Hands, fingers and S Pen on with Samsung's Galaxy Note II
As we were getting our mits on Samsung's new Galaxy Camera, Gizmag also took the opportunity to spend some time with the company's equally dewy Galaxy Note II, which, come October, Samsung hopes will be injecting some "phab" into the growing phablet market. It will arguably become Samsung's flagship mobile device.
The thing that most impressed us about the Note II was its 5.55" 16:9 1280x720 Super AMOLED display, which looked stunning when displaying the stock images on the device. The resolution is actually lower than the 1280x800 screen of the original Galaxy Note, despite having grown by 0.26" diagonally.
The extra inches over and above most of the smartphone competition makes the Note II an interesting proposition for frequent travelers who like to watch movies to burn off the hours. The battery performance won't be clear until launch, but hopefully not all off the extra 600 mAh of the 3100-mAh battery will be spent accommodating the other improved specs.
It seemed to be impressively smudge-resistant, too, the screen. Sure, the Galaxy Note II comes with a stylus: the mighty S Pen, but we all know that for the quick odd job or hurried consultation, the screen is going to receive some finger action. Certainly, the Samsung rep on hand indicated to Gizmag that the Galaxy Note II does indeed have some sort of fingerprint-resistant coating, but we were unable to extract details.
We also seized the opportunity to give the S Pen a whirl, frantically trying to recall all the UI tricks it allows. Hovering the pen over a folder prompts Air View, a preview of the folder's contents, which works much as Samsung describes, and will be handy means of finding photos for snap-happy Galaxy Note II owners. More useful are the ability to draw round areas of images to copy to other documents, and gestures for quickly creating new hand-written notes, and accessing the Quick Command menu for performing frequent tasks.
The 1,024 levels of sensitivity the S Pen and Galaxy Note II support are certainly impressive, but you're still poking a bit of glass with a plastic stick, which doesn't quite the "real thing" despite Samsung's claims to the contrary.
If there's a drawback to the S Pen it's that its integrated button, combined with the hover feature, combined with the various gestures, amount to an initially-bewildering array of inputs, and it isn't always immediately obvious what to do. Galaxy Note owners may find that these advances are all well within their stride, but anyone tempted to switch to a Galaxy Note II from, say, a popular brand of finger-operated smartphones might find there are habits to unlearn, and new ones to pick up.
At this stage it's all looking very impressive, really. Over to Apple, then.