Samsung Galaxy Note II – Size Matters

Android Samsung Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy Note IIEver since the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was released on September of 2012, it received a bag of mixed reviews due to it’s large 5.55 inch screen. During the time of its initial release, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2’s screen was larger than it’s competitors — most notably the Samsung Galaxy S3, Apple’s iPhone 5, and the original Samsung Galaxy Note series. For several month now, the Samsung Galaxy Note II has been highly debated in terms of its performance. Consumers wonder whether or not they’ve made the right purchase. They are either praising it or razing its large form-factor. We’ll dive into these matters and find out what is loved about the Samsung Galaxy Note II, and what needs to be changed for the release of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 3.  Here’s the break down.

Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

Size, weight and form factor

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2′ dimension are 151.1x 80.5 x9.4mm and weighs roughly 180g.
Here’s a comparison between the competition.

Phone Dimensions Thickness Weight
Samsung Galaxy Note II 151.1 mm x 80.5 mm 9.4 mm 180g
Apple iPhone 5 123.8 mm x 58.6 mm 7.6 mm 112g
HTC ONE X 134.36 mm x 69.9 mm 8.9 mm 130g
Samsung Galaxy SIII 136.6 mm x 70.6 mm 8.6 mm 133g
Samsung Galaxy SIV 136.6 mm x 69.8 mm 7.9 mm 130g
HTC ONE 137.4 mm x 68.2 mm 9.3 mm 143g

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is clearly the largest, thickest and the heaviest out of all of these phones. Interestingly, even though it’s the largest, the Samsung Galaxy Note II still fits in a pair of men’s jeans pockets, but its hard to shove this phone into a pair of women’s jeans pocket. Women may need to place their Note 2 in their purse or bag. The infamous “S-Pen” must had played a role in the thickness of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 due to the fact the back of the device is not symmetrical. If you place the Samsung Galaxy Note II on a flat surface with the LCD facing you, you can rock it back and forth by pressing the right side of the device; thus, making it seem like Samsung just shoved all the features into the phone, and slimmed it down as much as possible. Since the S-Pen takes up most of the space, we thought it could be revamped and made extendable and thinner like the Wacom Stylus Pocket. The reason for it’s weight is due to the fact it packs a weighty 3100 Mah battery,and a metal frame under the hood.  We found that the weight sometimes got in the way while trying to text with one hand, and when on long phone calls.

Design

iphone 3gs

Samsung Galaxy Note II = Giant iPhone 3GS?

The design of the Samsung Galaxy Note II is nothing special. It resembles the old school Apple iPhone 3GS but with a larger screen and a stylus. On the left side is a volume rocker, and the top side is a mic and 3.5mm inch audio port. The right side is  a power button. The bottom of the phone has a usb port and a  mic. Regardless of many similarities between these two devices, the Apple iPhone 3GS still has an advantage, as there’s a switch to quickly silence the phone. We found it real difficult to silent the phone quickly on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. One must hold the volume down button to active silent mode, and we couldn’t find an easy way to get it back to the volume setting we wanted.

 

Ergonomics

If you text or email a lot on the phone, then this is where the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 might not be for you. We found it difficult to hold the Samsung Galaxy Note II in a manner that allows us to perform one handed operations.  Even with Samsung’s one handed operation mode, the software never let us adjust the size of the keypad to fit the size of our hands. Clearly, it’s suppose to be a two handed device; however, in our two-handed keyboard-test, we found that our hands had to be placed in a specific placement in order avoid accidentally keying any of the bottom menu buttons. We found that this happens often and can wreck the user experience. We would love to see this changed in the new Samsung Galaxy Note III. There should be software to detect whether or not the user is typing a message or trying to access the menu, or perhaps they could get rid of the bottom buttons altogether and replace it with more screen. This will allow more flexibility on Samsung’s Software division to implement safeguards.

Hardware Features

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2’s main competitive advantage is in a few of the Samsung Galaxy’s Note II hardware features. It’s gorgeous 5.55 inch Super AMOLED screen and it’s S-Pen functionality is the driving point of this phone. With the 5.55 inch screen, one is able to browse the web, view videos, and make notes with luxury. This is great for ‘Baby Boomers’ generation as it’s less harsh on their eyes.  The S-Pen is a Wacom stylus renamed “S-pen” by Samsung.  It is great for those who are creative savvy.  The S-Pen is highly accurate as it utilizes the screen renown Wacom technology, and digital artists will cling onto it’s S-Pen functionality. In fact we found that using the S-pen was more fluid than using our own fingers. It adds value to their creativity and allows them to create graphics right on their phone; thus, they can draw anytime without needing a piece of paper and pen.

User Interface

Samsung has their usual software package installed on top of the Android Operating System. These prepackaged apps from Samsung are not all useful and only a few of them we used on a daily basis.  We won’t go too much into this area. Because on Android, users have flexibility in a variety of Android launchers to choose from.

Battery-Life

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2’s battery life is rather interesting. Even though it packs a 5.55 inch screen, it’s been overall above average. On average, we got around 8.5 hours with the lowest being 7 hours and the highest being 11 hours. These test were performed with the smart-stay features turned off, and power save mode not active.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is certainly not a perfect phone, and there is much to be desired from it. It is quite heavy compared to other phones, and the thickest of the competition. The ergonomics issues and the few key design issues do not seem like a big deal at first, but as days go by, they become increasingly irritating for the user. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Note II also brings a lot to the table such as the S-Pen and the 5.55 inch display. With the announcement of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy MEGA phone in mind, we hope that Samsung fixes these issue with their Samsung Galaxy Note series first.

  • Click here to read about Samsung Galaxy Mega
Steve is a co-founder of DeviceCritique. He is a technology expert who takes a unique perspective by blending humanity, technology, and business. He visions that there are many untapped technology products that have yet to emerge, and plans to explore those ideas with you in his articles. Steve is currently working toward his Bachelor of Commerce while simultaneously juggling work and his passion in writing.