People have been often confused about tablets mainly since they’re not as portable as regular smartphones, and also some lack network connectivity. But Samsung’s Galaxy Note struck a perfect balance when it arrived back in 2011. With its 5.3-inch display, it wasn’t too small but at the same time it wasn’t too big either. But the general consensus was that the Note is too big to be a smartphone as it wasn’t compact, which is generally what we don’t come to expect from a smartphone. Regardless of that, the phablet sold well in the market with a reported 10 million units sold so far, thus silencing all initial skeptics. And then came the Galaxy Note II last month, which promised to up the ante in a big way and it did exactly that. The specs of the new phablet are top end, no doubt, but it’s the software package inside which makes the Note II a worthy upgrade.
However, the Note II is huge in every sense of the word, although Samsung has tried to make it pleasing to hold with a similar bezel as the Galaxy S III. Make no mistake, Samsung has done everything to make it look smaller than it is. It’s actually just a little bigger than the original Note which is acceptable considering that the display is seeing a bump of 0.2 inches from the original Note. The phablet is also pretty bulky this time around which justifies the massive size. What’s strange though is that Samsung has made little effort to differentiate it from the Galaxy S III, comparing them side by side will give you an idea of the similarities between the two (design wise). Somehow though, the device is slim despite its massive screen and a relatively bigger 3,100 mAh battery. At 9.4mm it’s slimmer than most smartphones you see around. On the back, the same 8MP camera sensor is used, so you won’t expect anything extraordinarily different from this one. That’s about the features. What people often want to know about a device like the Note, is about its comfort when held against the ear or during normal usage.
The Note II and the Galaxy S III side by side.
Well, this one might disappoint people with small hands as it is a tad awkward to hold in certain angles. One hand texting or typing is almost out of the equation as it takes a lot to type and balance the phone in one hand. But it wasn’t meant for one hand usage, so I guess it’s alright. And as with the previous iteration of the Note, there’s some trouble fitting this in the pocket, although it’s not impossible. The thickness of the Note II doesn’t help either, as it could easily be prone to accidental display cracks, especially if the device is in the tight jeans pocket and the user tries to bend over. This is something that was said about the Galaxy S III too. So if you had trouble with the S3′s slim and long form factor, you’re not in for much of a treat with the Note II. The finish of the Galaxy Note II isn’t all that great either with similar materials used in its making as with the GS3. I personally thought it was easily prone to scratches, which is something you don’t want from a premium device like this. But I’m guessing Samsung will make the flip cover available fairly soon, probably along with the launch, which should serve as a secondary back cover while providing protection for the display too. Maybe I’m too cautious with smartphones, but it doesn’t seem like Samsung had rough users in mind when creating the Note II (the same applies for the Galaxy S III). That being said, we are yet to see drop tests of the Galaxy Note II, so I wouldn’t like to jump the gun there.
If you remember, Dell was the first to breach the 5-inch mark for a smartphone with the Dell Streak. But that didn’t work out quite well for the company. Looking at the failure of the Streak, manufacturers couldn’t gather the courage to launch a competing device. Samsung however decided to innovate and add the S-Pen stylus which has been instrumental in the device’s success, although it is merely a luxury feature for a few. After the Note, we saw the LG Optimus Vu which was pretty good and unique with its aspect ratio. It didn’t manage to do much noise though, as the launch was held back and the Galaxy Note had pretty much consumed the phablet market by then.
If you’re thinking of purchasing the Note II, I would definitely recommend you to try it out first. It’s a hit or a miss kind of a thing here with this phablet. Some will instantly take a liking to the big screen and start fantasizing about all the things they can do with the extra screen real estate, while others might be turned off by the sheer enormity of the device. Regardless, the Note II is an excellent multimedia device, thanks to its massive screen, watching movies is an unparalleled experience. In some areas, bigger is certainly better but when it comes to convenience, it sadly isn’t.