Galaxy Note with ICS – Hands on review

Its been a couple of days since I have installed the new South Africa OFFICIAL Ice Scream Sandwich (ICS) update for the Galaxy Note. The Note was a serious machine before this update but now its a BEAST of NOTE ! (pun intended)

I must say at the outset, that what I was most impressed about was just how everything “just worked”. All the previous application I had installed, all my setting, all my data just carried through. The only thing I had to redo was to set up how my screen looked and create my folders for am apps. I obviously still advise to do a full backup just in case.

Here is a list of some of the changes that make the Note ever better now:

Making calls:

This has been dramatically improved with ICS update. No more 6 taps to make a call. Now you simply select the contact and swipe to the right and the Note dials. Swipe to the left and you send a message. Neat.

Galaxy Note ICS - calls

One Handed:

A criticism of the Note was that you couldn’t operate it with one hand as its a “two handed device”. This has changed as you can choose to operate it with either left hand or right hand. This setting not only applies to the keyboard but also applies to other elements such as the dialler, calculator and even the unlock security pattern.

Galaxy Note ICS - One HandedGalaxy Note ICS - One Handed

Task Manager:

When you hold the home button, the Task Manager opens so you can quickly access any application that you recently opened. You can also swipe away any application that you don’t want in your list which also frees up the phones memory. The same swipe away motion also applies to any messaged that appear in the notifications section.

Galaxy Note ICS - Task ManagerGalaxy Note ICS - Notification

Web Browsing:

When you install ICS you now have a new option for web browsing – you can install the Beta version of Chrome from the Play store. I find that very useful as Chrome synchronises between my desktop Chrome and the Note. This not only includes the Bookmarks but also includes any search history that I looked up on the desktop. That is what integration is all about.

If you choose to use the default web browser, there are new options such as the ability to Save page for offline reading. You are also able to Invert Rendering which makes the Black white and visa versa which is good for night reading of pages.

Galaxy Note ICS - ChromeGalaxy Note ICS - InternetGalaxy Note ICS - Internet

Data Usage:

This is a very configurable and critical tool to have to manage your expenditure of data.

I changed the billing cycle to run from the 1st of the month to coincide with the cellular provider billing cycle.  I also lowered the Data Alert bar (orange line) to alert me when I get to 500mb.

This tool allows you to drag the while lines from left to right to show how much data you used up to a certain day in the month. Finally the tool also shows you which app is consuming your data.

Galaxy Note ICS - Data Usage

Sound and Display:

In the Sound options (under Setting) you are able to instantly set the volume and sound of the various elements of the phone by manipulating the slider. Simple and effective.

Under the Display you have more features that you can turn on or off such as Clock and Weather settings.

Galaxy Note ICS - SoundScreenshot_2012-08-05-18-55-37

Call Options:

Here you able to set up Call Rejection list as well as set Rejection Messages. This is useful if you are in a meeting or driving and then with one move you can hang up and let the caller know of the reason.

Galaxy Note ICS - RejectionGalaxy Note ICS - Rejection

S-Note:

This has received  a major update with four features: Formula match that allows you write a formula and the app looks up the answer on Wolfram Alpha. This also applies to Knowledge Search where you can enter a question which is answered by Wolfram Alpha. The Handwriting to Text converts your handwritten scribble to text and the Shape match converts and correct your drawings

Galaxy Note ICS - S-NoteGalaxy Note ICS - S-NoteGalaxy Note ICS - S-Note

Restart:

Nice to see that a restart option is now included when you hit the power off button. This is helpful if you are installing apps that require a reboot.

Galaxy Note ICS -Restart

So in summary:

The ICS update is a very welcomed update and really brings out the Note’s capabilities making the device feel faster and smoother. Now if only there is something that can be done about the battery life this device would be perfect…

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