Monday, November 19, 2012

A Month with Galaxy Note 2

Hello all

As I announced earlier, I have moved to a Galaxy Note 2 from my trusted and beloved Galaxy Nexus. It has been one month and I'd like to share my experience, and please take note, you won't find such 'long term tests' on other tech blogs.

My Note 2 is the beautiful Titanium Grey version, bought factory sealed and unlocked. Its built in memory is 16 GB.


Believe it or not, I am thinking about getting rid of the Note 2 ASAP. Main culprit is the pathetic, infuriating, shameful 'power button lag', i.e. when you press the power button, the phone takes a second or so to wake up.

It is simply amazing how Samsung curate the shortcomings of their products so lovingly and carry them across to newer devices, spanning years and generations. This has been a pet peeve of Touch Wiz sets and it is still there, true to form, quad core processor and 2 GB RAM not withstanding.

Home button? Why, a double tap of that now enables S Voice, another pointless layer in addition to Google's own vastly superior Now (also present - go figure). Naturally, the home button waits for the second tap every time, before switching to home. To hasten its laggard ways, you can disable S Voice. Elegant.


I have said it before, and I will say it again: TouchWiz is a hideous monstrosity that is an affront to Google'e beautiful Holo interface. Everything from the horrendous in-call screen to the Contacts app have been given a makeover that brings them bang up to date..for 2010. True, the apps are more functional, but most of those additional functions are not utilized anyway.

Touchwiz: Beautiful, innit?

Those reading this on a PC, do one thing: go to your display settings and set the resolution to 640x480. See how bloated everything is? That's basically what Samsung have done with added screen space on Note 2: absolutely nothing. The whole UI, windows, fonts, scroll bars - everything is just an enlarged version of that found on Galaxy S3. Short of browsing the web or media, you are NOT getting ANY additional advantage out of that 5.5 inch diagonal. Unless, of course, you root it and set a lower LCD density, in which case it all makes much more sense.


The S Pen works, and adds a truly unique dimension to the device. Trouble is, it is STILL not fast enough and most of the times taking it out and using it is too much of a bother. For example, the hover applications are cool, but isn't it just easier to tap on an item to see its contents rather than fumbling out the Pen, and placing its tip precariously above that item? I like the fact that Samsung likes to throw everything to the wall and see what sticks, but still, there is such a thing as redundancy.

As far as screen, camera, sound quality etc are concerned, all are top notch. You won't find a better equipped phone on the market. Multi-Window feature really works and is a major reason to buy the Note 2.


You know what they say about the best art? You don't notice it. Same holds true for Note 2's performance. After loading it up with apps, the phone still just flies. You don't notice how fast it is - things just happen when you ask them to. No stuttering, slowdowns, or lag. True, the beautiful 60 fps animations of Jelly Bean have been buried underneath, but if that concerns you too much go buy an iPhone. Please.

Same's the case for battery life. Under heavy usage you can easily eek out 18-25 hours with 4-5 hours of screen on time. Therefore, it is not a worry and you can, for once, actually USE your device without constantly glancing at the battery meter.


Note 2 is perhaps the best equipped phone on the market, bar none. Everything about it is top notch, from the fit and finish to the internals. The added features easily justify the price - in fact it is a bargain, and you don't hear it that often about a flagship device. .

It is THE device for you if you haven't used an AOSP Google phone, i.e. the Nexus line, recently. After a while TouchWiz just grates. That's Note 2's downfall.