Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Note II is big but it’s packed with features [REVIEW]

Samsung Galaxy Note III’m going to start this review with a small dose of honesty. I didn’t think I would like the Samsung Galaxy Note II, mostly because I thought it was too big. The Galaxy Note II has a whopping 5.5″ display which qualifies it as a hybrid phone/tablet or as some people like to call it, a phablet.

But after only 15 minutes of playing with the Galaxy Note II, I was hooked. And my new found love of it had nothing to do with the screen size. It’s all of the other innovations Samsung poured into this device.

S Pen goes way beyond your traditional stylus

Like the innovative built-in stylus called the S Pen. This isn’t any ordinary stylus. It’s a smart stylus. Smart enough to give you pop-up tool tips in some applications when you hover the stylus just slightly above a menu icon. No more guessing what each icon does.

Quick Command

And quite possibly my favorite stylus feature is the ability to hold down the button on the stylus while swiping up on the screen to launch the Quick Command feature. With Quick Command you can freehand write shorthand commands on the screen to jump you quickly into an application.

Samsung Galaxy Note II Quick Command

For example, if you write “# charlie”, the Galaxy Note II will automatically launch the phone dialer with Charlie’s number pre-populated and ready to dial. Write “@ james” and the email application will be launched with a new email pre-addressed to James. Write “~ kate” and a new text message will open pre-addressed to Kate.

Split screen applications

Another great feature, and quite frankly a benefit of the larger screen size, is the ability to run multiple applications at the same time. Want to check your email on the left-hand side of the screen while watching a YouTube video on the right-hand side? No problem. You can even adjust the size of each application to determine how much screen real estate each one gets.

Motion gestures

The Galaxy Note II also has a great selection of motion gestures you can use to control the phone. These have to be separately activated but when they are you can do things like tilt your phone to zoom on an image, shake the phone to refresh a web page or turn the phone over to mute an incoming call.

Camera shines

I could probably write a completely separate review on just the Galaxy Note II’s camera but I’ll try to stick to just the highlights. The camera is loaded with fun features. Like burst shot which allows you to take a series of quick photos to make sure you get the right shot. And “best face” mode which allows you to take multiple pictures of a group of people and then choose the best face for each person from all the pictures to create one perfect masterpiece. And panoramic mode which lets you pan the camera across any subject to create beautiful panoramic photos.

Samsung Galaxy Note II Best Face

For those, like me, who have a terrible time taking self-shots, the Galaxy Note II lets you activate the shutter (ie, take the picture) by simply uttering the word cheese (or capture or shoot or smile).

Sharing photos, video and documents

If you’re into sharing your pictures, the Galaxy Note II has all the bells and whistles loaded right into it to assist you. You’ve seen these in the commercials. Tap two Galaxy devices together and share photos (or videos or even documents) using Samsung’s S Beam technology. Or use Share Shot and have your pictures instantly shared with your friends seconds after you take the shot (assuming they have a compatible device).

Starter mode

And finally, for the noobies, the Galaxy Note II allows you to switch the home screen to starter mode which simplifies the screen to the most commonly used features like favorite contacts and the dialer.

One last note for women only

I mentioned a ton of cool features in this review but I do want to come back to the screen size for a minute. For me, it wasn’t too big. I can still easily slip the Galaxy Note II in my pocket and it’s not horrible to hold up to my ear (although I would probably want to use it with a Bluetooth headset for longer calls).

Notice though that I said for me? I showed my wife the Galaxy Note II and asked her if she would use it and without hesitation she said, “No way.” Something to think about for the ladies.

Note: The Samsung Galaxy Note II in this review was provided to me by Verizon Wireless and can be purchased at your local Verizon Wireless store or at