I’ve carried a lot of Androids in the past 3 years. Everything form the S1, to the Nexus One, HTC Desire, the S2, Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X, the S3, the LG Optimus 4X HD. Each of them was brilliant in its own right and time, but a couple of things always bugged me which bug a lot of other smartphone users. The first, was of course battery life. The second, was somewhat fragile hardware (especially the S2) that had me spending more on the repairs than the actual device!
The Note II fixed those two annoying setbacks of carrying a powerful Android. The battery life is insanely good and it lasts well over a day with moderate usage, a good 18 hours on 3G, GPS and my constant tweeting, instagramming and checking the blog’s stats and comments.
Here’s a breakdown of the main things I loved about the Note II
Size, Look and Feel
The Note II is massive. People like to call it the “Phablet” and Samsung wittily got the giant NBA star LeBron James to do their ads in the US. I honestly adored the 5.5 inch screen because I read a lot of ebooks, manage my email and publish blogposts using the Note II. Browsing the Internet and watching videos and viewing photos is extremely enjoyable with the extra 1.5 inches or so compared to other smartphones currently on the market.
It fits perfectly into standard-sized pockets (at least guys’ jeans and shorts) so don’t worry about it not fitting. It might be a bit wide, but it is remarkably thin for a tablet-phone hybrid (just 0.37 inches thick). The 16:9 display also makes watching videos all the more enjoyable and I sometimes set it up on a table and several friends get to watch the funniest YouTube sensation I stumbled upon.
It’s back cover is plastic, which makes it very light compared to other droids out there, but I would’ve loved to see a polycarbonate shell on Samsung’s newest gift to the techie world. The meche-like designs and patterns though are beautiful and the device overall feels very comfortable and snug in one hand.
One-Handed Operation and Typing
One concern with big droids is that you can’t operate them fully with one thumb. Samsung foresaw this inconvenience and have made several features one-hand friendly. You can toggle on the keyboard for example in single-handed control (which includes a setting for all you lefties out there btw) which makes it pretty easy to handle most things with just one hand.
Given that the Note II is one-hand-friendly, I am a huge fan of real keyboards and touchscreens have never really won me over when it comes to typing. The sheer size of the Note II makes it possible to type with both hands without jumbling up your letters since the buttons are large enough, making it as good as the good old-fashioned real keyboard typing with two thumbs.
The camera is beautiful of course since the display is so large and crisp. It might not be the camera with the fastest shutter speed out there, but it’s definitely the best among the Samsung devices. You can shoot bursts, panoramic shots, action shots, add filters, HDR modes and other near settings for particular environments or situations.
The camera experience on the Note II has a few, really neat perks too. You can shoot photos with voice commands like “Shoot” “Capture” or “Cheese” making it easier to take a shot without having to touch your screen as well as taking photos after setting up the camera far way from you without the hassle and rush of setting up timers. Another really awesome perk is that if you’re taking a group shot, the Note II takes several shots of each person’s face and allows you to choose the best one for each in one single photo. Meaning that, if someone had their eyes shut or looked like a mutant in one of the 4-5 face shots it takes, you can choose a better face shot of him or her, thereby ensuring all your friends faces are good enough to share on Facebook (assuming your friends look good of course).
Native Apps and Stylus
Another really cool feature of the Note II is the stylus. It’s a really cool tool when you want to create a note, it allows you to crop a part of your screen (instead of a screenshot of the whole page) and paste it into the S-Note app. The S-note app has dozens of templates you can use depending on what you want to work on, from cool and colorful personal notes, to business ones with tables and graphs and pie charts you can edit and create.
The stylus is also cool because you can hover it over an email or image gallery, and it’ll pop-up a preview of the contents of that email or gallery without you having to open it and go back out if it’s not the one you were looking for. Also, if you’re reading or browsing the web, you simply hover over the top, bottom or sides of the page and it’ll smoothly scroll the page in whatever direction you’re aiming at.
The stylus also allows you to use your own handwriting to type instead of a traditional QWERTY keyboard and it’s pretty easy and fast to use once you get the hang of it.
Jelly Bean Awesomeness
It comes with Android 4.1.1 and Samsung finally made their TouchWiz UI glitch-free and extremely. It’s the first time I leave the stock UI and launcher instead of downloading a custom one since it blends so seamlessly with the large displays and makes customizing your home page apps and widgets incredibly easy, fast and customizable.
NFC is also really cool on this device and after comparing it with the S3, I found the S-Beam and NFC features on it much faster and streamlined. I’ve collected total of 4 free songs and 2 free ebooks by merely tapping my Note II on Samsung ads all over the US (new ones every week) which is pretty cool and I hope will be integrated soon into ads in Lebanon (yalla marketing folks, make it happen!)
It’s the perfect Android, and you can double the already more than impressive battery life (new battery being released) making a true tablet contendor in terms of battery life. I highly recommend this phone if you’re a heave phone user for either business or pleasure. Tweeting, emailing, blogging, reading books, watching movies are all a delight on this beautiful piece of tech.