At long last, Verizon subscribers can finally get their hands on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2. The Korea-based company launched its “phablet” successor on Thursday in Verizon’s brick-and-mortar locations, allowing users to tinker with the device hands-on for the first time.
This release comes nearly one month after the Galaxy Note 2 saw its launch across other major U.S. carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Sprint. Verizon subscribers can purchase the Galaxy Note 2 for $300 with a two-year contract or for $700 off-contract.
“We always want to offer our customers the choice of great smartphones, and this is no exception,” a Verizon representative said in a statement to IBTimes on Thursday. The company could not disclose any figures regarding pre-orders, but, prior to Verizon’s launch, the Note 2 had already broken 5 million in global sales.
Verizon’s Galaxy Note 2 comes with the same features, technical specifications and color variants offered by other carriers, but the network provider has branded the handset’s home button with its very own logo. Now that the second-generation Note has launched on all US carriers, here’s our hands-on experience with the Galaxy Note 2’s features:
More for multitasking: Samsung has boasted that its Note 2 is perfect for the multitasker, and today we got a glimpse of some of those features in action. The Note 2’s larger display caters to avid video watchers, and now users can continue to watch a video clip or a movie while performing other tasks on the device. A new feature minimizes the video into its own separate window on the screen, allowing users to send a text message or an email without having to pause the footage.
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Samsung fans have heard a lot about this multi-window feature prior to the Note 2’s launch, but experiencing it first hand makes it easier to understand how it could be useful for daily tasks. The Galaxy Note 2’s shortcut sidebar, which can be activated by pressing the bottom of the device next to the home button, brings up a side column of shortcuts to apps and services. These shortcuts can be launched in separate, resizable windows on the Galaxy Note 2’s screen.
Upgraded S-Pen stylus: While the stylus functioned as an accessory to the original Galaxy Note, the new redesigned S-Pen can be considered a crucial aspect of the Galaxy Note 2’s functionality. It’s clear that Samsung put some extra effort into designing the Note 2’s S-Pen -- the stylus is much more responsive and comes with more features than its predecessor. Rather than simply acting as an extension to a user’s finger, the S-Pen functions as its own device.
The Air Play feature, which allows Note 2 owners to use the stylus by hovering over the screen without making contact, can be used to perform tasks such as cropping an image without having to touch the screen. As a Samsung representative demonstrated, users can crop an image, write a note to accompany the picture and send it to a friend via text message or email.
When using the previous stylus that accompanies the original Galaxy Note, I found that it was a bit laggy and didn’t always respond instantly. It was sometimes difficult to scroll through applications and menus, and I found myself pressing down multiple times to get results in certain circumstances. With the Note 2, however, the S-Pen creates a smooth and seamless experience for navigating through the device’s interface.
New camera features: Like most high-end smartphones on the market, the Galaxy Note 2 comes with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera. However, there is one feature that can be particularly alluring for those who love to take family photos with their smartphones. The Best Faces feature takes five consecutive images when a photo is taken, giving users the option to choose which image they like the best. Users do not need to hold the shutter down to take these images; the Note 2’s camera will do it automatically. The camera app provides five stills of each person in the photo and lets users choose which face they like the best. For example, if someone blinks a user can just choose another still without having to retake the photo.
Evolved from a “phablet” to a PC: Samsung has always touted its Galaxy Note devices to offer a smartphone-tablet hybrid experience. However, interestingly enough, the Note 2 appears to come with some features reminiscent of a PC experience. The multi-window feature lets users resize windows and move them around the screen just like they would on a PC, and the S-Pen’s hover capabilities will show a description for certain buttons when the pen is above it. This is similar to the way hovering a mouse’s cursor over a link or a button will display more information on a PC.
Overall, the Galaxy Note 2 is a great phone for creators, avid media consumers, mutlitaskers or those who want something a little out of the ordinary from their smartphone. That being said, users should also embrace curiosity when it comes to the Galaxy Note 2 -- many of the features and functions mentioned above may not seem evident at first glance. It takes some tinkering and getting used to, but after growing accustomed to the Note 2’s features, users may find more than they had expected.