Galaxy Note II vs Note: should you upgrade?
In case you've read our article "Samsung Galaxy Note II and its S Pen magic: a summary of the new features", you'd already know that Samsung has improved quite a bit in the Galaxy Note II - from the hardware under the hood, to the screen and the capabilities of the S Pen. Still, if someone comes and tells you that you just need to have these new features, they'll most probably be wrong. Not that most of them aren't cool or useless, but it's debatable if the new stuff is game-changing enough to warrant a new purchase. Let's take a closed look at the more important new features, compare them to what we already have in the original Note, and see just how much of an improvement a user is going to get with the new model!
Bigger, 5.5" Super AMOLED screen
As you've probably heard, Samsung has increased the screen size a bit, going from 5.3" all the way to... 5.5". What's good about this is that it isn't at the expense of the device's dimensions, as those have been preserved almost the same. So there isn't a big difference here, but what about the technology used? Both phones use HD Super AMOLED, although the Note II uses a slightly better pixel arrangement, so it should appear a bit crisper, although we're not sure if the difference will be visible in real-world conditions.
Now, is it worth it to get the Note II because of this 0.2" difference in screen size and possibly slightly better image quality? We'd say no, it's not really substantial enough. The original Note's 5.3" display is still big enough, and it's also quite crisp, so it's still perfectly good in today's realities.
Faster, 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor
The quad-core Exynos silicon powering the Note II is another tempting feature. At first sight, the performance between the Note II and original Note probably won't be very different, however, the Note II is practically future-proof at this point, ready to run all the demanding applications that may soon become available in the Play Store.
But should you worry about this now, when your dual-core Exynos 4210 still packs quite a punch and allows you to run everything? Well, not necessarily. You can just stick to your Note for now and make the switch whenever you feel that your mobile lifestyle could use a bit more power.
More RAM (2GB)
The amount of RAM memory that your mobile device has also has a direct effect on performance. Like in every other area, Samsung has put more here, doubling the RAM from 1GB to 2GB. This will be appreciated by users do a lot of multitasking on their Notes. Every hardcore Android user knows that you can use almost a full 1GB of RAM when you're multitasking a number of heavier applications.
On the other hand, people who don't tend to do a number of things at the same time won't really notice a big performance boost. With a bit of smart memory management, you can actually enjoy a seamless user experience with the Note, so it will ultimately be your usage pattern that will decide if you could make a good use of the 2 gigabytes in the new Note.
Like the previous Note, the Note II comes with an 8MP camera. Not only are the specs almost identical, but Samsung also didn't have anything specific to say about the camera during the announcement keynote, so we guess that we shouldn't expect any significant improvement in this area.
Faster data connection
The Samsung Galaxy Note II will come with faster HSPA+ connection. It will go up to 42.2 Mbit/s on the downlink, compared to the original Note's 21.1 Mbit/s. Please keep in mind that this doesn't mean that you'll get two times faster download speeds with the Note II. There will probably be an improvement, but it won't be that big. All of this applies to the international version only. In the U.S., AT&T's Note has LTE, and T-Mobile's Note supports HSPA+ 42.2 Mbit/s down, so in case Samsung doesn't announce something even better with the U.S. variants of the Note II, there may as well not be any difference in data speeds between the two devices.
Improved, more accurate S Pen
The S Pen is probably the area where Samsung has innovated the most. With many new software features designed to improve the "natural" note-taking experience, among which pressure sensitivity, the Note II undoubtedly shapes up as a much better device for note-taking. If you've been using the Note mainly for this kind of stuff, then the new handset will surely be a smart investment.
Here's a summary of all the new features in the Note II's S Pen:
The new S Pen: a summary of all the new features
1. The new S Pen comes with an 8mm body for better grip and a rubber tip.
2. The magic starts when you take the pen out, an application automatically starts, allowing you to instantly start doing things with the S Pen.
3. The new S Pen features better pressure sensitivity with 1,024 levels of sensitivity, up from the mere 256 on the original G Note. Artists would definitely appreciate it.
4. The most amazing new feature is AirView - hover actions for the S Pen. Hover the tip of the S Pen around half an inch (10mm) above the screen and you get to peek inside applications.
