Weâ€™ve all heard the saying before, bigger is better, but is there such a thing as too big? In the case of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, itâ€™s mostly a no, but itâ€™s a yes too. Confused? Well, read on to know exactly what Iâ€™m talking about.
But before we get to the nitty gritty of things, letâ€™s rundown what this 5.5-incher has to offer:
OS: Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean
Processor: 1.6GHz Exynos Quad-core
Display: Gorilla Glass 2-protected 5.5-inch HD (1280 x 720 resolution)Â Super AMOLED
Wireless Connections: HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0 with Apt-X codec support, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, WiFi Direct, NFC
Memory: 2GB RAM, 10.36GB total/9.94GB Available to user
Connectors: Micro USB, 3.5mm jack
Camera: 8MP main cam (1080p HD video recording) with LED flash, 1.9MP front-facing cam (720p video recording)
SIM Card Slot: Micro-SIM
SRP: Php 32,990 (unlocked)
So yeah, just by looking at its spec sheet alone, you know this Note isn’t your typical Android phone.
Size isnâ€™t the only thing thatâ€™s big with the Note 2. Compared to its smaller near-twin, the Galaxy S III, this super-sized Superphone rocks a faster quad-core processor (1.6Ghz vs 1.4Ghz), double the RAM (2GB vs 1GB), and Jelly Bean right off the bat. That triple threat right there is what weâ€™ve got to thank for the ultra-snappy performance of the Note 2.
Plus, thereâ€™a a big fat juicy 3100mAh battery. 3100mAh! Thatâ€™s the biggest weâ€™ve seen on a smartphone so far. Can it deliver the goods? Well, let me put it this way â€“ with the HTC Sensation, I had to always charge it at the end of the day for it to be usable the following day. With the Galaxy Note 2, I can rest easy if I forget to charge it at night â€˜cause itâ€™ll have more than enough power to last another (or two even) day, depending, of course, on usage. Could still be better, but I’m not complaining anymore.
But letâ€™s not kid ourselves, its physical size is whatâ€™ll really get your head turning first. Yeah, itâ€™s big alright, but as Iâ€™ve said before, itâ€™s really not much of an issue, especially if youâ€™ve got big enough of a hand to grasp it properly. Samsung did a spectacular job in striking the right balance between width, weight, and thinness that the Note 2 it doesnâ€™t really feel that big after using it for a couple of hours. In fact, once youâ€™ve grown a bit accustomed to its size, every other phone â€“ and Iâ€™m not kidding when I say this â€“ will really really REALLY feel small afterwards. Yes, even the already bigÂ Galaxy S III feels tiny compared to this bad boy, and even more so the iPhone 5, despite it being already the biggest iPhone to date.
And the main reason for its huge size, its 5.5-inch Super AMOLED, is simply gorgeous. With the added display real estate, you can now open and view two apps running at the same time (multi-window support), read web pages and text messages more comfortably, and view pics and movies with great ease.
*Confession – To be honest, though, while multi-window sounds very nifty, Iâ€™ve rarely used it. Itâ€™s just not as fun as viewing apps in full 5.5-inch glory.
Oh, and speaking of pics, thanks to its bigger display, you no longer need to zoom-in as much just to check if the photos youâ€™ve taken are blurred or not, a task which has somewhat become mandatory for OC mobile phone photogs. You can quickly spot a blurred image on its huge brilliant AMOLED HD display.
Iâ€™ve been fortunate enough to try out a number of mobile phones already, and this, without question, features one of the fastest cams in town. Itâ€™s quick to focus and shutter lag is hardly noticeable. In fact, itâ€™s so fast, there were actually times I had duplicate shots because I didnâ€™t notice it took a pic already.
Left to right: Outdoor shot, Indoor with lighting outside from a window (around 12 nn), Indoor shot with store (Starbucks)Â lightingÂ only
Plus, it also comes with several cool camera treats (i.e. best photo, best faces, panorama) and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing cam thatâ€™s one of the best Iâ€™ve seen on a smartphone.
