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back to article Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

I’ve no idea what the Korean is for “let’s stuff everything we can into a phone and ram it up Apple’s jacksie” but it’s a fair bet the phrase was used at the inception of the Galaxy Note 2. This Android handset is the feature-packed successor to the surprisingly successful Galaxy Note that I was quite taken with late last year …

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Build quality

One of the most important features, which was completely ignored by the review is the build quality. Is it a flexy and plasticky as some of the other Samsung flagship devices???

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Bronze badge

Re: Build quality

I don't believe so, at least the one in my hand seems pretty well built.

It's a damn impressive mini tablet.

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Re: Build quality

Build quality is very much akin to the Galaxy S3 so while it is all plastic, and the battery cover is a bit bendy when not fixed in place it still felt solid enough as a unit. I'd have no qualms about taking one on a two year contract from this perspective. And at least being plastic it won't start showing up minor scuffs and scratches.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Build quality

I own a 3rd hand note and apart from bragging rights, I can see nothing wrong with Samsung build quality on their flagship devices.

The steering wheel on my car will flex and feels plasticky and, thats the most crucial thing I'll hold in my had of a day.

Of course if you were after feel good factor, you'd already own the iphone 5, thus not bothering with this review.

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Re: Build quality

@ 08:44 GMT Anonymous Coward

I've got a Motorola Atrix, which is built like a tank. I looked at the S2 at the time, and in most ways it was a better phone but it felt cheap and nasty compared to the atrix IMHO

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Devil

Re: Build quality

> >The steering wheel on my car will flex and feels plasticky and, thats the most crucial thing I'll hold in my had of a day

Are you sure? I'm sure there's something else that flexes slightly that you hold in your hand of a day. You have worries if it's plasticky though

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Megaphone

Re: Build quality

Yeah I had a HTC hero for a bit that is solid and feels weighty in the hand. Also I could already feel it sticking in my leg when it was in my pocket. I tried a Samsung galaxy s2 for a week, and it was far easier to use(Swype keyboard is AWESOME) and I never felt in in my jean pocket. That shred my idea about weight equals quality. I almost traded in my trusty Nokia for one! But now I'm going to have to get the S3.. I felt that "The S3 looks like a too big phone" (forgive the poor use of English in the quote!) Once I put it in my hand, hey it fits...even fits in my gf's tiny hands..hey it isn't to big, just looks that way. Appearances can be deceiving... but f@#k me is the phone intuitive to use! Quite loving the widgets on the slider homepage, which is a far cry from the Apple interface that is stuck in 2003(or whatever) with rows of icons... Apple phones are backwards imo. My mate was telling me how amazing iOS was and how you can use gestures, etc but I just stopped him there, bottom line is that if you can't just pick up a phone and use it, the phone is s#@te.

Fin. Am off to form an orderly queue of one to get an S3.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Build quality

@ Alex Walsh

More fool you then because the build quality of the S2 is very good.

Just because it's thin and has a plastic back doesn't mean it won't happily bounce off the floor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Build quality

"bottom line is that if you can't just pick up a phone and use it, the phone is s#@te."

Interesting you should say that. My old mum was due an upgrade, currently on iphone 4, wanted better camera, better screen, but crucially didn't really want to shell out £250+ for an iphone 4s/5.

So we plunked for a S3, which Vodafone kindly said we could try for 14 days.

So data transferred over..nope, Samsung software doesn't work on a PPC mac...google sync...well some of the data made it.

So sim out of the iphone, into the S3. Phone rings.

Green Telephone appears, Red telephone appears.

Mum presses the green button, nothing. I press the gree button nothing.

We look at the screen, no instructions, nothing, more presssing. Call missed.

Apparenlty Samsung can't be bothered to write slide to answer on the screen, so for the S3, you can't just pick up the phone and use it, it fails the first test quite badly.

Just for fun, tried it with a few more people that hadn't got either an iphone or android device, i.e older candy bar phones and the like, same thing, press the green button, nothing, more cursing.

Are you sure you want an S3?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Build quality

Amazing, you must be living on Sheppy or something.

I don't do voice calls when I can help it, but when the S3 did eventually ring, figuring out the interface took me a good.. oooh one second- my bad for not RTFMing.

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Meh

Was the reviewer paid by Samsung to say so many nice thing?

It goes against other reviews that state while it is good, it is not great, there is flex, there is stuttering and there is a general lack of polish and smoothness of the operating system.

I've used one and I have to say that even with the power it fails because it has a jerky response. The Touch Wiz needs to go and then JB can be properly optimised for the device.

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Re: Build quality

"Just because it's thin and has a plastic back doesn't mean it won't happily bounce off the floor."

Or off concrete after falling 4 metres as mine did.

