So we’ve talked about the high level appearance and industrial design of the Galaxy Note 2, but I think the question on everyone’s minds is what it’s really like to use such a large, nearly novelty-sized phone. As I noted in the introduction, I have no problem pocketing the Note 2, in fact, I have no problem getting the Note 2, a Note 1, and an iPhone 5 all in the same pocket in my jeans or favorite pair of shorts. Of course, whether this is something a given individual can pull off is a function of clothing and comfort. 

I did mention in the introduction however that I think the Note 2 is something of an upper bound for overall smartphone size. This is really because any larger and it could start to become unwieldy. At present I can palm the Note 2 and hold it securely in one hand, but it really is best used two-handed. The slight change in width and thickness between the Note and Note 2 make it slightly easier to handle, but not dramatically so. The biggest friction point between the Note 2 and other phones is honestly that going back to them warps your sense of reality — the Galaxy S 3 now feels small (never thought I’d write that in a sentence) and the iPhone 5 smaller still. I guess size is all relative and after a week of adaption to the Note 2, switching back to a smaller device and display for one of my other lines feels downright surreal.

The other reason I believe the Note 2 is an upper bound for size is something a bit more American. I usually place my smartphone in the main cupholder of my F–150 while driving, and I can’t think of a more fitting unit of measure than the width of that cupholder. It sounds a bit odd, but the Note 2 is too large to fit inside, it kind of just flops around. If my cupholder can accommodate a 64 fl-oz (1.89 L) double gulp diet coke, but not the Note 2, I think that’s saying something profound.

At the same time I’ve never felt like I was going to snap the Note 2 in half when bending over with it in my pocket. Like the Galaxy S 3, exterior material choice by Samsung would leave you thinking that there’s cheap plastic which abounds, but the Note 2 (like Galaxy S 3) actually has minimal flex or play when stressed and torqued around. In addition the design emphasis on lowering mass again makes it even less likely to pop when dropped (less gravitational potential energy U=mgh, less energetic transfer into the case).


iPhone 5 looks miniscule next to Galaxy Note 2

Jokes about size aside, the Note 2 is indeed quite large, but not unmanageably so. The original Note proved that there’s at least one middle point between a 7 inch tablet and 4 inch smartphone form factor that does resonate with people. I fully expect the Note 2 to gain a vocal following the same way the original Note did. There’s something about this larger form factor that draws out both vocal approval and condemnation from everyone, but to me that’s just an indication that there is still much space for innovation in the smartphone space, and things haven’t totally settled down yet.

Introduction and Physical Impressions The Platform and Performance - Exynos 4412
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  • royalcrown - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    ...says the person with the ugliest avatar... Reply
  • leo jacsion - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - link

    Preservance a professional <a href=" http://preservancetech.com/our-services/web-design... Designing</a> company based in the capital city of India that offers various services for website designing from a static website to CMS driven website to any open source website development to complete e-commerce site to travel portal. Reply
  • dyc4ha - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the great article, I am currently considering an upgrade but didnt include the phablets among my choices because of their size. Now I am willing to go put it back on the table. Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Likewise, thanks for the great review, Brian. This phone has been on my upgrade short list and I can't wait to take it for a spin in a store soon. I've tried the Note and the SIII but I definitely need to see how the two meld together, as it were. :-)

    I wish the numbers for cellular browsing were a little higher, since that's my primary use for a phone and I want to know I can get a full day out of a phone without compromise. I don't know if my Atrix 4G just has really crummy battery life, or if I have unreasonable expectations for smartphones...

    I'm also really curious now that you've mentioned the HDR stills...I do enjoy the convenience of taking pictures with a device I always have on me, and just last weekend I really wished I had something with more dynamic range. If the HDR feature works well, that would be another strong mark in it's favor.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    I've been using a Note 2 in the UK for a couple of weeks now - it routinely lasts for 2 days with all radios and GPS left enabled, a couple of hours worth of browsing, a little gameplay (World of Goo, nothing too stressful), some voice use and a lot of texting. It's currently at 66% after coming off charge at 8am, time now is 10pm. I'm writing this on it now.

    Point is, it lasts very well! I'm a little surprised by the unexceptional battery life readings in the charts here, but I suspect it's disproportionately affected by the relatively dim screen compared with contemporary phones. 200nits is near maximum on this thing, whereas I rarely go above 50% brightness. Not a flaw with the test so much as an advisory that the battery life will probably get hammered in bright ambient lighting. Similarly, mobile reception in the UK tends to be better. I reckon a full day's heavy use is hardly a stretch though!
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    I've been using a Note 2 in the UK for a couple of weeks now - it routinely lasts for 2 days with all radios and GPS left enabled, a couple of hours worth of browsing, a little gameplay (World of Goo, nothing too stressful), some voice use and a lot of texting. It's currently at 66% after coming off charge at 8am, time now is 10pm. I'm writing this on it now.

    Point is, it lasts very well! I'm a little surprised by the unexceptional battery life readings in the charts here, but I suspect it's disproportionately affected by the relatively dim screen compared with contemporary phones. 200nits is near maximum on this thing, whereas I rarely go above 50% brightness. Not a flaw with the test so much as an advisory that the battery life will probably get hammered in bright ambient light :)
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Well, that wasn't supposed to end up there. How odd. Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Heh, that's all right. Thanks for the reassurance. :-) I'm pretty sure my Atrix 4G is jacked up; it hardly ever gets to 100% charge and is often at 30% or less by the time I leave work (and it's not like I spend all day dicking around on it).

    There's a lot that I want to like about this phone and I'm hoping I can snag it at something a bit less than $299 subsidized. I'll have to see what happens when it's finally released. And I'll probably have to wait to check out the Lumia 920, which is smaller(?), claims to have an awesome camera(+?), but has a sealed battery(-!)...
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    Yeah, that price is rather extortionate! Again, UK pricing, but I paid £60 up-front plus £36 a month for 24 months. It's the most I've ever paid for a phone and probably ever would pay again, but my old Motorola Defy was having similar troubles to your Atrix so I threw caution to the wind.

    That Lumia 920 definitely looks worth a shot too - interesting times for mobile phones right now...
    Reply
  • RealNinja - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    The Note 2 seems like it takes a...phone just a little too big. The "cup holder" fit criteria puts that into perspective fairly well.

    What is most interesting (IMO) about this prioduct is finally getting an Exynos product.
    Reply

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