Much to Apple's fear, Samsung has boomed in the high-end smartphone market this year. It topped smartphone sales last quarter, with more than double Apple's share, with its strong armoury of releases spearheaded by the Galaxy S III.
On release, the original Note was scoffed at by many punters as an in between device, accused of bending genres for the sake of it rather than practical use. Many asked if it was an oversize smartphone or an inferior tablet? But Samsung has forged ahead with a new model after selling millions of the original. In fact, sales of the new Note 2 have hit the three million mark in the first month of release. But is it more than just a backlash against Apple? Can the Note 2 compete with the flurry of Windows phones popping up this quarter? Let's take a look.
The Note 2 is very much from the same gene pool as the Galaxy S III smartphone, with sleek curves and a rounded white plastic back. It's a little slimmer than the original note at 9.4mm but marginally heavier at 183g.
At the bottom right corner you'll find the S-Pen, while the hot-swappable micro SD slot is hidden under the back cover.
First impressions are dominated by the sheer size of the unit, but that dissipates quickly with use.
The epic 5.5in screen brags an HD 1,280x720 resolution. It's super bright too, giving the Note 2 a huge edge in multimedia functionality. The other main feature is the S-Pen stylus. It's a delight to use, far from the cumbersome necessity of the PDAs of old. It's sensitive, accurate and allows you the get even more out of the big screen (allowing it to reach tablet functionality) with its improved accuracy.
The Note 2 ships with the new Android Jellybean 4.1 operating system, which integrates with the stylus and other hardware smartly. Taking the stylus out of its sheath activates a host of OS functions. There are many other clever tweaks, including a favourite called Smart Rotation that checks your eyeline before flipping the screen horizontally according to gravity. The more you use it, the more features emerge.
The eight megapixel camera features a nifty inbuilt function of burst shooting activated simply by holding the shoot button. All the picture and editing modes of the S III are on-board too. And with instant results rendered in HD on the bright screen, it makes the iPhone look like a toy in this regard.
We tried to resist it, given that it still looks a little ridiculous held against the ear. But the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has created a genre of its own. The size is the huge variable at play, but after some use it becomes normal, even a delight.
New users might be baffled at first. Do they keep it in their pocket? Their briefcase? Do they receive calls? Can they watch a movie on it? Will it last? The answer to all these questions is a resounding yes.
Once the size and genre issues are overcome, the Note 2 emerges triumphant with its smoothly tuned operating system, huge and bright screen, and function-expanding stylus, giving this round to Samsung over Apple and proving the portable device genres still have some evolving to do.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Mcleish