Galaxy Note 2 (review/editorial)
Hey guys! I hope all is well with everyone. People thought I should have waited a week to do a write up on the note 2. I thought they were wrong, and in one case I came off like an ass hole when I shouldn't have thinking I was right, but i wasn't. If i'm wrong the first thing i do is admit it. You guys are right. The excitement about getting something new, spending your cash, and having a new experience flutters the head with joy and euphoria. I moved to quick on the write up. I'm not saying much has changed, but some of my opinions have. As i stated last time my daily driver has been the iPhone 5. I've been an iPhone user since day one ( & ipad), and a Android user since the early days. I'll always be an apple user. Especially when it comes to iPad. I think Android has made great strides. Especially when compared to how it was a few years ago. Great strides. It's still not there with apps, but i'd sure like it to be. The operating system is amazing. It's without a doubt the most advanced mobile operating system out there.
I'm a professional graphic designer/artist & illustrator as well as a musician. IOS has always catered to my passions with software, and that's a very important thing to me. At the end of the day I use these devices as tools. I use them to help me accomplish a task, better what I do, and make things easier on my life when I need them. In my opinion a device only shines when it can cater to the human. When it can help you do or accomplish a task. When it comes to music apps, third party and apple made software nothing of the sort exist on android. Garage band for IOS might be one of the most advanced mobile apps out there. Not to mention a slew of third party apps that are just as great. There isn't even a comparable application that could be used as alternatives. On the IOS side, software and apps are very advanced. I call these desktop class or pro apps. Software like iDraw or inkPad, fully functional vector based drawing applications comparable and in some ways better than Adobe Illustrator. Real painting apps with true to life brush engines similar to Corel Painter or Adobe Photoshop. Brushes, Art rage, procreate. Other drawing apps like Paper by 53 ( one of my all time favorite apps). No comparable or alternative version on Android. They simply just don't exist. It's a Major setback to the operating system. Especially when it comes to tablets. Yet still, the Galaxy Note 2 is one of the most advanced smart phones I've ever used. I couldn't be happier with the device. Is it perfect? No, but then again not many things are. Even with Android lag still ever so prevalent in some places i still think the Galaxy Note 2 is one of the best devices I've ever used. Here's why.
Hardware: The device is big! It's a monster, and it's why I love this device so much. This thing makes my iPhone 5 feel like an iPod Nano. The sheer size of it makes it one of the most enjoyable mobile experiences. Yet it's still not too big. It's an absolutely great size. I don't have big hands and I can still use the device with one hand, but even if I needed to Samsung has packed in software features that take care of using the device with one hand. More on that later. The build quality is actually solid. Yes it's plastic and i sure would love it to be constructed of better materials, but at the same time I'm finding that i'm not as worried with this device say vs an iphone. I know I can replace the back, and I know that if it does drop it's going to take the fall pretty well. It's solid. It doesn't feel cheap in the hand. It feels like a premium device and it is a premium device. I love that I can take the back off and get inside the phone. I was able to grab a 32 gig expandable storage card to put in that sucker, on top of the 16 gig on board storage. With apple you have to live by what they give you. I didn't realize how awesome it is to be able to have this option. It's one of my favorite features. The design of the device is fantastic. This isn't the same Samsung that first came into the Android game. This is a totally different company. They have pushed design with the Galaxy series, and they've done it well. My personal favorite design feature is the front o the device. I love how it looks. I enjoy the entire design language. The placement of the LED' for notifications are in a great spot. The colors look fantastic.
We can't talk about hardware without talking about that beautiful display. This isn't your average mobile device display. It is both a capacitive multitouch display along with a Wacom pen tablet digitizer(drool) Man! It's so nice looking. Perhaps one of the best i've seen. Very high quality. Samsung has done something with their amoled technology. It looks better than ever. Colors pop as always but they are rendered more accurate. I'm a big fan of apples retina display. I love it's true to life color representation, but after looking at the amoled with what Samsung has done it's hard to look at the iphone. It's hard to look at my 2010 mac after looking at my phone. Not that either one is bad. They are both fantastic displays, but the amoled just looks amazingly vibrant. Top that with the design, look, and feel of android and it's one wild looking display. Samsung lets you choose from different screen modes if you choose to. It's a great option to have if you want to tone down the vibrance of the overall colors. The hardware buttons on the device feel great. Sturdy and constructed well.
