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I’m the proud owner of a Galaxy Note II

Galaxy Note II1I was a little pissed off before when I tried to root my phone and discovered that the security measures put into place by Samsung and Verizon bricked by phone. Eventually though, after a couple hours, I was able to get it up and working.

First thing I had to do was put it back to stock. Once that was done, I was able to follow another set of steps to root and then unlock the bootloader. You can find the steps here, but I’m going to caution you to make sure that they are still the best steps since a future update may break this process and brick your phone. Unlocking the bootloader is the important part, with out that, rebooting your phone gives you the error I was getting before.

Galaxy Note II3Once you complete the process, you then have to put a new rom on it. I didn’t see any stock ROMs available that wasn’t the one you flash via the Odin software. I would have used that one, except it was the one I used before, and there were warnings saying not to flash with Odin again. Not wanting to brick my phone again, I looked some more and came across Clean ROM. I had used Clean ROM previously on other phones, and I was a fan of Scott’s Roms Clean ROM is basically a stock ROM with all the bullshit removed. If you have an HTC phone, you can get them with and without Sense, and my Rezound still had the Beats audio software on it, likewise, all the S Note software is on it for my Note II.

You’re given your choice of launchers when you set up the ROM. I went with Apex Launcher since its the one I was using on my Bionic.   It’s rather nice and gives plenty of options for customization.  I’ve also got Beautiful Widgets for the nice clock, which also has tons of customization options available.  And like all my other phones, I’ve installed Sam Oakley’s Astronomy Picture of the Day app to update my wallpaper with the current Astronomy Picture of the Day.

This is all I know how to draw...

This is all I know how to draw…

Once I got it set up, it was time to use it.  It’s got an amazing 5.5″ screen, which is the reason that I went with the phone.  Videos look great, and books are actually really easy to read.  I didn’t really like reading on the last phone since it was only a few lines, but on the Note II, it’s almost like holding a paperback.

The phone comes with a stylus that fits neatly into the bottom.  I know it seems a little backwards to start putting styluses into phones again, but it’s pretty useful at times.  For instance, I suck at Draw Something using just my finger, but with the stylus?  OK,  I still suck, but it’s easier and I suck just a little less.

When you pull the stylus out, the S Note application opens, letting you draw and write notes like it was a note pad.  It’s actually pretty useful, and a hell of a lot better than the notes app on the LG Intuition.

There’s a button on the side of the stylus that give you the ability to highlight things.  If you draw a circle, or any closed shape really, around a part of the screen while pressing the button, you take a screenshot of the enclosed part.

If you can't draw a straight line, they can get a little ugly

If you can’t draw a straight line, they can get a little ugly

Galaxy Note II4The other cool thing you can do is split the screen between two apps.  With the stock software, you are limited, but on Clean ROM, you can add pretty much any apps to the menu with the MultiWindow Control app that’s built-in.  I’ve added Chrome and Handcent SMS.  I did have the Kindle app in there too, but it stopped working, and somehow became an un-uninstallable system app.  I don’t know if that’s the fault of the MultiWindow Control, or something else I did, but since I didn’t want to have to do a factory reset after getting my phone back up and running again, I left it out.  Otherwise, you can browse the web, watch videos, check your email or text messages at the same time in separate windows.  On a smaller phone, this would be an almost useless app, but with this monster phone, it’s actually kind of nice.  The only downside is that little button on the left side of the phone.  Since it’s how you add apps to the split screen, it’s there all the time.  You get used to it though.

The only downside to the phone, is the same reason that I bought it, it’s big.  I’ve dropped it on my face once while laying in bed, and it hurt.  It’s a bit of a pain to reach across the entire phone all the time, but really, it’s minor and something that I’ll adapt to with time.

The camera is pretty good too.  It’s got an 8MP rear facing camera, and a 1.9MP front facing camera, and records video in full 1080P. Here’s a picture of my dinner last night

It’s a great phone, I love it.  Just remember, if you get one, read up before you root it or you could wind up with a brick