back to article Samsung Galaxy Note 2 hands-on review

Samsung’s big idea, well, big phone actually, has not only spawned the 10in Galaxy Note but, at IFA, the company announced the Galaxy Note II successor to its original 5in stylophone stylus phone. It seems that if you add a pen to a touchscreen device these days, then it acts as insurance that you haven’t copied from Apple. Note …


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  1. Arctic fox
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    "Stylophone" Love it! Now there is a blast from the past.

    Late sixties I think?

    1. Robert E A Harvey
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      Re: "Stylophone" Love it! Now there is a blast from the past.

      That remark alone made me upvote the article

  2. robert_raw

    Great device

    My brother has the original and no matter how fantastic it is, he is a laughing stock when he gets it out due to its sheer size.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great device

      The "clownphone" effect? Still feeling let down that you can't hold a 3G iPad to your ear to use it as a phone, tbh..

    2. Dazed and Confused

      Re: Great device

      > My brother has the original and no matter how fantastic it is, he is a laughing stock when he gets it out due to its sheer size.

      But probably doesn't look anything like as much of a dork as people using a fondleslab as a camera :-)

      Interesting to see they are choosing to launch it in the Autumn. I was in South Korea back in the summer, talking to people there they were saying how popular the Note had been when Samsung promoted back in the winter. But blokes were finding it a problem in the summer as its too large to comfortably carry in your trouser pocket, where as in winter when you've got a jacket or coat the problem doesn't arise.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Great device

        re: dorks, saw one at the airport on Sunday taking pics of incoming planes with his pad. The ergonomics of holding something that weighs more than 500g at the end of your arm and using it take pictures are probably why it makes you look like a fool: because you are.

        re: screen size. Would love to have something like the Note as my bike-mounted GPS. OSMAND is the dogs bollocks when you're out and about but would want something a little more robust. Something based on PlasticLogic's bendy e-paper or the Russian Wex might be the ticket, but an SIII or a Note would definitely been an option.

        re: weather. I seem to remember an early complaint against all capacitative screens was that you can't use them with gloves.

        1. D@v3

          Re: weather

          you can get gloves with capacitive thread in the fingers so you can use touch screens in the cold, available from many places, got mine from Staples last year (when it was cold) for under £10

        2. Pristine Audio
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          Re: Great device

          I've been using my Note mounted on my bike - coupled with the free Map My Ride app it's perfect. Bike plus GPS in a rural area with loads of little lanes and tracks means no more getting lost on longer rides.

          After a couple of outings where the rain started to fall (without any ill effect on the Note, BTW, despite me getting soaked) I managed to find a waterproof cover for it from a Chinese website which still allows touch control through the clear panel on the front - but thanks to a cycling-unrelated broken rib a month ago I've yet to get onto the bike on a wet day and try it out for real. Fingerless gloves, mind...

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge


      I can see why you would be confused. I often see silly twonks holding bars of chocolate to their heads and talking to themselves. I initially thought they might be on the phone, but everyone knows that a telephone looks like an oversized banana made of bakerlite with a coily cable


  3. Jonathan White

    So handling it for a few minutes at a show in the presence of the company's PR representatives counts as a 'review' now does it? Wow.

    1. Arctic fox
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      You may have noticed the term "hands-on review"?

      A rather particular piece of terminology/tech-slang - now what might it mean, hmm?

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      It seems that often "reviews" are just reprints of the press-release. At least they actually had it!

  4. Callam McMillan
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    Don't like the screen...

    I was all set to buy a Note 2 based on the rumoured specs which made it sound so much better then the original. Quad Core (Oh yeah!), 2GB of RAM (Excellent), 1680x1050 display (Sweet!). Then it is released and the reality is while the CPU and Memory rumours were correct, the screen is in fact Worse. It has a lower resolution than the original and it's apparently a worse type of panel. Sorry Samsung, you nearly had me, and then you blew it.

    Please, can somebody made a 5.5 inch phone with a 1920x1080 screen?

    1. the-it-slayer

      Re: Don't like the screen...

      Samsung know how to attract attention for all the wrong reasons. A 5.5" screen!? Are thy taking the pee!? Seems like they found the screen from a spare parts bin.

    2. Peter 48

      Re: Don't like the screen...

      Why would you need a screen with a resolution higher than the note 2 at that size? You can't see the pixels at the current res without a magnifying glass and going to 1920x1080 won't make the image any sharper or better.