One of the biggest things we do with our smartphones today is take picture. It's a pretty important feature in a smartphone. Not only for play, but for business as well. I know when I have my installer out on a job doing an installation or looking at a job while I'm not there these things come in extremely handy. I can video conference with the client and him, he can shoot me pictures. It's a much needed tool, and without a good camera on these devices we couldn't get as much done. It just so happens that my installer is my best friend and i convinced him to get the note as well. He loves it. We've been S beaming. :) The camera is fantastic. It takes great shots. Right up there with the iPhone 5. In some cases better. The software for the camera is packed with features. I know you guys have seen many videos of S voice being a major fail. Well I don't know what happened but S voice has destroyed siri in my experience. Epically being able to tell the camera capture and it takes a perfect shot. It works every time like a charm. More on that next.
Battery life: Without a good battery, we have nothing, and one thing you don't have to worry about with this device is the battery. The Note 2's battery life is phenomenal. My largest problem with Android and the reason I went back to IOS for years was because not one OEM had figured out battery life for Android. Including Samsung. Well, they sure have now. It's the first Android experience I've had where I'm not worried about my battery. I can keep my display on full brightness, I can use the phone heavily, sketch, apps, games, and still get fantastic battery life. With moderate to heavy use I was able to get about 12 or more hours on the battery. Granted some days this changes depending on how many calls or texts are coming through, but I still don't have to worry. I know the phone is going to get me through the day no matter what, and even when I do need a charge it charges fast. Samsung was smart enough to give us a nice long usb cable for charging. So i can actually use the device when I have it charging while i'm in bed. The battery is solid.
S pen: The reason I was interested in the Note 2 in the first place was because of the S-pen. I wanted it for the art side of what I do. When I found out that Wacom's technology was built in it i started researching the device more and more. Other artists started swaying me, and finally an art friend of mine convinced me. After i saw some blow away sketches he did on the note 2 i knew i had to have it. The Wacom digitizer has 1024 levels of pressure. This has been my dream and many other graphic artists for many years. I've always dreamed of having a mobile device with true pen pressure. With this built in technology it brings the S pen to life. Once you tune the S pen you can get Cintiq like lines and shading with the use of sketchbook. I use a cintiq on my pro setup, and this is the first mobile device that I've used that actually feels like having a mini cintiq in my hand at all times. The S pen is one of my favorite features of the device. As an artist i love it, but even when i'm not using it for sketching it's an integrated part of the entire Note 2 experience. From jotting down notes, to scribbling ideas. You can get a call, and if someone is giving you a number the software is smart enough to know and a note will pop up, so you can jot it down with the S-pen. The software caters to the S-pen. With the S-pen and the note 2 it's like having a small Moleskine sketchbook with you at all times. That'a a great thing for me personally, because i do ALL of my sketching digitally. Samsung also makes a cool holder for the S-pen if you want some better control over lines for sketching. Perhaps an even more interesting thing is being able to use other wacom enabled tablet PC pens on the device as well. Right now Wacom has released a new line of products call the bamboo stylus feel. Made for these devices that have both multitouch and the digitizer built in. Eventually, we will see a slew of pens for these types of devices. The dreams are starting to come true! Currently they only support the note 1, and note 10.1. No clue why the note 2 isn't listed but someone from wacom is getting back to me on that.
