Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs Google Nexus 7 – everyday situations test

by: David GilsonOctober 30, 2012

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a phone that wants to be a tablet, but should you buy one instead of a tablet? When it comes to Android tablets, the favorite on the market is the Nexus 7 – it even has Apple quaking in its boots. In the following test, we consider a series of everyday situations – Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs Google Nexus 7. In each case, we assume the Nexus 7 is accompanied with a hypothetical Android phone. For the purposes of simplicity, we’ll assume that the cost of the companion phone would make the overall cost of ownership equal to having a Galaxy Note 2. Also note that the Nexus 7 3G will soon be available, in this case the need for tethering to a companion phone is negated, but it would incur an extra cost in paying for a second data plan.

A night out with friends

In a public social gathering, a tablet is an inappropriate piece of equipment to be carrying around. In fact, you should probably avoid any attention-grabbing tech as you should be focusing on people and not gadgets! As such, you don’t need the extra functionality of a phablet either.

Winner: In the “two box solution” you can leave the tablet at home and just take the regular Android phone with you for camera duty and calling a cab home.


Here we are assuming that you are leaving work behind and only taking your movies and ebooks with you. Ideally, going on holiday means travelling as light as possible. Carrying two devices would mean two chargers.

Winner: Galaxy Note 2. A phablet can handle all of your calling and SMS needs, and the Galaxy Note 2 has a rather good camera too. The Galaxy Note 2 also has a large enough screen to view any content you’ve brought with you and the added screen size will be excellent for mapping software as you navigate through a foreign land.

Business trip

On a business trip you need the most powerful yet portable hardware that you can carry with you. You’ll also need decent text entry for writing reports and emails, as well as good connectivity. In this case, the larger screen the better the virtual keyboard which will be much more physically sustainable to use than handwriting, such as is found with the Galaxy Note 2.

Winner: For heavy duty conference usage, the Nexus 7’s powerful quad core Tegra 3 processor and 7″ screen wins out over the Galaxy Note 2. As for connectivity, simply set up the generic Android phone as a WiFi hotspot or buy the Nexus 7 3G.

Day trip

While away from home to go sight seeing or to meet friends, it’s unlikely you’ll have much need for a tablet device. However, you will need good battery life, a decent camera and a good screen to view Web pages, ebooks, or the photos you’ve taken on your travels.

Winner: Galaxy Note 2, on a trip where your gadgets are not the main focus of the trip, an all in one device would make your life much simpler.

Working in an office

In the hectic environment of a typical office, mobile devices don’t just provide communications, but they are often used as a companion screen for monitoring email and schedules. Additionally, having something to grab quickly for taking written notes can be very useful.

Winner: The Galaxy Note 2’s specialized note taking software combined with a phone could make it the ideal companion device to an office PC.

Second screen while watching TV

In this scenario you would be relaxing at home, possibly watching a movie and wanting to check the internet movie database, or watching some inane reality talent show that you feel compelled to tweet about.

Winner: The Nexus 7’s larger screen makes glancing through tweets and web sites easier. In addition, the larger keyboard area make it easier to use while recumbent, than it would be with the Galaxy Note 2.

University Students

In the lecture theater environment, both the Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Note 2 would be inadequate for transcribing. However, since course notes are mostly available online, which device would be best for taking free form notes about extra comments and questions?

Winner: Galaxy Note 2. This scenario is a close run thing. The Nexus 7 is clearly better for reading electronic text books. However, the custom S Pen software makes the Note 2 an excellent notepad – it can even understand handwritten equations! Its 5.5″ screen makes it big enough to read comfortably, and is complemented by its Smart Stay and anti-rotation features which enhances any reading experience.


There you have it, a close run competition with four points to three in favor of the Galaxy Note 2. If you are in the market for some new hardware and was wondering whether to have a separate phone and tablet or Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2, the latter is probably the best option. As always though, things are more complicated than they look. You should try out the Galaxy Note 2 in a shop as its gargantuan proportions may be too much for your slender digits. Furthermore, the situations listed above will not apply to everyone equally.

