Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Review
We’re publishing this review just in time for the multiple waves of consumer events for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. This 5.5-inch beauty will officially be available via Smart today (Friday, October 12) at their event in Power Plant Mall and you can get it at no cash out under their Unlimited Data Plan 2000 offering. It will also be launched as well by Samsung Philippines next week with an SRP of Php32,990 (unlocked, no contract). We’ve had it already for more than a week now and we’re ready to share with you guys our findings.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Spec Sheet
- 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos Processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16 / 32 / 64GB Internal Storage, expandable via micro SD
- 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD Display, 1,280 x 720 pixels (~267ppi)
- 8-megapixel Camera, LED Flash, 1080p Video Recording
- HSPA+ and LTE
- Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
- 3,100mAh Battery
- S Pen
- New S Pen Features and Applications
If you don’t have time to read the full review, here’s a quick one-liner summary: it’s one of the best Android devices we’ve ever used. Period. For more details, read on!
The Note 2 Breaks Stereotypes and Expectations
When the first Galaxy Note came out it was met with a lot of skepticism due to the 5.3-inch form factor. Tech writers even made fun of it by calling it a “phablet” (phone + tablet). However they eventually all got shut up after the Note sell incredibly well. If Apple created a new category when the launched the iPad, Samsung created another one with the original Galaxy Note. The Galaxy Note 2 is a massive step forward for this category and it continues to define a new way of mobile computing inspired by creativity, function, and entertainment.
One of the best improvements of the Galaxy Note 2 is the form factor. When Samsung announced that the Galaxy Note 2 would sport a bigger 5.5-inch screen, people were puzzled why they would increase the size even further. However it turns out that they increased it vertically. They actually decreased the width, making it slimmer compared to the original Galaxy Note. To make it more ergonomic they also adopted the rounded corners of the Samsung Galaxy S3. The result? It’s easy to hold and it feels so light in your hands. There truly is no other word to describe this device but amazing!
SEE ALSO: Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy Note 2
True to their “inspired by nature” theme, Samsung wanted to keep the design of the Galaxy Note 2 very minimalist. There are only a few visible buttons on the device. The volume rocker on the left side, the power button on the right side, the mini-USB port at the bottom, and the standard headphone jack at the top. Below the display is the physical “Home” button flanked by the usual “Menu” and “Back” buttons. The front-facing camera can be found beside the logo on top of the screen while the 8-megapixel shooter is at the back. The S Pen is is neatly “sheathed” in it’s holder at the bottom. Just like other Samsung smartphones, the back plate is removable. You can find the battery pack as well as the micro SD card and micro-SIM Card slots there. Extra batteries! Yay. 😛
Quad-core Processor + Project Butter = Blazing Fast Android
Samsung hit the ball out of the park when it came to the software and hardware integration. The 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor and 2GB RAM combined with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean’s Project Butter results into the smoothest executions of Android. It’s blazing fast and is right up there already with the snappiness and fluidity of iOS. I usually run my Galaxy Note 2 with a live wallpaper and several live widgets but it rarely slows down. Samsung and Google definitely deserve applause for this one!
Other than the smooth “butteriness” of the operating system and user interface, the Note 2 also shines in several other aspects of the software.
When it comes to gaming, the Galaxy Note 2 can give portable gaming handhelds a run for their money! One of our favorite games right now is NBA2k13 (see screenshot above) and it is a flawless gaming experience! The character animations are all fluid, colors are crisp, and there’s amazing detail as well in the graphics. The 5.5-inch display also gives you a better over-all appreciation for the games you play because you see more of them on the screen.
Multi-tasking done right!
Samsung also hit a homerun with their version of Multi-Tasking. Because of the processor, the RAM, and the 5.5-inch display, you can actually split the screen and run two simultaneous apps. This was initially introduced by the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 but Samsung has refined it and included more apps in what you can “cross-screen”.
SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
To use this feature, press down on the back button for a couple of seconds. A menu will then slide out of the side giving you a selection of apps you can put in the split screen. Just drag and drop the app you want to do this with and you can then see both of them on display. This works both for portrait and landscape.
