Galaxy Note 2 Review: Great, but Awkward to Hold

When showing the Verizon Galaxy Note 2 to people over the past two weeks, the most common question was, “Isn’t the Galaxy Note 2 too big?”

The Galaxy Note 2 is one of the largest phones we’ve reviewed, measuring in at 151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm, with a 5.5-inch display which earn the device the phablet moniker. A phablet is a cross between a phone and a tablet.

While the Galaxy Note 2 is a large device, that can be awkward to hold with one hand for long periods it isn’t too big to be a phone. Check out our full Galaxy Note 2 review for a deep dive into everything the Galaxy Note 2 can do.

Here we’re taking a look at the size of the Galaxy Note 2 and how it works for one-handed use.

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The Galaxy Note 2 next to the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini.

Can You Use the Galaxy Note 2 One-Handed?

It’s possible to use the Galaxy note 2 with one hand, but it is awkward at times. After a day or two of use, we found it’s easier to hold if you choke up on the phone a bit. By holding it higher your thumb can reach more of the screen.

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Holding the Galaxy Note 2 a bit higher to reach the top corner of the screen.

This is troublesome for some users with smaller hands, but not impossible for most users we handed the phone to. To reach the full screen while using the Galaxy Note 2 we found it’s best to cradle the phone, rather than grip it.

There are multiple grips needed to use the Galaxy Note 2 with one hand, which can make things awkward from time-to-time, but it’s still possible.

Samsung includes a number of small tweaks that makes it easier to use the Galaxy Note 2 one-handed. Tap on Settings -> One -handed operation and check the boxes that help you use the Note 2 with one hand.

Galaxy Note 2 Review - One Handed
Samsung includes small tweaks to make one-handed Galaxy Note 2 use easier.

The Galaxy Note 2 offers the following adjustments that shift buttons to the left or the right so it is easier to use the phablet with one hand.

  • Phone keys and in call buttons
  • Keyboard in portrait mode
  • Calculator
  • Unlock pattern

These small tweaks make it easier to use the Note 2 one-handed, but it can still be awkward, especially if you are walking and trying to use the Note 2 with one hand.


It is easy to hold the Note 2 in one hand and watch movies or read books without accidentally touching the screen, and it is easy to turn pages in the Kindle app.

Can the Galaxy Note 2 Fit in a Pocket?

The Galaxy Note 2 is a large phone, but it’s not too large to fit in a a pocket. The Note 2 fits in most jeans and dress pants pockets we tried. Ladies may not be able to fit the Note 2 in a pants pocket, but it will slide into a purse or a small clutch.

While using the Galaxy Note 2 we carried it in a pocket with a wallet or with car keys without any trouble.

Galaxy Note 2 Uses the Big Screen Well

A big screen is not enough to make a phone a hit, just look at the LG Intuition, it also takes software that makes use of the big screen. The Galaxy Note 2 includes several features that allow users to get more out of the large 5.5-inch display and the S Pen to make two-handed use feel more natural.

The Multi-Window View on the Galaxy Note 2 lets users put two apps on the screen at once so it’s possible to take notes and watch a video, or check email while surfing the web. The different models offer different Multi-Window Apps, but in all it’s a great feature. We wish the Verizon model allowed users to use Google Play videos and Gmail at the same time. The video below shows off Multi-Window View.

The Galaxy Note 2 also offer a pop up video player and a pop up browser that lets users watch video or surf the web on top of another app. This is another handy way to do more on the large screen, beating the multitasking found on most other phones.

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The Galaxy Note 2’s S Pen and features take advantage of the large screen.

The Galaxy Note 2 includes an S Pen, a small stylus that controls the phone with special apps and features. The S Pen is handy for taking notes and makes two-handed Galaxy Note 2 operation feel more natural. The S Pen stores in the Note 2 and when taken out activates a special page of apps for taking notes. The pen also allows users to see more of a message or notification thanks to Air View. By hovering over a message with the S pen slightly above the screen it’s possible to see more of the message.

