Better hardware and software make the Galaxy Note II the best Android available

Better hardware and software make the Galaxy Note II the best Android available

Summary: Samsung already sold 3 million Galaxy Note II devices and as consumers spend more and more time with data on their smartphones this device becomes more compelling. I've had mine for a couple of weeks and it is fun to discover new things daily.


I posted my top 5 smartphones for the 2012 holiday season at the beginning of the week and as you can see I put the Samsung Galaxy Note II in 2nd place. If the device wasn't so large I would have put it in first place instead of the iPhone, but it just isn't practical for most people. That said, those who want the most powerful and capable phone available today, that are also more data focused than call focused, should seriously consider the Note II.

Check out my image gallery of the Note II that includes many screenshots of the excellent software provided by Google and Samsung.


I won't write much about the hardware here since that was pretty well covered in my Galaxy Note II first impressions. It is nearly exactly like a Galaxy S III with a slightly larger display. I have been very pleased with the hardware and am only disappointed that I cannot order an accessory flip cover/back since Samsung still shows them as out of stock.

I am a pretty heavy smartphone user, thanks in large part to my 2+ hour daily train commute, and am able to go a full long day (16 hours) on a single charge of the 3,100 mAh battery. The battery is also user replaceable so with a spare you never have to worry about a dead device with the Galaxy Note II.

Software is the shining star

Much of what I wrote about the software in the Galaxy S III defines that device and the Note II also comes with an amazing assortment of software and settings. Even after a few weeks of using my Note II, I discover new things every couple of days. I like this discovery aspect and love that I can customize and optimize the Note II to my heart's desire.

Here are some of my personal favorite apps, services, and settings on the Note II:

  • S Note: It's fun to get back to handwriting again, thanks to the Note II. The S Pen is a fantastic new accessory with integrated options.
  • Air View: It is efficient to hover the S Pen over the display to scroll and view the details of calendar appointments.
  • Chrome browser: I have been able to create new ZDNet posts right from my phone and keep finding I really have no limitations with Chrome on the Note II.
  • Angry Birds Star Wars: What can I say? I am a huge Star Wars fan and with the S Pen you can fine tune Han Solo's blaster aims.
  • Google Play Movies: I enjoy renting and watching movies on my Galaxy Note II.
  • Plume: Twitter app
  • Facebook: Primarily for Facebook photos
  • Handcent SMS: This 3rd party SMS client looks great.
  • Flipboard: This is the way to browse through your feeds in an interactive manner.
  • Google Now: This utility is great for sports, traffic, package tracking, and more.

There are already some excellent detailed reviews of the Note II and given my limited time to write and huge assortment of other devices to review I recommend you check out these other reviews:

Related CBS Interactive coverage

Topics: Mobility, Android, Reviews, Samsung, Smartphones

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  • Note 2 on Verizon

    Do you know if the Verizon version will be a world phone.
    • Yes - You have the option of adding a world phone supporting SIM or not

      It does not cost any more but the Verizon web site said that ordering a world phone version SIM would take a bit longer to deliver. Currently, deliveries are scheduled for 11/27 or later.
  • Aw man! My wife will kill me if I trade up this soon.

    My S3 isn't very old and I want a Note ll. If I get one it will be really hard to explain why I need a Surface Pro when it's available.
  • One critique

    I might stick to naming positive things unique to the Note II instead of Android or apps that are available on all platforms. I realize they are your favorites, but they aren't unique to the device nor platform.

    For example, Angry Birds Star Wars is available on pretty much any current-gen platform (iOS/Android/WP8/W8, OSX, etc). Facebook and other 3rd party apps that aren't unique shouldn't increase the value or make the device better. I'd say the same thing if you wrote in a similar format that Nokia apps are a plus for the Lumia 920 when they are available for the 820/22/10, too. It might be better on the Note II because of the screen size, but that also goes both ways. Not everyone wants a 5.5" screen... and clearly its a significant number since you have the GS III mini.

    The one that I'm curious about as a non-Note II user is the Air Hover. How is it more or less effective to scroll with stylus? It would be really cool if it could sense a finger hovering over screen in addition to the S Pen.
  • Great but still has Shortfalls due to our region

    we could not get any better version aside from the 16 gig. plus, we don't have any 4G compatible version in our country. Samsung always give us the shortest end of the stick.
    this message was mostly composed by the built in voice recognition software. notice that it does not follow capitalization rules.
  • *sigh*

    If only it was running stock...
    • I can't say the stock is better..

      Without touchwiz, most of the stylus features are useless and many samsung gestures may no longer work (flip to mute, swipe to screenshot, etc) I like the new folders of the new touchwiz. It's fluid and it's circle and can't be sued by apple. I've seen a stock ics and i can say that touchwiz is better (not seen a stock jb yet)
    • One last important thing

      The Split screen multitasking is a TouchWiz feature. If you go on stock, you will lose this feature. I won't trade this for anything Google has to offer on stock Jelly Bean.
  • and...

    If the Note 2 is the best Android phone out, then it is also the best SMARTPHONE out.
  • Note 1 drains the battery quickly; glad that's been fixed

    I just bought a T-Mobile Note 1 (the T879), slightly used, and have begun using it with T-Mobile's $30-a-month prepaid plan (100 minutes of voice, 5 GB of data). I use my phone chiefly to read news and books, so I prefer the 1's 16:10 aspect ratio the Note 2's 16:9. However, battery life is horrendously low. Yesterday, my first full day after activation, I was out of juice by 4:30 pm. This morning, I turned the phone on at 7:30am. By 10:30 am, my charge had dropped to 60 percent...using 3G and GPS but not BlueTooth or WiFi. I plan to install an app to manage my power usage. But even so, I plan to replace the 2500 mAH stock battery with a 6000 to 6500 mAH after market battery. I've heard that the Note 2's display draws less power. Good.
  • GPS

    using navigation or maps with GPS for 3 hours will drain any battery, and I suspect 3G uses more power than wifi. If you are in a vehicle it is wise to get a car charger
    • GPS

      Thanks, Mytheroo. I will make sure that GPS is "on" only when I need it.