We’d love to know in the comments whether you’d prefer a Galaxy Note 2 or a Nexus 7, a Nexus 7 3G or Nexus 10, or even something else, and why?

  • jase

    Point 2 Holiday – Nexus 7 uses the SAME MircoUSB port for charging purpose.

    Therefore, one charger is sufficient.

    Judging from this, it seems the writer is not actually familiar with what Nexus 7 is.

    I dont have a Nexus 7, but i am all in for Standardized charger ports, be it MicroUSB or anything else.

    All those proprietary ports, cables and chargers coming in different port formats and voltages are simply creating barriers for Android Tablet to gain a bigger market share.

    Considering that Apple products can share charging cable, I wonder why the manufacturer is doing the opposites. Except that they are too focus in the lucrative “Tablet peripheral” market and forget that creating such a “niche market” has their own pitfall.

    • Author here, don’t worry, I own a Nexus 7 (running CM10 nightlies) – I said about having two chargers as, if it were me, I’d want to charge both devices up at once, rather than getting up in the middle of the night to disconnect the charger from first device and plug it into the second device!

  • Note 2 anyday as it meets business and personal needs alike without having to worry about two devices. Enough battery which lasts 36 hours for me.

  • darrin

    Why are you comparing the nexus 7 and note 2 ones a phone and the other one is a rablet

    • Because the Galaxy Note 2 is a phone that wants to be a tablet, but is it worth buying something to use as a tablet that’s below the 7″ mark?

      • Dharmesh

        Brilliant answer

      • cnecorp

        Thought your article was great to help people trying to decide which is a better fit for their needs. Disagree that the GN2 is trying to be a tablet, its just trying to provide a nice balance between a phone and a tablet, which it does quite well.

  • Ibraheem Habeeb

    It could be a winner for SGNII but don’t forget, Samsung don’t launch updates early (ICS for my GSII was released three months before JB annunciation) and battery life dies quickly, my SII battery now after owning the device for 14 months needs to be charged twice a day. the last opinion is the design of the Note and almost all recent Samsung devices (including Nexus 10.1) are ugly and not in style. Conclusion, Nexus 7 won in my opinion.

    • cnecorp

      Re updates, it depends on where you are I think, my friend who bought a GN in Australia JB a week after Samsung announced its release whilst mine, bought 4 months earlier is a Swiss model and I am still drumming my fingers.

    • brandnew234

      You are aware the Note II has a gigantic battery, right? It has nearly double your S2’s battery, and the SII could never make 16 hour long calls. The Note II will NOT die quickly.

  • cnecorp

    The two devices have totally different target markets. The GN2 is targeted at people looking for a balance between computing power and phone, the Nexus 7 (even when the 3g becomes available) is targeted more for computing power, although lack of stylus does limit its uses.

    I use the GN (waiting for the GN2) for everything from taking meeting and lecture notes to currency trading. Its a nice balance. If you use the GN as a simple notepad i.e. the sNote and stylus, it is more than adequate for taking lecture notes. Coupled with Evernote, it becomes a powerful tool to at least go part way towards being paperless.

    My wife who is not too tech savvy and just needs a phone with the some computing power is happy with her Iphone. I on the other hand bought a tablet first and kept an old HTC phone found the combination too cumbersome and ended up with the original GN and it fits my need perfectly.

  • Ty Miller

    I have both and LOVE both! Either one is a fantastic choice.

  • lpka

    I had N7 and Htc one X, I sold all and bought Note2. I wanted to have just one device that does it all. I had a problem for charging and bringing phone and tablet with me. And somethimes I just did’t have time for both of them. Every device is good. But I love Note2

  • I would choose Note 2 because it has a pen and is little bit smaller than Nexus 7. Though I would like to own both

    • dharmesh

      I also feel same .for Tablet -nexus 7 and for Phone-Note 2

    • dharmesh

      nexus 7 has a pen?

