ANALYZED: SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE II

We have always been a big fan of the Samsung Galaxy Note. We loved the way it looked, we loved the size, we loved the screen size and we loved the way it performed. It was literally a mini computer in your pocket. But the more we used it, the more its shortcomings became evident. Beginning with the battery life. Horrible would be putting it mildly. Then if you tried multitasking, let’s just say you had to wait for apps to respond and a simple task like scrolling through the app list became a jerky chore. Sure improvements were made once the Note was upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich but still… we always felt Samsung could have done more. A lot more. And it looks like they have finally listened to what the public was saying. Enter the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Looks: For starters, take a look the difference between the Note and the Note 2. In case you can’t see much of a difference, the image on the right is the Note 2. It is slightly larger than the Note with the screen size having being bumped by to 5.5″ from the 5.3″ in the Note. The differences don’t end there, the Note 2 is slightly slimmer and feels lighter than the Note. And of course the shape has been modified to match the theme Samsung has been pushing on its devices, a la Samsung Galaxy S III.
Display: If you thought the display on the Note looked good, look again. The display on the Note 2 is absolutely gorgeous. The HD Super AMOLED (1280 x 720 pixel) looks fabulous. It is bright, crisp and colors are fantastic. It really makes watching those HD films and images a joy. And thankfully this time, Samsung has refrained from pre-loading the phone with the bloatware they have been known for. All unwanted apps have been kept out of the mix. But one thing we did not notice on the screen is a lot of wasted space. It seems to us Samsung decided on the size of the display and then did not know what to do with it. If you look at the comparison between the Note and the Note 2, you will even notice the number of icons on the screen is 5 vs. 4, and this can’t be changed. Not yet at least.
Performance: Thank you Samsung for the quad core 1.6GHz processor in this phone. I can truly multitask (and yes while watching videos) without having to wait for the phone to think about what I’m actually trying to do. The 2GB RAM is also much needed in a phone with the capabilities as the Note 2. Gone is that lag that has plagued Samsung phones past. Including Android version 4.1 Jelly Bean also makes a huge difference in the memory management capability. Everything is just silky smooth. We will actually go as far as to say this is the best performing smartphone currently in the market (and yes we are also comparing it to the iPhone5 – that review is forthcoming).
Battery Life: Guess what? This time you can actually head out with just your phone without worrying about losing a complete charge in less than 7 hours. Yes, the 3100 mAh battery makes a HUUUUUUUGE difference! Using the phone like we used to use the Note, we are actually able to pull almost 24 hours on a single charge. Huge sigh of relief anyone? This is the single biggest positive change that Samsung has brought to the Note franchise.
Camera: Not much has changed in the way of the camera, but we love the burst mode feature that is built-in. You can take up to 10 shots a second and let it choose the best image (or you can choose it yourself). And the time to start the camera and take the first shot has to be measured in milliseconds from now on. Another welcome modification. We did notice if you take pictures in the Superfine mode at the highest 8MP resolution, they become noticeably grainy. We’ll stay away from that option for now. You also get several options while taking your pictures just like you would on Instagram. Oh yeah, there is also an HDR option but frankly we are still trying to figure out how to get the best shot with this option!
Extras on the Note 2: Here are some interesting things we noticed while fiddling around with the phone
  1. You cannot use the original SIM card that you use on other phones. The card will have to be trimmed to fit in the slot since it is too small for a regular SIM card.
  2. The power saving mode really helps extend battery life unlike the Note but we were able to get almost 24 hours without using it!
  3. The phone comes with Samsung’s AllShare Cast that lets you stream images/videos to your TV or any other device for that matter.
  4. The S pen is much much better than it was in the Note. You can do a lot more and Samsung has included a lot more productive applications to take advantage of the revised S pen.
  5. You don’t get Swype anymore 🙁 You do get Samsung’s own predictive Swype like keyboard, but it is not as good as Swype. Boo Samsung!
  6. You can perform File and data transfer either using NFC or via S Beam.
  7. Turning Wi-Fi on all the time will kill your battery quicker. Good thing the Note 2 has a larger battery.
Overall: If you had the Samsung Galaxy Note, you will absolutely love the Note 2 but… there’s a but… you will also say this is how the Note should have been in the first place. If you are newcomer, then rejoice. If you can get over the size and the S Pen, this is the best phone you can get in the market right now. And yes it is a little pricey, but there are more expensive brands in the market. You won’t get the features you do with this baby though. Our take on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, buy it!
We will also do a follow-up post as we continue to use the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 as we did with the Note.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is currently on sale in India for Rs. 38,500 (~$750).

 

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