Tag Archives: galaxy note

On Galaxy Note II

The Note started as a controversy, but in the end, it was a resounding success. Contrary to many initial reactions, people actually liked the big screen. More than 10 million were sold. I’ve been using the Note for over 8 months and was constantly asking myself, is it even possible to come up with a better phone? Turns out, it is. Welcome the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

Yes, it is!

Thanks to It’s About Gadgets by Etisalat, I got the chance to use the new monster for a week. And, ugh, I forgot to take any photos or screenshots, so all the photos in the posts will be stolen ones from the interwebs.

The initial reaction when I got the Note 2? This guy is fast! Of course, it goes without saying that Note 2 is one of the fastest phones currently on the market (specs here, comparison with Note here). With a quad-core 1.6GHz Exynos processor and 2GB RAM, it’s got more power than my previous laptop. The transitions are pretty slick. Could play Max Payne without any lag whatsoever. Note that (no pun intended) I tried everything in the stock TouchWiz launcher and without many third-party apps running in the background, so yeah, you get my point.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Jelly Bean comes pre-installed in Note 2 with better camera, actionable notifications and all. (Even though the Note comes with Gingerbread, it’s upgradeable to Jelly Bean.) There’s this pop-up video player thingy and other fancy apps.

All the nonsense aside, let’s talk about the size. The Note’s screen was 5.3″, whereas it’s 5.5″ in Note 2. However, it’s less wide than the Note. Which means it feels better in the hand. Several of my friends who hated the original Note’s dimensions said they like the new design. Then how come the bigger screen? Yes, Note 2 is longer than the Note. It’s like some idiot took the Note and pulled it from either side. This has made the resolution to go down to 720×1280 (as opposed to 800×1280 in the Note). And less pixel density. I personally prefer what it was like in the original Note.

Note 2 (on the left) vs the Note

S-Pen functionality is much better with the Note 2. There’s some kind of sensor in the S-Pen slot, so when you take it out or put it back in, the phone knows. Taking the stylus out automatically takes you to a screen with many S-Pen-capable apps. Also a notification icon appears in the top bar saying that the pen is not on the slot, reducing the chances of losing it (as happened with my Note. Had to buy a replacement and it wasn’t cheap). It detects when you hover the pen above the screen as well. For example, if you hover the pen over the pictures in the Gallery (or events in the calendar), they will quickly zoom in and zoom out once you move the pen away. And stuff.

Hovering the pen over Video Player’s progress bar

Regardless of how much I hate the new screen and the dimensions, I prefer the Note 2 to Note. I would buy if I could. Apparently you’d be able to grab one from Etisalat itself in a few days. And there’s this small video interview I had with them about Note 2 which will be available in their Youtube channel in a few days.

UPDATE: Here’s my interview with Amitha on the Note II.

ICS on the Galaxy Note

Finally the Galaxy Note got its long awaited Ice Cream Sandwich update. Long awaited because Samsung first announced that ICS for Note will start rolling out on Q1 of 2012, but it didn’t until May. According to several Galaxy Note forums the update first appeared in several Eurpoean countries. And now it’s here in Sri Lanka. The update came on 31st of May, so I’ve been using it for about 10 days.

How is ICS on the Note? Impressive if you ask me, but not without some issues. I’ll be just listing some stuff I found out to be quite handy below; it’s not possible to explain everything in detail. Also, some of them might be subjective.

Look and feel
As most of you might have seen or experienced, the ICS interface has gone through a massive overhaul. Frankly, it’s fun to do stuff and see the beautiful menus come out. Most pre-installed apps come with major UI improvements. Sadly, TouchWiz (the stock launcher of Samsung) is pretty much the same as it was in Gingerbread. In fact, you can’t get the real ICS experience with TouchWiz. Dumped it and started using the ICS-only Apex Launcher which is pretty cool.

Home screen (Apex Launcher)

Google Play + search menu + Swiftkey 3 beta keyboard

The new notification system is elegant. The most useful feature I found is that you can discard individual notifications by swiping them. Can’t imagine how I used to live without this.

The call log’s less cluttered and is bundled with more useful info. It’s possilbe to reject calls with preset messages using two taps. Switching between calls is now easier.

