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

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a phone that wants to be a tablet, but is it better to own than Nexus 7?
October 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?