Simon Drew from Best Mobile Contracts tells us why he thinks one of the more interesting launches at this year’s IFA in Germany was the long awaited sequel to the Samsung Galaxy Note.
The Note is a large device that falls midway between a smartphone and a tablet and is often referred to by many people as a “phablet”. Despite its size the Galaxy Note has proven to be extremely popular and the sequel has become one of the most anticipated devices of 2012.
Due to their size phablets only appeal to a small section of consumers, many of whom will already own the original Note. While the Note 2 will attract much more interest in the phablet category, is it worthwhile upgrading if you already own the original?
The Answer is a Resounding “Yes!”
The original Note looked like a larger Galaxy S2 while the sequel more closely resembles the Galaxy S3. They are roughly the same size, although the Note 2 is marginally bigger due to its larger screen.
The Note 2 offers more power than the original with a quad core 1.6GHz processor with 2GB RAM. It runs on the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean) and some models come with a hefty 64GB internal storage. The Super AMOLED screen has been increased from 5.3 inches to 5.5 inches, although oddly the resolution has been reduced ever so slightly. All in all it is fair to say the Galaxy Note 2 has had a massive boost in hardware power.
But this is not why you should upgrade to the Note 2. Yes, the Note 2 is one of the fastest and smoothest Android devices on the market by far; and yes, it easily outperforms most other devices in benchmark tests.
Having the same features running more smoothly is probably not worth spending several hundred pounds on, but what makes the Note 2 worthy of upgrading to is the excellent new features that accompany the Note’s S-Pen.
New S Pen
The S-Pen is now longer and much more ergonomic which, makes it much more enjoyable to use. It now has a rubber end which Samsung insists will make it feel more like using a normal pen or pencil.
The S-Pen can be used to draw gestures, or “Quick Commands” to perform functions more quickly. For example, you could create a gesture to load the email app or Facebook from anywhere on the Note’s interface without having to navigate back to the homescreen to tap an icon.
The S-Pen is at the heart of the Note 2 and it is this stylus that allows the phablet to enjoy a number of unique features and apps not found on other Android devices. Far from simply offering a redesigned stylus, Samsung has developed a number of revolutionary new features to accompany it.
Perhaps the most interesting of these is Easy Clip. Almost all smartphones and tablets now come with a copy and paste feature, although this is usually restricted to strings of text or phone numbers. Copying images displayed on the screen can be much more complicated.
While many phones allow you to take screen shots sometimes it is not the whole screen that you wish to capture but just a small portion of it. You could load the image in an editing app and try and crop out the section you want, but this can be very time consuming and you probably won’t find yourself doing it all that often.
Using the S-Pen you can draw around a section of the screen you wish to copy. This section of the screen, and only this section, will then be copied to the clipboard and you will be provided with a list of possible things to do with it. You can paste it into a paint app, send it via MMS or email, or upload it to a social network.
Image Visualizer allows you to easily add images to your memos using handwriting recognition. Rather than loading an image library and browsing through to find the desired image, all you need to do is write a word associated with that image to have it added to your notes. While the Note 2 comes with a preinstalled library of images you can also create your own libraries and choose associations between images and words.
Despite having a stylus, the Galaxy Note is not that different to any other touchscreen device as it still requires you to touch the screen to register a response.
Air View allows you to perform certain functions by holding the S-Pen slightly above the screen without touching it. For example, holding the S-Pen above your email inbox can provide you with a preview of each message without having to open them individually. Air View can also provide previews of images and be used to scroll through libraries and videos.
Perhaps what worries some people about purchasing a phone such as the Note 2, apart from its size, is that there is the added danger of misplacing the stylus which is so central to many of the Note’s features. While this was certainly a potential problem for the Note, the Note 2 will alert you whenever the S-Pen strays too far.
Worth the Upgrade? You Bet!
If Samsung had merely increased the processor speed and screen size there would probably not be much justification for existing Note users to upgrade to the Note 2. But along with a much more comfortable and easy to use stylus, which is far less likely to be misplaced, the Note 2 offers many new features that make it far easier and more enjoyable to perform the tasks that the original Note already excelled at.
Register your interest in the Samsung Galaxy Note II.