Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Review
Petie’s LTE Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Review
Been using my Note 2 since launch day, 11/29. Here are my thoughts!
This is probably one of the most solidly built phones I’ve used to date. It’s very light, and while it does has a plasticky kinda build to it, it’s SOLID. I could see you dropping this thing more than a few times from 5 feet and being fine, honestly. The bezel is very thin on the sides, and the screen size really is maximized. Even though there are capacitative back and menu buttons, the size of the phone has helped them to take up less screen real estate than on phones like the Tbolt. Vlume, Power and Home Buttons are responsive and “just the right amount of clicky.” The front panel, when off is really This is the first phone that felt like I could take off the back battery door over and over and it wouldn’t break a tab etc. (With the exception of the OG and X Droids I haven’t felt that way in awhile but those were metal sliding trays)
Screen is gorgeous and I’ve kept it on automatic brightness so far. It does an excellent job instead of blinding me at 2am in the pitch black. Super AMOLED with no pentile, 720p crisp bright and bold color reproductions.
The infamous Verizon Wireless home button logo, much less noticeable on the Titanium Grey Version. The speaker is plenty loud, and coming from the Galaxy Nexus that’s a welcome change. Call quality has been excelled and Bluetooth pairing, quick. LTE signal coverage has been 5 bars outside, 3 bars inside, even from the dank center of Bausch + Lomb HQ.
Phone came with a charger and a few instruction books. No earbuds which sucks since all other carriers got ‘em :L WHATEVER I’LL JUST GET SOME BEATS BY DRE.
Now the size…it really has been a non factor for me. I have big hands but I’ve been in stores and even seen women playing with it in stores and they seemed to have no issue. Obviously the thing is a little easier to handle with two hands, but when I look back at it 90% of my texting was with two hands anyways. There is an option in the stock keyboard to turn on a “skewed” keyboard that allows you to justify it right or left for one hand use. Works just fine but I hope Swiftkey adds this in soon.
Also it’s important to note that I’ve had no issues bringing down the notification shade and if something is “out of reach” you can pretty much scroll the screen to it, making the whole “optimal range” of your thumb again a non-factor. Also it’s nice to be able to see just about ALL your notifications without much scrolling needed. Thing fits just fine in my jeans but I’ll admit I’ve been keeping it more in a fleece pocket lately because of the weather. I can see it having my left pocket just like my SGN though.
You guys know I’m an Android fan, and while I love their devices I can be very critical of design flaws as well. I’ve been through 8 or 9 Android devices at this point including tablets, all the way back from the OG Moto Droid. Galaxy Note 2 ships with Android 4.1.1 but also shipped with the dual screen functionality and a pre-release of Swiftkey Flow, which is kinda awesome. Dual screen lets you open up a browser no matter what app or screen you’re in. Great for copy pasting and looking up something quickly on the fly without having to switch applications. Touchwiz, while different, so far hasn’t been that intrusive. There are actually a lot of little touches I really like that improve on stock Android which I didn’t expect at all. Things that reduce the time it takes to do something etc, such as enabling Wifi requires just a tap in the notification shade instead of opening up the Wifi menu, then enabling. (Sure this is easily done with a widget on the homescreen but it’s nice to have it always present) Folders are off-the-bat scrollable and can have more items than stock Android.
Call quality has been superb. People have been able to hear me very clearly, and vice versa. The speaker is LOUD on this phone which is a big change for me since the Nexus was so quiet and tinny. Bluetooth pairs much faster than older phones (I did a speed test from my old phone and the Note 2, Note 2 wins by several seconds)
As with any new phone it’s getting heavy daily use. I can confidently say that the 3100 mAh battery is working just fine. I came from a Seidio 3800 mAh battery on my Galaxy Nexus and THIS 3100 lasts longer than that even. (Not sure quite yet if it’s due to the quad core sipping less power, or just much better and efficient LTE radios) I’m easily getting anywhere from 17-20 hours off of one charge with moderate use. About 15-16 under heavy load and we’re talking Pandora, web surfing, email, pretty constant texting, gps/Maps/navigation and games. It’s kind of a joy to be able to play Angry Birds Space for 25-30 minutes and then when I back out only maybe 5% of battery life has dropped. May not need to go with a Seidio extended at all on this phone, it would kinda be a sin to ruin the form factor.
Features I’m Really Digging:
- Notification shade: They’ve got HTC Sense-like widgets for Wifi, Airplane Mode, Bluetooth, screen rotate, vibration and even a dedicated driving mode. The clear button is moved below these so I can easily reach it with a thumb even one-handed.
- Keyboard: The keyboard may be one of the best I’ve ever used. I put on Swiftkey3 Tablet to test between the two, but so far the standard keyboard has been great. Props to having a dedicated number row at the top! Been driving the Swiftkey Flow Tablet version for a few days now and it’s everything I loved in SK plus swyping when I want to. Bonus for them adding in nonstop “flowing” (sounds like a woman’s worst nightmare) where you can swipe over the spacebar to continue to a new word instead of having to tap it.
- Jellybean, so Google Now is in there as well as the advanced notifications. Nice not to have to downgrade (like I would have with an S3 temporarily) versions. It’s quicker than ever and the voice dictation/recognition is pretty darn accurate.
- S-Pen: Very unobtrusive. You could almost forget it was a built in feature lol. Really love that when you take the pen out it will warn you if you happen to walk out of proximity from it which is an awesome feature. Any S-Pen feature you don’t like is easily disabled.