    3. Philolai
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      I think you're wrong about the panel.

      The new panel seems to be a significant improvement: moving from nasty PenTile where each of those 1280*800 pixels shared subpixels to a situation where each pixel has R, G and B subpixels of its own is surely a good thing. See and Looks pretty good to me, though I'm looking forward to the full reviews.

      I'd be happy if it was still 1280*800 too, but if losing 10% of the height made it easier for them to increase the screen size without increasing the phone width, I'm willing to live with it.

  5. ukgnome

    <---- obvious

    I notice you didn't show the note2 running your "incredible" android app

  6. Z80

    Don't trust these guy's what?

    1. Steve Evans

      Don't trust their grammar obviously.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least this time Samsung licenced some features

    1. fishman

      But since it has rounded corners they owe Apple another billion $.

      1. Neil Greatorex


        Can we stop with the "rounded corners" bollocks on Every. Single. Article. That. Covers. Either. Samsung. Or. Apple.

        You. Are. A. Twat!

        Whilst I'm at it; can we also stop with the "get some popcorn" whenever anything remotely related to litigious twattery is reported.

        I thank you..

        1. Peter 48

          Re: Please

          Until apple stop trying to remove competition by using ridiculously generalised patents that shouldn't exist in the first place, and then pointing out the farce that apple's litigious approach has become by using the rounded rectangle meme is very appropriate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm just waiting for Apple to release a phone/tablet with pressure sensitive stylus. A lot of artist types (or at least baristas who think of themselves that way) buy Apple gear so it wouldn't be such an odd move.

      I won't be buying one but the ensuing legal battle when Apple in their usual arrogance release the product without even considering licensing patents from Wacom should be hilarious. Wacom have been in this game for decades, even a San Jose jury couldn't ignore their prior art and patents.

      1. Neil Greatorex

        Not sure where you're coming from?

        Baristas, especially in starbucks, aren't that bright. Was in one in Peterborough the other day, bloke using the over-complicated-slows-down-the-queue-machine asks me for my name, bloke behind shouts out "don't tell him, for fucks sake, he'll spend so long sharpening his crayon I'll never get back to work on time!".

        "Baristas": Isn't that Italian for burger flipper?

  8. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
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    Hooray for Samsung for bringing back the stylus from the dead. I know HTC did this with the Flyer, but that was horrifically overpriced, and so didn't sell too well. Whereas the Note seems to have done quite well.

    Is this going to be marketed as a small tablet for around £200-£300, or a top-end phone, priced at £500? The difference is getting pretty huge now. The Nexus 7 (admittedly not trying to make a profit) is going for £160, and yet the Galaxy III is way up there above £500.

    I'd like a stylus device, but I'm not sure I'm willing to give Samsung £500 for one, when I've already got a work smartphone and a personal iPad.

    Although I do wonder about the screen size. It's man-bag time, or put this in your pocket, and find you're unable to bend your waist, due to being stabbed in the stomach by your phone. Or put it in your back pocket and squash it when you sit down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There are some uses for a stylus like drawing. But the fact that so much of the user interface uses it is either to justify its existence or an admission that Samsung can't design a finger touch based user interface properly.

      There's a case for one on a smaller screen where it can be harder to touch some elements without zooming. But on such a big screen it's probably an indication that samsung aren't good UI designers.

      1. Fibbles

        The Note's UI can just as easily be navigated using a finger. The reason the stylus controls are there is so that when you are using the stylus for a specific task (e.g. drawing) there is no need to put it to one side and start using your finger again to navigate through menus. You'd have realised this if you'd stopped to think for 2 seconds.

        "it's probably an indication that samsung aren't good UI designers"

        I thought consensus among fanboys was that Samsung ripped off their UI from Apple who happen to be the greatest designers on the planet...

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        None of the UI needs the stylus! It's Android Jelly Bean. The stylus is an extra, for drawing and note taking. Plus for extra options, if you want them.

        For controlling the UI, styli are an annoyance, at least if there's no alternative. For text input, they make onscreen keyboards seem awful. For drawing and sketching they're obviously great.

  9. Bunglebear
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    I have a Galaxy Note and I must admit I have had no trouble fitting it into pockets. Maybe I just have huge man pockets. Although the phone has a lot of screen real estate, its actually quite thin and light - I find thicker phones more a problem for pockets than wide ones.

    And yes, I do feel like a tit with it pressed against my ear, but I can live with that.

    1. ooral

      Re: Pockets

      I agree, although, it's not that bad to hold against my big head!

  10. Ian Entwistle

    Ditto, no problems with my pockets either with the original, my only beef is the ridiculously low sensitivity of the stylus try highlighting links that are close and more often than not it selects the wrong one.

