The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is the direct successor to the original and remarkably successful Galaxy Note. The Galaxy Note almost single-handedly created the niche, yet thriving “phablet” industry, with its originally questionable size that sits somewhere between what one might consider a smartphone and a tablet. Knocked by many at first, and still to this day by a few less, the Galaxy Note managed to find its place in an ever increasing, yet oftentimes evolutionarily one-directional industry.
Where the Note and Note 2 really separate themselves from the pack is with their stylus, or “S-Pen” integration. It’s true that since the original Note many other “phablets” and tablets have begun to embrace styluses (we refuse to say “styli”, but you can go crazy with it if you want to), but few or none have done it quite so well as the Note series.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the S-Pen
The S-Pen is thin, easy to hold and easier to use. Its side-situated button for super-quick screen capture will probably turn out to be one of the line’s most enduring qualities and its ability to translate hand-writing in to fonted text borders on the downright impressive, assuming that your handwriting lies within the realm of legibility.
The Galaxy Note 2 has taken this key feature and improved it even further. Where the original Note had a metal tip that often led to minor scratching, the Note 2 has a rubber one. This not only protects the screen, but also improves traction and therefor makes writing and drawing feel a bit more natural. It’s almost as if one were writing on a page, except in this instance the screen is the hard surface and the softness of the paper has been transferred to the tip of the writing implement.
There have also been improvements made to the sensitivity of the pen, leading to greater potential for detailed drawings and accurate touch-ups, and the length has been increased to enhance comfort and the general ease of use.
Another addition is that, should you walk off without your S-Pen, the Note II will alert you. The system whereby this happens is fairly simple and based on the accelerometer. If the Note 2 detects that the stylus is not in its slot and that it has not been used in a while, any movement that jostles the phone in a similar way to walking will trigger the alert. It’s hardly a fool-proof system, but it’s easy on battery and should provide at least some level of reassurance for forgetful owners.
Specs and Hardware on the Note II
The Galaxy Note II is similar to the Galaxy S3 in many respects. This is hardly surprising, as we saw a the same kind of thing when the original Note came around the time of the Galaxy S II. There’s a powerful quad-core 1.6GB processor backed up by 2GB of RAM; a combination that should handle just about anything a user can throw at it.
The screen has increased in size from 5.3 to 5.5 inches, but bezel size has decreased meaning that there is little overall change to the physical size of the handset. The display itself sports a 720p HD resolution that, while certainly impressive, is well below the pixel density of a smaller device like the S3. Still, it offers a crisp and beautiful experience that should hardly leave the customer wanting.
Out-of-the-box the Note II comes running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Of course 4.2 would be nice, but 4.1 is still smooth and stable and a far better offering than Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
4G LTE support has been added, as well. This is great news for users in 4G enabled areas. With a large device like the Galaxy Note 2, network speed is especially important. The larger screen lends itself well to internet browsing, streaming and services and the Note series attracts many of its users for this reason specifically.
The 8MP camera is reportedly quite good, but we’re yet to test it out ourselves, unfortunately. From what we’ve seen it seems to be almost identical to the one found on the GS3 in terms of quality and low-light capture and the S3’s camera, while not the best in the market, is still an impressive shooter.
The WhistleOut Opinion
The Galaxy Note II is a device that people like to call “evolutionary, not revolutionary” and, much to the dismay of cliché critics everywhere, this is very much true. There are upgrades across the board, all of which are to the level of what one would expect between two generations of the same device.
Ultimately the Note II isn’t going to be for everyone. Like we said, phablets are a very niche market and are often dismissed for their huge size that can border on the absurd when used by a person of smaller stature. Yet, despite their ungainly bulk, the Note and Note 2 have and will continue to be popular for no other reason than that they fulfil a need and fulfil it well.
If you’re after an experience with a larger screen and are considering entering the phablet market, the Galaxy Note 2, or whatever comes after it, are definitely a smart bet.