Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
- 1 Introduction and Design
- 2 Interface
- 3 Functionality, Internet and Connectivity
- 4 Camera, Multimedia and Software
- 5 Call quality, Battery and Conclusion
- Samsung GALAXY Note II T-Mobile specifications
- Samsung GALAXY Note II AT&T specifications
- Samsung GALAXY Note II Sprint specifications
- Samsung GALAXY Note II Verizon specifications
Experimenting with something a bit out of the norm, Samsung decided to gamble on bringing back the stylus with the Samsung Galaxy Note – and surely enough, it proved successful in shedding some light on the long forgotten pointing device. As we all know, it wasn’t just your traditional stylus, but rather, the Note’s S-Pen extended the functions of the smartphone. Not only was it accurate in accomplishing expected operations, like making selections and highlighting stuff, but it provided consumers an alternative to the paper and pen.
Beyond the S-Pen, the Galaxy Note was a sight to behold on its own, partly because it stepped outside the box with its immense size and large 5.3” screen. Simply, it pushed the envelope in terms of what was possible with the size of today’s smartphones. Well folks, a good thing is hard to let go, so that’s why Samsung pushed forward in bringing to market its successor – the 5.5” Samsung Galaxy Note II.
Our friends overseas have been getting some good face time playing around with the impressive smartphone, but now the smartphone is coming to the US – with all four major carriers getting in on the fun! Now that we’re seeing light of the US variants of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, it’ll be intriguing to see how it’ll fit into the lineups of the respective carriers knowing that there are other highly prized smartphones lurking about.
- microUSB cable
- Wall Charger
- Stereo Headphones
- Additional ear buds
- Start Guide
- Health & Safety and Warranty Guide
Instead of seeing a minor change, like what we saw with the US variants of the Note, which ditched the physical home button in favor of an all capacitive lineup, the T-Mobile version we’re checking out retains the design of the international unit. Those familiar with the Samsung Galaxy S III will clearly realize the resemblance with this device, as it’s essentially a stretched out version of Sammy’s flagship to accommodate its larger display. Compared to its predecessor on the other hand, it’s surprisingly similar in size (0.37” thick) and weight (6.42 oz) – while still packing a display that’s slightly bigger. Regardless of that noteworthy item, it’s still a bit unwieldy to hold in the hand, making it more suitable for two-handed operation.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a bit unwieldy to hold in the hand, making it more suitable for two-handed operation
You can compare the Samsung Galaxy Note II with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
With its rounded edges and high gloss polycarbonate body, it makes the handset feel rather slick in the hand. Unfortunately, for a device expected to tangle with some of the premier smartphones in the market, it lacks the premium aesthetics to catapult it into the same category of its rivals. However, it’s one of those devices that get people talking about it, or question what it is – whether it’s a tablet or smartphone. Overall, we can’t say that we’re totally impressed by the design, mainly because we’ve seen it before, but nevertheless, we’re most comforted knowing that it’s maintaining its figure.
Lining the area above the screen, we’re presented with the usual suspect of characters – these include the earpiece, light/proximity sensors, front-facing 1.9-megapixel camera (can shoot video in up to 720p), and LED notification light that’s discreetly hidden from view. On the opposite edge, its prominent home button is surrounded by its capacitive menu and back buttons.
Of course, both the 3.5mm headset jack and noise-cancellation microphone are located on the handset’s top trim, with the regular mic and microUSB port are placed on the bottom side of the handset. Not only does the microUSB port offer data and charging connectivity, but we gain video-out functionality with the aid of an optional MHL adapter.
Power key (right)
microUSB port and S-Pen slot (bottom)
Volume rocker (left)
3.5mm jack (top)
The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II
After overcoming the shock of realizing how gargantuan in size the handset is while holding it in our hand, our attention is soon fixed onto its obnoxiously large 5.5-inch HD 720 x 1280 Super AMOLED display. Detailing it already, the Note II manages to maintain its predecessor’s overall size – while being able to accommodate a slightly larger display panel. At first glance, some will quickly realize that the resolution has dropped to 720p, as opposed to the WXGA 800 x 1280 from before, but it doesn’t prove to diminish its detail primarily because Sammy has decided to employ a modified RGB matrix arrangement with its pixels. As a result, we’re presented with details that aren’t softened in the least bit.