5. AirView works with the mail application - hovering brings up a pop-up with contents of the email.
6. AirView works with S Calendar - hover for detailed look at events.
7. AirView works with the gallery - hover over an album to see the images in it pop up.
9. Next comes PopUp Note. Imagine you are speaking with someone on the phone, and you need to write down a note. Now most of us would start looking for a pen and a piece of paper in vain, and Samsung brings the solution - just take out the S Pen and you can automatically start writing down a note on the screen. Neat!
10. PopUp Video is something Samsung borrowed from the S III, allowing you to play a video on top of what you have on the screen. It's not directly S Pen related but you can move around the video with the stylus while you're doing other stuff.
11. Easy Clip is just what it sounds like - encircle an object with the S Pen and you get the option to easily clip it. Neat for making small collages!
13. Screen Recorder is an app not directly related to the S Pen - it lets you capture a sequence of actions, not just a screenshot and record it.
14. Idea Visualizer is another new feature - you write a word in a dedicated box, and the Note II will generate an image that fits with that word.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS
The original Note has finally received Android 4.0 ICS, and while Samsung hasn't specifically announced an update to Jelly Bean, the device was indeed present on a presentation slide showing the company's devices set for a JB update. When this would happen, however, is not yet known. On the other hand, the Note II is coming with Jelly Bean out of the box, which is good, but not necessarily a game-changer if you're stuck with ICS. However, releasing the Note II with Jelly Bean now, means that Samsung will most probably update the device next year when the next Android version comes out, and we can't be so certain that this will also be true for the original Note.
Looked as a whole, the Samsung Galaxy Note II is a nice improvement compared to the first Note, because Samsung has reworked almost all elements of the device. In case you aren't taking hand-written notes like there's no tomorrow, though, we think that you should be perfectly good with your trusty Note for the time being. It will be next year when the need for a more powerful device will become prevalent, and that would be a much better time to purchase a then price-cut Galaxy Note II (or maybe even a Note III, depending on the timing).
Galaxy Note II (left) next to Galaxy Note (right)
1. thebest (Posts: 231; Member since: 08 Jul 2012)
its not that necessary but there are enough reasons to upgrade........
25. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
couldnt agree more,if you have a 2011 high end phone,you already have things such as dual core,1gb ram etc etc so no 2012 phone is necessary at the moment but there are plenty of reasons too upgrade
29. redmd (Posts: 884; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
the reason for me to upgrade to this is the quad CPU and bigger battery. hopefully the screen issues of the note 1 has been addressed.
32. TheLibertine (Posts: 484; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)
It's the same as iPhone 4/4S. Just a spec bump with some new toys. I will not upgrade, as I actually never got to like that screen size.
43. cristhiansaid (Posts: 30; Member since: 25 Jun 2010)
is not the same as iphone 4/4s. galaxy note II has many changes not only a better CPU....like iphones...
it has a different display, size, etc....
45. TheLibertine (Posts: 484; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)
The display is barely changed and the screen has the same resolution, just not that crappy Note I matrix. Better pen versus Siri and a bit changed screen measurements versus more MP.
I do not say there are no significant changes. Just not much more than on the iPhone 4S.
48. cristhiansaid (Posts: 30; Member since: 25 Jun 2010)
OHHH COME ON!!!
2 gb of RAM a different SIZE AND better looking DESIGN, a improvement of features likes S-PEN, A QUAD CORE CPU....NEW SOFTWARE......
WHAT DO U WANT A RESOLUTION 2000X2000?
a camera of 24 mpx.??
""I do not say there are no significant changes. Just not much more than on the iPhone 4S.""
the iphone 4s has not change at all, just better cpu and camera wooo!!!...soo... dont compare with that crap of iphone 4/4s that has minimal (nothing) change..
""Better pen versus Siri and a bit changed screen measurements versus more MP.""
its only depend of operating system, actualy the iphone 4 can use siri.
Google voice vs Siri. COMPARE.
49. TheLibertine (Posts: 484; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)
That's exactly what I am talking about... *Sigh*
54. McLTE (Posts: 695; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)
The other thing is that the Note 2 isn't CATCHING UP WITH THE REST OF THE INDUSTRY and calling it revolutionary!
There really is no comparison here between the 4/4s and note1/2.
