The ‘phablet’ concept doesn’t seem to have worked well for Dell and then Samsung tried its luck with some care taken towards the features so that it doesn’t fail to attract atleast a group of consumers. And then they launched the Galaxy Note with a tempting S Pen. Initially it was criticised for its huge size, but slowly everyone understood the phablet concept and started to take a look at the Note. What then formed is a huge acclaim and fanfare appreciating the phone, its features and its weapon, the S Pen. What tempted most of the consumers is, the functionality of the S Pen itself. Then the legacy of phablets started to rise and the Note series still wins the competition for what it offers. Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 2 with many more improvements and features. Let us see what Samsung has done here and where the Note 2 ends up in the segment.
Design & Display:
The Note 2 looks almost similar to Galaxy S3. The similar form factor, curves edges, and the finishing on the sides looks exactly like the S3 but with a bigger screen and size. Most of the material used for the build is plastic with a hyperglaze finishing. However, the phone is lighter and slimmer than its predecessor and somewhat feels easier to hold than the formal. Build quality is well improved and it is more comfortable to operate this time when compared to the original Note. The phone comes with a 5.5 inch Super AMOLED 720p display with 267 ppi. The display is wonderful and it is much improved than its predecessor. Viewing angles are very wide, the colors look natural and crisp enough and it’s a pleasure to view high quality videos and images. Overall we are very impressed the Note 2 has evolved in terms of design and display.
The device comes with Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz UI on top of it. Users can now upgrade to 4.4.2 KitKat via software update. Most of the interface including icons, widgets and homescreen setup are similar to that of S3. The notification panel looks familiar with the ones we have seen in other Samsung devices. Samsung has done quite an impressive work on TouchWiz and the UI feels more responsive and buttery smooth on this device. One of the notable new features in the UI is the gallery app which has 3 different view modes with 3D spacing, which looks cool. Another cool feature is video pop out feature, where the video can be moved into a small window which can float anywhere on the screen and you can work with the rest of the apps while watching the video. We will talk more about the features in features section. Overall the UI runs pretty smooth and we hardly faced any lags.
The device comes with an 8 MP Auto focus camera with LED flash at the back and a 1.9MP cam at the front. The camera UI is pretty similar to the ones we have seen in other Samsung Android phones. Samsung has loaded a bunch of scene modes, tweaks and various options like geotagging, HRD, Panorama, Smile Shot, Low Light etc. Focusing is good and there is not much shutter lag and the camera is able to take pictures quickly. The image quality is very good for an 8MP camera. There is a great amount of detail and colors look natural and better than its predecessor. But in low light, like most of the phones, there is good amount of noticeable noise and images look a bit grainy. The speaker present at the bottom has good loudness levels and produces a very clean output.
Connectivity & Additional features:
The phone comes in single sim version, supporting one micro sim card. Network reception is good and we didn’t face any issues like call drops or whatever. Call quality is also decent and both the speaker and microphone did a fine job producing a good call experience. The device also supports Wi-Fi 802.11, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G and GPS. NFC is again an added bonus considering its premium price. Internal memory is of 16/32/64 GB based on the variant. The device also supports micro SD cards upto 64GB.
Coming to the features, when we say Note, the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind is the S Pen. The S Pen this time, is quite taller and thicker and it’s easier to hold than the previous one. Writing or scribbling is much more easier and handwriting recognition is quite improved. Once you pull out the S Pen, a different page is shown on the display with shortcuts and apps corresponding to the S Pen. The apps provided for the S Pen come pretty handy if you’re into note taking or drawing sort of thing. S Voice is another feature similar to the S3, which recognises voice commands. Though not as functional as Siri, the S Voice works well in some cases. There is again Smart Stay feature where the display is put off once you stop looking. Air view and direct call are another features which work pretty well.
Performance & Battery:
The device runs on Exynos quad core processor at 1.6 GHz along with 2 GB RAM and Mali-400MP4 GPU. The performance is quite impressive and the phone is able to score well in benchmark tests with around 13k in Antutu and 5.9k in Quadrant. The phone performs well in terms of multi tasking without any lags. Some of the heavy games played quite well without any noticeable lags. Battery capacity is of a whopping 3100 mAh which easily lasts more than a day under normal to above normal usage. Opt for a power saving mode and you can squeeze out easily for 2 full days for a single charge.
Good display and battery
Size too big and may not appeal to all
A dedicated camera key could have been present
So far the Note 2 impresses us in every aspect and the phone packs quite a punch when it comes to performance. The added S Pen is an attractive offering. The other Samsung features work quite well and stands out among the competition. If you’re okay with the size of the device, do not think otherwise and choose Note 2. If size matters, the you have plenty of options from the competition like HTC One X, and Samsung’s very own S3.