Bigger is better especially in the case of aircraft carriers and action flick explosions. Not so much with eyebrows and spiders. What about the Samsung Galaxy Note II? Either way the notoriously large successor to Samsung's original "phablet" has more than size going for it.
If you've handled a cellphone made within the last couple of decades, holding the Nimitz class Note II to your face for a call may seem awkward at first, but this will pass with use. So will the stares of envy and awe from on-lookers.
Our sleek titanium gray test unit was provided by AT&T which offers the Samsung Galaxy Note II for $299.99 with a two year agreement.
While Apple has clung to its less-screen-is-more doctrine, Android devices have stormed the market with ever larger smartphones. But none are larger than the Note II.
Clearly the Note II is not a device to be operated with one hand. It joins the chainsaw and video game controller on the list of awesome things that require two hands to use. Don't worry if you don't have hands the size of Shaquille O'Neal. The Note II is just 0.7" larger than Samsung's Galaxy S III. It still fits in the pocket and is lightweight enough to not be too noticeable.
To appreciate the size of the Note II you don't need to wear size 23 shoes. The 1.6 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and the 5.5-inch 720 x 1280 pixel screen make for a fabulous video and gaming experience. The display's 267 pixel per inch array may not be class-leading, but text is rendered sharply enough for comfortable reading.
The 3100mAh battery that offers put to 15 hours of talk time. Even with a laptop, an iPad and an Android tablet tethered an entire day using AT&T's Mobile Hotspot, the Note II had about 30 percent capacity to spare.
Is the S Pen mightier?
But there is more to the Note II than size or specs. A stylus may seem like a step-backward, but the S Pen is not your Palm's stylus. The Note II and S Pen push the smartphone form factor more than any other offering instant note taking with audio clips, handwriting recognition, gesture control and much more.
For the right side of the brain, you can do handwritten notes, signatures, scribble over images, and draw.
What about more left-brained functions?
Probably the first thing you'll notice is Air View. As you hover the S Pen over the screen you'll see a mouse-like pointer. Just by hovering you can preview email, your calendar, photo albums and more without touching the screen. I really liked being able to preview video frames in the video time line without interrupting play.
Most impressive are the gesture-based shortcuts that can be used with S Pen. With the Quick Command menu you can draw things like "@name" to email a contact or "#phonenumber" to dial a call. You can draw a "<" to go back a page in the browser or create your own gesture to toggle Wi-Fi on or off or open an app.
Math geeks might want to check out the formula matching capabilities.
Of course you can use the stylus while wearing plain old-fashion gloves or mittens. The Note II even has an alarm to remind you not to forget your S Pen when it is removed.
I can't say using the S Pen came intuitively, but the more I used it the more I appreciated it. Even after a few weeks with the Note II, there is plenty left to learn. I expect the S Pen will appear on Samsung's smaller handsets in the future.
So who should think about getting the Note II?
Those lusting for a largest smartphone display need look no further. For now the Note II is the title holder. If you are willing to learn, the S Pen can be used for more creative notes and organic tasking while also offering clever productivity shortcuts. Some may like it for the battery life alone. Some may find it also fits the bill as a "phablet" performing dual duty as a large smartphone and small tablet.