If this were merely a 4/4s type upgrade, the announcement would have included:
Same size screen
Same size battery
Same Native Apps
New version of the OS
While this may not be the massive redesign that people were hoping for, I believe that Sammy went far beyond what Apple did for the 4/4s.
63. gallitoking (Posts: 4684; Member since: 17 May 2011)
so you will pony up the dough and upgrade I presume?.. remember this note come to the State less than a year ago. if you bought the Note will you upgrade to the note 2... I think not.. so all the examples you just gave just become obsolute..
61. lubba (Posts: 1310; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)
I wouldn't compare the G-note to the iPhone. G-note is bigger and probably better for entertainment And productivity. In a different league. The iPhone is best for nothing more than games, for I've seen it mostly used for such. Siri is nothing more than a gimmick to make the iPhone look good. Never ever seen anyone use it. Oh well, fools will always be fooled.
64. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
why would the i4 be better for playing games? its smaller, weaker, and everything else. it has a few games that android doesnt, but big woop.
Id much rather play on a 5.5 touch than a 3.5 touch by far!
65. ph00ny (Posts: 598; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Not even remotely close. I own the original note and the ip4s
70. farhit (Posts: 4; Member since: 20 Jan 2012)
You dont like the big screen then please let other like it and dont make iphone a standard of measuring every cell phone. Ever company and product has its own class and people like diffrent things. For my work, hands and writing love galaxy note 1 and 2 are ideal sizes because i cant carry a 7' tablet in my pocket. Please enjoy ur iphone and let us enjoy the note 2
33. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)
If I ever get this one, my main reason would be future proofing. 2GB ram. And a quadcore processor.
How i wish smartphones are just like PCs that you could upgrade your ram just by adding some more.ohwell.
34. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
thebest true said....
ile be selling my Note and will be buying this Sim-Fre, can't
Really nice article Ray S.
36. sid07desai (Posts: 256; Member since: 03 May 2012)
I think it would be a wise to sell the Note (if you have one) and buy the Note II. That way, it becomes affordable too.
2. Anymal (Posts: 7; Member since: 22 Feb 2009)
wellcome back, Ray S. ... any video of comparison soon?
3. aris77 (Posts: 4; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)
the original Note IS getting Jelly Bean. It was officially announced yesterday... "The original Note has finally received Android 4.0 ICS, but it isn't clear yet if Samsung is going to update it any further than this" what are you talking about ??????
5. Ray.S (Posts: 257; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)
Thanks for the correction, I'll fix the article right now.
4. MeoCao (unregistered)
why not, if money is not an issue?
6. Ray.S (Posts: 257; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)
Yeah, that's right. But these days chances are that money will be (at least a small) issue for more people.
41. MeoCao (unregistered)
Well, for most people buying a Note is a question, not upgrading it. But theoretically a Note is very expensive so upgrading it after just 1 year is very difficult for most people.
21. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 642; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)
I could swear you dont want people to buy Galaxy note II. In case you aren't taking hand-written notes like there's no tomorrow, though, we think that you should be perfectly good with your trusty Note for the time being". You should not review any Android device at all. I didnt hear anything good from your article.
I think I'm allowed to express myself, right. Don't ban me!
24. protozeloz (Posts: 5375; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)
I would buy an S-pen and an app that has some of these features, but honestly the note 2 is not for everyone..... I was hoping for a 7" well built note as the 10" is not worth it
42. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)
Well yeah for people like me who have to buy everything unlocked it is a very big issue. Since i'm not rich buying something like that in cash requires 3-4months of saving
8. TheLibertine (Posts: 484; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)
Never again. On my Note, I waited ages for a more or less (more less) lag-free and mature Android, the battery life is terrible since ICS, (a mobile phone you depend on heavily throughout the day dies after two hours of Wi-Fi and looses ALL the battery over night) the build quality is terrible (after six months, the dock connector does barely charge it, dirt and dust everywhere in the tiny cracks, all plastic) and the specs don't matter anymore if the browser just crashes every twenty minutes... Is that even excusable for a 520 Euro phone...?
Also, the size is good only for mobile movie watching: it is way to small for a tablet and little to big for a smartphone alone. So, next time I either go with an iPhone or a dumbphone.
12. aris77 (Posts: 4; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)
1. battery dies after 2 hours of wi-fi???? maybe you just need a new battery.... mine is all day on wifi and i just charge it overnight.