Tucked away in the bottom right corner of the device, just like last time, the S Pen discreetly blends into the handset when it’s not in use – ensuring that it won’t be misplaced or lost. Once it’s take out, we notice some appreciable improvements made on the design of this new S Pen. For starters, it’s both thicker in size and longer to make it easier to handle, which essentially makes it more ergonomic than its predecessor. Fashioned into the shape and style of a pencil, we’re able to grasp it with a natural feel.
Of course, it’s accurate in terms of its responsiveness with the display, but there are some additional new features with the S Pen that extends the functionality of the handset further – we’ll expand on it more in the interface section. Showing its appreciation to the S Pen, there’s an option that allows us to be notified if we’ve forgotten to put the S Pen back into its slot when we take a few steps away from where we placed the S Pen. Overall, it’s a wonderful alternative to interacting with the smartphone.
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1. dr_fajardo12 posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:09 13 0
its difficult to pick one: LG optimus G or Lumia 920 or Note 2. My money dont know what to do D:
5. -box- posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:18 8 5
Just a 9, PA? I would have thought it'd get 9 and change (equivalent of an A, rather than an A- or B+) but short of A+ (9.6+).
That said, I'd still get the Lumia 920 over anything and everything out this year, and probably into most of next year.
8. sheik posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:21 2 1
Hey do you know windows os well? I have a question to ask
12. -box- posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:32 3 0
Yes, I own a Lumia 900 and use it for my daily phone if you're referring to Windows Phone. I also am very familiar with WIndows for computers as well. Feel free to ask anything!
16. sheik posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:42 3 0
What's the difference between windows 8 between windows RT? I googled a lot only to find that even tech websites columnists have confusion about their difference. Is win RT a hybrid between win 7 & win8? Also whats the point of Win Pro? can you enlighten me on that?
28. Mobile-X-Pert posted on 24 Oct 2012, 09:13 7 0
Windows RT is developed under the ARM architecture, so therefore it does not run any of the windows xp, vista, 7 programs. Windows 8 pro on the other hand, is developed under the X86/X64 architecture and it runs all of the legacy programs and apps from previous operating systems.
Note: Windows RT and Windows 8 pro share the same Native code (kernel) and both have the full desktop environment in the background.
61. jshan posted on 24 Oct 2012, 22:32 2 2
Hey man I'm asking you this cz it's like your a xpert on mobile industry eh ? K so give me your idea bout iPhone and android (iOS and android ) which is the best between em ?
69. shandesilva posted on 25 Oct 2012, 12:52 1 0
jshan my friend, you still havent made up your mind? :)..its android !,,,and the galaxy phones are much better than iphones in lots of aspects.
70. Mobile-X-Pert posted on 25 Oct 2012, 16:48 3 0
I like both Android and iOS operating systems, they have their cons and pros.
Android is an open source operating system developed under the linux core, it gives you almost the same freedom as a linux operating system on a PC, many customazion options, the ability to root it and great third party support. But all this comes at the cost of performace in some cases, most Android phones lag at a certain point, and they are not the easiest phones to use. But I think they finally got it right with Jelly bean.
iOS: It's a well built ecosystem all around, music, videos, movies, apps...almost everything you need. However it is a closed ecosystem, meaning that everything you do or use has to come from Apple. Third pary support is great too. The operating system is very simple to use, but sometimes boring and that makes you wanna upgrade your phone every year. There is no lag at all, at least 98% of the time.
In my case, I trust the finns more (Nokia), finland has the highest student achievement rate. They always come up with great stuff, I also like their designs and build quality of their products,I like their maps system (which is the best), and finally the great support that they're giving to their Lumia line.
79. -box- posted on 29 Oct 2012, 15:49 0 0
Between ios and android, Android hands down. Better ecosystem, better phones, cheaper to own/operate, and upgrade.
That said, I've moved from Android to WP and haven't looked back. It's a good system, just not for me, and, really, probably not for most general non-enthusiast consumers. iphones have had their day, the world is moving on.
14. -box- posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:35 7 1
Seriously, there are no "cons" listed here, how is this not a 9.3-9.5?
19. Droid_X_Doug posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:49 8 1
"Seriously, there are no "cons" listed here, how is this not a 9.3-9.5?"
