I love Samsung's Galaxy Note II, but really dislike the S III

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| February 11, 2013

I tend to get excited about high-end smartphones. More often than not, no matter what the hype has been or hasn't been, I can usually find one or two reasons why I think I should have the phone. For the really good phones, though, there are more reasons for me to put my fingers on it than not, and those are the phones that manage to stick around for a little longer, compared to some that come and go within a matter of days.

Last year, when the Galaxy S III was getting ready to launch on Verizon's network, I wrote about how excited I was for the phone. That was pretty impressive to me, considering during Samsung's announcement of the device, I wasn't all that blown away or impressed. Yeah, it's a great phone hardware wise, but the software they were showing off just didn't do it for me. Not from my office chair, watching a distant stage through a computer screen.

It didn't translate well, for me, I guess.

That changed once I got my hands on the device and played around with it. Just like that I wanted to own it, use it every day, and show it off. With that short amount of time with the device, my views had changed completely, and I wanted nothing more than to buy it on the spot. Unfortunately I had to wait, so I did, and then I was first at the store to buy one when it became available.

I returned it just three days later. I would have returned it the very next day, but the Verizon store closest to me was an hour away and I didn't feel like making the drive. I'm not a fan of the Galaxy S III. Yes, I like how thin and light it is. Yes, the big display is nice, and the battery life isn't absurd. But I just don't like using it. I'm not a fan of Samsung's TouchWiz on the Galaxy S III, coupled with their use of AMOLED displays.

It's just too colorful. All the big, bold borders for the proprietary applications and user interface itself. I just can't use TouchWiz anymore. Not on the Galaxy S III, anyway.

Because I can certainly use it on the Galaxy Note II. We're talking about, essentially, the same exact phones with the exact same software. The Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III are both running Android 4.1 on AT&T, making only a few subtle differences (and one huge one) the differentiators between the devices. TouchWiz is the same TouchWiz on both devices, except that the Galaxy Note II has a few more features to propel their "combination of a phone and tablet" ideas.

And it's those features that make the Galaxy Note II stand out to me. I don't hate the Galaxy Note II because of the features that are tied to multitasking, or Samsung's S Pen. I actually don't hate the Galaxy Note II at all. On the contrary, it's one of my favorite Android-based handsets, and all because of a few extra features.

I have a Galaxy S III sitting right next to me right now. It's just staring at me with its big dark screen, waiting to get picked up, but I don't want to. I've been told that I should just add some custom themes via a Launcher, or even root it and do some major tweaking to get the experience that I am looking for. But I don't want to do that anymore, either. My tinkering days with software are long gone. I am looking for a phone that makes me happy right out of the box, without any of that extra stuff.

(Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of Launchers, and I've seen some folks with phones that look absolutely amazing after they've tweaked it to their liking. That is just not for me. Not anymore.)

I'm keeping the Galaxy S III for a little while longer, though, because I'm waiting for my Nexus 4 to show up. Which means I'll either have to grit my teeth every time I answer a text message, or succumb to adding a custom Launcher. Either way, it isn't the perfect scenario for me, and I think that's one reason why Samsung has made such an impact in the mobile industry.

They manage their proprietary software very well. When the Galaxy Note was originally announced, there were people saying that there wasn't a point to having a phone that big, running the same software as the smaller Galaxy S model. I would have agreed back then, and maybe I did, but now that the Galaxy Note II has "grown up," and has plenty of stand-out features, especially from the Galaxy S lineup, but is still running the same software at its core, I can't help but think that Samsung is on the right path.

The Galaxy Note II, and hopefully the Galaxy Note III, managed to keep my attention on skinned Android just a bit longer. I'm still waiting to see how HTC does with their newest version of Sense, and I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for stock Android devices like the Nexus 4, but I'm hoping that Samsung can continue to keep themselves ahead of the pack with software tweaks that really stand out for their particular devices.

Right now, as of the time of this writing, the Galaxy S III is tied with Nokia's Lumia 920 in the People's Choice in PhoneDog's Official Smartphone Rankings. On the Expert's side, the Galaxy S III is holding strong in third place. In both lists, the Galaxy Note II is sitting at the top, reigning over the lesser devices.

Do you think the Galaxy S III is just as good as the Galaxy Note II? Or Nokia's Lumia 920? How about Apple's iPhone 5, or LG's Nexus 4? Am I crazy for not liking it so much, but loving the Galaxy Note II? Did you happen to ditch your Galaxy S III in favor of the Galaxy Note II? Have you regretted the switch?