Jan 27, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note II User Review - Missing Features

I bought my dream handset Samsung Galaxy Note II on 12th December 2012. I ordered the combo of the handset and flip cover through flipkart and got the same delivered in just 24 hours on 13th December 2012. So it has been more than a month since I am using this handset.  So I think this is a right time to post the review from actual end user point of view. 

This handset is really a monster on all fronts and it is very robust. It delivers up to the expectations.  Also Samsung provided the facility to import my previous Nokia backup directly (indication that people are moving away from Nokia to Samsung). So the transition was smooth. 

But As I started to write this review, I felt that for a premium handset like this, if I start writing the positive list of features, it would be unending and also would not be very helpful since it is expected out of this handset. Also its already there on a lot of other websites. So its better and easier to write the negative list of features and missing features. Please keep in mind that some of these are handset specific, while some of these are problems in Android as a whole. I am using the latest Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 version. 

So after using this handset for more than a month now, I have noticed the following shortcomings:

1) Wi-Fi Broadband Connection is must: Internal Memory of this handset is 16 GB and RAM is 2 GB. So even though the memory is sufficient, there are hardly any pre-installed applications. So you have to start from scratch and download all the applications which you need. Downloading so many applications on GPRS is very painful, and practically you need to have wi-fi broadband connection to make the full use of this handset.

2) Common Applications: There are many applications these days, which I am sure that more than 75% of the users would be using. Still Samsung doesn't provide these applications pre-installed. Even though you get them free of cost from the Play Store, you have to do that downloading exercise. I think the following applications should be pre-installed:

a. facebook
b. Twitter
c. Skype
d. Oxford Dictionary
e. WhatsApp

3) MS-Office Editor: For business users, it is must to have the MS-Office editor. Although the viewer is pre-installed, you need to download the Editor to create/edit Excel and Word files. I downloaded the Polaris Office software.

4) Photo Editor: This handset captures beautiful photographs and it is designed for "being creative". But creativity demands that there should be a photo editor software. This handset has a Paper Artist application which converts the photos to different types of sketches. But a basic photo editor is not there. I downloaded the same from Samsung Apps store. But it a again a pretty basic editor. For a premium handset, there should be advanced photo editor installed. 

5) Headset: The headset provided with this handset is a pretty average one. Samsung should provide premium noise cancellation headset or a Bluetooth headset with this handset. 

6) Charging Cable Length: The length of the charging cable provided with this handset is just 40'' (just below 3.5 ft) i.e. 100 cms. It is too short. If I want to place the same on a normal centre table for charging, I have to place some big size books below the handset so that the cable reaches to the AC wall socket. The cable is good to use as a data cable, but not with a charger. Why can't Samsung provide the longer cable?

7) Maps Offline Access: Being an android handset, it uses Google Maps. In my previous Nokia handset, I had Ovi Maps installed and complete Drive India navigation was also saved in the handset itself. So Maps used to function even without a sim card, just by turning the GPS ON. But now with Google Maps, continuous data connection is required. And Maps consume a huge amount of data. Even though you can now save Google Maps for offline access, a very limited area in your city can be saved. And in offline access, you cannot determine the route by setting the destination. So if I am using offline saved map, to determine the route, I have to go online temporarily and then go offline again once the route is set. I think country specific Google Maps should be saved in the devise itself for better offline navigation. 

8) E-Wallet Type Application: With Mobile e-commerce being on the rise, this handset should provide a secure e-wallet type of an application for mobile payments and storing credit card information. 

9) Mobile Tracker:  If this handset is lost or stolen, it can be tracked remotely using www.samsungdive.com but this service requires that the handset is online after being stolen. 

Now there is a high probability that the thief inserts a new sim card, but doesn't have a data connection plan on that sim card. In such a case, this mobile tracker is of no use. So this mobile tracker should work on SMS basis as well, in case data connection is not available, just like www.wavesecure.com works. Also Samsung Dive doesn't display the new mobile number after the sim is changed. 

10) Anti-virus: Anybody using this handset must be a tech savvy person and must be using this handset for browsing most of the times. This exposes the handset to security risks and naturally it is expected that a good anti-virus and firewall should be pre-installed. I have downloaded Avast Anti-virus, it is working pretty well but I am not too sure whether it is effectively protecting the handset from malware or not. 

11) Premium Games: There are no pre-installed games. It is expected that the premium handset should provide the full versions of some premium games. Samsung should provide the facility to download at least 5-10 full version premium games.

12) Conversation View in SMS: Messages are displayed only in Conversational form. While "View Mode" option, providing the options to select " Standard View" and "Conversation View", is there for Email Client, similar option is not there for SMS. So if I want to check only my Sent Items, it is not possible.

13) Business Card via SMS rather than MMS: When Business Card is sent via message,  the vcf file is sent as MMS rather than as a normal SMS. So I am not too sure whether the receiver would be able to download the MMS message or not. The workaround that I found for this is first to go to Compose Message option, then "Add Text" and then select "Contacts" to send the contact details as in-line message. But the receiver is not able to save the same directly to his contacts without typing the name, as is the case with Business Cards.  

14) Sync Direction: If I keep the Sync option enabled, the sync always works in both the directions. But suppose, for example, if I want to sync my facebook or Picasa albums to my handset and then want to delete the unwanted photos from my handset only, while retaining the same at their original location, it is not possible. So there should be option to set the sync direction from "Internet to Mobile", "Mobile to Internet" or "Both Ways".

15) Contacts Search from Phone Only: In my handset, I have synced contacts from multiple accounts like Google Account, Facebook etc. But I have set the "Contacts to Display" option to display contacts from Phone only. So in Contacts, I can see the contacts from my phone only. But as soon as I start typing something in Contacts search field, all the contacts from all the synced accounts start getting displayed in search results, causing confusion as to which contact to choose. So "Contacts to Display" and "Contacts to Search" should be from Phone only. 

16) Apps should close by Pressing Back Button: It is expected that if I press the Back button, the app should close completely, and if I press the Home button, the app will continue to run in the background. But here, no matter you press which key, the app continues to run in the background. To close the app, you need to press and hold the Home button and swipe horizontally the apps to close those. This background running of the apps causes the battery to drain more quickly. And this can be easily avoided if apps can be closed by pressing the back button. 

17) Flip Cover: The Samsung flip cover for Note II is good. But in case I want to use the back camera, I cannot turn the cover to backside completely since it covers the camera lens. 

So capturing images while flip cover being half open is something difficult. 

There should be a window provided to the flip cover precisely at the same place so that the back camera lens remains open. Also if this flip cover can be designed in a way like iPad magnetic cover, it would be excellent. 

18) Calculator: User friendliness demands that the "+" button on the calculator should be bigger than other buttons, since that is the most used function.

All in all, though I have listed these shortcomings, I must admit that I am more than happy using this handset and this is an awesome and best in class handset indeed. Those who are thinking of buying this handset can certainly go ahead and enjoy the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 experience. 

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