2. terrible build quality? if you had used a case and hadn't dropped it a million times maybe you wouldn't be complaining right now...
16. maryaaadil (Posts: 146; Member since: 07 Apr 2012)
mine lasts a day with wifi turned on, well i am not in love with the build quality of note but still it works for me.
20. aris77 (Posts: 4; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)
yes, it is 'fragile', but it is not the mess that some people try to say it is....
30. TheLibertine (Posts: 484; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)
Don't know how you achieve that battery life... :(. And build quality... Here we all agree - just not worth more than a half thousand Euro. (700 dollars.)
19. protozeloz (Posts: 5375; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)
have you tried factory reset? :s I have a few friends with the note and 4.0 improved the experience..... I think Apple fanboys should stick to apple products and android fanboys to android products and we should see less rants in here from one jumping into the other's camp.... and honestly dumb phone? I mean there is windows phone
46. TheLibertine (Posts: 484; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)
Consider the price. 20 dollars and you get a fluid device with two-weeks battery life, hardware keyboard and three good preloaded games (Snake, Tetris, Pacman).
52. joey_sfb (Posts: 2899; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)
Just sell it or throw it into a bin, instead of whining about it.
9. joseph98 (Posts: 167; Member since: 03 Feb 2012)
Since this is a new open discussion after I post my comment elsewhere earlier, so I will just copy and paste my comment why I am disappointing from the new GN2.
I was one of the first adapters of the galaxy note 1. had this phablet since January 2012. I was the first to write Samsung back then that I loved this note and wish the battery was 3000 mAh or more and a larger screen but no more than 5.5 inch would be perfect but keep in mind to reduce the weight or at least keep the same weight and less bazel. I pledged Samsung to buy it if they do that. Now they did but what really disappoint me was changing aspect ratio from 16:10 to 16:9. it's not a bad thing for some users but for me I was expecting the new note 2 will just be larger in width and length but this new note was only larger in legnth and less in width to look like stretched GS3. still it is not a bad thing for some users but for me I pass and will keep my old note. Otherwise this phone is great and loaded with new features and If I didn't own the note 1 then I will definitely buy a note but again it will be hard to choose from note 1 or 2 due to screen ratio that the new note 2 I didn't like. But that is my opinion. for now will keep my old note 1. I might add to my inventory wp8 either Samsung but I will wait to see what Nokia has to offer and no I never and will never buy apple iphone. Apple products is not on my shopping list.
18. aris77 (Posts: 4; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)
i agree with you on the 'note' comments and apple not being on my shopping list. i would just like to add that i have an htc titan as a second phone (running tango) and although i really wanted to like this phone, it just wasn't enough. windows market is years behind google play. although windows 7.5/8 interface is fluid and fast, it still gets very boring after a while and is not very practical. the wp8 presentation of the interface was not very appealing to me (resizing tiles is 'too little to late' for me). i'll stick with the 'fragmented' android camp for the foreseeable future. too bad, wp seemed promising....
22. Ray.S (Posts: 257; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)
You do have a point there. I don't like phones with such narrow screens either. Still, it has its up side as well in that it will now be a bit more comfortable to hold.
13. maryaaadil (Posts: 146; Member since: 07 Apr 2012)
i think there is no need to upgrade note2.
my note still can run all the apps in play store n when it will age new note(note 3) will pop up and i'll buy that.
i think what i will buy is an extra battery for my note.......
23. joseph98 (Posts: 167; Member since: 03 Feb 2012)
I was hoping the new battery 3100mAh for the new GN2 will fit in our GN1. Anybody knows for a fact yet.
17. Peter98 (Posts: 119; Member since: 01 Aug 2012)
Come on Apple! I'm your fan, but this really going to take my heart there! Please to soe thing to attract me back to you.
39. redsox420 (Posts: 90; Member since: 27 Aug 2012)
They will show you something alright. Most likely 4 inches of fun. Same style over and over and over again. Black glass on the back Matte plastic/rubber top and bottom. Have you seen the photos of the leaked renders? Man its just a longer iphone. Good luck with that.
I'll take the Note 2. 5.5 Inches of LARGE screen fun!. You can customize your android phone the way you want to. Like adding Go Launcher, ADW or whatever. You can widget the hell out of your phone to the point itll make you sick. You can add the Flipboard widget on a Droid phone, but not on the ipad.
