The Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone was the first hybrid tablet-smartphone device to be launched, and very quickly people became a fan of the new category of devices, called Phablets. Well, phablets today are the new in-thing and every big and small manufacture is trying its luck in this new category. So, be it Micromax, Zync, Karbonn, LG or any other brand, there is a big 5 inch+ screen device available in its arsenal for users to buy and enjoy.
Samsung, being the creator of this category, had to do something to remain at the top of the game. Hence, it launched the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (N7100). Note 2 is bigger, sleeker and faster than its predecessor, while it is attractively priced as well. In simpler words the world of smartphones has a new dominator, the Note 2; so let’s find out how the device fares in the real world.
First looks and build quality
With the launch of the Galaxy SIII Samsung has shown a brand new design and new exciting colours that it has started replicating across devices and categories. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 N7100 features a sleek and slim profile overall, with a glossy finish, which is available in two colours, titanium grey and marble white. The device that we received came in titanium grey colour. We personally like the darker colour better than the light marble white, and the glossy finish with chrome accents on the sides definitely gives the device a nice and sophisticated look. The front of the device has a flush finish with a single button on the chin, again in the same colour with a thin chrome lining all round it.
The body is made of poly-carbonate plastic that gives it strength and makes it lightweight too. With a total weight of 180 grams the device is light. Compared to the older Note N7000 it has a narrower shape and feels more smartphone-ish. The glossy finish, however, is a bigger concern for the device as it will show signs of discoloration and fading if not handled with care. The Note 2 we received was a test unit that had been to several places and its back was badly scratched. A solution such as Riona Avenew Mobile Feet, available for Rs 99 for a set of two, can protect such devices from scratches while they are kept on desks or other surfaces.
Although the build quality of the device is superb, due to its big size it is certainly prone to damage due to falls-a problem common in most big screen devices. Note 2 has a Gorilla Glass 2 scratch resistant surface on the display so there would not be any need to get an additional scratch guard installed. Plus, as compared to the older Gorilla Glass the new generation of Gorilla Glass is lighter and stronger.
The design of the device is again quite similar to other Galaxy smartphone devices available in the market today, and apart from the bigger size it’s hard to differentiate the device from the Galaxy SIII. But the real key lies in the functionality that the device offers, and compared to the older device the Note 2 certainly has evolved a lot. For instance, the width of the device, despite the bigger display, has gone down from 3.27 inches to 3.17 inches, making it sleeker for single-handed operation, which was a big concern for the older Note N7000.
The device is slim and lightweight and that additionally makes it easier to hold and carry for longer times as well, especially as the S-Pen stylus is what you will end up using most of the time.
The Note 2 has all its keys on the sides, which makes them easily accessible. The volume rocker and power key sum up the physical key inclusion in the device, but things to notice here are that the power and volume rocker keys have been placed towards the center of the side and that makes them easier to access even for people with short thumbs.
The connectivity port has been placed right at the bottom of the device so that the looks of the device are not spoilt, plus this also makes the device easy to use while charging. The top of the device houses the audio connector and the auxiliary microphone for noise cancellation.
Display and touch
The Galaxy Note 2 N7100 has a 5.5 inch true 720p (1280 x 720 pixel) resolution display that is more than useful for people to go creative and play around with the S-Pen stylus. The display is built using Super Amoled technology that offers better colour and contrast levels too. Overall, the display on the Galaxy Note 2 is great and as with all the top end devices from Samsung it certainly livens up the device with colours.
The display features a true 720p resolution, which is slightly lower than the older Note, but for all tasks right from video to imaging and browsing the display works wonderfully.
The touch sensitivity of the device is good and very accurate too. Multitouch and gestures are very cleanly recognized by the device, resulting in perfect action every time.
The S-Pen stylus adds to the utility as well as functionality of the device; the Gorilla Glass 2 gives it the perfect protection and protects it from damage from the pressure sensitive stylus. The S-Pen stylus is sensed by the device from a couple of millimeters above the display, which shows its level of sensitivity and aids flawless productivity. The S-Pen also has functions associated with the hovering so you can scroll through pages and menus without even touching the screen. The brightness levels of the display are quite appropriate and make the device legible in bright light too.
