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Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Hands-on and First Impressions

I was unable to attend Samsung’s IFA press event in Berlin a couple of weeks back where they unveiled the international Galaxy Note 2, but thankfully, they gave me some hands-on time with it this week to share with the DL community. They still aren’t ready to announce U.S. info, however, there have been enough leaks over the last week or so to give us some sort of an idea as to what the future holds. Until we get to that point though, we can at least talk about the international variant, the form factor, some of the new software tweaks that have been included, and the fact that the display is no longer PenTile. 

Form Factor

When I look at or hold the Galaxy Note 2, I think of it as a giant Galaxy S3. It has the same styling, button arrangement, and color scheme – it just rocks out with a bigger 5.5″ display. When holding, you most definitely need two hands to use it. But you should know that going in. It’s light enough without feeling cheap, is probably still pocketable for most people, and really is one of the more unique ideas in mobile.

The biggest hurdle here, is deciding if this big of a phone is needed in your life. 10 million people decided that the original Note was worthy, and since this phone is improved by miles over that device, I’d say at least that many will jump to this one as well. Will you?

Software

All of our favorite features from the Galaxy S3 have been carried over to the Note 2 – the sharing, camera software, and speed. But beyond the Share Shot and Pop-up Play, Samsung really focused on making the S Pen experience more fluid and feature-rich. Navigating with the S Pen is as easy as drawing quick symbols and a new hover technology essentially turns it into a mouse. You’ll see some of these new goodies in the video down below.

Oh, the Note 2 will also ship with Jelly Bean and Samsung’s latest TouchWiz.

Bye Bye PenTile

In my meeting with Samsung, there was one little side note that really stood out to me and it had to do with the Note 2′s display. They mentioned that this display is the next generation of their Super AMOLED tech, meaning it’s improved even over the Galaxy S3 display. They aren’t ready to call it an “HD Super AMOLED Plus” yet, but they did mention that it is not a PenTile display and that there are no shared pixels. Samsung said that it isn’t quite a full RGB Stripe, hence the reason for leaving off the “Plus.” I didn’t have my camera with me or I would have snapped a macro, so we’ll have to take their word for it. Great news though, right?

Overall

My time with the device was limited, but I can see how the 5.5″ form factor could be appealing to some. The new S Pen is actually useful these days, gaming or watching movies would be a blast, and the idea of not having to carry a tablet ever again is an intriguing one. I’ll have more time in the near future with the Note 2 to form full opinions, but so far, I’ve been trying to talk myself into why I need a device this big.

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  • patrick

    shut up and take my money!

  • Don Demon

    I dont see a mini HDMI port. Cany anyone confirm if it does/doesn’t have a HDMI port? I have it on my Bionic and use it from time to time.
    I cant wait for the Note2. Ive been waiting for a phone like this. Yeah!

  • Trevor

    Your voice sounds sexier than normal…

  • mwalker

    when is this coming to verizon? or is it ?

  • AnGeLFaCe777

    I hope they already fix their audio and radios problem.

  • http://www.jamesbriano.com James Briano

    Looking forward to a CLEAN Jelly Bean ROM.

  • http://twitter.com/wynalazca Andrew Webber

    There was a macro shot on the Verge’s article from two weeks ago. http://goo.gl/xSXzx

  • http://www.matthewdlyons.com/ matthewdlyons

    Interestingly, I sold my Nexus 7 because I found it to be too small as a tablet; yet, I might be interested in the Note as a catch all between the phone and a tablet. I don’t really make all that many calls, so the idea of holding a paperbacks-sized phone up to my head would be tempered by the better viewing experience for all other uses.

    No matter what, it’s nice to have choices.

  • RoadsterHD1

    Sammy is becoming like Moto. in putting out the same phone only with better spec’s. Like the RZR and then the MAXX

    • http://www.matthewdlyons.com/ matthewdlyons

      I think there is a difference here. Motorola confused the hell out of me by announcing a Razr HD and a Razr HD Maxx, which are the same phone with different batteries. Logic would lead one to think that most, if not all, people would opt for the phone with the battery that lasts longer. Who knowingly buys an identical device that doesn’t work as long. You save, what, a millimeter in thickness? That is silly.

