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Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Initial Thoughts, Gallery, and Device Tour

Guess what, ladies and gentlemen? It’s Samsung Galaxy Note 2 day. With Samsung (and Kanye) putting together the final preparations for tonight’s big launch party in NYC, you can start your day of Note 2 coverage right here. I have had the T-Mobile version (since it’s the first to launch) for a handful of days now and am close to finalizing our review, however, with the RAZR HDs (our review) taking up quite a bit of time, I didn’t want to short change this phone and will need another day or two. So far though, I’m absolutely loving every minute of it. Let’s talk about it. 

Initial Thoughts

Pros:  When you first open the box and pick up the Galaxy Note 2, you can’t help but say “Holy sh*t, this thing is huge.” You grab it with two hands, pull the S Pen out, start hammering on it, see the fluidity and power, the massive amount of features, and follow up that first comment with “OK, this is pretty cool.”

With it’s 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor, 5.5″ HD Super AMOLED display (non-PenTile), 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, and Jelly Bean (Android 4.1.1), there is nothing stopping this phone. The display is probably the best I have seen to date, or is at least my favorite thus far. I know that many of you love LCD over Super AMOLED, but this thing, with it’s size and pixel arrangement, is absolutely gorgeous. Watching videos, playing games, and browsing the web never looked so good. The extra screen real estate is more than welcomed when consuming media.

The camera is ultra-fast and seems to be on par with the Galaxy S3’s, TouchWiz seems to be faster and more well-rounded on top of Jelly Bean, and the S Pen, with it’s new feature-set, is very polished and fun to use.

This is definitely one of those devices that you seem to find reasons to pull out and use again and again.

Cons:  It’s not 100% perfect, though. First off, it is huge. I still can’t decide if I could make this my daily device or not, and the only question mark really is the size. It’s awesome for at home, but I’m still trying to convince myself that this could be good in everyday, all day situations. The multi-window feature that we first reported on has yet to arrive on this handset, but will likely come in a later update. Unfortunately, that means we’ll have to wait for an update and you know how long those can take in the U.S. I haven’t been able to test battery life with LTE, since T-Mobile doesn’t have an LTE network yet. So far, it holds up nicely with the 3100mAh battery inside. The phone itself, is also quite the fingerprint magnet both on the display and backside thanks to a glossy finish. With a phone this big, I’ve found myself carrying around a cloth to wipe it off a couple of times a day. Last, there are parts of TouchWiz that I still can’t stand – like folder creation.

Availability:  You can buy the device today from T-Mobile. Sprint begins selling it tomorrow, October 25. AT&T opens pre-orders tomorrow, with the device hitting stores on November 9. Verizon, as usual, has remained quiet, although, we are hearing that it should go up for pre-order tomorrow.

Overall:  As someone that didn’t spend all that much quality time with the original Note, I can see why everyone was so disappointed when this didn’t come to all carriers. It’s a fun device to use. Will it be fun when I take it to Blazers games, to a restaurant, traveling, or out on the town? I’m still forming that opinion.

Device Tour:




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vs. Galaxy S3

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  • david

    Purely based on functionality/user experience, should I go for the note II or lg Optimus g?

  • My dilemma now is whether I shell out the $650 to get a Note II and keep my unlimited data plan, yeah I average 40GB of data month, or get it on an upgrade and modify my usage to get on a tiered data plan. Ugh, I want a Note II so bad. Of course option #3 is to just keep my Razr Maxx and be happy. Oh yeah, I’m a concession account so I get an upgrade every 9 months that’s why I’m eligible and don’t have that bad of a phone. Verizon unlimited is true unlimited, not like that garbage AT&T passes for unlimited, so that is like a priceless thing to have in reality. Who knows what even more data intensive phones might come out in the future. Then again Verizon could decide that even without getting an upgrade you lose unlimited, they could do that too if they wanted. Then I’d feel really stupid for having shelled out full retail just to keep it.