- S Voice: A Challenger Appears! This has been really really cool so far. It’s on par with Google Now dictation, and in some ways surpasses that functionality. I can now launch any app by voice, send texts, emails or search while driving and enter calendar entries. Google Now has recently gotten an update and is still as great as ever, but S-Voice gets the job done better for some tasks.
- Camera opens instantaneously. Shots are quick and the photo options are pretty cool. Panorama mode now has a feature to make sure I’m level and things stitch well. The Best Face mode will be awesome for the nephew to catch the rare good shot. 1.9 MP Front facing, 8MP rear.
- The screen size. I’ve easily read ebook material and more websites several times already that I would have waited to do by tablet or PC simply because the screen real estate really makes it possible. The older I get the bigger things need to be lol.
- Pop-Up Play. I thought this would be gimmicky but I’ve watched a video or two while still reading an email or composing something quickly. Useful feature.
- Motion Controls. This is under dislikes too but I did want to mention one or two that were cool: Swipe your hand across the screen to take a screenshot, and a face tracker that keeps the screen on as long as you’re looking at it. (Tracks your eyes, so if you’re reading no worries about it timing out) Turn over to mute is cool, as is double tap to scroll to top and quick glance. Quick glance turns the screen on when you reach for your phone. Kinda cool.
- Lock Screen shortcuts. THESE are cool. You can put 5 shortcuts on the lock screen and when you swipe to unlock, if you swipe over the shortcut it opens it up immediately. Straight to text message. Open Camera. Straight to Gmail and Google Search/Now. VERY cool feature.
Not A Fan Of:
- Not a fan of the Touchwiz calendar. It’s ugly lol. But recently Google made available the stock Calendar on the Play Store so it was a quick and easy fix.
- This is a weird oddity but creating folders on the desktop isn’t as easy as dropping one icon onto another anymore. When you long hold on an app, a little dual contextual menu opens up on the top for Folder or Remove. You then drop the app on the folder and it puts it in one. Not that big a deal but odd they chose to make it a step longer.
- The file structure of folders can be a little confusing. There’s “local” sd storage and then the mounted SD card as well, but also 4-5 USB entry folders which made setting up all the different paths for DropSnap difficult. Most apps tend to store their own pictures in their respective folders too, such as GoSMS has their own Download folder, Handcent, S-Pen, Gallery, Screenshots. Would be nice for them to flag down a more unified picture gallery but I suppose that’s more an Android issue than Touchwiz or Samsung.
- It’s a niggling little thing, but when you end a call a screen comes up showing you the ended call. It stays for about 2 seconds too long. You can hit the back button (or an even quick method I’ve found is to hit the home button in call to put it just up in the notification bar and when you end from there no close screen happens). People were bitching in forums about this though. Can’t please everyone right lol.
- "Blocking Mode" on Verizon isn’t available out of the box…it’s on the phone but not accessible for some odd reason. But if you get an app called QuickShortCutMaker you can link to it through a widget.Nice to disable notifications and be able to choose exactly what can and can’t get through.
- Motion Controls. I don’t want to tilt to pan and zoom. It’s cool but it’s gimmicky. I disabled a fair number of these.
- Stock keyboard. I’m accurate with the Swype stuff, but you all saw my errors go crazy up. Swiftkey pretty much remedied this and it’s what I use anyways. Must be the layout of the stock keyboard and the spacing or something…
Easiest phone to setup yet. Since ICS all your Google wifi passwords are stored in the account so little config was needed. I needed to stop it from syncing the 498 apps I had lol, and then it was easy to get the ones I really needed on there. In the past it would have taken me 4-5 hours to customize everything in my phone the way I like it, well that wasn’t the case here. I picked the 80 or so apps that I knew I wanted on my phone, set them to download and left the phone for an hour. Came back, it was done.
Daily Use and Observations:
Fastest phone I’ve owned, that’s a duh statement but comparing to my Galaxy Nexus this thing screams. No lag on keyboard entry, app switching, homescreen flipping, app launching. Things like Shush!, where when you put the phone on vibrate or mute it asks you how long to silence for, used to take 5-10 seconds to come up after hitting the volume level, it’s instantaneous now.
-Used to get crazy lag in GoSMS, (even stock messaging app) and Handcent which I think was partly due to a mixture of the dictionary spellcheck. Happens no longer. No more lag in Google autosuggestions either which I believe was the delay on LTE for it pinging autocompletions/suggestions from Google. Back on the OG Droid, Droid X, Thunderbolt and even the Bionic if you were installing an app, the phone would drag to a crawl. That happens no longer. I can have several apps installing up updating at once (even more) and there’s no lag using any other part of the phone. Backing out 2 screens from the app install screen to the search results used to even be laggy, that is no longer as well.
This is the case I got, it’s super slim and glossy black. Fits nice and snug but is malleable enough to take off easily without feeling like you’re going to bend and snap a corner of your smartphone. Mercury Black Case
PETE’S RANKING 9/10.
This is the best Android phone I’ve used to date. The multimedia, communication and phone abilities it offers me on the go, coupled with the speed and size have really made my smartphone an on-the-go everything capable device. The fact that I can take it out and quickly and efficiently do what I need to do, (Example Google Navigation walking directions to a comedy club I visited the other night, would have taken forever to load and work on my Galaxy Nexus, happened in 5 seconds), means I’m using my smartphone more than ever as it’s intended. Extremely happy with this phone, it’s performance and my first week with it so far.