No really. In most ways, it’s just another current generation Android device. Other than the interesting addition of a stylus and some apps that use it, nothing else really stands out other than the battery life and the fact that it has a nearly tablet-sized screen.
In other words, it’s huge.
Now, for someone like me who has big hands and has had problems with the small form factor of previous phones, the size is not a problem, but I hardly represent the average in that regard. Even though I do have big hands, I still find myself using the phone more often like a tablet than I do like a phone.
I have no problem with that kind of usage because I kind of bought the phone for that purpose, but I can see how it could become off-putting for quite a few people. It turns out that there really is a maximum size to a smartphone, and the Note II is pretty much it.
As for the function of the phone itself, it does what I want it to do. The stylus and bundled apps seem a little gimmicky, but I suspect that’s mostly because there are virtually no non-Samsung apps out there that utilize the capability. If such apps materialize, the stylus could become very useful indeed.
The screen real estate means that a lot of apps just work better on the Note II. They’re easier to see, read, and interact with simply because they’re bigger. I especially enjoy interacting with apps like Evernote more on the Note II than I did on previous phones.
The other advantage of the Note II is battery life. Given that the phone is so physically large, it has a lot of room for a big battery, and the one Samsung included is easily up to a day’s worth of tasks without needing to be recharged. This is a big change from previous Android phones I have owned where battery life was an issue.
Overall, I would recommend the Note II to anyone who has needs similar to my own based on this first impression. For everyone else, I’d suggest looking at other phones first.