Android this week: So I bought a Galaxy Note 2…

82 Comments

Regular readers of this weekly column know that I typically recap interesting Google (s goog) Android news from the prior week. Occasionally, I make an exception to cover one specific Android item, and today, I’m doing just that. Why? I ordered a Galaxy Note 2 from overseas on Sunday morning and it should arrive within the week.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in greyThe new phone cost me a pretty penny — £449.98 ($727 US) delivered from the UK to the U.S.  — but I tend to buy unlocked devices off contract. I have an invitation to a Samsung press event in late October, which is likely to be the U.S. launch of the Galaxy Note 2 and if I were to buy one at full price from a US carrier, it would likely cost nearly as much anyway.

I certainly don’t need another smartphone — I currently use a Galaxy Nexus with a $45 a month Straight Talk SIM — but the idea of a device with a mix of phone and tablet form factors is intriguing to me. The original Galaxy Note did as well, but I didn’t feel it was enough of a change from my Galaxy Nexus to spend the money. This time around, I feel differently in terms of the form factor, hardware and Samsung’s updated TouchWiz software with more functionality for the included digital pen.

In fact, after watching this video demonstration, it hit me that Samsung is really blending mobile and desktop use-cases like never before and I decided to take the plunge:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/hOX3HYDwTCY?hd=1]

A few examples from the demo illustrate what I’m talking about:

  • The new S-Pen and dual digitizer add a new hover view, similar to functionality provided by a mouse cursor on traditional computers. I originally thought this was gimmicky, but the video shows some smart uses. Hover over a calendar event and you get the details without the phone opening a completely new screen, for example.
  • The new multitasking feature that shows two apps on the screen at the same time reduces home button presses and app switching. Until recently, our smartphones and tablets have been single app at a time devices; that changes on the Galaxy Note 2 and previously, the Galaxy Note 10.1. Granted, only certain apps support this feature for now. Still, I see productivity potential here.
  • Related to the two apps on a screen simultaneously is the dock-like app launcher around the 2:07 mark in the video. There’s no need to tap a hardware button and scroll through pages of apps — our traditional smartphone user interface — when you can customize a floating dock and tap or drag an app for usage.

Galaxy Note 2 dimensionsI like that Samsung slimmed the width as compared to the original Galaxy Note. I found that device a smidge too wide for my hand. And the S-Pen was to small for me to use comfortably; the new one is longer and has a more ergonomic design. Along with these changes that further bridge the gap between desktop and mobile computing, the hardware on the Galaxy Note 2 is impressive; possibly the best for any Android phone at the moment.

The 1.6 GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos chip paired with 2 GB of memory ought to make this device blazing fast and it should be helped by the performance improvements found in Android 4.1. The 5.5-inch display uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, making the Galaxy Note 2 look like an oversized Galaxy S III. Gone is the PenTile display in 1280 x 720 found on my Galaxy Nexus (which I find quite good); the Note 2 uses an HD Super AMOLED screen in the same resolution. Pixel density is down by comparison, but I suspect the lack of PenTile will offset any clarity loss. And while I’m fine with the 5 megapixel camera found on my Galaxy Nexus, I’m looking forward to the 8 megapixel sensor and improved camera software in the Galaxy Note 2.

I’ll very likely keep my Galaxy Nexus, mainly because it gets software updates directly from Google as soon as they’re ready. Heck, I kept, and still have, my old Nexus One, purchased in January of 2010 for the same reason. It’s possible however, that a 5.5-inch phone that doubles as a pseudo-tablet could replace my Nexus 7 tablet. That’s one of the many questions I’ll be looking to answer for myself as I review the new Galaxy Note 2. Stay tuned for a video look at the device when it arrives, which of course will be followed up by a full review!

82 Comments

Josh

What do you think about getting a docking station and using a chrome desktop computer?

balboa

I would like to buy it, but am too uncertain how i would obtain service with the device considering i am a sprint customer now, but am no longer with a contract. Boost, metro, att, t mobile ect. lots of choices, but which data network is more compatible with the Note 2 ?

Kevin C. Tofel

This international model works on AT&T’s HSPA+ network – no LTE that I can see. Should also work on T-Mo for voice, but EDGE for data — unless you live in Las Vegas where T-Mo has already refarmed its 1900 MHz spectrum for HSPA+. More cities to follow, but that will take time.

Jon

Really tempted on ordering online seeing as I would buy it off contract in the states anyways. But I’m gonna hold off and make sure AT&T LTE works first.

tinochen

Shot your load too early. Should have waited for 5″ 1080p screen Nexus 5 hehehe.

Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

Hello all: to Kevin and all those of you that already have it. Can you indicate where you bought it? I am in the US so would need to order it for delivery.

andy

Great article Kevin.
I have the note 1 and l love it.finding new things everyday that are so nice.coming from iPhone it was a bit of a learning curve but not terrible.
Do you know if the note 2 supports credit card Swype?
I use Payware and note 1 will not allow me to Swype cards.they say the phone is not supported!
I’m losing big bucks by manually keying in card sales.
Also.do you know how I can get a note 2 without getting killed by the price considering I just picked up my note 1 six months ago?
Thanks!
Andy

Kevin C. Tofel

Not sure on the Payware support, Andy. I’m thinking the folks behind that service could better answer the question, but it doesn’t bode well that the first Note isn’t supported – I wonder why? There’s no way to find a “cheap” Galaxy Note 2 considering it’s just now starting to ship and isn’t yet available in the US. I’d say recoup what you can on the first Note by selling it and put that towards the new one!