    1. Tom 11


      Turn the stylus cursor on in the input menu, then you can see where then pen's going to land. Love my Note, can't wait to try one of these out, hope it lives up to the name it's made.

  11. BogBeast
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    After previously being vaguely anti large phones I have been slightly fascinated by the Note, so I recently one on eBay just to try it out, after all I could always toss it back if I didn't get on with it.

    I am a convert now, so much so that I have found myself using my Nexus 7 less for web and email and my Nexus S not at all for calling.

    Thought it might be just too large, but most of the time I don't notice it, except maybe not being too comfortable driving with it in my jeans front pockets. I happily trade that off for the massively more useful amount of screen space.

    If all did was phone, then I wouldn't bother with it. Making calls is less than 10% of what I do with it and as such I find it a real boon

    I will be spending my upgrade on the Note 2 and probably get most of what I paid back on eBay for the Note 1.

    As for caring what I look like when I occasionally use it as a phone. Really… you care what people think?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    that is all

  13. Canonical Exegesis
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    @Callam mcMillan,

    I was also sure those would be the specs and thought the 16: 10 aspect ratio would be preserved. However, a little thought reveals the fact that the Note is simply a larger iteration of the Galaxy flagship with extra functionality and (optionally) extra screen resolution.

    The 16 : 9 change is actually FAR more acceptable to the non-geek market and actually signals that Samsung are expecting a MUCH more successful (read 'sales') product than the 10 million 1st iteration of their "phablet" .

    The actual screen tech USED to be pentile which needed to borrow the "missing" correctly-coloured sub- pixel from neighbouring pixels to make up colours due to the RGBG arrangement only having 2/3s of the true RBG colours.

    The NEW version however, whilst not being standard RBG DOES have the full complement of 2 small Red and Green sub-pixels plus a double-sized Blue one - since the earlier issue was that the Blue sub-pixels both shine less brightly and wear out quicker than the others.

    A great benefit of this is that the Note 2 has a NOTABLY BRIGHTER and sharper screen than the Galaxy S3 even though they have the EXACT SAME 1280 x 720 resolution in a 16: 9 aspect ratio! Normally, the fact that the Note2's screen pixels are larger in size would ensure that the converse would be true.

    While I personally would have been in rapture if they had upped the screen resolution to 1600 x 900 ( or even 1440 x 900) with this same pixel tech and thrown in a 12 MPix camera, I must declare that this is a fantastic update after a little rumination. THIS is my next , even though I know a certain HTC is rumoured to be readying a 5-inch superphone of it's own with a possible Full HD screen rez of 1920 x 1080; I doubt that the battery will hold up ( and be removeable!) plus I wonder if they have rethought their stance on MicroSD(XC).

  14. SimonG
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    Overall a good experience

    I've owned a Galaxy Note for 8 months now and overall its been a positive experience. The screen estate is useful for well designed apps such as the SONOS controller. Some other apps can't decide if its a phone or a tablet and the results are not satisfactory - sadly the best example being Samsung's own TV remote control app.

    Larger phone means larger battery partly offset by the larger screen.

    Not real proof - but I am sure that with the larger frame the wifi performance is superior - whether that is through engineering or because it can house a larger areal I do not know.

    As far as what others think - well some do giggle, others are interested.

  15. Ray 11
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    Galaxy Tab 7.7

    I recently got the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Tablet as it is also a phone. I was using my Samsung Galaxy S (1) as my only internet device when not at work and I rarely make more than 5 calls a week.

    The 7.7" AMOLED Plus screen is brilliant for browsing and reading and the device is small enough to just fit in a pocket so I carry it everywhere. Yes a look stupid making calls but as they are so few the benefits far outweigh this drawback.

    The Nexus 7 with 3g will be a worthy successor to this tablet even if it does not support voice calling as SIP or other voip over 3g will alleviate this lack.

    I think the iPad Mini will not be as useful because if Apple sticks with a 4:3 ratio the device will be too wide to fit into a pocket. If you don't always carry the device what is the point of getting the smaller one.

    Don't let the size dissuade you.

  16. Tony Barnes
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    Size looks fine

    I've currently got a Desire HD (4.3" screen) and there is a lot of wiggle room in my hand to allow for a bigger phone. Up against my Mekon-esque head, it isn't large in the slightest.

    I'm looking forward to owning something with a good sized screen on it, my dimensions happily cater for it. For those crying about it being too big, why not quit moaning and look at small phones that obvious fit your less than impressive size - there's plenty to choose from...

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