I can use my own app! Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Review for Dummies


I’ve been a Nokia user for many years.  My collection of chargers and accessories has been nicely compatible with each upgrade.  I bought my Nokia phones for cheap online, so I never had to get tied to a contract.  Since they aren’t sold by AT&T, I’ve managed to retain my $15 unlimited non-smartphone data plan, too.  My most recent phone, the Nokia N8, was a bit of a splurge.  It did do what it needed to do for over 2 years, though.  Most importantly, its 12 megapixel camera put every other phone to shame, and still does, with a real Xenon camera flash as well.  The camera was fast to focus and snap a shot, but the Nokia Symbian software was always quirky and slow.  Recently, it’s been very buggy.  Even after re-installing the operating system, it will sporadically refuse to do things, like answer calls or allow me to hear the person on the other end.  Sometimes it shutdown for no apparent reason.

Enter the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.  It’s been selling like hotcakes and combined with the Galaxy S3, is giving the iPhone more competition than it can handle.  I intended to buy the new iPhone.  It was very nice all around, ‘cept for a few major drawbacks.  The screen was no bigger than my Nokia, for starters, though it was brighter and clearer  Also, we have a number of Apple chargers and cables from our iPads and iPods, but the iPhone5 is not compatible with any of them!  Finally, I was surprised to learn that it had no memory card for extra files and music and such.  Meanwhile, the Note 2 makes the iPhone look “cute”.  So, why the need for such a big phone?  Bragging rights?  For me, it’s a simple matter of compensating for something: my refusal to buy bifocals or progressive lenses at my last optometrist checkup!  I can’t tell you how much nicer it is to have a larger phone screen, even if it barely fits in one hand and blocks half of my face when talking….


Really, it’s a very nice phone and if you want a smaller Android phone that is still bigger than the iPhone, the popular Galaxy S3 is the alternative.  So what’s to like?

  • Big.  Beautiful HD screen.  Makes my Nokia look like a 1980s amber or green screen.  I can actually pull up my SafetyBeltSafe summary sheets on my phone and read them.  No more need to carry around my laptop for carseat checks!
  • Big.  I can actually type out a text without spending a minute fixing errors because of a tiny keypad.  Swype is nice, too.
  • I can finally use the Car-Seat.Org app for Carseat data and discussions (also on Apple/itunes)!
  • Actually works all of the time with quick response.
  • No more Nokia PC Suite software that takes 10 minutes to copy a song and can’t copy a playlist.  Third party apps copy a song or playlist in a few seconds.  Direct copying to the Note 2 has worked great and is very fast.
  • Battery use.  My Nokia was using about 5% of its battery in an hour.  The Note II is around 1% per hour with my normal use.
  • Thin.  Despite being larger and thicker than iPhone, it’s actually thinner than my Nokia N8.
  • Google Maps with voice input and navigation.  Nokia maps were a big selling point of the N8.  They could be downloaded locally to your phone, so even if you lost cellular, you could still theoretically naviagate.  Unfortunately, like a lot of other features, it didn’t live up to claims.  Plus, the routes were always quirky and it often placed you just off the street you were on, even expressways.  That meant constant re-calculating:-(  Now, I can speak my destination and presto, quality voice guidance.  Google does let you download small regions of maps to your phone, usually covering an extended metropolitan area.
  • Fast.  My Nokia would sometimes hang for seconds on the simplest tasks.  The Samsung is smooth even with two windows open for multi-tasking.
  • Fast.  Even with “3.5G”, the Nokia took forever to download stuff, even compared to other 3G phones.  Was never sure if it was the Nokia or AT&T, but I’m pretty sure now that it was the Nokia because the Note II downloads stuff blazing fast on 4G.
  • Works.  Music plays without skips.  Not only syncs with my car, but also displays track titles, something my Nokia refused to ever do.
  • Comes with a nifty stylus built-in, though I haven’t had a chance to use it much.
  • Micro USB is compatible with some of my chargers.  Also expandable and allowed me to re-use the micro-SD card from my Nokia to add my 20GB mobile music library easily with 10GB to spare for all my CPS files, instruction manuals and summaries.

What’s not to like?

  • Pricey.  Even with a 2-year plan.
  • Pricey.  Requires a full smartphone dataplan.  Thankfully my wife’s company gets a corporate discount, but it’s still more than my cheapskate option of the past.  On the plus side, with mobile hotspot, I can still easily use my notebook via my cellular connection, and the kids can, too.
  • Camera.  All indications are that it’s one of the best current smartphone cameras and about the same as iPhone 5, but the quality is still well short of my 2-year old Nokia N8.  Already I’ve noticed that it doesn’t focus as quickly or consistently for photos or videos.
  • Big.  Fits into a front pocket, but barely.  Can be hard to use one-handed to text while driving.  (Kidding!  Well, about the driving part anyway).
  • Software.  I never found the Nokia Symbian Belle software to be a problem, until I started using Android 4.1.  I was in the dark ages and didn’t even know it.  Really, I could care less about most of the features, but I enjoy an interface that doesn’t hang up all the time and does what you expect very quickly.
  • Ho-hum.  Everyone has an iPhone or Galaxy these days.  The Note 2 has sold millions in just a few months and was apparently the best selling smartphone in the 4th quarter of 2012, rivaling the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5.  Meanwhile, my bright orange aluminum-cased Nokia N8 was fairly unique.

And with that, CarseatBlog has moved into the current decade with 1080p video capability.  Now you can see every precious hair remaining on my head, even if you didn’t want to!  As fate would have it, my son now uses my Nokia N8.  It was essentially free and also cheap to add to our plan, so, bonus!  I completely wiped it and restored it to factory settings, so hopefully it won’t be as buggy for him, but honestly, as long as he can call and text, I don’t care too much about it anymore!


  1. CPSDarren May 13, 2013
  2. JessicaS (JOII) May 13, 2013
  3. Jessica Shoshoni May 13, 2013