While the Galaxy Note 2 is a large phone, it isn’t too big to be a phone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is slim enough to hold with one hand and software tweaks make one-handed operation possible, but most users will default to using the Galaxy Note 2 with two-hands to take advantage of the S Pen.


  1. I laugh everytime I hear complaints about it being too big, isn’t that the main reason (besides battery life, quad core processor, S-Pen etc.) someone like myself (who is using it now and loves it) would want this phone? You would think people having to look at tiny displays on itsy bitsy twenty weeny phones would be more of an issue these days (sorry Iphone fans, but you don’t know what you’re missing) so why fault the phone for one of it’s best features…

  2. I love my Note 2, can easily one hand it, and it fits in my pocket. If you can’t handle the size than stick to a wimpy little iPhone. Everything about this phone is big and awesome. I am glad that I no longer need to carry around a spare battery too. It feels like your driving a Hummer but getting the gas mileage of a Prius. I don’t think I can ever go back to a little phone again.

  3. until I saw the bank draft saying $4410, I be certain that my friend was like actually earning money part-time on their laptop.. there neighbour had bean doing this for only 6 months and by now repayed the mortgage on their apartment and bourt a new Citroën DS. read more at, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  4. I was initially concerned that it might be too big, but one day of usage squashed that quick. This phone is an absolute beast in every way. 64GB micro-SD + flip cover = profit. Also. I assumed the S-pen would quickly become a tired novelty but I use it routinely. It has been a while since I have been really impressed with a smartphone… but this one is it.

  5. hurry up May 2013 and get here thats when my contract is up for a renewal,, I’m waitig to get my hands on this great samsung galaxy note 2. I want this ph so bad i almost added another line to my contract, but i will hurt alittle longer, cuz when the galaxy grant comes out the note 2 hopefully will go down in price. so i will continue to keep reading the reviews on this phablet.i would rather have this note 2 because i like to draw and this will give me all the things i would like to do on here, where the galaxy slll dont have the spen.

  6. Galaxy Note 2 Review: Great, but Awkward to Hold ?? c’mon it is not awkward to fits right in my pocket and everytime i take it out everyone says OMG its huge i just laugh…

  7. I just became eligible for an upgrade on sprint but the gs3 is now 7-8 months old and the note looks amazing but lacks fm radio and burst for its camera plus it’s 299 price tag doesn’t help what to do waiting for the sg4 is going to be hard. i do love reading comics and doing that on my sg2 is a pain

  8. Your headline is a little misleading. It’s not awkward to hold, it’s awkward to use one handed. Not the same thing at all. By that definition, every tablet in existence is “awkward to hold.”

  9. Can’t help but laugh if you want a regular smartphone buy the Galaxy S3, Droid Razr Maxx HD, Htc Droid Dna, Lg Nexus 4, Lg Optimus G. If you want an all purpose/productivity device then you purchase the Galaxy Note 2. Nothing on the market today beats this device from a software/feature standpoint until the Galaxy Note 3 in the ladder part of 2013. Battery life wise their is nothing on the market better I get 20plus hrs daily on my Galaxy Note 2 with 9 to 11hrs of on screen use daily.

  10. the author is probably a midget. awkward to hold lol, i bet thats what your gf said when she saw ur quarter inch dong.

  11. Lol. You guys are only figuring this out now?? Whenever someone asks me if its too big, I ask them if they have a tablet. Usually they say yes. Then I ask them ‘where is it?’ They always say ‘at home.’ To which I respond ‘Exactly!’

    Note 2 is not a phone. It is a phablet. Tablet with a phone function built in.

  12. I will also be buying one come march already held one played witg it. If you’ee coming from another Galaxy device you will feel right at home. For me the size isn’t a problem I’m a 6’2 male and can grip it with one hand.

    In my personal opinion however I believe a 4.52 inch screen is perfect for any phone. Although if you’re using is phone for gaming videos or a alternative to a tablet or laptop then yes! Battery life is excellent…

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