There are lots more new functionality/enhancements besides these. Multitasking’s been improved in leaps and bounds. The task switcher is completely revamped. It displays large thumbnails, gives you access to a long history and you can remove items by swiping. No need for third-party apps for recording data usage anymore. You can take screenshots without rooting, but Galaxy Note had this ability since the beginning. There’s a Face Unlock feature I’m yet to try out. Action bars are natively supported now. ICS-only apps are coming up, like Chrome for Android. And several new launchers, twitter apps, etc require you have ICS. The list goes on.

The bad
During the first day after the upgrade things appeared pretty slow. A few restarts solved most of the problems but there are still a few noticeable lags present.
Battery life doesn’t seem to have increased as promised. It wouldn’t last a day sometimes. Forums indicated that this is a common issue and most have solved this by running down the battery and recharging fully a couple of times. Actually I did this when I first bought the Note and it improved the battery life substantially. Going to repeat the process in the coming week.
My biggest gripe is the frequent crashing of the launcher. By frequent I mean several times a day. Then I moved back to TouchWiz and found out the issue isn’t present there. A problem with Apex Launcher apparently. Rather, a problem with Apex Launcher on Note. I’m hoping some updates would come out soon and fix the problems.

How do I get the upgrade?
Connect the phone to the PC and start Kies. A notification will pop up saying you’ve got a new update! The process took more than an hour in my case. Note that some settings like the home screen and the app drawer will reset during the upgrade.

Also, I rooted the Note after the ICS upgrade. That would be another post perhaps.

Angry Birds Space

Angry Birds Space
The bubble around the asteroid marks its gravitational field

The eagerly awaited Angry Birds Space, the fourth Angry Birds game from Rovio, finally landed today on Android, iOS, MacOS and Windows. It had been announced since a few months ago, but I was a skeptical about how they would create a new experience that’s markedly different from the previous versions. In fact, all the three games they’ve released up to now had basically the same gameplay except for the new levels and all.

Danger Zone
First level of the Danger Zone

Half an hour with Space proved that my doubts were unfounded. It’s a totally different experience. The game takes place in outer space, which means it doesn’t have the earth’s boring gravity anymore. Things are worse. When you release the bird, it travels in a zero gravity space until it reaches the atmosphere of a planet or an asteroid and is forced into its own gravitational field. This can be more complex than it sounds. I still couldn’t get past the first level in the Danger Zone, which, according to Rovio, is the most difficult Angry Birds level pack ever.

Angry Birds Space and Galaxy Note

Angry birds space - Galaxy Note exclusive level
The exclusive level for Note

Samsung Galaxy Note is the official launch partner for Space. There’s a special level in the game featuring Lazer Bird exclusively for Galaxy Note owners and they get the Danger Zone pack is free for three months. But ironically, it’s clear that the game hasn’t been optimized for the Note’s screen. Most cut scenes and menus are obviously made for low resolution displays. Which is a shame coz of all the advertising Samsung did before the release. But still, the game play is pretty fun than playing on a smaller screen. I’m yet to try the game on a tablet.

Welcome the Galaxy Note!

A perfect phone may not have been invented yet, but the Galaxy Note has triumphed in becoming the closest to that extreme.

— Oscar Wilde

galaxy note
The Galaxy Note

Why would one need a 5.3″ phone? Let me ask you first, why would one need a phone? If all you need is to make calls and text, even an iPhone would be enough for you. But for those of you who need a smartphone and not just a phone, you’ll have to think further.

Enter the Galaxy Note

confused about size
But.. but... is it a phone or a tablet?

Phone? Tablet? Two words: both. Well, that was only one word. Anyway, the Note is the best of both worlds. It is capable of doing everything a normal smartphone can and most of the stuff a tablet can. And it can do stuff neither device is single-handedly capable of.

Making phone calls: Some people still use mobile phones to make calls. And they have the rational fear of the Note being too large to fit in your hand during the call. But that’s only till you really try making a call with it. You’ll find that there is no inconvenience at all. If you are too scared of taking it to your ear in public, you can always use the earphones.

"I love you, too, honey!"

And talking about the earphones that comes in the box, you can’t ask for a better pair to come bundled with a phone. It’s still scores less when compared to my skullcandy, but I’ve given it a break and started using the Samsung pair full-time.

