I am now the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and though I’ve had it for only a short time, I can tell you that I made the right decision in the phone I wanted to get.
Yes, my mobile service has it come pre-loaded with a ton of bloatware crap that I’ll probably never use, but since I’m not an “app junkie”, as the reviews describe frequent app users, I think I’ll be fine. I have a Kindle Fire I can populate with apps, anyway. (Would that I were joking…)
Honestly, I was a little apprehensive about taking the big step from “dumb” phone to smart phone. As a computer scientist, I’ve had it drilled into my head that if a piece of hardware or software doesn’t do what it’s designed to do, then it’s not worth it. From what I’d seen and done with smart phones (which admittedly wasn’t much), they weren’t always great at what they did. Some had great 3G/4G/wireless, but crappy call quality. Some had the opposite. Some had the worst freaking user interfaces I’d ever seen, and I’ve encountered (and even made, once) some pretty bad ones. I was especially leery of the keyboard, honestly. I was used to my slider phone that was bulky as hell, but had quite the functional keyboard… right up until the “n” key started not working and it started repeating letters when I pressed the button only once. I had to face the music—it was time to start looking for a new phone.
While I was still a little skittish of smart phones, I’d noticed that, more and more often, I was going “Jeez, a smart phone would be so useful right now!” When I was trying to find a bus to hop on, when I was trying to find a friend’s house, when I wanted to look something up during class and didn’t have my laptop on me. (That last one far less frequent than the others, though.) I just wanted something that I could be sure would work. I started browsing through the phones that my carrier was currently offering, and I started seeing a pattern: the Samsung phones had higher ratings than most of the other phones. Curious to see what the fuss was about, I perused those particular phones.
It was by chance that I clicked on the Note 2. It had 2 reviews, both of them talking about how they were excited for the coming release of the phone and how it was going to be the best thing since sliced bread. Yup, it hadn’t even been released at that point! I wondered if that was just hype to get people to buy it. At any rate, I figured I’d keep tabs on it, as I liked the look of the phone, and it seemed like it could carry out what it promised in terms of features. My contract wouldn’t expire until a few months after its release, so at least I would have some time to keep checking the reviews and make sure that users were pleased with it.
The release came and went, and the reviews started flooding in. They all seemed positive, but a lot of them were just in the vein of “omg this phones so gr8”, which didn’t really tell me anything. There were a few that were brutally honest, but even so, gave it four or five stars, typically. I also checked the low-star reviews, but one of those turned out to be about not to turn off the email signature, and business demands that it be turned off. (First: um, I’m pretty darn sure you can. Second: smart phones are fairly commonplace nowadays. I think people will be okay if your email was sent from one, unless it also adds that you were on the golf course instead of in your office.) Another few turned out to be about the size. While it’s a valid dig—the thing is HUGE!—it’s well-known that this is more of a “phablet” (a phone crossed with a tablet, for those not yet up to speed on their smart phone lingo) than your garden variety phone. For what it’s worth, I’d looked at and handled one in-store and knew what I was getting into on that score.
That cemented it. I was getting one. I kept on checking the reviews to make sure that there were no big issues suddenly discovered, and, lo and behold, there weren’t, so I went ahead and got it. It was love from the first. (Seriously, if you couldn’t tell, I am still totally excited about my new gadget.)
I can walk away from it, make no mistake. I’m not attached to it at the hip. Though, with its size it’s a little hard not to feel that way with it in my pocket—I’m still amazed that I can actually fit it in there! My friend has taken to calling it a “purse dog”, stemming from my likening this phone to a big dog that thinks it’s a lap dog.
I’m still learning how to use it, actually. The occasional “curse you, software!” can be heard from my room when I can’t figure out an action within a minute or two. The keyboard is actually pretty amazing, and I can, in fact, two-thumb type much as I used to, though I have to click back out of the symbols menu, which is a bit of a pain. The apps I can get for free (I’ve only grabbed a few ones; useful ones like “One Bus Away”) are decent, and the phone is good about notifying me when it wants something, like to be charged. The screen’s just sensitive enough, which is nice. I can shut it in its case, and I generally won’t open it later to find it already in an application. I’ve also learned how to lock it so that I don’t have to play application roulette when I don’t want to. The S-pen is easy to use, though because I tend to hold it at a slant, it doesn’t always work. It does not help that my handwriting is not the most amazing, but I can still read it, so it’s all good.
If it’s not already clear, I highly recommend this phone. The size is the main deterrent, but if you can get past that, it’s an amazing not-exactly-little device. The call quality is excellent (at least, in my area–I’ve heard differently from reviewers in other parts of the country). The interface itself is mostly straightforward, and (as noted before) the touch sensitivity is amazing. The battery just does not quit–it took two days of medium use for it to get to 17%! I haven’t dropped it yet, nor do I intend to, so I can’t speak for how it holds up when treated roughly. (I also have it in a monster of a case that has good protection ratings.) Hopefully, it has staying power, both market-wise and durability-wise.