    Ugh, so much speculation and conjecture. Everything is just soooooo grey. Check out my blog post about my Galaxy Note II/ unlimited data dilemma at…….. http://www.gosellcrazy.com/2012/10/cellphonedilemma/

  • Twisted247

    I am ordering mine online but I have to order by color and I don’t know which one to pick!!! Any input on what reasons could be pros to cons for both colors (besides “finger print magnet” on the grey..

  • Twisted247

    Blazer games? Is Droidlife located here in Ptown? Or just you and you upload reviews?

  • Kanye: “iPhone 5 im gonna let you finish but Galaxy note 2 is one of the best phones of all time!”

  • joejoe5709

    I gotta think that this thing was made for onscreen virtual keys more than any other phone out there. Instead of using those silly S-Pen gestures to navigate, you could… you know… use the pen for the back button. Derr…. Kind of a major fail if you ask me…

  • joejoe5709

    Lots and lots of features!! Some are cool, some are cool but only for eye-candy, and unfortunately some are just useless. I wonder how much I’d actually use the stylus. Of course I’d have to hold it in my hand to be really sure, but I think that I would be okay with the size. It’s really not that much larger than my Galaxy Nexus or an S3. If this had stock Android and stock Android supported a stylus, this would definitely be drool worthy. The specs are virtually unmatched and the screen is easily the best out there. Very nice work Samsung. Here’s hoping for a Nexus version of this or perhaps the HTC DLX. If LG can make the Nexus4 and Asus has the Nexus7, then I like the sound of a Nexus5 with a 5+” inch screen (wink wink). Mmmmm… Tasty.

  • AranelAlasse

    I think that keyboard might be really awesome… I love swype in portrait mode, and i love Swiftkey X in landscape. if this can do both… awesome.

  • paul_cus

    Always thought the Note was just going to be a niche device, but it seems to have a pretty big following at this point. Looks like Samsung knew what they were doing after all.

  • Its still to big and the build quality sucks … But people do love it, It will do well ..

  • NexusMan

    Hey, Kellen….Google Search and Navigation is not bloatware! 🙂

  • slide83

    What time is the event today?

  • yarrellray

    They better get that multi window feature in there very soon. Otherwise November 1st this will mines on Tmobile. A beast like this deserves nothing but the BEST UNLIMITED DATA possible I bang that out on Tmobile. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, All things Android podcast, androidcentral podcast, Droid life shows, Tv.com and Various other content. Can’t wait…

  • I had the SG3 for 14 days and took it back. Everything worked fine, but the battery was marginal IMO. I’m on a Verizon unlimited data plan and intend to stream left, right and center. So I’m waiting on the Note 2. The size is one of the reason I like the device. I think the GN 2 will function exceptionally using Samsung in house Exynos processor. I’ll be using my blue tooth ear piece for talking.

    • Sven Enterlein

      Yep, I usually use my Bose headphones when talking for extended periods. Frees up my hands for taking notes etc.

  • slops

    “cons: it’s huge” please stick to measurable pros/cons when reviewing a phone. i like a huge screen. i can handle it just fine and i don’t have large hands. if you hold it like the iphone commercial says, sure, you won’t be able to ready it all, but you also can’t reach the bottom palm side corner so you’re an idiot for holding it like that anyways. there was never a point i was forced to use both hands for the note and this will be no different. saying “it’s huge” is a con by opinion.

    • wakefinance

      since you realize that, you can ignore it and focus only on what you consider to be facts

  • jay_peter

    That phone looks ridiculous.

  • duke69111

    It does not look to big in the hands of the two videos and picture above.

    • NexusMan

      I was thinking the same thing.

  • brett

    what are the chances there will be a windshield mount car dock on launch? If i cant use in the car dock, I cant buy it.

  • Superdroid

    How is the receiver in fringed areas compared to Moto? I have found Moto to have the best receivers .

    • Droidzilla

      No one’s going to touch Moto’s radios, but Samsung isn’t half bad (I think they use Qualcomm, just like Apple does).

