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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  • StormyParis - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    It's really a matter of taste, and your own size. I'm 6" with large hands, and frankly, adjusting from a 4.3" HD2 to a GNote1 took me half a day.

    I got the same snide remarks I got about my HD2, so I'm sure the fashion police will be able to eat their words with the same gusto in a year or two when that size becomes standard and accepted. I'm using a headset all the time anyway, so I don't get the "shovel stuck to ear" look too often.

    The Gnote fits in my shirt and front pants pockets (I'm too afraid of sitting on it if I put it in the back), I can handle it one-handed (barely). My asian friends can't say the same though ^^
    Reply
  • cserwin - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Not sure if by 6" you meant 6', or you are not talking about height...

    ಠ_ಠ.
    Reply
  • Denithor - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Hahahahaha!!

    Excellent...
    Reply
  • SilthDraeth - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    LOL Reply
  • GTRagnarok - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    So I should consider the size of my package when deciding if I want a Samsung Note. Reply
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    It's all about what you're comfortable with having in your hand... Reply
  • Arbie - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    +10 Reply
  • junglist724 - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Hmmm, I'm asian, 5'10" but I have really long fingers(Great for those mandatory music lessons every asian american has to take). I have no problem using a screen that size in one hand for most tasks. Can't wait to pick up the gnote 2 on AT&T. Reply
  • lilmoe - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    It's not only about the size of your hands. Actually, my wife (yes, with very small hands) was eyeing the Note 2 ever since it was announced. Her love for it grew each time she saw a video review or one of those Samsung promotional ads.

    I've tried to convince her otherwise countless times, since I thought it would be unpractical and very hard to manage, especially since her previous Galaxy S2 would slip from her hand and drop on regular basis.

    She has one now, for almost a week. She describes the device in 5 words; "best phone she ever owned". She loves the screen, battery life, functionality, S-Pen, and call quality/reception. She doesn't want a tablet anymore, I guess that says something.

    There's something about the Galaxy Note series that makes you either love it or hate it, and for those who love it, they do with a passion. I personally think it's a great phone, but it would have to be the ONLY phone on my carrier for me to consider one.... Oh well, at least the device have taken a good chunk of her "free time" that otherwise would have me in focus, lol.
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    As a 44yr old, I'm getting my phones purely on screen size (and still zooming in quite a bit...). It's nice to see a reviewer able to put himself in others' shoes for once ^^ Screen legibility in bright light *and* at night, for which AMOLED is very good, are also important. LCDs glow in the dark in the worst way.

    I have a Note1, and I'm so happy with it I think I'll skip the 2, especially since the 3 should come around ext summer. Review such as this one make me hitch, though.
    Reply

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