      While Samsung is definitely doing something that I hate (flooding the market with devices), I can’t say, in this case, that the SIII and Note are merely shades of grey. The leap between the two devices on screen size, alone, is a differentiator, Add in the S-Pen and it’s more than just the same device with bumped-up specs.

      • RoadsterHD1

        What about the Note1 and now the Note2?

        • http://www.matthewdlyons.com/ matthewdlyons

          Good point. I think the only difference I see here is that the Note 1 has been on the market for nearly a year. I know that seems like a silly time frame to offer in rebuttal; but it’s not like Motorola jacking people up by introducing the Razr, and then popping out the Razr Maxx just a few months later.

  • http://twitter.com/CallOnColin Colin Huber

    Kellen’s voice sounded tired or smoke laced in this video. And it sounds awesome.

  • r0lct

    If this has an unlockable bootloader I am going to potentially dump my GNex.. Even though it may not load a rom if the S-Pen stuff can’t run on AOSP, I want to know there is guaranteed root.

    After the GNex I realized the Nexus program (at least on Verizon) is crap and the phone needs to be good on it’s own merit. So while I still like my GNex it’s more about unlocked bootloaders for me going forward.

  • corymcnutt

    As soon as it hits Verizon, I will be ordering one…Have wanted this form factor since the first Note was released.

  • Walter White

    So how much is everyone selling their S3′s for? I don’t really want to sell mine until I hear at least a release date for it on Verizon…..and what’s your guys guesses on the price? I’m thinking 700-750…

    • Detonation

      Well seeing as how the full retail price is $600, you may want to think more in the 500-550 range…

      • Walter White

        Yeah, I was referring to the full retail price of the Note 2. I bought my S3 off Craigslist for 430….so obviously I wouldn’t try to resell it for 700….

    • Fatty Bunter

      They sell for about 450 on craigslist….

    • r0lct

      I guess Walter started hitting the blue stuff.

  • Eric Franca

    Paranoid Android + Note 2 = a tablet. That’d be the only rom I’d ever want to run on this beast.

  • JoshGroff

    After trying out the original in Target a while back, I will probably be getting either this or the HTC Note if it comes to Verizon. The 5″+ form factor is especially awesome for those with bad eyes, big hands, or, like me, both. Granted it makes you look silly talking on one, but no one does that nowadays anyway.

  • Joshua Dudash

    Jeeze.. I’m so ready to take the jump… I just dont have the cash for an unlocked purchase… Still on GNex till this time next year.. Hopefully there will be a note 3 by then 1920×1200 :-)

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      Swappa is your Friend

  • Go Hawkeyes

    Too bad you didn’t take pictures of it next to a Galaxy S3. Are there any shots anywhere of the two devices together? If this comes to Verizon (and XDA gets it rooted/unlocked) I will be getting it.

    • JoshGroff

      With the ability to disable bloat now being a standard feature, I find root is less of a necessity, but being able to flash CM or AOKP every once in a while would be awesome.

      • Go Hawkeyes

        There are a few root only apps that I like. But the biggest thing for me is to be able to install AOSP-based or at least a touchwizless ROM. That is a must.

        • JoshGroff

          Same here, mainly TiBu, but can’t you install a custom launcher and disable most of the TW features?

        • r0lct

          Keep in mind AOSP may not support the S pen features.

          • Go Hawkeyes

            Probably would never use it much anyway.

          • r0lct

            I can’t see it being a dealbreaker either

    • Edimonk
      • Go Hawkeyes

        Awesome, thank you! My ridiculously oversized hands will love this device.

        Is it the same thickness?

        • Edimonk

          The S3 is slightly slimmer, at 8.6mm, compared to the Note’s 9.4mm.

          • Go Hawkeyes

            Not bad. Thanks.

  • dsnotgood

    galaxy s3 just went on ebay lol. look how smooth it is!

    • a.youth.in.Asia

      The S3 is not a bad phone, Samsung just understands that people like options. Apple…. Doesn’t

      • fanboy1974

        Correct. I would rather have different sizes than the one size fits all model Apple enjoys. Imagine being stuck with 4 inches for at least the next 2 iPhone models.

        • Jroc869, Cool story bro

          I lol’ed at this becuase its true and I couldnt imagine that. Just imagine how far we will be in two years and how far behind the *phone will be then

        • a.youth.in.Asia

          Apple would gobble up more market share if they made the iPhone 5 in the 4″ , 4.5″ and 5″ varieties. I would like to see how many “it’s too big!” iDiots would actually buy the 5″ model and see how many Goofans would go for the Apple 5″.