I mean what can you really do with your iphone that any Droid phone wont do? Can you add widgets? Can you use Circle Launcher on your Iphone? Go Launcher? ADW? Can you add news or other widgets without having to always jump into a folder and click an app just to make it open? The resounding answer is NO to all the above.
Come to Android Peter. THESE are the Droids you are looking for!!
I used the 3g/3gs and there is nothing new in the user experience that would ever make me come back 4,4gs, and the 5 all are going to look the same, feel the same, operate the same. Apple locks out 3rd party devs/apps. Until they allow 3rd party apps, Apple is going to continue to control the user experience with the iphones/ipads. The only truly way to change the iphone/ipad is to jailbreak it and then take full control of the device. But with that comes a voided warranty, unless you bring back to stock. You don't need to root the Android phone to completely customize it. sure you can root, add a custom rom, but if JB is added and is the latest and greatest Android version, just enjoy.
This is just my opinion. In the end the choice comes down to, do I stick with whats comfortable, maybe not totally happy with it, but i'll give it another shot. Or do I go bold and make a statement and try something new?
58. nofear (Posts: 149; Member since: 22 Jun 2012)
Sorry redsox420, i thumbed you down accidentally.
40. TheLibertine (Posts: 484; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)
Do not rush things... Samsung is all about specs and specs are not the reason to stick with Apple.
27. redsox420 (Posts: 90; Member since: 27 Aug 2012)
I have the Infuse 4g, was going to get the first Note. But with this announcement, knowing Jelly is OTB then I know the Note part 2 is good for the next 2 Android versions. They will have to put a 12-14mp camera in the Note 3 and a minimum of 32GB to start with and up to 128GB.. They have 128GB compact flash cards for DSLRs why not here? Maybe 3gb ram and can't go much bigger than 5.5 inches..
Im looking forward to seeing this live.. Is it November 21st yet?
38. Mitchel (Posts: 228; Member since: 25 May 2012)
I already saw this on their facebook page..
But off-topic guys, i just noticed that Samsung have insane number of facebook fans in different countries compared to any Mobile manufacturers including Apple, Inc. who has only 7+ million fans.. Samsung Mobile Global and Samsung Mobile US have both almost 12 million fans each, that's staggering 23+ million.. Then other countries like India have 3 million fans, & then others.. :)
47. mudassarfa (Posts: 2; Member since: 29 Aug 2012)
samsung is forcing us to spend all our money in their phones by making such tempting and innovating products
57. nofear (Posts: 149; Member since: 22 Jun 2012)
I agreed with you that Sammy makes good product but it is not going to force you to buy.
50. Jeradiah3 (Posts: 1003; Member since: 11 Feb 2010)
If you already have the Note..........theres no reason to buy the Note II
If you dont have the Note...........save your upgrade eligibility for the Note II
I heard that it can be as much as $800 outright, which is one of the most expensive products out there. There will be some to buy just to have it, but im not paying $800 for a phone when my laptop isn't even close to that amount. Im going to save my eligibility for the Note II and hope that its not $300 like the original
51. Hammerfest (Posts: 369; Member since: 12 May 2012)
As an original note user...
NO, I will not be upgrading!
Lower PPI, crap aspect ratio...
Considering the SCREEN is the main aspect of a Phablet, this makes all the difference
55. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2169; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)
16:9 is a crap aspect ratio? I guess the aspect ratio on most phones out there is crap.
69. Tams80 (Posts: 1; Member since: 23 Sep 2012)
It's not crap, but it's not as good; especially if you're using a stylus to do any writing. A lot of webpages are 1280x800 at minimum. The loss of DPI isn't that great, but also annoying.
16:9 is only really popular because you get no black bars when watching videos and it's more economical to produce 16:9 displays.
I'm also disappointed that Samsung still haven't added a rubber to the end of the pen. All other Wacom Penabled pens have have one.
62. doejon (Posts: 347; Member since: 31 Jul 2012)
oh man the note 2 have rgb matrix it makes it sharper than
the note 1
56. nofear (Posts: 149; Member since: 22 Jun 2012)
Yeah! it will be worthed because that i'm going to get one.