Interface and Software
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is powered by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and a TouchWiz UI. It features the standard tap and drag in any direction to unlock affair with ripples accompained by a water-drop sound. There are five customizable shortcuts which are available at the bottom of the lockscreen. Dragging any of the shortcuts upwards launches apps without going through the homescreen. There are several options like the face unlock, face and voice unlock, unlock by touching the screen and phone tilting unlock.
There’s a new feature called Quick glance which gives you at-a-glance info on missed calls and message notifications as well as the battery percentage, music track info and upcoming alarms. The notification area offers quick toggles for Wi-Fi, GPS, Slient mode, Screen rotation and Power saving. There are five more toggles just off screen-Blocking mode, Mobile data, Bluetooth, AllShare cast and Sync. Further down we get the Brightness Slider with an Auto checkbox. This allows you to adjust the screen’s brightness even if it’s in auto mode.
The screen of the Note 2 is big and typing experience might not be an easy task. Luckily for us Samsung knows this and that’s why they’ve added a few settings to make it easier. You can have the QWERTY keyboard, phone keypad and in- call buttons, calculator and unlock pattern moved to one side of the screen (left. Or right, whichever you prefer), to make them easier to use with one hand.
Another cool feature you can find on the Galaxy Note 2 is Smart Stay. This feature uses the front-facing camera to detect the user looking at the screen, so that it never dims or locks while you’re reading. This makes reading web pages and ebooks very comfortable, even if you’ve set the screen timeout low to preserve the battery. Another clever camera twick is the Smart rotation. When enabled, the Note 2 will try to orient it’s screen in relation to your eyes not the accelerometer.
Processor, Memory and Battery
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 features a Samsung- made Exynos 4412 Quad chipset with four Cortex-A9 cores clocked at 1.6GHz, 2GB of RAM and a Mali-400 GPU which manages the Note 2’s graphics. Like the Galaxy S3, the Galaxy Note 2 comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB storage options with up to 64GB of external storage.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is packed with a 3,100mAh battery (up from 2,500mAh on the original Note) which yields Up to 35 hours of 2G Talk time and Up to 16 hours of 3G Talk time.
The phonebook is virtually unlimited storage capacity. There are four tabs on top accommodating the Phone app, Groups, Favorites and Contacts. Samsung has kept swipe features for the phonebook. The Quick contacts feature is there too, displaying, upon a tap on the contact picture, a pop up menu with shortcuts to call, text, email or Google Talk. There’s a built-in reject list which acts like a third party blacklist app and blocks the numbers on it from calling you. There’s a new feature which lets you choose a specific vibration pattern as an incoming call alert, just like you would a ringtone.
Messaging and Text input
This being an Android handset, you cannot fault the amount of messaging options in the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Firstly, there’s Mail, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 comes with two flavours built in. One is the standard, excellent Gmail app found on all Android handsets. The second is Samsung’s own Mail app, which accommodates Gmail as well as virtually every other POP3/IMAP and Exchange option you care to chuck in its direction. The Gmail app is brilliant. It was overhauled for Android Ice Cream Sandwich, so if you have the original Samsung Galaxy Note (and you haven’t updated from Gingerbread), you’ll very quickly notice the difference. It looks better, it acts better and it gives you a widget too. Turning the phablet landscape activates the split view- the left side of the screen shows the list of emails, while the right side shows a message. This works rather well on the big 5.5 inch screen.
For tapping out messages, you’re really spoiled for choice. There’s a Samsung included keyboard. Google’s voice dictation is also brilliant, and you can use that in place of a keyboard. When dictating messages on Google Voice Typing, it’s really quite good. The beauty is that the words appear as you speak, which gives you a little more confidence to dictate longer messages. There is a problem in that punctuation can be a bit of a headbanger. Saying ‘period’ (US English) instead of ‘fullstop’ (British English) is fine – we got used to that easily enough. But saying ‘comma’ can lead to anything from ‘mama’, ‘kama’ or ‘korma’ appearing when you’re just trying to punctuate a sentence. Also, the S-Pen enables you to tap out words by just scribbling them on a virtual pad at the bottom of the screen. This is scarily accurate, and relies on actual handwriting. It even manages to decipher cursive writing!
Gallary and Multi media
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 comes with a brand new, eye-candy rich Gallery app. It opens up in Albums view but you can choose to sort your pictures by Location, Time, Person (photos with tagged faces), Group and Favorites. You can also switch between three view modes – rectangular grid, a grid that’s spread out in 3D space and a 3D spiral. When you view a photo with people’s faces on it, the Galaxy Note 2 will try to detect them automatically. The Gallery also features social tag. This feature works when a face is recognized in a photo. After recognizing the person in the photo, it makes you see the person’s status message which will allow you to call or message them easily. Also, there’s Buddy Photo Share. This function allows photos to be easily and simultaneously shared with all your friends pictured in an image directly from the camera or the photo gallery.
The Galaxy Note 2 uses the TouchWiz music player. Equalizer presets are enabled (including a custom one) along with Sound Alive technology, which features 7.1 channel virtualization. Music is sorted into various categories, but the most interesting one is called Music Square. This feature automatically rates a song as Joyful or Passionate, Calm or Exciting and place those songs on a Square. The Galaxy Note 2’s player is also DLNA enabled.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has an 8 megapixel camera and can capture photos at a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. The video recording of the Galaxy Note 2 is very impresssive at 1080p. The Frame rate is 30Fps, this will make the captured video smooth enough. The front camera features a 1.9 megapixel camera and it records videos at 720p.
Web Browser and Connectivity
The Galaxy Note 2 is powered with a Jelly Bean version of the android browser. The Browser supports both double tap and pinch zooming along with the two-finger tilt. The browser supports text reflow, find on page, save for offline viewing, request desktop site and so on. A neat trick is to pinch zoom out beyond the minimum – that opens up the tabs view. The Web browser comes with Incognito mode, which lets you surf the web without the browser keeping track of your history or storing cookies. As you can expect, the S Pen is not left out when using the browser. It works like mouse when hovering over an internet page. You can also use the S Pen to do quick web searches. The Print option is another cool feature which lets you print out web pages straight from your phone. Unfortunately, this only works only with Samsung printers. There’s obviously the usual bundles of radios as well, including 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, GPS, GLONASS, FM radio with RDS, Bluetooth 4.0 (LE, A2DP, EDR and NFC), GSM 850 /900 /1800 /1900, HSDPA 850 /900 /1900 /2100 and LTE 700 MHz Class 17 / 2100 – N7105.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is one beast of a droid and a major step forward for the class it represents. It does almost everything it sets out to do perfectly, with grace, class and maximum functionality. If you want to shop for a larger smartphone or a small tablet, there really is no better device. Many thanks to the GSM Arena team and the guys at Tech Radar.