You’ll need dedication to learn all of Samsung Galaxy Note 2’s features. We are here to help – in our ultimate top 10 tips we show you all you need to know. In our guide we cover everything from making the most of the already impressive battery life, to wielding the S Pen stylus for maximum effect.
The S Pen
The unique selling point of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is its capacitive stylus, tucked away inside the Note 2’s storage silo.
The S Pen is so much more than your regular capacitive stylus. Its “Air View” functionality even enables the pen to be detected before it touches the screen. This can be used to see previews of content-supported Samsung apps, plus you can use it to scroll in the web browser by hovering at the top or bottom of the page.
The Pen can even be used to save entire or partial screenshots. Holding down the S Pen’s button and then pressing the screen takes an image of the whole screen which you can draw on before saving. However, if you hold the button down and just draw around something that you’re interested in, you can save a clipping to the S Note application for later.
The Galaxy Note 2 is a huge phone, and can make typing on virtual keyboards tricky, but do not fear! There are several tricks to make sure your typing speed won’t suffer.
If you have both hands free to type, then pull out the S Pen and tap the handwriting button. This engages the Note 2’s handwriting recognition which is genuinely remarkable. Whether you write in print or script, it can figure out what you’re trying to say.
If you want to stick to using a portrait QWERTY keyboard, but find your thumb can’t quite reach across the screen, Samsung has you covered. Go into the keyboard settings and look for “One-handed operation”. Here, you can select an option that will squash the portrait virtual keyboard up against one side of the screen. Hopefully, all the keys will be within reach of your stubby digit. You can even choose between QWERTY and T9.
Swype fans can rejoice too – Samsung has licensed it for use on the Note 2, and you’ll find it living under the assumed name of “Continuous input”.
The S Pen section already covered some ways in which to take screenshots, but there’s more ways yet.
Holding the Power and Home button together will save a screenshot. However, you can enable a touchscreen gesture where you swipe your palm from right to left across the screen to take a screenshot too. This method is much easier if you can’t use both hands.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 makes excellent use of its internal sensors, making it one of the most interactive devices on the market.
- Tilt to zoom enables you to zoom in on images and pages by placing two thumbs on the screen and tilting back and forth.
- Pan to move icon allows you to long-press on a homescreen icon, and simply turn the phone in your hand to switch from homescreen to homescreen.
- Quick glance allows you to hover your hand over the Note 2, which causes its screen to light up and shows you the time and lock screen notifications.
- Smart rotation tracks your eyes with the front facing camera, and compares the orientation of your face to its own orientation reading from the accelerometer. If you and the phone tilt together it will stop the screen from automatically switching orientation.
- Smart stay is another eye tracking gizmo that checks to see that your eyes are still on the screen. If they are, the phone will suppress its normal illumination time out setting.
Home screens and widgets
If you find setting up Android home screens takes too much time, just select “Easy Mode”. This mode is offered as part of the Note 2’s initial setup wizard, but you can enable or disable it any time from the Settings application.
The Note 2 comes with something called Page Buddy. These are home screens that dynamically appear or disappear as you start using particular peripherals such as the the S Pen or earphones.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is full of Samsung customisations, including several dedicated applications.
S Voice is Samsung’s attempt to provide something like Siri. To start talking to your giant phone, just press the home button twice. The results are mixed, but S Voice is quite smart, and can access more hardware than Siri, e.g. “Disable Bluetooth”. However, it is not as good as Siri at understanding natural language.
S Planner is Samsung’s replacement for the standard Android Calendar application, and it’s awesome. You can easily switch between views by pinching and stretching. What’s more, if you like to scribble over paper calendars, you can do that too with the S-Pen.
S Note is the ultimate application for the S Pen. If you intended to be doing lots of scribing with the super stylus, this is the application for you. This app allows you to handwrite notes, draw vector shapes, and even write mathematical formulae.
Maximise Battery Life
You would be forgiven for thinking that the Galaxy Note 2’s huge 5.5-inch screen would eat through its battery in no time. That’s not the case though. Samsung saw fit to equip the Note 2 with a capacious 3,100mAh battery which can last for well over a day, and as a bonus it’s replaceable. So when you’re going on holiday, simply carry a spare.
You can never have too much battery life though. Fortunately, the power control widget can easily be found by pulling the notification drawer down from the top of the screen. Here, you can disable any components you don’t need such as Bluetooth, 3G data, and WiFi. You can even disable the S Pen to save a few more minutes of battery life.
The Galaxy Note 2 is a beast of a phone, and it likes to demonstrate this by doing several things at once.
For an aperitif, you’ll find a video player widget that can play movies from the home screen and can be moved around.
The main course of the Note 2’s multitasking banquet is the dual application view that comes with the latest firmware update. Once the update has been applied, long pressing the back button will launch an icon bar of running applications. This bar can be docked to any side of the screen.
The secret is to drag an icon out and hold it for a second – and this will open up the dual view. Once started, you can drag the bar between the applications to adjust how much of the screen each app is using.
For example, you could stream live TV in one half of the screen while tweeting about the show!
The Note 2’s camera app may look very much like standard Android fare, but Samsung have thrown a few extra treats in here too.
Performing a long press on the shutter button will take a burst of ten shots. There’s a whole new range of image effects too, including a very subtle High Dynamic Range (HDR) effect.
The video camera has the same range of colour effects as the still camera and it has image stabilisation. To give you even more creative freedom, there are even a limited fast and slow motion capture modes. They are by no means as powerful as those found on a digital SLR, but they’re still interesting to play with.
Get on the TV!
The microUSB port on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 comes complete with Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). This allows you to connect the phone to a TV set’s HDMI port.
To use this you’ll need an adapter which will cost up to 25 UK Pounds.