Mobile Phones Guide

Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note II (Updated with Video)

Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note II (Updated with Video)


Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung Galaxy Note II: Bigger, Faster, Smarter

A year on, three colors, and more than 10 million units later, Samsung today unveiled the true heir (sorry, Galaxy Note 10.1) to its Galaxy Note smartphone (or ‘phablet’, as some would call it) at the Samsung Mobile Unpacked event in Berlin. And unsurprisingly, the new device is officially christened as the Galaxy Note II.

For those who haven’t seen our earlier news piece, here’s a quick recap. The new NFC-capable Galaxy Note II features a 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED display with a 1,280 x 720-pixel resolution (this is a slight drop from the original Note's 1,280 x 800-pixel resolution), an Exynos SoC that packs a quad-core 1.6GHz CPU (compared to the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 10.1's quad-core 1.4GHz CPU), as well as an 8-megapixel rear camera. And Samsung’s choice of OS for its newest creation is the Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The 3G version supports up to 21Mbps with HSPA+; the 4G LTE version up to 100Mbps (42Mbps with HSDPA). According to Samsung, the Note II has a longer battery life (the battery is detachable, by the way) than the original Note, and charging is now faster.

Available in marble white or titanium gray, the Galaxy Note II is set to launch in October starting in major European, Asian, and Middle East markets. The Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE will be available in Ceramic White or Titan Gray at S$998 (without contract) for the 16GB variant from 20th October. 

Here's a rundown of the key specs of the members in the Galaxy Note family:

Samsung Galaxy Note Family
Key Specs Samsung
Galaxy Note II
Samsung
Galaxy Note
Samsung
Galaxy Note 10.1
Announced
  • Aug 2012
  • Sep 2011
  • Aug 2012
OS
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Android 4.0.4 ICS
  • Android 4.0.4 ICS
Processor
  • Quad-core 1.6GHz
  • Dual-core 1.4GHz (Exynos 4210)
  • Quad-core 1.4GHz (Exynos 4412)
RAM
  • 2GB
  • 1GB
  • 2GB
Storage
  • 16 / 32 / 64GB
  • MicroSD up to 64GB
  • 16 / 32GB
  • MicroSD up to 64GB
  • 16 / 32GB
  • MicroSD up to 64GB
Display
  • 5.5" HD Super AMOLED
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 267ppi
  • 5.3" HD Super AMOLED
  • 1,280 x 800 pixels
  • 285ppi
  • 10.1" TFT LCD
  • 1,280 x 800 pixels
  • 149ppi
Camera
  • 8MP (rear) + 1.9MP (front)
  • 1080p video recording
  • 8MP (rear) + 2MP (front)
  • 1080p video recording
  • 5MP (rear) + 1.9MP (front)
  • 720p video recording
NFC
  • Yes
  • Optional
  • No
Battery
  • Li-ion 3,100mAh
  • Li-ion 2,500mAh
  • Li-ion, 7,000mAh
Dimensions
  • 151 x 81 x 9.4mm
  • 147 x 83 x 9.7mm
  • 262 x 180 x 8.9mm
Weight
  • 180g
  • 178g
  • 597g (Wi-Fi) / 600g (3G)


If you're one to follow smartphone trends closely, you will notice that most other big-screen phones remain within the safe range of 4.55 to 4.8-inches - prominent examples would be the quad-core Samsung Galaxy S III (4.8 inches), quad-core HTC One X (4.7 inches), quad-core LG Optimus 4X HD (4.7 inches), and the recently-announced quad-core LG Optimus G (4.7 inches). Sony Mobile has chosen to veer on the safe side with things, opting to stay put at the maximum size of 4.55-inches (case in point: the dual-core Sony Xperia TX and Xperia Ion). 

Of course, the Galaxy Note II remains one of the few to join a small stead (but certainly growing pool) of smartphones with touchscreens of 5 inches and above. In this case, its closest competitor, (outside of the Samsung family, of course) is the 5-inch LG Optimus Vu, first glimpsed at MWC this year. And let's not forget its recently announced successor, the Optimus Vu II. While we're certain that it will adopt the 4:3 aspect ratio, 5 inches and above form factor of its predecessor, nothing much is known of it yet.