6. sheik posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:18 2 1
Wait for nexus or Go with Note II. You will never regret for choosing that. Want reasons? Note comes with JB out of the box where as Opt G still runs ICS not to mention that 4.2 is gonna be released in next week. And note II is still lighter than 920 with its gigantic 5.5 screen and has better eco system compared to windows store.
7. The.Dark.Knight.Rises posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:18 3 0
Pick note 2. You don't have to insult yourself by buying LG.
13. -box- posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:34 1 2
LGs are just fine, and Nexus devices have a nice aspect to their ownership in terms of getting the newest OS versions sonner than anything else (typically, unless you're on verizon).
43. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Oct 2012, 11:12 2 0
You can root & not have to deal with Verizon. I am on Android 4.1.2 & I have Verizon.
80. -box- posted on 29 Oct 2012, 15:50 0 0
True, but you void the warranty on it, and I wouldn't do any rooting until after the warranty was up.
21. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:54 4 0
My thing with the Galaxy Note II will be the root scene. I root because I get total control of customization, features & performance. I know the source have been released but I am really interested to see how it does.
If the phone proves to have GREAT developer support on both the phone & processor then I am there. If not I am really hoping for this rumored HTC Nexus 5 to be a reality.
I have to admit that if I didn't root & would be ALL over this sexy/beast called the Samsung Galaxy Note II. For a stock phone this is REALLY hard to beat. The battery life is really, really impressive. Droid Razor MAXX HD who? lol
30. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 24 Oct 2012, 09:19 1 0
dont worry about Dev support as Sammy has already confirmed on twitter that they are looking into problems concerned with the proper documentation related to exynos. so I guess it will have great Dev support.
31. remixfa posted on 24 Oct 2012, 09:27 3 0
The phone is one sexy piece of hardware for sure. But is it worth nearly double the cost of the Nexus4.. that's my issue. And unless the N4 just sucks, I cant find many reasons that it's worth the extra cost. Have to wait to see N4 reviews to find out for sure though. Sammy definitely hit a high end home run with this thing though, that's for sure.
40. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Oct 2012, 10:30 5 2
The Samsung Galaxy Note II has the S-Pen, the 3100 mAh beast of a battery, the support of up to a 64GB MicroSD card & the real stunner that beautiful 5.5" RGB Super AMOLED HD screen. All those things equal better than the LG Nexus 4. Plus more functionality.
To me the price is justifiable. Now add GREAT developer support as ZEUS.the.thunder.god is saying & I really thing this phone has no rival.
I just really hope what ZEUS.the.thunder.god says really pans out.
44. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 24 Oct 2012, 11:56 0 0
48. XPERIA-KNIGHT posted on 24 Oct 2012, 13:01 3 2
that 5.5 inch rgb screen is still amoled in which i am sure the IPS LCD on the N4 is much clearer and brighter plus its a quad core nexus for gods sakes! Gonna have key lime pie, a better processor S4 pro, and to top it off........THE PRICE MAY ONLY BE 400 DOLLARS!!!
sorry but no bueno for me.....
nexus all D way lol
49. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Oct 2012, 14:09 1 0
Hey that's you. I respect that. The Qualcomm quad-core S4 Pro is indeed the best, no doubt. The Exynos 4 quad-core @ 1.6GHz is not to shabby either. The screen is debatable, they are BOTH 720p screens just that one is 4.7" & one is 5.5".
You will be able to see & read things better on a larger screen so the advantage has to go to the bigger screen always.
You are right about the price point. Sure the LG Nexus 4 will be cheaper but it won't be able to do what the Samsung Galaxy Note II can, but the Samsung Galaxy Note II WILL be able to do what the LG Nexus 4 can.
Also about Key Lime Pie, I ALWAYS root. To me if you own an Android & you can follow steps like in a cook book, then you can most definitely root. If I get the Samsung Galaxy Note II, I will root that beast. I will make it how I want & make it perform better than Samsung could ever do, thanks to the GREAT Android developer ecosystem that is out there. I will have Android 4.2 Key Lime Pie. Maybe not the same day the source is released but as early as a couple of days to a full week after the LG Nexus 4 gets it. That is how fast rooted non Nexus phones get the most up to date Android versions.