Surfing the web: The web browsing experience is enhanced by leaps and bounds thanks to the large screen. You can safely turn off the mobile views of the pages and deal with the real stuff. Now that this has become my main surfing medium, I had to upgrade to the 2GB data package. Perhaps this won’t be enough either. Thankfully Dialog gives half-a-dozen of attractive data plans to choose from.

Music: I didn’t like the in-built music player at all. It doesn’t even have a home screen widget. Settled with the free version of PowerAmp.

Movies: Just drag in any type of video file and it will play flawlessly in the Note. Yeah, you don’t get the movie theatre experience, but it’s far more pleasing than watching a movie in a normal smartphone. The quality of the 1280×800 super AMOLED display is a must have experience. Also, I found it perfect for watching video lectures.

Camera: The 8MP camera does way better than it’s supposed to do. And the camcorder is awesome. 1080p movies! Just imagine! The 2MP front camera lets you ditch the mirror for Note.

Reading: It’s a good replacement for your reading device. The screen is big enough not to make the reading experience awkward. You don’t have to turn the page after each sentence. Installed Screen Filter so that I can control the brightness of the device at my will. Sorry, Kindle. And if you’re a comic fan, the Note is the perfect device for you.

The first book I read with the Note

Battery life: Note comes with a whopping 2500mAh battery. So don’t worry about the screen being too large. All the reviewers, including Engadget, praise the Note’s battery. As mentioned earlier, you can optionally use an app like Screen Filter to manually control brightness and stuff, and if you’re still worried you always have JuiceDefender.

A stylus? Weeeeeee!
The S pen almost doubles the usefulness of the Note. Doodle, take notes, swype, or just give your finger a break. And the pen is able to perform several other control functions, including taking screenshots. Anyway the hand writing recognition was a fail to me. Oh well, I’ve never been good at hand writing.

Galaxy Note doodle
A doodle by Sapumal

Ice cream sammich!!
Samsung says they will release an update for ICS within the Q1 of 2012. Hope they’d keep their word.

Looking to buy one?
I wouldn’t recommend the Note to everybody. Your needs may differ. But if you’re like me, this is the phone you’ve been waiting for all your life. The best advice would be to try before buying. You’d also be interested in the stuff you can’t do without a Galaxy Note.

And finally…
I’m so in love with the Note, I doubt there’s room left in my heart for a girl. I even sleep with it by my side. Simply because it’s so awesome and worths a hell lot more than what you pay for it.

Life without a Galaxy Note

"You don't have a Galaxy Note!???" - a common reaction

Believe it or not, there are people who don’t even own a Galaxy Note. And sadly, I happen to be one of them.

For those who have been living in a well all their lives, a Samsung Galaxy Note is a 5.3″ smartphone with a size between a usual smartphone and a tablet. It was released in October, 2011. With attractive specs, a large super AMOLED HD screen real estate of 800×1280 pixels and a stylus to write with, Note is one amazing phone. Some may argue that it’s a phone and others will tell you it’s a tablet, but who cares? It’s the awesomest gadget ever either way.

You must be trying to guess how hard a life without a Note could be, in vain. Well, one cannot describe an account of that miserable fellow’s existence properly in a micro blog post like this. But I’m may as well try to give you a basic idea with the following points.

A person without a Galaxy Note

  • Has no proper device to browse the web while on the road (unless he has a tablet, which is too troublesome to carry around)
  • Doesn’t have a means of taking a quick note or doodling (unless he has a piece of paper near him, and a pen)
  • Needs to go to the TV or the computer to watch a movie (The screen of a normal phone is too small for a movie. Note will play almost any video you put into it – yes, even porn.)
  • Is not able to scribble down something the person in the other end says when he’s in a call.
  • Will have to scroll pages before he gets down to a point. Not so with the Note thanks to its 800×1280 pixel 5.3″ screen.
  • Has no way to express what he has on mind to another person. With help of the S Pen (the stylus), it’s a simple matter of a few strokes to a Note user.
  • Isn’t able to record 1080p videos with ease. (There are a few other phones that let you do this, but who in the big wide world would need one when you can buy a Galaxy Note!)
  • Is always depressed about the fact of not having one.

Sources of human suffering are endless, but as you may well see from the above points, nothing would cause much sorrow to a person than not having a Note would.