Samsung Galaxy Note II First Impressions

My Samsung Galaxy Note II (Verizon) arrived via FedX on time on November 29. I almost tackled the FedX delivery guy to get started on opening the box. I’ve been waiting for this phone for a long time. Here are my very first impressions.

Is it too large?

Not for me. I don’t have large hands. However, I can hold the phone comfortably. Using my right hand, with the phone in my palm, my thumb is on the right side, by the power button. My pinky and ring finger are opposite on the left side. My middle finger is at the top left corner. My index finger is at the top middle.

I am using an OtterBox Commuter case. This case makes it easier to hold the phone. I’m not sure if the reason is the case’s slight extra rise above the bezel or that the case’s material is easier to grip than the more slippery material of the phone (or both).

While I only need one hand to hold the phone, I need two hands to operate it. However, I suspect this would be the case with any phone much larger than the 4” iPhone.

The GN II, though large, fits comfortably in the pocket of dress slacks or baggy shorts. (Luckily for those around me I don’t wear tight jeans). Though the phone is a bit difficult to remove from the pocket since its width isn’t much less than the width of the pocket.  I don’t worry about keys or coins in my pocket scratching the GN II’s Gorilla Glass screen because I’m using a Spigen Ultra Crystal screen protector.

Benefit of Large Display

A big surprise for me is my ability to use the GNII to read my Google Reader feeds and associated web pages. The 5.5” screen provides enough real estate to read both comfortably. And as good as the iPad is in couch mode for reading, the GNII, being far lighter and smaller, is even better. Maybe this really is a convergence device.

Battery Life

Another big surprise for me — excellent! I anticipated that the large screen + 4G LTE would suck battery life like a vampire. Indeed, my OG Galaxy Note’s battery life was substantially less than a day. But my battery thus far seems to last the entire day … very easily. Partly this is because of a huge battery (3100mAh). Partly it is because of pro-active power management, usually very important with Android phones. But again, a very pleasant surprise.

Performance

Fast and fluid, as you might expect from a Quad Core Exynos processor and 2 GB of RAM. Very happy.

S Pen

The S Pen is supposed to be the star of the GNII show. But I haven’t used it much yet. So all I can say is inking is smooth, though of course limited because the screen area is much smaller than a piece of paper.

Voice to Text

Works very well. Reasonably fast and accurate. My kids usually talk to me only via SMS unless they have an immediate need for money. I am very slow operating my phone keyboard. But now I can dictate a response. Very nice.

Rooting

You betcha.  That communist Verizon (it’s not called Big Red for nothing) made Samsung lock the bootloader. But the devs at XDA Developers already have enabled rooting so you can get rid of the communist bloatware. Soon I’ll be able to install custom ROM’s. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the ability to customize Android phones.

Closing Thoughts

I love this phone! Though I’m still thinking of the BlackBerry 10 L series when it comes out in February.

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