And it also does HD video recording too, on both its main (1080p) and secondary front-facing (720p) camera.
While we’re on the topic of HD vids, here’s one I took while we were in Bacolod using the Note 2 in Fast Motion mode (note: max resolution is 1080p):
*Compiled and edited/added text using iMovie
So why the ‘almost‘?
Well, simple because it’s still no digicam replacement, especially for indoor photography. Sure, once you take that snasphot, your photos will look remarkable good on its Super AMOLED HD display, but once you pinch and zoom in (or view it on a much larger screen), the noise becomes irritatingly evident. Again, since it’s fast, blurring is minimal (especially if you’ve got relatively steady hands), but there’s no escaping the noise.
The updated S pen is pretty cool too. I love how you can preview album contents and skim through a video by just hovering the S pen over a photo album or the timeline of a video. Yes, just hover. No tapping involved. This is the Note 2 and S Pen’s neat feature called Airview. Airview also works with the Calendar app and Mail app.
With its new soft more pen-like tip, the S Pen is perfect for writing, but in my opinion, needs a bit of mastery for doodling.Â A stylus with a bit more heft, for me, is more ideal for sketching and other similar tasks, in addition to a much larger touchcreen.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, itâ€™s definitely possible to doodle on the Note 2. It just isnâ€™t as easy or enjoyable as, say, doodling on an iPad or a 7-inch â€˜droid tablet. I personally think the Note 10.1 is better suited for this.
Its size, though, isnâ€™t really for everyone. Holding it is one thing, but using it is another. Most will probably be able to clasp it comfortably, but not everyone will be able to enjoy using it with one hand, because of the sheer distance the thumb needs to travel across its behemoth 5.5-inch display. This becomes a real annoyance when apps accidentally get launched because your thumb is trying to reach an app on the far end side of the screen and the inside of your hand is now touching the display.
Solution – use two hand. Simple, right? But letâ€™s face it, we all still prefer the one-hand approach when it comes to phones, smart or not.
And if youâ€™ve been a longtime HTC user, like me, youâ€™ll miss how you can easily switch to previously used apps from the Notification tray. I quickly learned that that feature wasn’t standard on Android. To view your previously opened apps on the Note 2, you had to long-press the Home button. But since the Home button on the Note 2 is mechanical, I try not to use this feature as much so as to minimize wear and tear of the Home button.
Speaking of wear and tear, those of you prefer to leave their ‘droids naked will need to think twice about doing the same with the Note 2. Unlike with HTC’s top-of-the-line ‘droid, this one’s not as tough as it looks. Sure, the Titanium Gray Note 2 may look like its built of sturdy material, but don’t be fooled. The Note 2 is a plastic feast, regardless of color. It’s glossy plastic, to be exact, a material that’ll easily show if there’s a scratch or two here and there. So yeah, a protective case is a must if you’d like to preserve the pristine look of your 5,5-incher.
If its the best you really want, the Note 2 is a certified must add to your to-check-out list. Its gorgeousÂ display and snappy performance will spoil you, making easily forget and forgive whatever shortcomings it comes with, and thanks to its big bad-ass 3100mAh battery, it can last on a single charge longer than the average ‘droid.
So why choose this over the Galaxy S III, which, for the most part, also has the same claim to fame and is now more affordable too?
That’s where the S Pen will come into play. Yes, you can scribble and doodle with your finger, but there’s sill no beating the stylus when it comes to writing and sketching. If you do these two – emphasis more on the former as opposed to the latter – a lot on your ‘droid, than there’s no two ways abou it, the Note 2 is the GalaxyÂ for you!
But just to make things clear, the S-Pen here, in my opinion, is just a great side dish. The main entree here is the Note 2, and even if you take the S-Pen out of the picture, it still is one heck of a killer ‘droid. Needless to say, this one comes highly recommended. That is, of course, if it fits your budget (and hand size).
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