Edison Fabolu

Hello Kevin;

The video of Samsung Galaxy Note 11 is fascinating.
“Multi window””, multi usage Samsung Galaxy Note 11, a must -have hand
set for sure. I am up for one.
Thank you for sharing.

Edison

HG

Great choice Kevin! After using my Note 10.1 tablet unlocked and getting great speeds on AT&T, I also rather get the unlocked version Note 2, as we can expect to see the AT&T branded sell for around $599 plus tax. This would bring the Note 2 around $670, this depends on your states tax so $727 is a great price for it to be unlocked. Also usually you get updates a lot quicker than the AT&T branded. Thanks to Kevin, now I am going to think about ordering my Note 2 or keep my SIII?

HG

Sharad Chhibber

Hi just wondering if you can let me know the website so I can place an order aswell £450 sounds like a good price.

Thanks

Jack N Fran Farrell

One step remains to reach the Star Trek criterion for personal computing. User facing camera’s and microphones should work together so that user voice and gestures cross check each other in 3D. Highly reliable face recognition and lip reading could make personal computing a reality for more than just handheld devices.

Jobs’ entire career was devoted to breaking IBMs degradation of man in the man/machine interface. GUIs and TouchScreen are about to be made optional in a keyboard-optional computer assisted world. It’s ironic that ecosystem of large/small tablets of iPad/iPhones that Jobs created won’t really need touchscreens.

Carl Bischoff

this things looks amazing thx so much for drawing my attention to it. I love the draw a layout tool, this is a tablet killer :)

belushi

Can you please help with where you made your purchase of the Samsung galaxy Note2 in the UK as I will like to purchase from same store. None of the stores I have checked in the UK are selling for that price. I will truly appreciate.

belushi

Ok.. Just checked the link you provided. Ordering from outside UK excludes the VAT. Was wondering initially how come it goes for that £449 you mentioned. Thanks. Will be waiting for your review.

Craig Campbell

belushi (for some reason I can’t reply to your below post) I just ordered from Handtec this morning. The phone is 434.99 UKP plus 14.99 UKP for Fedex delivery to the US. So, 449.98 UKP.

Andreas Ødegård

Note II is likely my next device too, if I upgrade my SII before there’s a Note III. I tend to hang onto devices for a while as the biggest upgrades for me are accessories and custom software, not hardware. Just got home automation that works with Tasker, which means more to me than a bigger screen. Ironically, I’d get the Note II for the HW…yet to see stock software be good in practice

Sean

I am really thinking of making the quantum leap from the iphone 4s to the Galaxy note 2. I have looked at everything on the market and the upcoming big boys like the lumia 920. I know the new note is big and I’m sure I’ll get some strange looks when I hold it to my ear. However, I dont use a phone as a phone much anymore in the car its bluetooth and headphones elsewhere. Most of my usage is ‘smartphone’ and this phone is surely smart!

Where in the UK are you geting yours from???

belushi

Hello Kevin. I just checked handtec now and the price displayed for the Note2 is £521.99. Could I be mixing things up because that is quite high compared to the price you purchased yours.

Viper2005

I hate to break it to you but the UK n7100 does not have the multi-windows feature, nor the floating dock. That is only for the Korean note2.

Kevin C. Tofel

That could be, but I doubt it. The pop up video player, for example, is part of the Galaxy S III. If the the dock isn’t there, I’ll live. ;)

kerry ritz

can you really hold a 5.5″ inch screen comfortably in your hand and have a 20 minute telephone conversation?

Kevin C. Tofel

Not sure if others can but I can. Folks seem to forget how big the first crop of mobile phones was in the mid 90’s: far bigger and heavier. ;)

petegrif

Good observation re form factor. The final word is a long way from being written in regard.

Jason

I think 5.5′ is too big, I preferred the Note one’s 5 inch screen. If they were going to make a 5.5 inch device they should have gotten rid of the home button and make it a touch screen only device such as the galaxy nexus.

TechDeck

Bought it for my mother after she wanted to take my iPad home with her. So I told her to get rid of her Galaxy S2 and take the plunge with the GNOTE 2. Should arrive within 1-2 days and we all know that for the first hour or two I am going to be the one using the phablet

Jeremiah Owen

Yeah….I have an iPhone 5, galaxy nexus and just sold my lumia 900. I have been on the fence about getting a 920 or a Note 2….. I think I am going with the Note 2 at this point. Looks great so far can’t wait to hear your thoughts when you get it Kevin!

