Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The smartphone stylus pretty much went the way of the Dodo bird with the introduction of the original iPhone that reinvented the touchscreen paradigm, yet a lot of folks have apparently been missing it.
Samsung really caught up to that trend, and introduced a stylus-laden Galaxy Note handset, but instead of putting the pen there for the precision it allows you in some tasks (like hitting tiny X buttons on small-screened WinMo handsets), it took a counterintuitive at first look approach. The Note was equipped with the gigantic for a phone 5.3” screen to doodle on - a pretty logical idea if the intent is for more useful tasks than chasing interface elements unoptimized for touch. Such a huge phone was a gamble, though - Androids were growing in screen size at the time, but the flagships topped out usually at 4.3”, and the iPhone was still at the palm-friendly 3.5” size, so a 5.3-incher raised quite a few eyebrows.
Whether because of the top-notch specs at introduction, because of the marketing push Samsung put behind the Note, or simply because people heard about the Note and said “Bril, I can now jot down the grocery list when out of the door, or scribble an address while on call”, but the monster handset carved a brand new niche for itself, and more than 10 million units have been sold so far.
Now we have its successor, the Note II, which transitions the Note family feel from the I’m-with-dork to an oversized-Galaxy-S-III-with-stylus impression. It also ups the ante with a much more ergonomic S Pen stylus that learned new tricks, a larger 5.5” screen in a thinner, narrower body, die-shrunk quad-core processor, and 2GB of RAM. Are there other improvements in store? Read on our review to find out...
A 5.5-incher doesn’t bat an eye these days, and it’s not only Samsung with the first Note to blame. Calling from smartphones is pretty down the list of the most used features now, with web browsing and media consumption knocking it off its perch. Thus, people have been increasingly game with sacrificing pocket and in-hand comfort for having an ever-increasing portable window to the world - what a smartphone screen has become today.
The Note II is about the same weight as its predecessor, but is not as wide, making it a tad less unwieldy in the hand
Left to right; bottom to top - LG Optimus Vu, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S III
You can compare the Samsung Galaxy Note II with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
Despite the larger screen, the Note II is about the same weight as its predecessor, but is not as wide, making it a tad less unwieldy in the hand. It is still a giant, messy thing to deal with, especially if you have smaller hands, but has been slimmed down, and received the gradual curves and rounded corners of the Galaxy S III, meaning that it is a bit more comfortable to handle than the Note. The design similarity with the GS III is strikingly obvious, with the notable exception of the stylus silo bottom right, which hints at the Note II’s other main selling point.
chassis build material is the same polycarbonate plastic used for the S III, with gradient colors in the non-white version, and the only gripe about it is that it is a bit slippery to hold - a slightly textured surface might have been a better choice. We don’t have a unibody design here - just the good old paper thin battery cover, under which you find a microSD and micro SIM slots, as well as a removable battery, so the Note II earns starting points for expandability right there.
Volume rocker (left)
microUSB and S Pen ports (bottom)
The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II
The biggest news with the Note II’s 5.5” 16:9 screen is not just that it is the largest ever put in a phone, but that it is the best AMOLED display Samsung has ever produced, too. Granted, it’s listed as an HD Super AMOLED display, which should still mean a PenTile pixel matrix arrangement, right?
Wrong. Microscopic examinations of the Note II display show that PenTile’s peculiar way of achieving higher resolutions with ⅔ the subpixels of the usual RGB matrix, is gone now. What we have in the Note II is not a “stripe” RGB matrix either, as the blue subpixel is perpendicular to the red and green, instead of parallel, but still we have all the subpixels per pixel present now, though arranged in an alternative to “stripe” manner. Not that PenTile made that much difference compared to RGB at such high resolutions, but its alternative “screen door” matrix irked some screen purists, and we are done with that now - solid green or red looks, well, solid.
1280x720 (267 ppi) resolution of the Note II is actually higher on a subpixel level than the 1280x800 (285 ppi) one on the Note, yet you can’t really see much difference with the naked eye. What you can see, however, that the cold colors typical for Super AMOLED are almost gone now, and when displaying white the Note II is pretty close to a good LCD display, as it has largely disposed with the typical cold blueish tint.
More important than the geeky PenTile vs RGB argument is that the screen is also much brighter now, and might easily be the brightest AMOLED on a Samsung device yet, which, coupled with the low screen reflectance, makes for an excellent outdoor visibility, and the automatic brightness adjustment works like a charm.
Other than those, you get the usual wide viewing angles, extreme contrast, and saturated colors you would with other Super AMOLED displays, making the phone the best handset out there for enjoying video with this screen size.
Since the S Pen is longer and way thicker now, it feels much more ergonomic in the hand, and the button at the bottom is larger and easier to press compared to the original Note, too. The stylus on the Note II feels more solid, too, better than the thin, bendy unit on its predecessor.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Fullscreen
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Drag the picture or use the keyboard arrows to rotate the phone. Double click or press keyboard Space to zoom in/out
108. phonerobbie posted on 26 Sep 2012, 10:26 0
lets hope that phone doesnt come out a month after the note 2 and that it doesnt come with a quincore processer and 4gb of ram.
119. mills0806 posted on 05 Oct 2012, 11:47 0
Lets also hope it is not going to be $300 on a 2 year contract in the U.S.
120. someones4 posted on 06 Oct 2012, 03:50 0
5-5.1 inches is the limit for me. i wish they would have the stylus as a bonus too.. but it would look like a mini galaxy note if that's the case
37. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:45 38
what a phone..!!! good job done sammy.
btw now we can take back our thums up/down here on PA. if you thum down sone one by mistake just thumb down again and that comment will no longer have your red thumb. then you can also give it a thumb up. good job PA.
