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.

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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.