  • dharmesh

    Yesterday I was thinking for both device.I am going to buy Note 2 on saturday and for tablet my choice will be nexus series when I make plan ti buy.Thank you, David for connecting and my imaginary thoughts.

  • Lawrence John

    Working in an office – I stopped taking my laptop to the office or to clients, use nexus for presentations to 1-3 people.

  • Calibrator

    I like the comparison and it makes sense. Two things, though:

    First, the Note 2 is the best solution for people wanting only one gadget – and not a separate smartphone and a tablet. The Nexus 7 simply can’t compete in this area: The Note 2 may be a phone that tries to be a table but the N7 *is* a tablet and will always be one. It can’t replace your phone at all.
    So if you’d add the “I only want one gadget!”-scenario we all know who would win it.

    Secondly, while I agree on most points I do have problems with the first scenario (Night out with friends): It’s not a comparison scenario – it merely says that the Note 2 is unfit for the scenario but the Nexus 7 isn’t better, either.

    You would bring your old bog standard cell phone (or at least something smaller than then Note 2). This would not only mean that the Note 2 isn’t the winner, but that the Nexus 7 is much less the winner in this scenario! So it really should be a tie as you would bring your standard phone in both cases, but not the Nexus 7…

    Subjectively, though, I don’t care for this scenario at all:
    When I’m out with friends everybody expects me to carry stuff like the Note 2!

    I am a nerd amongst nerds, not normal people. ;-)
    Nobody ever criticized me openly for having the Note2 – on the
    contrary: Most were curious what the advantages were and if the bigger
    dimensions make it harder to wield (they don’t).

    And if I’m among “normal people” most of them carry either an iPhone, a Blackberry or – quite often – a Galaxy S3! In such a world the Note 2 is definitely good company.

    And the Note 2 always makes up for a good, ambiguous laugh!
    Recently a female aquaintance said to me “My God – this is big!” which I casually answered with “I get that a lot.” ;-)

  • Mike

    I’d argue that at a night out with friends / dinner party etc the Note shines, merely because someone always wants to show something on youtube, you want to show something from work or whatever. And even though the GN2 is huge, it’s less awkward than bringing up your tablet. I’ve found large screen phones to be great in social settings – that being said, I am a bit of a geek.

  • Patrick Mulcare

    Thanks for the potential scenario comparisons. Adding real world cost and apps support would help further. For those w/ stylus envy, note (pardon the pun) that most N7 covers have a built-in stylus holder. (And after buying your cover and stylus of choice you’ll still save $ w/ the N7.)

  • DingusKahn

    Having two devices was just a pain in the neck. I gave my 7″ Tab to my wife, which I had back when I had the Droid X. Keeping various software synced on both was too much trouble. Things like gmail and contacts sync themselves, no problem. But I have a rather advanced scripture program that I use for Church. I had to get on one device and save it to the cloud then get the other one and bring the sync down. Trying to remember where I was left me uneasy. Same with Note Everything and a few others. I liked using the tablet, but just not worth it.
    For us older geeks that have to use reading glasses the big screen is a huge plus. This is the MAIN reason I AM getting the Note 2. Just waiting for Verizon to release it, already pre-ordered. I don’t get ANY other service (worth picking up the phone for) in the rural community where I live.
    And I have to disagree on two choices David. Social – I want MY phone, not some slacker version (currently SIII)
    My second screen while watching TV is my PC, on a swivel try I built by my recliner. Where I am typing now…
    Good comparison though, Thanks.

  • Why not own both???????????

  • Why not own both???????????

  • Gaith Baroudi

    its very simple, if you have a 5.5″ device whats the point from having another device with 7″ display ?

  • Ivan WenXiong

    Same question for this year, Nexus 7 2nd gen or Note lll haha, personally I wouldn’t go with both, you don’t really need an additional small tablet as Note family are big enough to serve the purpose, unless you are talking about 10.1 Inch tablets