Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 preview: A closer look
The Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with a number of cool apps preinstalled. A lot of them are centered around the S Pen, but there are some other nice additions as well.
One thing that is not strictly an app, but a cool feature nonetheless, is Smart rotation. It builds on the Smart stay feature introduced with the Galaxy S III - it keeps track of your eyes and will rotate the screen accordingly.
This is great for situations where you're lying down and the accelerometer will try to rotate the screen the wrong way. Smart rotation keeps the screen oriented properly.
The Gallery app got more updates, not just the Air View features. It now uses a split screen interface - when you go into a folder, the contents of the folder is displayed on the right, while neighboring folders are displayed on the left. It's similar to how the file browser in Windows works, for example.
The My Files app has a similar split-screen interface, though that one is available only in landscape mode.
There's an app called Point&, which uses the Galaxy Note II's camera to scan text. You can translate that text, you can use it to read printed web links or look up the definitions of single printed words (there are English, German, French and Italian dictionaries preloaded).
You already saw Paper Artist in the video in the previous chapter. It imports a photo and runs a filter over it (there are plenty to choose from). Then you can go in with the S Pen and color certain areas.
S Note should already be familiar to you from the original Note and Note 10.1. It offers several templates and you can enter handwritten notes, regular text with the on-screen keyboard (or handwriting recognition), complex mathematical formulas along with images and voice notes. There's also a floating window version of the app.
The S Planner is a skinned calendar that is equally easy to use with fingers and with the S Pen. The tabbed interface lets you easily toggle between year, moth, week, day list and task views.
Finally, a really cool feature is the screen recording. It's activated by pressing and holding the Home and Volume up buttons and it records what's happening on the screen (including what you draw with the S Pen) and captures your audio commentary.
If you haven't, go back and watch the videos in the previous chapters - both ours and the official Samsung clip.
Every big maker out there is talking about the future of computing and coming up with exciting new hardware and software.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II seems like a device that's ready to meet the future. The Cortex-A9 may not be the newest CPU core design, but four of them at 1.6GHz with 2GB of RAM and a beefed up Mali-400 GPU make for the fastest pocketable hardware at the moment - certainly fast enough to run Android Jelly Bean and whatever comes after it.
Google Now is pretty advanced with its intelligent guesses and it will only get better. Samsung has done its fair share with the Smart stay and rotation features, the variety of motion gestures and S Pen commands and shortcuts.
While, the phablet is tightly bound with the S Pen stylus, fingertip usability is as good as on other devices, if not better (all that screen real estate sure helps). So, no matter which trend prevails - the simpler use of fingers or the more accurate stylus (not to mention hovering and pressure sensitivity) - the Galaxy Note II is ready for it.
Actually, the Note II might be the trendsetter - it certainly is a prominent - and logical - milestone as far as the constantly growing screen size of Android devices is concerned.
The set of connectivity features is also praiseworthy. The optional 100Mbps LTE makes sure you'll be able to squeeze out the most out of mobile networks for a while and with NFC, MHL, dual-band Wi-Fi, wireless TV-Out, S Beam and others, it's very hard to throw a curve ball at the Galaxy Note II as far as connectivity is concerned.
The competition in the phablet market is going to get stiffer over the coming months, but the Samsung Galaxy Note II doesn't seem too worried about it. After all, it comes to succeed the device that basically carved the niche and it brings enough novelties and upgrades to be a worthy heir.
We just can't wait to get a finalized hardware and run the few remaining tests that our pre-release unit didn't allow us to. Stay tuned for the full review.