The case has a slight rough spot where it landed and the battery cover popped open by one clip. I was pleasantly surprised.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Was the reviewer paid by Samsung to say so many nice thing?

Really?.. I have been researching this phone for a month, have (almost) read every review out there from the major websites to the geeky ones - NO one said what you quote above. Everyone says amazing hardware and performance but some criticise physical size and the temperature of the colour 'white' - that's it! This phone has also topped most benchmarks!

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FAIL

Re: Build quality

I note that you have 1/17 in the votes department, which I feel is totally unwarranted.

When I first had a Samsung Android phone I experienced the exact same bullshit with the retarded swipe-to-answer-but-we-wont-tell-you-thats-how-it-works rubbish.

As you say it is first and foremost a phone. If you build a inherently simply device such as a phone with a UI that is anything other than immediately obvious to a first time user then you are doing it wrong.

Somebody at Samsung needs to go and buy a book and learn what "affordance" means.

Can't wait for the new Samsung door handle. It'll be the one that is round and looks like it turns, but in reality it doesn't turn at all, but rather flips on a hinge, the direction you flip depends on whether you want to open or close the door. The correct direction for a particular action is to be determined by trial and error on the part of the user.

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Re: Build quality

You can set it up to use the physical home button to answer phone calls instead of swipe to answer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Build quality

You get little arrows that make it quite obvious now. Don't know about earlier versions. I imagine most people would need to go look up what affordance means... Just because they didn't get it exactly right (although it's always seemed obvious to me) first time, doesn't mean they aren't continually improving things. Or are you an iphone user? ;-)

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Re: Build quality

"If you build a inherently simply device such as a phone with a UI that is anything other than immediately obvious to a first time user then you are doing it wrong."

Answered a call 30 seconds after turning on my original galaxy s and figured it out before the second ring.

Just because you aren't sharp enough to figure out such a simple thing doesn't mean there's something wrong with the UI or the phone!!!

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FAIL

Re: Was the reviewer paid by Samsung to say so many nice thing?

well the question could be reversed - are you paid by Apple or some other competitor to go round saying bad things about it? Aside from the fact that it is highly unlikely that you actually had one in your hand, your comments fly in the face of every single other opinion and review out there which declares the phone to be very smooth and slick.

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Re: Build quality

I have to say the build quality of GS2 astonished me - mine recently got hurled down 20 foot of stone steps. It acquired some mild bruising around the edges and a small very scratch on the screen. It hadn't even powered off.

Also after 17 months of battery swapping every day the flimsy looking back panel is still going strong. It might be light and thin but if it's anything to go by Samsung products are tough.

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Indeed

Don't know why you got so many downvotes. First time I received a call on my Note I couldn't answer it. Had to Google it to find out how. RTFM you say? Pah!

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Pint

Re: the anonymous coward who couldn't figure out slide

really...

I was surprised too by the sliding thing, but hell, after a push didn't work, whats the next possibility for a finger on glass??

If that was too hard for you, get a 'John's Phone', you'll be pleased.

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WTF?

Re: Was the reviewer paid by Samsung to say so many nice thing?

Were you paid by Microsoft to say the device has jerky response, while every reviewer said it's smooth as butter?

Pro Tip: you can deactivate Touchwiz and use Nova Launcher instead, which is very quick and light on Resources, and you can still use the Samsung apps you want for pen etc...

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hrrrmph

"Answered a call 30 seconds after turning on my original galaxy s and figured it out before the second ring."

Well, congratulations, you "figured it out"

Which is to miss the point entirely of course.

Answering a phone should be such a simple operation that it should not require "figuring it out"

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Anonymous Coward

unsatisfying review :(

so the review only mentions on two pages the note function and on the other the screen. does it work as a phone? does the thin phone etches into the skin if holding it at the ear for more than 5 minutes? how do you download the scribbles to other devices, etc? pictures look great, but that can be photoshopped. unsatisfying review - little is said about software for sync with your computer for instance. Since I had only wp7 and iPhone I don't know android so well.

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Re: unsatisfying review :(

Top of page 3 "How does it work as a phone? Superbly, thanks to a size that puts speaker and microphone closer to ear and mouth than smaller devices can manage and very good active noise cancellation".

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Re: unsatisfying review :(

Re your question "does it work as a phone?" Can I point you to the paragraph on page 3 that starts: "How does it work as a phone? Superbly ..."

As for your other comments, I think I'm right in saying that El Reg reviews aren't necessarily the most in-depth you'll find.

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Alert

Re: unsatisfying review :(

" does the thin phone etches into the skin if holding it at the ear for more than 5 minutes?"

Not at all. At 9.4mm it's not actually all that thin by modern standards.

