Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

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I’ve been waiting since June to upgrade my phone, and because (for some unknown reason), Apple decided to move the launch of the iPhone to September/October, I had a while to wait. In the mean time, we got the Google Nexus 7 Tablet (which I reviewed here). This gave me my first taste of Android and anything other than iOS.

When the iPhone 5 was launched, other than the bigger screen, I wasn’t much impressed with the upgrade, and the thought of moving to Android became a great possibility. This all culminated in ordering the Samsung Galaxy Note II which arrived earlier this week in the UK. I have spent most of the week with it now, so here is my review.

The Galaxy Note II next to a couple of standard rulers to give you an idea of size

Hardware

The obvious feature of the Galaxy Note II is the shear size. I remember looking at the first Note in the store and thinking what a ridiculous size it was. The Galaxy Note II has a bigger Super AMOLED screen of 0.22 inches, taking it to 5.55 inches (1280 x 720), which really earns it the nickname of Phablet. Not only has the screen grown, although not the overall size (the Note was 146.85 mm tall by 82.95mm wide and 9.65 thick. The Note 2 is 151.1 mm tall by 80.5 mm wide and 9.4 mm thick So slightly taller but thinner and less wide), but the redesigned S Pen has also gained some girth and length. This gives the S Pen a better feel in the hand, and makes it less like a Nintendo DS stylus and more like a small pen.

The new S Pen, thicker and longer

As you can see, the new S Pen is about half a cm wide and is of a triangular shape, fitting in the hand nicely. Inside, the Galaxy Note II is powered by a 1.6 Exynos quad core processor and 2 Gb of RAM. This makes the device speed along keeping up with any phone on the market. To run that power house, the Galaxy Note II has a 3,100mAh battery which not only keeps the phone running happily through the day, but also run the incredible hardware. I charge the phone in the morning and spent the rest of the day playing with it trying out as many features as I could. I went to bed, read the user manual and then left the phone on as my bedside clock. I’m not sure exactly what time it turned off, but I know it was running low at 4am, which gives it close to 20 hours running time (I will do a further, more in-depth test along with full bench test scores in a later post).

The 3,100mAh battery that powers the Galaxy Note II with the expandable MicroSD card slot (left) and Micro SIM card slot (right)

The back shows the 8 MP camera (same as the Note and Galaxy S III) whilst the front has a slightly smaller 1.8MP camera (same as GS III, Note had a 2 MP). The camera’s allow for video calls, and have modes like Smile, beauty, multishot, face detection, Share shot (where you can share the photo’s with friends via WiFi Direct), Panorama, Buddy Share (which will detect the faces of those in the picture and share the photo with them automatically), HDR, Smile shot (which will only take the photo when everyone is smiling and looking at the camera) and Low light shot. This means that any other photo app on the Play store is close to obsolete. There are also numerous filters you also find on the GS III (like Vintage, solarise and Blue, green and yellow filters). You can also record full 1080p video and shoot photo’s at the same time (although bear in mind the Note II’s screen is only 720p resolution). Finally, the front of the phone has a proximity sensor, ambient light sensor and a LED.

Finally, the Galaxy Note II has all the connection abilities you would expect of an Android phone, such as 3G, WiFi, NFC and S Beam, Bluetooth 4 and is 4G/LTE ready.