  • impulse630

    I REALLY want this phone. My only quandary is… do i use my Verizon upgrade to get this subsidized (and lose unlimited data) or do i pay the ETF and go to Sprint? My employer has a deal with Sprint that gives me a discount, and the amount i’d save per month on top of that discount makes jumping ship extremely tempting, especially now that LTE is available from Sprint in my area. Anyone know a good way to get out of Verizon’s ETF and/or get Sprint to pay the Verizon ETF? No? Didn’t think so… 😛

    • Immolate

      Think of all those comments and articles from people who switched from Verizon to Sprint and are loving it! Oh wait.

      • impulse630

        True. However, i can’t think of any of them who were actually in an LTE market. I’ve got Sprint on my work phone (a damned iPhone that they forced me to take…). I know what i’m getting into voice/3G-wise, and i’m ok with both IF i have LTE available, which i will. Plus, i’m the guy at work who deals with our Sprint-rep who i have a good rapport with. I have a feeling that if i’m unhappy and call him, i’ll be well taken care of so they don’t risk losing our corporate account.

        You’re 100% right though. There are LOTS of comments on here daily about unhappy Sprint people. So what would you advise? Lose my unlimited data, or pay through the nose by getting one at “retail” price. Neither of those options excites me in ANY way…

        • jerrymcafee

          I’m in the same boat as you are. Lose my Verizon unlimited data by going with the subsidized Note II, or pay full price at probably $700+ for the phone and keep the unlimited data plan. If you have Comcast for your home internet/CATV/phone services, they have a promo going through year end that saves you $10/month for a year if you upgrade to a new smartphone on Verizon. I’m going that route. Yes, I’ll lose my unlimited data, but I just can’t justify the $400+ difference for the phone. I also rarely use more than 2GB of data a month, so unlimited is overkill for me.

          • Jeff Smith

            T-Mobile is selling online signup for it Galaxy Note 2 for $199 with 2yrs contract and No activation fee. This is only good till BlackFriday. The only think is T-Mobile suck…. Guess you can’t win them all..

    • BTC

      Can’t you just pay FULL PRICE for the phone and KEEP unlimited plan? Wayyyy worth it in the long run, Sprint is horrendous….
      I bought the Int’l G-Note 2 and paid full proice, and for all this phone does, it feels like “the bagain of the century”.. No Lie!
      ‘Course i use Straight lk’s BYOD plan off of AT&T’s towers, for only $45.00 a month so its wayyyy worth it, but no unlimited data or LTE for this gal, however, i am still EXTREMELY content with this phone…
      Its nothing short of a-maz-ing and thats after a month of use AND having used every Android phone under the sun!…lol

      • mustbepbs

        Yeah because everyone has a cool $700 lying around to spend on a stupid phone.

        • will bartlett

          he would be paying that with the ETF and the phone price…or close to it

        • Go Hawkeyes

          If $700 for a new phone is so difficult to manage then I’d argue that spending $300 on contract is most likely a bad idea. If you can’t afford it at full price it’s likely you have other more important things to be spending your money on. I get it, not everyone can afford to drop $700 just like that. But those that can’t, shouldn’t be dropping $300 just like that either.

          • mustbepbs

            So you’re saying those not willing to spend $700 + their monthly bill can’t swing $300 + their monthly bill? How does that make sense?

          • Go Hawkeyes

            I’m saying that if you think $700 is out of your reach then you likely shouldn’t be spending $300 either.

          • mustbepbs

            Why? $700 is more than double $300. I don’t understand your logic.

          • Go Hawkeyes

            My point is that $700 is not really that hard to come by. If you struggle to come up with $700 then the $300 that you can come up with is most likely better spent elsewhere. Like on food and shelter and not on the latest and greatest technology.

          • mustbepbs

            Oh you’re the guy who said he’s got a great job and that the masses of America are lazy and that’s why they’re out of work. It all makes sense now.

    • dns2k

      add a line to your unlimited and get it for subsidized price.

    • Jeff Smith

      Try to sell your Unlimited Grandfathered Verizon on Ebay, it going for $200-$400. The process is call AOL, and you can call Verizon rep or google it. This way you wont be paying ETF and still make some $$ out of it.