So when I root my Samsung Galaxy Note II in theory I will be turning the phone into a 5.5", S-Pen powered, 3100 mAh battery & up to a 64GB MicroSD card reading Nexus. As always with the ability to put a custom ROM & Kernels that I choose.
That is the beauty of Android, plain & simple.
41. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 24 Oct 2012, 10:33 1 1
well I have to disagree with you Remix on the price. I think Sammy has justified it. As much as I love my GneX, I have to agree that this phone is a beast and real value for money. But thats just my opinion.
42. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Oct 2012, 11:07 1 0
Hey that is my opinion also.
45. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 24 Oct 2012, 12:05 1 0
thanx bro. and yeah I read about Sammy taking care of Exynos documentation issue. They are always very supportive when it comes to Dev community. Lets hope for the best. But I was really looking forward to GneX II this year so may be wait for next year or might go for Lg Nexus if price is right here in India.
39. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Oct 2012, 10:24 1 0
That is good to hear. I love the LG Nexus 4 BUT the HUGE 5.5" screen is so epic.
50. MobileCaseReview posted on 24 Oct 2012, 14:47 1 0
SuperAndro, I agree. As a Note owner in the US, I've been very forunate to have amazing dev support. I've been running liquid smooth on my note since its release and this is straight out butter. The note 2 I'm sure will have plenty of dev support. As much as I love all the innovations Samsung put in, I'm gonna turn that beast into stock android regardless. Crossing my fingers there's a HTC nexus 5. I would hop all over that within seconds get myself into debt haha.
53. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Oct 2012, 15:19 1 0
Dude that makes me feel really good about purchasing the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
55. MobileCaseReview posted on 24 Oct 2012, 15:41 1 0
I'm in the same boat as you. Just sitting and waiting. Having this gigantic screen has spoiled me. I won't accept anything less than 5 inches now. One of my devs said he may be getting the Note II. He's done amazing work withe Gnote 1 so far. ManelScout4Life waiting to find out if he's going with the Gnote 2. Sadly, that will strongly sway my decision lol.
77. moronman66 posted on 29 Oct 2012, 00:32 0 0
I dunno, from what I understand developers have a harder time developing for phones running Exynos processors, for some reason? I would get the phone if that is false, or just wait for either the HTC Nexus 5 or the HTC J Butterfly or whatever it's called, 5 Inch 1080p Screen with 440 pixel density, quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro and 2 gigs of RAM, count me in!
25. richardyarrell2011 (banned) posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:58 3 2
Case closed... As I have been stating for the last month nothing will be better than the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for the next 180 days period. This review proves my point 100% this device is worth any amount. And will be mines come November 1st.
62. imkyle posted on 24 Oct 2012, 23:07 1 0
I am rocking a Galaxy Nexus and I love Samsung products, but the Optimus G has my attention.
68. winsaki234 posted on 25 Oct 2012, 10:03 0 2
Galaxy Note 2
Optimus G = LG never update their phone
920 = bad ecosystem
73. enGet posted on 25 Oct 2012, 23:13 0 0
Excatly my problem too, and the same phones as well :)
I am putting the Note in third place though because of the low quality case and screen, but I love the size. The Lumia is well-built and has Win 8 so it should be damn good. The Optimus looks awesome as well - high quality parts, awesome screen, etc, but I am a tad worried that Android hasn't fixed their wifi connectivity issues such as having to use a static IP address to connect to a wifi hotspot/modem/router (2 out the last 3 Androoid devices I have owned had this issue).
Right now I am waiting to see what the Nexus 4 (LG) looks like, then I'll make my final decision.
2. sheik posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:11 3 0
You are wrong. The GN II front camera is 1.9 MP, not 1.3 MP
3. PhoneArena Team posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:15 4 3
You are right, this has been fixed. Thanks
4. Droid_X_Doug posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:17 3 2
VZW, stop f*cking around.... RELEASE your version of the Note II!!!!
11. PAPINYC posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:31 2 0
I know, I can't take it anymore (I feel like one of those people who habitually stand on-line when a phone is released; of course, this is different because it's 'the Next Big Thing', unlike the same old small thing that those other people wait on-line for [dangle preposition...]).
17. Droid_X_Doug posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:45 2 0
November is my decision month. Specifically, early November (9th). If VZW hasn't announced for late November shipping, I may have bite the bullet and go with the AT&T edition. I am not going to wait into December for VZW to ship something this good.