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Re: unsatisfying review :(

As for downloading scribbles etc, I've not tried to download an picture from my Note v1.0, but it was surprisingly easy to send a sketch via Skype and e-mail to a colleague. I say surprising because I wasn't expecting to actually use this feature in a business environment, but suddenly it was the right solution and it just worked...

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price

three actually has the phone on payg for £499 which seems like quite a bargain for such a beast

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Anonymous Coward

Re: price

It's because it is dead easy to produce a device that is large, you don't have to worry about battery life so much as you can stick in a 33% bigger battery.

The real challenge is cramming more into the same space.

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Re: price @ac

Cramming a bigger battery into the same space?

You mean like it says in the review that they did between the note 1 & 2.

AC commentard fail.

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Happy

Re: price

btw, according to their supports page three will also unlock any PAYG phone on the day you buy it for £16

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Re: price

Yes this is why laptop-sized ipads are so cheap, and those 7" tablets are more expensive. Oh wait.

And you should congratulate Samsung for putting the power of an ipad into the much smaller Note :)

(And although larger devices can have larger batteries, the larger displays tend to hog more battery too.)

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Multi-tasking

Don't know if the ROM on the review model has it, but there's also split screen multitasking on later ROMs if you hold down the back button. Apparently, the first batch of UK Note II's didn't get this feature, but will get an OTA to add it.

http://www.talkandroid.com/134347-samsung-highlights-multitasking-feature-on-galaxy-note-ii-smartphone-in-new-promo-video/

That should add a few percentage points to the score! :)

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Keyboard

Is there a decent BT keyboard that works with it and about the same size?

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Re: Keyboard

@Mage - I don't if there is or not. Have you tried to Google for one? It has Bluetooth so you've got your pick of third party accessories.

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Re: Keyboard

A Reg review round up of the top ten Bluetooth keyboards is overdue, nudge nudge.

A quick look at the internet suggests BT keyboards made for iDevices works fine with Android, if you're okay with the the usual Apple @ " swap.

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Re: Keyboard

...and don't mind using esoteric shortcuts when you need a hash key.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Keyboard

And worth mentioning that it supports USB OTG so feel free to plug a USB keyboard in if you fancy.

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Re: Keyboard

There are several BT keyboards available for phones.

My smallest one is about the same size as the GalaxyS2 it's mostly used with, while a laptop-scale one sits on the desk at home when working there.

There's one at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kit-Universal-Mini-Bluetooth-Keyboard/dp/B0047ZGNGO along with a bunch of other links at the bottom of the page.

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Re: Keyboard

I bought a HP Touchpad bluetooth keyboard for my Android devices, was the bargain bin price of £20 and a lovely bit of kit. Can highly recommend.

It seems that stock Jelly Bean doesn't support a proper UK keyboard layout for bluetooth keyboards, but I managed to fix that with about 10 minutes of googling and tinkering (requires root though)

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Re: Keyboard

Everything from $12 jobs from china that look like 80% sized Apple keyboard copies, to Logitech jobs for $90, that are really also from china, but *might or might not* have better keys and a better battery.

If this thing sells even better than the last Galaxy Note, we could even expect finding covers with integrated keyboards, like they make for tablets...

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I think it's time to upgrade my Note :)

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Gimme gimme gimme. Holding out for the LTE release mid October. I hoped this would rock, it sounds like it rocks.

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Anonymous Coward

2 Note 2s?

The Note 2 is on sale now Sim Free. Is this the 3G and 4G version or is there another version just for 4G?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 2 Note 2s?

The blog at Clove.co.uk says in fact there are 2 variants of the Note 2. How confusing for us punters that bought the Note on the first day of availability. CPW claimed the Sim Free version they sell is 4G!

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As a note one user..

...6 months in and it still does eveything i need, so more cpu and a slightly better screen, both of witch im satified with atm, hmmm dosnt scream at me to update guess ill see what Note 3 is like towards the end of contract, that said nice evolution and it does seem to iron out a few niggles will be interesting where they take it from here and what software features they will dribble back to the original.

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Re: As a note one user..

I agree with DCope, I have the Note 1 and it never lets me down, doesn't lag and has a great screen.. I have difficulty in justifiying the upgrade, the N2 does come with JB though ( the N1 will eventuially get it too, hopefully soon).

I have a colleague prepared to buy my N1 for 250€ so if one of the local shops comes out with a decent offer I might be a little more tempted to upgrade change.

Overall a great phablet* for someone that doesn't already own one but a difficult decision for those that do.

*( I know there are some commentards who absolutely loathe that word but it seems well suited),

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Re: As a note one user..

+1

The Note1 is such a fantastic device I'd have trouble justifying the upgrade for myself, but given the number of people that have asked for a look at mine* and then left nodding and cursing Apple in the past few weeks I'd say they'll sell a few of these...

* Oo-err missus...

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