  • KleenDroid

    Amazing

    • moelsen8

      Amazing?

      • JoshGroff

        Always. Especially in this case.

      • a.youth.in.Asia

        Haha definitely not amazing…. But AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I instantly ejaculate when I see this phone and have wet dreams about this phone… Ahhhhh!

        • moelsen8

          *damn disqus

          • a.youth.in.Asia

            I know I know… It’s the slang terms you have to worry about… Ejaculate is the scientific term! ROTFLMFAO!

    • IanKellogg

      I kind of doubt it. unless you like not having any of the s-pen apps. There are some 3rd party replacements but the s-pen apps are very good.

      • KleenDroid

        Of course the ROM would include the s-pen apps. There is no reason they would leave out the best part of the phone. I’m not talking about 3rd party replacements I’m talking about ROMs from our wonderful development community.

        • IanKellogg

          any of the roms i have used for my note ether are based on stock which adds nothing or based on asop/cyanogenmod which removes all the s-pen apps.

          • Nicholassss

            What about a way to get rid of the samsung UI and go vanilla while keeping the s pen functionality or is the s pen stuff not separate from samsungs nonsense?

          • KleenDroid

            Well darnit then. I imagine something so much better… :)

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    Hmmmm…. I just want one… I don’t know why. I have a GS3 and am really thinking about just selling the thing to give the NOTE 2 a run… at least until CES

    • Bewara2009

      I’ll buy it for 250.00 ….

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        Come on now. Sold my 6 month old Galaxy Nexus for $300

        • Bewara2009

          Ok 300.00? I’m a college student don’t have money like that…

          • r0lct

            If you have $300 for his wouldn’t you have $200 for a new one on contract?

          • Bewara2009

            No cause I’m still in contract can’t upgrade for a while…..

          • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

            The resale market is solely based on folks still locked into a contract.

          • a.youth.in.Asia

            You don’t have $300 but you have $250? Don’t buy things you can’t afford.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1593169740 Chris Amaya

          That’s actually a good price considering buying a phone off contract will cost about 600 or more.

          • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

            Definitely.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1593169740 Chris Amaya

            I’m leaning towards the Note 2 but I’m interested to see what HTC has to offer. So conflicted……Anyhoo. I’ll be throwing my Galaxy Nexus on ebay for 300 as well :)

          • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

            Don’t forget SWAPPA… that’s where I sold mine. Good Community of buyers

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1593169740 Chris Amaya

            What’s a SWAPPA?

          • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

            Site made just for buying and reselling android devices
            http://swappa.com/

    • S.Ober

      I’m in the same boat, wish I was was still in my 30 day grace period with my S3 so I can return it and get one of these.

      • KleenDroid

        30 day grace? Must be nice to not be on Verizon…

        • Nicholassss

          yeah, what do we get, 14 and they’ll try their damnedest to talk you out of it too. Turds.

    • New_Guy

      After having a tablet for a while, I find myself wishing I had a mini tablet to carry around at times I need to be a bit more discreate. This would be perfect.

    • BSweetness

      I’ll be pre-ordering day one. Once it arrives, I’ll be selling my S3.

    • SAMBO

      Same here. Except for me, I’m waiting on the HTC announcement of their 1080p 5″ phone. Hopefully, they’ll announce it at their event next week. If they don’t, I may just have to sell my S3 for this bad boy.

      • c4v3man

        Just remember, they said the S3 was going to have a 1080p screen as well… I just don’t see it happening. It’s usefulness in a 7″ tablet is questionable, let alone a 5.5″ or less phone. That being said, as long as it doesn’t kill battery life, I’m all for it, even if it is pointless.

        • SAMBO

          I completely agree with you. Only thing is that they’ve actually shown benchmarks of the phone really having 1080p, so it is legit. Unless, there is something else you know that I am not aware of?

    • yarrellray

      I will be purchasing the Galaxy Note 2 on day one of launch when this arrives on Tmobile. Already owning the Galaxy S3 let’s me know how exceptional the Galaxy Note 2 will be. Plus quadcore and 3100mAh battery with Samsung claiming 3days battery life with jellybean I am all over this 100 %. I will have the best of both worlds..