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Samsung GALAXY Note II Phablet Review

Samsung GALAXY Note II

Rating: ★★★★½

Enthusiasm towards Samsung’s smartphones had slowly been creeping up on me since the Galaxy S3 hit the market. With the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy Note II however, I was immediately captivated, not really feeling the iPhone 5 was a huge enough leap since its predecessor, nor a worthy contender to steal it’s way back in the running for me.

So after five solid years as a dedicated iPhone user, and an avid Apple fan in general, I decided to take the plunge and get my hands on a shiny new Galaxy Note II from Samsung. Was it worth the leap? Let’s take a look at some of it’s features that won me over.

S Pen:

One of the most striking features of the Note II is the S Pen. The S Pen with it’s various functions, creates a faster, more enhanced, intuitive overall user experience.

You can quickly preview pictures and videos by simply hovering over them, with no need to have to fully open folders with ‘AirView’. You also can even preview emails, contact information, or calendar entries without having to open them up, saving bundles of time and energy.

Another handy feature of the S Pen is ‘Popup Note’, which automatically pops up once you pull out your pen while on a call, so no need for scrounging for a bit of paper and pen while you need to scribble down that important bit of info.

‘Quick note’ lets you quickly launch commands by writing shortcuts. You can write down various functions to carry out certain tasks – for example, jotting down “@ Sara” followed by a paragraph, automatically opens up an email, addressed to Sara with the paragraph pasted into the body. There are other shortcuts also, such as ‘=’ to launch the calculator. What’s more, you can even make up your own shortcut sketches!

Clicking the button along the S Pen allows you to outline and crop over any content, which you can then either put into an email, in a note, or copy it to the clipboard for later use.

You can also flip to the back of your photos to scribble on, allowing you to remember every detail about an event or single moment in your life.

When the S Pen is pulled out, the keypad automatically turns to a drawing pad, so you can write as opposed to type, seeing your words automatically turn into typed out letters before your eyes. Handwriting is quite easily recognised – even if you have a habit of joining up your letters, it will still understand you well enough.

Typing though is equally as simple, especially when you enable to ‘continuous input’ mode. This allows you to swipe from letter to letter, without having to lift your finger from the keyboard, particularly handy for typing out lengthy words.

Other features of the Note II:

Another stunning feature of this Phablet is it’s 5.5” screen size, giving you plenty of real-estate, be it for drawing, reading, watching movies or viewing photos.

Although some would argue that the screen is a gigantic, unwieldy device, in my opinion, it is fully justified through enabling you to carry out functions you’d otherwise be unable to. For example, ‘Multiview’ allows you open up two different applications on the same screen simultaneously. You could be reading your emails while searching the web, watching a video, or whatever else it is you want to be doing.

Another snag some may deem inappropriate for the huge display is the impression that with the keyboard swept across the screen, you are unable to type with one hand. However, there is a setting which displays a shrunken keyboard that sits on one side (any side, you pick) of the screen, allowing you to reach all the letters with one-hand.

The opportunities are endless with the Note II. You can do so many other neat things like unlock your phone using face recognition. Double-tap the to of your phone to scroll up. Call automatically by bringing a contact to your ear. Get a vibration alert to catch your notifications when you pick your phone up from the table or pull it out of your pocket. Say ‘shoot’ or ‘cheese’ to snap a shot. Mutter ‘stop’ or ‘snooze’ to dismiss your early morning wake up call.

There are plenty of widgets and apps available that bring an even wider range of possibilities to what you can do with it. The functionality is so wide-ranging that I think the Note II would appeal to many different individuals, from businessmen to gamers to creative people.

The finer details:

The Galaxy Note II comes in two colour variants – marble white and titanium grey. It inherits the looks of little sister Galaxy S3’s with it’s rounded, curved design.

Weighing 183g and 9.4mm slim, the Note II feels quite light, however this comes at the expense of feeling cheap with it’s plasticy back material.

While the sides are metallic in finish, they too are made of plastic. The plastic back cover however does mean due to it’s flexibility, that it can quite easily be peeled back, allowing you to cheaply replace the 3100mAh battery, or the back cover it self should it become scratched up, or even to reach the microSD expansion slot.

The microSD slot allows you to add even more internal memory to the existing 16/32/64 GB 2GB RAM versions. The extensive memory, along with the 1.6 GHz processor running on Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) makes this device extremely fast and powerful.

The HD Super AMOLED display translates colours beautifully, and at 1280×720 pixel resolution gives it great clarity. The ideal 16:9 ratio makes movie watching a fantastic experience, without those annoying top and bottom black bars, filling the entire screen with picture on a widescrscreen format.

The Galaxy Note II houses front 1.9MP and rear 8MP camera with flash, supporting full HD (1080p) playback and recording, and a great range of shooting modes with tricks like ‘burst shoot’ and ‘best shot’ to touch name just a few

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Pros

  • Stunning large display
  • S Pen functions
  • Multiview for running two apps simultaneously
  • Context sensitive
  • Great usability

Cons

  • Plastic material feels cheap
  • Big size takes some getting used to

Verdict

Purchasing the Note II was a big and bold move from the devoted iPhone fan that I was, however I can confidently say that it’s a choice I don’t regret one bit – I’m having too much fun with my new revolutionary Samsung Galaxy Note II right now to even consider going back – even willing to sacrifice looking like Dom Joly with this beast up on my ear!

Don’t forget to leave any suggestions for any cool apps or widgets below, as I’m new to the Android world :)

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