  • Chuck Finley

    Interested in retail pricing for the Note II on Verizon…
    I see T-mobile is listed as $649 with no LTE.

  • r0lct

    That’s one fat cat.

  • socalrailroader

    U.S. Cellular will also be carrying the Note II.

  • SpikedRed

    Does the S pen work if you’re writing in cursive, translating it to text?

  • wickets

    arent you guys worried about losing the ‘pen’?

    • Chuck Finley

      There’s a sensor that tells you if it’s not in its holder and alerts you if you start moving away from it…

      • wickets

        pretty clevahhh Thanks for the info

  • user311

    With so many good Android phones coming out within the next couple of months choosing an upgrade for my work phone is kind of tough. This phone is near if not the top of the list.

  • A Watson

    I have had the Note 2 for over a week now and thus far the only disadvantage I can think of is that now when I look at other phones the screens look tiny.
    I have small hand and manage just fine.
    It’s also easy to carry about in Jeans or a suit so I don’t know what the reviewer is talking about, unless he wears skinny jeans that are so tight he can’t put his hands in his pockets!

    • a.youth.in.Asia

      Pants so tight you can see the veins in his d¡ck!

    • Beezey

      NEVER had a problem with pockets with the original Note yet

  • dangolds

    Other than the software specific to the S Pen, are all the other incremental software features (e.g. the multi-window) for the Note 2 expected to make it to the GS3 when the JB update comes through? I think the GS3 is still on the big side so there’s no way I’d ever get the Note 2, but it would be awesome if the GS3 pretty much ends up with everything the Note 2 has aside from the S Pen.

    • There’s a rom out right now that pretty much does exactly what you just said. ITs on XDA. Called Serenity. Running it on my S3 and its AWESOME

    • I’d like to know that as well. GS3 is nice, just seems like the Note 2 has more to offer.

  • Ron_Swanson

    So…..$650 is the full retail?

    • Chuck Finley

      It is for T-mobile but not sure yet for the others since the others will have LTE.

  • steve0617

    I just don’t get TMob’s pricing. The thing is $369 (!!) from them but only $279 new line/upgrade from Wirefly. With TMob’s new pricing, why would *anybody* charging/paying cash for a subsidized phone go through the store? Other than the fear of the additional 181 days from Wirefly? And even though Costco doesn’t have the Note 2 listed yet, their S3 pricing is $149 while TMob is still the insane $279 so I’m going to assume their pricing won’t be the $349 either.

    • Add to that that if you don’t have the classic plan, $369 is just the down payment. Yeesh.

  • I’ve heard you don’t notice the size after a couple of days of full on use. How’s it feel in hand? Can’t wait to try it out when it comes to VZW.

    • Getting used to it, that’s for sure. I really enjoy using this phone. Making calls felt awkward at first, but I’m over it now. Feels great in hand, just like the Galaxy S3 did.

      • Paul

        Calls was one thing I assumed this would be annoying with. But bluetooth headsets are very cheap now for people that still talk a lot.

        • Immolate

          I use my Jawbone Era for any call longer than a minute. Bluetooth is better than the phone alone because of the sophistication of the noise cancellation. But don’t go cheap. Get a quality device.

          • Yea who makes calls anymore anyways! I was just thinking more of walking around and using it on the go or in class or work. I guess using your phone discretely is out the door with this device too.

          • mustbepbs

            Plus with bluetooth, you look like a super douche bag. That’s a huge perk.

  • bratliff

    I thought it was going to be too big, but compared to the gs3, might be manageable. Definitely waiting to see the vzw version in person.

    • Feels big at first, but I’m getting used to it. GS3 feels small now heh.

      • JoshGroff

        Looks like something I’d buy, but alas the Padphone 2 looks too tempting.

        • Unfortunately, that’s probably not coming to the U.S. 😛

          • JoshGroff

            Considering you save $20 a month bringing your own device to T-Mobile, I wouldn’t consider buying one on contract either way. If I have to import one, so be it.

          • Greyhame

            If I could, I would too.