Samsung Galaxy Note II vs. LG Optimus Vu
Key Specs Samsung
Galaxy Note II

LG
Optimus Vu

Announced
  • Aug 2012
OS
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Android 4.0.4 ICS
Processor
  • Quad-core 1.6GHz
  • Quad-core (Tegra 3)
RAM
  • 2GB
  • 1GB
Storage
  • 16 / 32 / 64GB
  • MicroSD up to 64GB
  • 32GB
Display
  • 5.5" HD Super AMOLED
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 267ppi
  • 5.0" IPS display
  • 4:3 aspect ratio
  • 1,024 x 768 pixels
  • 256ppi
Camera
  • 8MP (rear) + 1.9MP (front)
  • 1080p video recording
  • 8MP (rear) + 1.3MP (front)
  • 1080p video recording
NFC
  • Yes
  • Yes
Battery
  • Li-ion 3,100mAh
  • Li-ion 2,080mAh
Dimensions
  • 151 x 81 x 9.4mm
  • 140 x 90 x 8.5mm
Weight
  • 180g
  • 168g

 

Without further ado, here are some comparison shots of the Galaxy Note II and its predecessor, the Galaxy Note.

 

Create More, Share More

Besides a slight bump in screen size to 5.5 inches, a change in screen aspect ratio (from 16:10 to 16:9), and an SoC upgrade, the Note II has a whole host of other enhancements and new features. Samsung has pitched the Note II as an even more powerful tool than the original Note for creative expression. Here's a list of some of the more important features:

  • New S Pen & S Note Features


    • The new S Pen stylus is longer and thicker (8mm), which make for an easier grip. It also has a rubber tip.
    • Air View that lets you hover the stylus over certain content like an email, an image gallery, or a video, and preview the content without opening it.
    • Quick Command allows you to easily access favorite actions with the S Pen. For example, if you begin a message with '@', it'll know that this should be an email message.
    • Easy Clip lets you outline and crop any content in any shape for saving or sharing. Simple editing can be done after cropping the image. These cropping and editing features are aided by a dedicated button on the S Pen.
    • Handwriting is possible right within the S Planner and email apps. S Planner also receives Facebook integration.
    • Popup Note allows you to open a note as a popup window anywhere on the screen. When you pull out the stylus during a phone call, it assumes that means you wish to take a note, and will thus open the S Note app automatically.
    • You can also write a note behind a photo, and share it with others. Samsung calls this Photo Notes.
    • Screen Recorder lets you record screen actions for future replays or to share with others.
    • You will get a popup notification when the S Pen is detached and not within a certain distance from the Note II. Samsung calls this feature S Pen Keeper.

 

  • Multi-tasking Enhancements


    • Multiple windows can be launched on one screen. Apps are stacked to prevent window clutter.
    • Popup Video allows the video window to float on the screen, and the window can be repositioned anywhere. Other apps can continued to run under the video window.

 

  • Camera Features, Expression Tools, & Sharing Enhancements


    • The Note II gains the Buddy Photo Share, Burst Shot, and Best Photo features that were introduced on the Galaxy S III.
    • What’s new is Best Faces, which lets you choose the most preferred face or pose of each person from group portraits.
    • Smart Stay (which also debuted on the Galaxy S III), a feature that uses the camera to determine if the user is looking at the device (and if so, prevents the device from going into standby mode), is now on the Note II.
    • There's no lack of tools to illustrate your ideas. Paper Artist applies artistic effects to your photos, Auto Outline automatically draws an outline for you, and Color Picker lets you extract colors from images. Don't know how to draw something? Idea Visualizer will do it for you: just write the item in words, and select the appropriate image from the database.
    • AllShare Play, which lets you view and share content with other Samsung devices on the same network, and AllShare Cast, which allows you to share and collaborate with others documents, presentations, or images through Wi-Fi Display devices, are now possible on the Note II.