweeten the deal there is the S Pen with so many features.
The big size of the phone creates some problems but after a while you would get used to it. Note 2 offers great experience for playing games, watching videos and browsing the internet. It is not a Tablet replacement but a better smartphone.
So if you are looking for a new phone and your budget is flexible – Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is the best choice.