Tech review: Galaxy Note II comes with improvements
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
12/19/12 at 2:35 AM
Many tech writers, myself included, wondered if a lot of people would want a hybrid tablet and smartphone when the original Samsung Galaxy Note was announced last January.
It turns out plenty of people did, because by all accounts the phone sold quite well.
Now the inevitable sequel product has arrived, and it comes with a good helping of improvements.
This giant of a phone has a 5.5-inch screen that stretches over most of the surface area. The visual quality is a stunner, too. The latest iPhones might pack in a few more pixels per square inch, but the Galaxy Note is much sharper than average. The huge screen is, naturally, great for videos and photos.
The phone also gives you the biggest virtual keyboard possible on a smartphone, which could be a godsend for those who have trouble with typos on smaller phones. In fact, people with small hands might not be able to stretch their thumbs all the way across the keyboard in landscape mode.
But the size in general won't annoy you, though the phone is big enough to require double-checking your pockets and purses to make sure you'll have enough space to carry it around.
In a size-related plus, Samsung must have used the extra room to put in a bigger battery, because a full day of testing only ate up a small portion of the battery life.
The other unique feature carried over from the original Note is the stylus. It may seem like your typical chunk of plastic, but this stylus can somehow bring up a dot where you're pointing it without touching it all the way to the screen. In some cases, hovering over the dot will bring up a preview of folder contents or other brief options. The stylus also has a side button you can press to bring up more options, and it will automatically open when you pull it out of the slot.
It is mostly meant to use with S Note, the Note II's note-taking program. It's got a surprisingly robust number of options, including templates, the ability to attach pictures and videos, and voice recording. Unfortunately, the handwriting recognition is pretty spotty. I realize my natural handwriting is pretty horrible, but even when I slowed down and concentrated on making the best-looking letters I could it still gave me a number of errors.
The rest of the phone hasn't been altered much to take advantage of the stylus. Android is made for customization, so keeping most of the stylus' abilities within a single app is a missed opportunity.
Speaking of Android, the Note II is among the first devices to run Jelly Bean, the latest major revision to the operating system. Many of Jelly Bean's tweaks are minor, aside from the inclusion of Google Now, a voice-activated information service that is Google's answer to Siri.
I didn't have much time to play with Google Now, but I liked what I encountered. Hopefully I'll be able to test Google Now and Siri head-to-head in the near future.
The Note II's solid performance and powerful processor compete well with other high-end Androids on the market. Still, you'll need to make sure you're fine with the relatively high price and the sprawling hardware.
Samsung Galaxy Note II
Pros: Huge screen, powerful, strong
battery life, flexible note-taking capabilities,
impressive stylus control
Cons: Huge everything else, iffy text
recognition, somewhat limited use of the
Original Print Headline: Note II an improvement
Robert Evatt 918-581-8447
Samsung Galaxy Note II CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World