          • JoshGroff

            I have a few things to sell off to cover the cost (Xbox 360 I never use with kinect, N7, G-Nex) but I’ll probably wait for my tax return to get it.

          • How much would you like for that xbox ? lol. Im also going to be selling my galaxy s3 and nexus so i can get this beast 🙂

          • JoshGroff

            I’m actually selling it to my mom for 200. That way I can buy it back if she decides to get rid of it later, and I can use it when I stop by to feed the animals and let the dog out. So it’s a win/win situation.

      • bratliff

        My co worker is getting rid of his gnex for this. I am definitely waiting to see, not sure I can give up be nexus but if I do this might be the phone.

    • Paul

      Just go look at the T-Mobile one today instead of waiting. It’s not like they will be different in size or shape.

  • r0lct

    I was really going to get this and then I remembered it has physical home button. I think I may have to wait for the 1080p Note 3 next year to see if they go on screen keys.

    • roberthenderson

      Yuck, hate on-screen, capacitive all the way

      • HTC1

        I think you have that backwards. Yuck, hate capacitive/obsolete/old technology keys, on-screen all the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! won’t but a phone without them. I don’t care if it’s a eight core phone. I hate going backwards. and i can’t beleive anyone would want hard keys?????

        • roberthenderson

          so, given the voice of: 1. doing thousands of extra button pushes to raise the buttons 2. having them perpetually block/occlude screen space, or 3. have the buttons at the ready, where they don’t block any of the screen on the phones “chin” that isn’t going anywhere, you choose thousands of extra button pushes and/or screen blockage

  • I cant wait to buy one its like deja, deja, deja, deja vu…….

  • Sven Enterlein

    If the size is not too awkward in real life I am all for this phone. I barely use the function of making calls anyway but I could make good use of the note taking, multi-window (once it comes out) etc. I have been opposed to bigger screens for a long time but the functionality seems to be the decision-making factor in this care.

    • JoshGroff

      Function over form. 🙂 It’s one device to rule them all. (actually, that’s the Padphone, but I digress.)

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        Form Follows Function–Lupe

    • In the same boat. I had the original Note and it was very easy to get used to. Its also extremely efficient in, well, everything really. Reading, note taking, mild photo editing….watching movies on it is a real dream. It even enhances things in unexpected ways. Like when you’re in a group of people out to dinner and people start talking about a YouTube video. Instead of passing the phone around for a group or two or three to huddle over at a time, you just prop it up and there you have it. I loved mine. I’m also surprised a lot of people have been so reluctant with it. It seems to me that this is device most android users have really been waiting for. Big, fast, powerful. Its fantastic.

      Oh and for those who may be interested, there’s a rom out there right now of a port of ATTs Galaxy Note II stock jellybean available for all US carriers (Galaxy S III) I’m using it now and its pretty great.

      • Droidzilla

        I hear the size is the same as the Note, they just reduced the bezel size and increased the screen size.

        • Ibrick

          I believe the ‘2’ is actually a touch narrower, and just a touch taller than the OG. Still a big device no doubt, but I’m glad they went that route to make it more one hand friendly.

    • New_Guy

      I have always wished I had a little tablet for those times carrying a 10″ is inconvenient so I have been holding out for this. I can’t wait to get my hands on it because I haven’t heard anyone say anything bad about it other than the sheer size of it and that’s not a problem for me. It’s otherwise simply amazing by nearly all other accounts.

    • Beezey

      if you walk into a store and hold one without ever having done so, you probably will think it’s too big. i almost held off from the original, but within a week your perception on phone size changes, and every other phone just seems tiny. don’t let your first reaction to holding it scare you away from it

      • kstrickland05

        That’s exactly how I felt about my GNex at first. It looked big since I was upgrading from the OG Droid but now when I look at my wife’s iPhone 4, it amazes me at how tiny that screen is and I can’t get a phone any smaller than my GNex in the future. I really want to see the Note 2 in person.

  • slider112

    Samsung sure does make some beautiful, minimalist looking devices.

  • Jarred Sutherland

    Too big. Way too big.