22. PAPINYC posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:54 2 0
Patience... Verizon will not release this in the same 2-week return window as the RAZR HD/RAZR MAXX HD launch. My educated guess is a November 8th release date on Verizon. "You can quote me on that."
27. Droid_X_Doug posted on 24 Oct 2012, 09:02 2 0
Yeah patience.... Ever walk around with a small pebble in your shoe? At some point, you just have to stop and remove the shoe to get rid of the pebble. For me, that point will occur when the AT&T edition of the Note II ships.
9.0. What a joke, PA!
37. PAPINYC posted on 24 Oct 2012, 09:42 1 0
No one knows more about that proverbial "pebble" than I. After all, I dealt for years with Microsoft Windows phones after Windows Mobile 2003SE hoping that they would continue to evolve
but, instead experienced the steady spiraling devolution of Windows Mobile 5,
5.1, 6.0, 6.1, 6.5, etc!
So, I truly feel ya'
23. Droid_X_Doug posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:55 3 0
Edit: I am 'justifying' AT&T by trying to convince myself that it would be good to have a second carrier for those times when VZW doesn't have coverage.... Lame, I know, but still, that is how bad I want this toy.
Come on VZW!!!! Your version has already received certification from the FCC, so it is nothing more than you f*cking with the market.
9. PAPINYC posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:22 5 3
"John V." this phone deserves a "10" solely based on that video posted yesterday demoing the use of the S-Pen to paint on top of all the other hardware that completely blows anything else, including that teeny-tiny "other" phone with the headphone jack now on the bottom' (which is half a phone compared to the G-Note II).
15. Droid_X_Doug posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:39 4 0
Yeah, I would agree that PA has down-rated the Note II. If the iP5 gets a 9 with all of its 'issues', the Note II rates at least a 9.5.
20. PAPINYC posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:51 4 0
Thank you, I didn't want to point out all those issues for fear of getting another "warning". But, you're right that "other" phone (if you can call it a phone) has a host of hardware and software issues and it, too, got a "9". Someone at PhoneArena (cough, cough Michael H.) should review, revise and update "John V's" atrocious rating.
24. Berzerk000 posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:55 3 0
Yes, the Note II deserves a 9.5 at least. Especially since there is no cons list if you look.
10. FranksGT posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:28 3 2
"Regardless of that noteworthy item, it’s still a bit unwieldy to hold in the hand, making it more suitable for two-handed operation."
OH WAIT IPHONEARENA.
The Ipad Mini 7.9 can be used with 1 hand but a PHONE can't?
Are you mental?
Your stating a 5.5 inch phone is more sutible for 2 hands, and a Ipad mini is comfortable with 1 hand at 7.9?
35. PAPINYC posted on 24 Oct 2012, 09:34 1 1
Yeah, but you forget, the MiNiPad has this new feature called "Thumb Detection"; an entire article devoted to it was posted here last evening.
Here's to "Big Thumbs" on PhoneArena.
18. darkvadervip posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:47 2 2
Well I'm tired of Android bring on wp8. All Androids are the same just different specs. Getting to childish for me. Apple is OK just tired of the same ios.
81. -box- posted on 29 Oct 2012, 15:53 0 0
I did the same thing in April (for WP7, of course, not 8) and haven't looked back. No crashes, no restarting launchers, no random reboots, great signal and voice quality, and the data and memory isn't being hogged by a bunch of poorly written apps
26. ChrisG posted on 24 Oct 2012, 08:58 2 0
"Discrete" vs. "discreet." Look it up. Basically, you used the wrong term throughout the article. Otherwise, nice review!
29. redmd posted on 24 Oct 2012, 09:16 1 1
John V is this year's Ray S for the Note. Score of 9 without a con, where did the 1 go? The absence of fruit logo probably hid it. Seriously I've been using the Note 2 for a week now and I think it's the most fluid android yet both hardware and software. coming from Note 1 I'm impressed to the maxx.
32. lzsbleach posted on 24 Oct 2012, 09:27 1 0
I think he gave it a 9 because of the size; everyone doesn't want a mini tablet for a phone but other than that this phone is like a 9.7 with people who don't mind the size.