Review: Samsung Galaxy Note II for Verizon Wireless
The Note II runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but you wouldn't know it thanks to the TouchWiz user interface skin from Samsung. Aside from the presence of a handful of Verizon-branded apps and services, you wouldn't know the Note II was a Verizon device just by looking at the user interface.
The lock screen, which can be unlocked by swiping in any direction, offers five customizable shortcuts. By default, those are to the phone, messaging app, Google search, email, and camera. Just touch the app you want to open, swipe it, and you'll go directly there. The notification bar is visible from the lock screen, so you know if you've got unread emails, messages, and other items waiting, and you can access notifications from the lock screen.
The Note II has five active home screens which can be packed with widgets, apps, shortcuts, contacts, and so on. The main app menu is a customizable set of grids. Apps can be deleted, hidden, shared, and so on.
The drop-down notification shade has become a critical part of the UI. Not only does it allow you to triage your various missed calls, messages, and other notifications, it also allows you to toggle on/off all the radios and access the full settings menu.
Performance of the Note II was fantastic across the board. Thanks to the speedy Exynos quad-core processor, the device had plenty of oomph for powering the various applications on the Note II's large screen.
The phone app itself is more or less the stock version of the Android dialer. It's got a huge software dialpad, with tabs that run across the top for accessing the call history and contact groupings.
The Note II has an incredible array of options for the phone app. For example, you can turn on/off noise cancellation, as well as dial in your own preferences for volume, clarity, and warmth. Using these tools can improve in-call performance.
The contact app behaves more or less like the stock Android contact app. Features I liked include the different widgets for controlling and connecting with your contacts. For example, you can set a direct access shortcut on the home screen that includes the contact's most recent social network status update.
As expected, the Note II offers the stock Gmail, email, SMS/MMS, Google Talk, Google+, and Google+ Messenger apps. Together with their associated widgets, they make an impressive arsenal for reaching out to and connecting with your friends, family, and colleagues.
The Note II also includes ChatON, Samsung's instant/text messaging application. Rather than send messages via SMS, it sends IMs as network data. ChatON natively syncs with your Google Talk contacts and the user interface is plain and simple enough to use. ChatON is a cross-platform application, meaning it will work on Android devices as well as iOS, Bada, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone.
Neither Twitter nor Facebook is preloaded. You have to add them yourself.