The Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 runs Android 4.4 with the TouchWiz interface laid on top. It’s pretty similar to what we saw in the Note 10.1 2014 Edition, but with a few elements given a spruce-up so they look less ugly.
As ever Samsung’s custom interface is less than beautiful. However, Android on large tablets never looks or feels perfect, and Samsung has made some sensible changes.
The notifications bar is also different from the norm. There are nice, big feature toggle buttons up at the top, and the usual notifications below. We’d ideally like to see Samsung make better use of the screen space here, but it is certainly clear regardless.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 also has a pair of extra home screens that you won’t find in Samsung’s previous phones. You access these by swiping beyond your normal home screens.
These are pages of Samsung’s new Magazine UI, used in addition to the standard Android home screens. They arrange your favourite content as sharp, stylish-looking blocks that are reminiscent of Windows Phone (or the touch interface of Windows 8) and Flipboard, a hugely popular news aggregation app.
You can choose all sorts of 'blocks' including feeds from websites, your Twitter account, your email and your calendar. And they can be arranged in all sorts of ways.
Tapping on one of them takes you to another screen that shows you all the content from that source, again arranged attractively.
This is what Magazine UI looks like
And this is the screen where you choose what goes into it
In pure functional terms, Magazine UI works very well. However, its 'auto opt-in' prescriptive nature is entirely contrary to what the best tablets are all about – the Nexus 7 2 and the various iPads are blank slates you can fill with whatever you want. The Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is a bit like moving into a lovely new flat only to find it comes with a live-in butler who asks you if you need anything every five minutes.
Some people will love Magazine UI, we’re sure, but the assumption that everyone who buys a tablet like this will have a remote interest in such an interface is overly presumptuous. And a symptom of Samsung’s OCD-tinged approach to including every feature it can think of.
Unlike some other, smaller Samsung tablets, though, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 doesn’t feel cramped, cluttered or particularly confusing if you forget Magazine UI exists. But it does reinforce that this is not a tablet for those just getting into gadgets.