Software: I think it's safe to say that all of us verge readers love software. I know I do. So how does Android stack up on this device? is it good? Can it do things better than IOS? The answer is yes. In many ways Android is the most advanced mobile operating system. It has come a very long way. I thought Samsung UI top would annoy me, but my experience was actually quite the opposite. They have packed the software with so many awesome features specifically for the note 2. There's so many i couldn't possibly go into all of them, but here's a few that i love. I love that the when i'm sketching or taking a note the device knows that i have the pen in my hand. So i can lean my hand on the device like i would on paper. This is a first in the class of product. Yet, i can still take advantage of all the offers of multioutch. It switches back and forth seamlessly. I love that the Note 2 offers a more true to life multitasking experience. Things like the multiwindow feature and the pop up browser are awesome and quite helpful. I love that android has me covered for my daily apps. Instagram, facebook, tumblr, twitter, ect. I'm covered. I'm also covered with many of my games. Android apps are still not as smooth as IOS, but they have a certain feel that i really enjoy. That coupled with the larger display makes apps like Instagram and total joy. They still have work to do on the app front, but it's better than ever before. I love Samsung S note app. It's a extremely well put together piece of software, and works great. It's loaded with features. Android as a whole has come a long way. Googles services work well. All my contacts were zipped right on the phone from my last android experience. The switch over from IOS was seamless. With Android file transfer all my music and pictures were shot right into the device without any problems. As well as the album art. Android has me covered in almost all ways minus a few. Android has fully convinced me it's the most advanced mobile operating system.
Notifications were always my favorite thing about android. Nothing has changed there. They've made them better than ever. I do not miss the still intrusive IOS notifications. I get a notification it doesn't bother me. I see a LED and I know i have one. They got it right the first time. I love features like S beam and NFC. I could go on forever about what i love, but what do i not love? Well I don't love that lag still shows up in the OS. Weather it's android it's self or the OEM top over it, or the terrible bloatware that comes along with the device from the devil carriers i don't know. I just know it's there. If I were to do a video of the iPhone 5 vs The note 2 in speed or app performance, you'd see why you never underestimate the little guy. Flipboard is a fine example. Flipboard on IOS is as responsive as flipping pages in an actual paperback book. The android version is sluggish and slow. This happens within the operating system as well. If I'm downloading apps or apps are updating and I'm switching through home screens it starts to really buckle. It leaves me scratching my head. Why is a speced out quad core device buckling when less than 3 apps are downloading or updating. I personally blame the carrier. I think the carriers especially Verizon are doing shady things that we don't know about to the OS. Lets take for example the blocking mode feature. The dummies over at Verizon thought it would be a good idea to just take that out of the phone. Like really? Not only is it absurd that they would take such an important features out of the device, but the fact that they are even allowed to go inside and do such a thing is disgusting to me. Who knows what they are really doing. I think they have more to do with the lag than the OEM ui top. Though, there's a beauty to android. Whats the beauty? It's flexibility. I grabbed a blocking mode type app that does exactly what I need it to do. Android is great, put I hope google keeps pushing twards perfection. Matias has done an amazing job with the UI. It's a pleasure to look at. Even with Samsung UI over it you can still see Matias's work shining through, and I applaud him and his wild shirts. I think google now is great. Googles Voice features work way better than siri. They are scarily accurate most of the time. The only thing is google now just can't seem to get my location right. I always have to plug it in myself, or turn wifi on. Even with the GPS on i have to go to maps and than it gets it right. I don't like that. It gives me a notification in the morning telling me about traffic in a town i don't live in. I'm about to just shut it off.
Closing: My experience with the Galaxy Note 2 has been an excellent one overall. There has been a few times where I said ah i kind of wish i had my iphone right now. When it came to certain things in business. For example I do all of my invoicing with pages on the mac, iphone, and ipad. I'm not able to do that with android with my designed template and numbers chart that updates live. I found myself deleting text by accident and realizing android still has no undo feature. I don't know why though. I'm sure they can implement it somehow. When it came to voice mail I was wishing i had my iphone and it's stock visual voice mail option. The only way that I know of that will let me have this option is paying Verizon an extra $2.99 a month. When you are in business visual voice mail is extremely handy. Many customers call my cell and leave messages, being able to see who they are is important. I have very large accounts in the film industry, as well as my local clients. Blindly listening to my voice mails is not going to work for me. I'm going to have to either cave and pay Verizon or find a work around. I also found myself in a position where i could pull out my iphone and record the song i was writing. If Android is the most advanced mobile operating system, IOS has the most advanced desktop class apps. Many that simply just don't exist on android. I remember asking years ago if they ever will. Someone on here told me they would. They still don't. Developers still choose IOS first. Developers still make the most money with IOS. Goolge needs to adress this issue. They need to take some quality time and really figure out the why. Yet still with all that said, the Galaxy Note 2 and Android has this apple lover not looking back.