User friendliness summary for Samsung Galaxy Note 2 4G LTE review
The OS on this 4G phone is Android Jelly Bean. As always this is a delight to use, with lots of personalised features, including the fonts used. There’s a spacious screen, and with the responsive S-Pen the online experience, and typing on this phone, is pleasant.
Performance summary for Samsung Galaxy Note 2 4G LTE review
With 4G LTE supported by a powerful processor and an impressive 2GB of memory you’ll never suffer from lags on the Note 2.
Battery power summary for Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE review
You’ll get a full 24 hours from the Note 2, even though it has a superbly bright display. Few 4G phones can match the Note 2’s impressive 10 hours of movie viewing.
Style and handling summary for Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE review
The large size of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE is hard to get past, but it is svelte and a good looking handset. None of that bulk is wasted, with the spacious 5.5-inch display taking up every possible bit of the front of this glossy phone. You will have to carry a bag, or have large pockets though.
Feature set summary for Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE review
It is more like what features doesn’t the Note 2 have? There’s 4G LTE compatibility right across to the HD screen, and the 8-megapixel camera that shoots crisp, HD video. It has more features than any other smartphone we’ve seen.
|Style & Handling|
Pros : large, bright display; 4G support; quad-core processor; responsive S-pen; impressive battery performance; sharp 8-megapixel camera.
Cons : large, and weighty; appeals only to a small number of users.
Verdict: You get the impressive range of features found on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 and with 4G LTE support included. Plus you get the superb S-Pen stylus. It is hard not to love this niche phone, despite the large size
We love 4G with its super fast download speeds. But it seems to be swinging the trend in phone sizes the other way. Following on from the bricks we used in the 80s, phones have got smaller and smaller. By now they should be thimble-sized and worn on our thumbs. Instead they’re starting to get bigger, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 LTE is one of the largest we’ve seen. This does allow it to display a huge 5.5-inch screen, and who wouldn’t want all that screen space to stream movies with smooth playback over 4G? Plus we are big fans of the Note 2’s S-Pen stylus, along with the other features packed in there.
Going into the LTE
For the most part, the Note 2 and the Note 2 LTE are the same, but there’s one notable difference of course. With this handset you get 4G LTE compatibility. We found that even in 3G mode websites load quickly thanks to the specs of this device, but in 4G mode it is still actually noticeably quicker. As for streaming video, including HD, the smoothness is breathtaking and there was no buffering needed at all.
Taking full advantage of this means being in the middle of a 4G hotspot. Data speeds quickly went down as we moved out of Central London by comparison, but were still fast on 3G.
Hey good looking
Unsurprisingly, the Note 2 LTE looks the same as the previous Note 2. The Galaxy S 2 springs to mind when looking at this glossy white plastic handset. Although large, Samsung ensured that the handset is only as big as it absolutely has to be for the 5.5-inch display. There is no wasted space. A small consolation perhaps when you find it won’t fit in most pockets unless you’re in your baggy trousers. It is fairly weighty at 182g.
If you’re familiar with the Galaxy range then you’ll recognise the layout. A hard button for Home, and touch-sensitive Menu and Back buttons. Interestingly there are two small lenses beside the front-facing 1.9-megapixel camera. These are used for Smart Stay, an eye tracking technology that ensures the screen is bright only when you’re looking at it. The 8-megapixel camera on the rear has an LED flash. Under the rear plate are the battery, SIM card slot and memory card slot.
Under the hood
There’s a stonking great 1.6 GHz quad-core Exynos processor powering this 4G phone. That’s better than you’ll get in the S 2 and the Note 10.1. It will get all the support needed from the 2GB of memory, and more. It is hard to envisage a multitasking routine that this setup won’t be able to handle with ease. There are also 16/32/64GB versions, more than adequate for storing lots of apps and movies.
What really impressed though is the battery performance. The screen should, in theory, suck up power like there’s no tomorrow with that level of brightness. But the eye tracking tech must do its job. We worked with the phone for a full day, with features turned up fully, before it ran out of juice. Even more impressive is the 10 hours of non-stop streaming media you’ll get from the battery on the Note 2 LTE. No other 4G phone quite matches it, that we’ve seen.
Cutting out the deadwood
The Note 2 LTE uses the sleek and fun Android Jelly Bean operating system. Samsung has, at last, tweaked its own TouchWiz interface. The outdated elements like Social Hub are now gone. The useful stuff like Weather and Calendar are still there, and there’s Music and Video Hubs if you want an alternative to Google Play. The way that Samsung does the desktops and menus is fairly pleasant. There’s lots of ways to personalise the phone, including the fonts used.
The virtual keyboard is excellent to use, especially as there’s all that screen space for it to use (and it does). This means numeric keys are available on their own line, so no need to access a different menu, keyboard or long-press for numbers. It made writing emails really fast, and the stylus works well for handwritten notes.
At first you might think the S-Pen stylus is a bit of a gimmick. Included with the Note 2 LTE, this pressure-sensitive stylus is in fact one of its most important features. It worked well regardless of whether we were doodling, sketching or writing notes. It is supported by the S-Memo app. This will help you create memos, cards, diaries and so forth.
There’s a couple of fun extras too, if you want to play around a bit with handwriting recognition. Write in a maths equation, and Formula Match will solve it for you. Sharpen up your shaky geometric drawings with Shape Match. This will straighten out your hexagons, for example.
Wacom touch screen technology, found in the previous Note 2, is used here. This is now super sensitive, and works well at picking out the different weights of the strokes from the S-Pen. We tested it on that most personal of all writing samples – our signature – and were blown away at how accurately it was reproduced using the S-Memo app. For the artistically inclined, shading and highlighting to an impressive level of detail is possible, and there’s a choice of pens, thicknesses and colours to make the most of the stylus.
S-Memo is loaded with features though. Lists of ideas can be turned into mind-maps, notes can have attachments, such as pictures and map links, and everything can be saved in a JPEG or PDF file format making it easy to share. There’s a few additional features on the S-Pen too. The button at the tip starts a Select function, handy for taking quick screenshots. We quite liked that a circling action would enable us to select just the part of the screen we wanted to capture too.
The Note 2 LTE is a multitasking powerhouse, and the Pop Up Play feature is one of the features to make the most of this. With on screen tap, a movie playing in the video screen will shrink down, and continue playing while you do something on another app. The minimised screen can be moved around. There’s lots more that Samsung has done to make our lives easier and we wish we had room to mention them all here.
There’s an 8-megapixel camera in the Galaxy Note 2 LTE, and it is the same one used in the Galaxy S 2. Features include autofocus, LED flash, and instant shutter. The photos take in auto mode were crisp and vivid. The lag-less shutter was great for action shots. All images were well detailed. The flash could do with some adjusting, leaving faces washed out. In low light situations the Night Mode might be a better option. This works well, although photos were a little murky.
Buddy Photo Share makes this a sociable camera, although it isn’t always that great at recognising faces.
HD video capture is excellent. The audio is crisp, and the clarity of colour reproduction is realistic. Still images can be taken while filming.
This is a good upgrade on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE. The 4G support is well suited to this phone, especially the powerful processor and the 5.5-inch display. With all that’s going on it doesn’t seem surprising to find something that works as well as the S Pen does. It is a nice phone and if you don’t mind the size, this is a 4G phone you’ll love.