Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – First Impressions


Recently Telecom were kind enough to send me [note author is Stuart Peters, not DPF] the new Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to play with. These are my first impressions of the device.

The first thing that struck me on opening the box was just how ENORMOUS this phone is – 80.5 x 151.1 x 9.4 mm apparently. I’m not sure if it’s the biggest smartphone on the market but it’s certainly the biggest I’ve ever seen, and dwarfs the iPhone. In fact my immediate thought was that it was far too big, and would be a pain to carry around all day. On this I have been pleasantly surprised – the Note 2 is reasonably slim and light (182.5g), and I haven’t had an issue carrying it in my pocket.

The upside to the size of the phone is the fantastic display. I understand the Note 2 is being marketed as a sort of hybrid device that combines the functionality of a phone and a tablet, and the impressive 5.5-inch (140.9mm) HD Super AMOLED display (the iPhone 5 has a 4-inch display) is key to this. I thought the iPhone was easy to navigate but the extra space that the Note 2 provides makes navigating the device an absolute delight.

I was surprised to find the trim and battery cover are entirely made of glossy plastic, with no metal surfaces. The plastic battery cover feels flimsy and cheap when you remove it (I thought I was going to break it the first time I took it off!), but seems solid enough once attached. While the Note 2 is undoubtedly well-constructed and the phone feels robust in the hand, the full plastic case still feels a bit cheap and nasty for such a high-end phone. The glossy plastic case is also a fingerprint magnet!

This was my first experience with an Android, and the UI was initially a bit daunting. The Note 2 runs a modified Samsung-specific version of Jellybean, the latest (I think) Android OS. I can’t comment on how the OS compares to other Android systems but it certainly doesn’t hold your hand quite as much as Apple’s iOS does! On turning on the phone I was immediately presented with the option to pick “Basic Mode” or “Easy Mode”, without much explanation as to what each offered. I initially went with Easy Mode, which I later realised automatically populates your home screens with what it thinks you will want access to. I switched to Basic Mode fairly quickly and found that much more useful.

Actually manipulating the device is brilliant, the touchscreen is highly responsive and everything happens smoothly and fluidly. Having used Androids belonging to friends to send texts and the like, I’ve always found them highly frustrating to manipulate compared to iOS. The Note 2 is the first Android that seems to match Apple for smooth navigation, and might even better it.

I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of the Note 2 so far, and will be posting further thoughts on the device once I’ve had more time to play with it.

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