Craig Newmark

Kevin, thanks! Looking forward to detailed reviews, will probably help me make a final decision. /Craig

Kary

The Note 2 is what I’ve been waiting for. After seeing that video I can see why Samsung doesn’t advertise that early, because it would kill all Smartphone sales. Once it’s released though, rather than “The next best thing” their theme should be “So you made the mistake of buying an iPhone 5.”

Kevin

Would I be able to plug in my AT&T sim in the uk ordered galaxy note and use it in the us?
Like you, I prefer to buy unlocked phones but have never bought from another country and want to be sure it will work. Thanks

Kevin C. Tofel

Absolutely; most any unlocked phone bought for the UK works with AT&T’s HSPA+ frequencies here in the States. BUT: I don’t know the LTE frequencies in this model, so that may be an issue for you. My SIM doesn’t support LTE service, so that’s a non-issue for me. For most, however, it’s something to be aware of.

Kevin

Sorry Kevin, one more dumb question, will I be able to charge this in a standard US electrical outlet? Again, I have never purchased a phone from an international site before and am just trying to anticipate any issues

Kevin C. Tofel

Not a dumb question at all – it’s a good one! Some of the places I’ve bought from overseas see the US shipping address and send a charging adapter with the device. If not, you can pick one up – Radio Shack tends to carry them, but I’d bet other local places do as well.

Kevin

Hi Kevin, I ordered the Galaxy Note 2 from Handtec and it arrived today
Unfortunately, my AT&T sim card wont fit. It seems the Note 2 needs a micro sim
Any suggestions for me?

Kevin C. Tofel

Correct, it uses a microSIM. Knowing that, I spent $8 on one from Amazon and cut my SIM yesterday. Look for one that includes SIM adapters so you can still use the SIM in other devices.

Kevin

Would I be able to get a cutter with adapter and cut the existing sim to fit in the Note 2?
I am thinking if I have the adapter I can switch out the same sim between my Galaxy S2 and the Note, correct?
If so, can you recommend a good cutter with adapter? Maybe something from Amazon?

Kevin

Awesome thanks. Already ordered and will be here Friday wish me luck
So far playing with the note 2 on wi fi and Love it!

Kevin

No dice. I cut my sim, inserted into the Note 2 and received an invalid sim, contact customer care message. :( Fortunately I was able to use the included adapter in the Noosy cutter and the new cut sim still worked in my old Galaxy S2. Any idea why it wouldnt work in the Note 2 if it still works in my Galaxy S2.
I hate to think I paid $725 for a 5.5 inch tablet with wi-fi only

Kevin

Ok, I probably wont be bothering you again. I searched online and found the sim was locked to my other phone but called customer care and they unlocked it.
Put it back in and BAM!! Note 2 is working on my old sim.
Thank you for all of your advice and help. I am thrilled to have my new Galaxy Note 2 up and running!!

annegriffin

I’m very much looking forward to this review. Note 2 seems such a logical combination of two useful devices and I keep waiting to hear/read how likely it is to fully bridge the gap.

Phillip Hartier

I just picked up the first Note. I was gonna be content and wait a bit for the 2, but the more I read about it… Less width and bigger stylus are excellent improvements. Loving the Note!

annegriffin

Phillip, I am just wondering now what real differences there are between the 1 & 2. Kevin would you be willing/able to comment on that in your review?

Aliff Alfiry

Note 1 = Dual core processor, 1gb of RAM, 1280×800 screen HD Super AMOLED in Pentile, 5.3 inch screen size

Note 2 = Quad core processor, 2gb of RAM, 1280×720 screen HD Super AMOLED non-Pentile, 5.5 inch screen size

Although Note 2 seems to have a bigger screen size, it’s not. Actually, Note 2 is tad slimmer and the extra 0.2 inches went towards making the device taller ala iPhone 5. So this time around, it’ll be much easier to hold using 1 hand only. Other than that, there’s tons of software improvement and the new S-Pen. Hope it helps :)

Ram

When you get your Note II, can you upload a speedtest video using your straight talk sim? I don’t know if straight talk is good for an out of the states phone. thanks!

Kevin C. Tofel

Ram, I’ve done a number of speedtests using ST SIMs (for both T-Mo and AT&T’s networks) and they give the same HSPA+ speeds as a native operator SIM. There’s no speed limitation.

Loay

Hello Kevin,
Thanks for sharing that, you mentioned something about galaxy note dual sim, is the dual sim function supported at the note2?? If this true then it Is worth ordering immediately?? Awaiting ur reply, thanks again!

Kevin C. Tofel

Loay, the model I bought isn’t a dual SIM device. I have service that supports either T-Mobile or AT&T through Straight Talk, but each has a separate SIM. Hope that helps.

paolo

Yes it will come in with a dual sim features, these are the rumors in China:

N7102 for China Unicom, WCDMA + GSM, Dual SIM

N7108 for China Mobile, TD-SCDMA/GSM, Single SIM

N719 for China Telecom, CDMA2000 + GSM, Dual SIM

It will be available at the end of December :)

Mike

The note intrigues me. Hope to see a video of your impressions after you receive it.

By the way, do you think the James in the messaging app demo is James Kendrick??

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