I’ve used this feature often when I’m checking both Facebook and Twitter or when I’m watching a movie on the Galaxy Note 2 and a text message comes in. I can just pop open the Multi-Tasking drawer and drag out messages and read/reply to the SMS. Amazeballs right!?
Air View via the S Pen is a handy feature
With Air View you can hover your S Pen over certain stuff and it will give you a preview of the content. We’ve tried it on messages, e-mail, photo gallery albums and movie timelines. It’s a nice-to-have that can be useful sometimes, especially when you’re trying to find a particular scene in the TV series or movie that you’re watching on your Galaxy Note 2.
Epic experience watching videos
Speaking of watching TV series and movies, Samsung also did much better with their display for content consumption. While the total number of pixels decreased slightly, Samsung ditched pentile technology. This actually makes the black deeper and the images just smoother and sharper. Definitely the right move.
The 5.5-inch display combined with the expandable storage (via micro-SD Card) makes the Galaxy Note 2 a powerhouse portable media player.
The S Pen is a solid input and creativity tool
Samsung put a lot of time and resources into making the S Pen more intuitive, user-friendly, and useable. Fortunately their efforts paid off! They made three significant improvements to the S Pen which is now a viable input option for the Galaxy Note 2.
First, they made it longer, thicker, and they added a rubber tip. The result? Easier to grip and write. It’s simple ergonomics and we’re glad they were able to fix this with the Note 2.
Second, the made massive improvements with their handwriting recognition software. You can actually use the S Pen now to write your text messages or e-mails efficiently! This feature was already available in the first Galaxy Note but it really is far more accurate with the Galaxy Note 2.
Lastly, they made it easier for users to crop and capture stuff on the screen. This time around all you have to do is to press and hold the button on your S Pen, trace the image you want to capture on-screen, and then save it. It’s like the magic lasso feature of Photoshop.
There are other things you can do with the S Pen like scribbling down notes or drawing images via the S Note App or writing directly on your S Planner (calendar). The three features I listed above are just the ones we’ve used the most in the last 2 weeks.
8-Megapixel Shooter is a good day-to-day camera
Just like the Samsung Galaxy S3, the camera of the Galaxy Note 2 is packed with additional shooting modes and features. You have Burst Shot, Panorama, Best Photo, and a bunch of other settings and customizations. Ultimately it boils down to how you want to use the shooter. Usually I just set it at auto and then run the photos I take through an auto-correction app to get better images, lol.
Here are sample photos we took with the Galaxy Note 2 for your perusal:
As you can see it takes pretty good pictures, especially in good lighting. Sometimes though the photo gets too much exposure and the whites tend to dominate. Nothing some post shot editing can’t fix though!
SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S3 Review
Battery life is just off the charts! Crazy!
Now we get to one of the things that I love the most about the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 — the massive battery life. This device is powered by a huge 3,100mAh battery. Check out the screen capture of the battery life history we have below.
If you alternate turning on WiFi/3G and maintain brightness below 30%, you can easily hit more than a day of use before getting the need to charge. If you’re on 3G all the time then you can probably still hit around 14-15 hours (which is still exceptional compared to other smartphones).
Verdict: Galaxy Note 2 is Amazeballs! Go get one!
At the risk of sounding like Simon Cowell in his reality talent show judging quips, the Galaxy Note 2 makes it easy for us to give it a “yes!”. The ergonomic hardware design, gorgeous 5.5-inch display, highly improved S Pen software and hardware, ridiculous battery life, and buttery smooth user interface truly makes it one of the best Android devices in the market today.
When the first Galaxy Note came out, we recommended in our review for you guys to try it out first before buying. That recommendation is still true today but we’re much more confident that you’ll get convinced in actually getting one once you’ve held it in your hands.
Congratulations to Samsung and Google. You guys have a hot one!
Pricing and Availability
There are a lot of channels to get a Note 2 already in the Philippines. The most affordable option is getting via online sellers like Widget City (Php29,000). It should also be available in Samsung stores next week at Php32,990 SRP. Smart and Globe area already offering it under their postpaid plans as well.
SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Flip Cover REVIEW