The TouchWiz user interface works perfectly with the device’s hardware and makes it very easy for a new user to get comfortable with the big screen and the stylus too.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 N7100 utilizes an Exynos 4412 quad core processor running at 1.6 GHz, which is the center of all the things that the device does. The processor is coupled with a massive 2 GB of RAM, which is great to have, especially for a smartphone, and it shows when the applications load and perform quickly, without any lag. Multitasking is one thing that a user would love to do on the device; be it gaming or multitasking, everything is done with great ease and without any hiccups or issues.
The processor and RAM come in real handy while utilizing features such a multi screen and video pop out. Note 2 is great for working on several applications simultaneously, and there is no lagging whatsoever.
The Note 2 has a stay awake feature just like the one on the Samsung Galaxy S3. It constantly tracks users’ eyes and the moment the eyes are directed elsewhere the device starts a countdown before going into standby. This also means that there is no need to tap the screen or press a key to keep the device awake. Also, Note 2 features smart rotate eye tracking, which tweaks display settings so that the user sees the perfect picture no matter how he/she holds the device.
Overall, we are quite impressed with the performance and loved what the device could do.
The Galaxy Note 2 features 3G connectivity, but LTE connectivity is missing and is available in the N7105 model in some countries. On the connectivity front there is no issue and everything goes smoothly.
The Note 2 supports WiFi /b/g/n and both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band compatibility. The Note 2 phablet also has Bluetooth 4.0 LE. It incorporates Bluetooth 3.0, but also includes the efficient low energy mode for better savings on the battery as well. The Note 2 lets you share data via NFC by simply touching the devices back-to-back, through S-beam. The bad part is that users will need another compatible device to do that and there are very few around.
The Samsung Note 2 has a micro size SIM slot so users will have to upgrade to a micro SIM, which is being used by most devices today. For internet connectivity the device can use WiFi as well as 3G.
Camera and multimedia
At the back of the Galaxy Note 2 there’s an 8 megapixel camera with Samsung’s very own imaging sensor, which is a great delight for photographers. The 8 megapixel camera is good and offers great variance in colours and full HD 1080p video recording as well at 30 frames per second.
The image quality of the camera is good in both outdoor and indoor modes, provided the lighting is sufficient. The LED flash comes into play wherever needed, but is only effective for close objects, and tends to make subjects appear washed out. The colours are captured in detail and the 8 megapixel resolution gives unlimited possibilities for using the pictures.
Another great inclusion is the 1.9 megapixel camera at the front. This gives it great imaging capability as well as video recording muscle too.
On the multimedia front this device features a more than capable audio and video player, along with support for online streaming for both videos and audio too. The loudspeaker, especially, is a big plus for the device. Although the supplied headphones are not great, they work well with the device, but most audiophiles will have to buy a set of new headphones for some good tunes.
One of the major advantages of this device is its battery backup. With normal gaming, audio-video use and web browsing over both 3G and WiFi the device usually lasts for two days between full recharges. The 3100 mAh battery pack might sound small, but in reality the device’s hardware has been fine tuned to balance power consumption and performance.
Overall, the battery backup more than pleases the users, but beware the auto brightness controller as it reduces the brightness a little too much. Although it’s advised to use the automatic control, at times manual intervention would be desperately needed.
The bigger-better and more doable Note is what we would like to call the Galaxy Note N7100. It has a great set of features and superb performance. That said, the big question is whether it justifies the Rs 35,000 price tag. Well, it undoubtedly does so. The Android Jelly Bean 4.1 operating system is a great advantage and soon it will be upgraded to Jelly Bean 4.2, getting even better.
So if you need a classy and useful device that not only looks good, but does something good too then go ahead and buy the Note 2. It’s worth the money you will be paying.