It’s been almost two weeks since Samsung sent me a Note 2 to try. I’ve used it as my primary phone since it arrived, and I thought I’d do a quick post about my experiences. In short, owning a 5.5 inch phone is a little like owning a really big car. It’s very comfortable and luxurious when you’re using it, but it’s somewhat impracticle when you’re looking for a place to park.
Size is relative
The Note 2 is often refered to as “the biggest mobile phone on the market today”. But it’s not. It’s probably the biggest non-ruggedized consumer level smartphone. Satellite phones are usually bigger, and so are rugged outdoor ones. In terms of volume, the Note 2 is probably smaller than most early Nokias. Remember those Communicator ones. Those were huge. In comparison, this is a slender, elegant phone.
The Note 2 is only slightly bigger than the S3 and the HTC One X, and it makes good use of the extra room. It’s got the fastest processor of any Android phone, the most memory, the highest capacity battery (two full days, easily) and a gorgeous HD display that’s prefect for browsing and watching video. In my opinion, it’s the best phone out there to view things on. And to create things.
The Note series’ most innovative feature is the S Pen. Using a stylus may seem like something from the Windows Mobile era, but that’s not what the S-Pen is about. The phone is as finger-friendly as any phone out there. The Stylus just adds precision. It lets you create detailed sketches, where other phones make you finger-paint. Together with the large screen real estate, it makes this phone a plausible tool for creating things.
I’m not sold on handwriting recognition as a tool for text entry (although it works remarkably well). The S Pen is great for writing little notes, drawing and image manipulation. The software that Samsung provides with the S Pen is a little obtrusive (it auto-launches when you pull out the stylus), but I like the overall idea.
Surprisingly, the Note 2 actually does fit in the (front) pockets of most of my jeans. At least while I’m standing/walking. I broke my old phone, a much smaller 3.7 inch one, by keeping it in my pocket while sitting down. I’m going to avoid doing that with the Note. My coat, work bag, and even my car have perfect pockets to put the phone in. I may feel differently in summer, when the weather calls for just t-shirts and jeans, but so far the Note has been easy to take with me.
I got this phone at precisely the right time. I was in the market for a new high-end smartphone. Something like the Nexus 4, the One X or the Samsung’s own S3. In all honesty, I think I would have dismissed the Note 2 as being too big. Now, after two week of using it, I don’t think it is. It all depends on what you look for in a phone. If you need one that’ll just slip into any pocket, the Note’s not for you. If your phone is your mobile office, or even your “art department on the go”, 5.5 inches is perfect.