40. Droid_X_Doug posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:50 4
Now all that PA needs to do is not block edits for something like 2 minutes after posting.
41. Droid_X_Doug posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:52 2
I tested the function just now on your post - it works! I gave you a thumb up for mentioning the feature.
49. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 24 Sep 2012, 11:50 2
thanks bro. one more good thing about SAMMY i would like to mention that here in india their phone are priced almost equal to the States however on the other hand apple and htc always price their phones way higher than the international prices. no wonder they are undisputed market leader in India as well which is very crucial for their future success.
57. 23nikki1 posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:16 1
I agree...iphone 4s was about 54k (~$1000) when it was released...even now, it is piced around $800 ...I guess iphone 5 would be $1200 or atleast $1000...
58. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:26 5
exactly. thats the reason apple has not seen much success. while S2, note2 and s3 are selling like hell.
87. SmartGadgetS posted on 24 Sep 2012, 16:15 2
LOL.... 5 Million iPhone 5's in 3 days. But Samsung is selling like hell as well :)
106. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 25 Sep 2012, 11:15 0
i was talking about india bro. yeah apple sells real well.
70. AppleHateBoy posted on 24 Sep 2012, 13:40 0
Really? The SGS3 costs more than 40k in India. and it's worth only about 30-35k.
BTW i hope they improve the performance of the storage subsystem. Because that is the one and only bottleneck of today's superphones.
P.S.: I live in Rajasthan, India.
72. AppleHateBoy posted on 24 Sep 2012, 13:47 0
But I agree that they have became a top contender in India. Thanks in no small parts to their good value for money Android Phones.
Btw I am only 14 years old and I own the Galaxy Pop.
107. 23nikki1 posted on 25 Sep 2012, 11:57 0
SGS3 costs 36k in INDIA... I'm from Hyderabad
128. GalaxyNote2User posted on 22 Oct 2012, 20:06 0
Super Thumbs Up!!! I totally agree
48. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 24 Sep 2012, 11:42 11
no offenses to Ray but this phone really deserves a rating of 9.7 and is clearly a much better phone than anything currently available in the market.
80. Martine posted on 24 Sep 2012, 15:52 4
I totally agree with you. This device has only one con and yet it was scored 9!
9.5-9.8 would have been a fairer score for this monster.
Surely, my next phone
60. Nathan_ingx posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:39 4
Now, i want to see iP5 heads on with this monster!!
Both have the same rating... But we all know who's gonna win!
38. Droid_X_Doug posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:48 5
VZW, WHEN are you going to be offering the Note II?
59. mandkeee posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:38 3
i cant believe that this phone has 9/10
using cheap plastic phone....
102. Jericho posted on 25 Sep 2012, 08:36 0
Hey mate dont worry, Phonearena Give it 9 because it didn't wanted to angry the s-Sheeps cause the iphone 5 got 9. Phonearena rates its reviews on the basis of the phones Popularity. Its a popularity Contest. The First note didn't get a good score cause phonearena thaught it wont sell that much but it did and So now Phonearena knows That Note II will sell well so their giving it 9.
Its about The sales and Popularity More Than it is about the Performance of the device.
103. g2a5b0e posted on 25 Sep 2012, 08:41 0
Sounds just like something Y2J would say.
116. m_hemanth7 posted on 01 Oct 2012, 06:29 0
Wake up Jericho! Almost every person who has ever owned or wanted an iphone could never really have a sound reason or justify as to why they'd prefer/want one! A majority of the Apple aficianados and patrons could only come up with just one cliched response - "BECAUSE IT IS AN I-PHONE". I am not an anti iPhone/apple guy. Given its reputation for standards, I'd love to work for that company as a design engineer. I really do. But let's face the fact - It's darn too pricey and somewhat overhyped for what it brings to the table. I've been following apple events for few years now and one thing that explains its popularity has to do with the way apple products get advertised. They're very catchy and enamouring! Believe me and that's the reason why you can't have more to say than what's been aesthetically presented by the Apple's big guys! I like one in particular who really steals the show - Jonathan Ive, The vice president of Design.
84. Jelly_Bean posted on 24 Sep 2012, 16:09 3
It should have got 10/10 :(
Can't wait for ma beast now :(
89. lsutigers posted on 24 Sep 2012, 18:26 0
5806 on Quadrant, that's about what my EVO LTE gets with the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Dual-Core "Krait" processor.
115. IHateApple posted on 01 Oct 2012, 06:27 0
I am still waiting for PHOLED to be used in Sammy's OLED displays.
P.S.: PHOLEDs will initially be 2 times more efficient than current OLEDs. But they will become 4 times more efficient after the technology matures.
124. Intelligence posted on 08 Oct 2012, 00:46 0
I'm so excited to own one too. Getting it the day of. Currently have an iPhone 4S. I needed a break from android and am excited to dive back into it with such an amazing device. So I'm currently sitting on an upgrade, hopefully it'll come in late October.
4. loken posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:45 8
so how this get a 9 and xperia t got an 8... ?? sony haters..
10. eisenbricher posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:47 13
Xperia T is a good product but doesn't have much 'personality' if you ask me.. Sony seems to be lost in alphabet jungle!! They need to innovate their product naming.
56. mukrenol posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:15 5
i own a sony... but unfortunately... i do agree with you there = =
90. tmcr7 posted on 24 Sep 2012, 20:04 0
But Xperia T is James Bond's phone. It should get a 10 solely for that.
125. ajac09 posted on 08 Oct 2012, 12:24 2
Ive really never liked Jame bond.. lol
17. tluv00 posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:05 1
Because reviews are opinions. Not eveyone is going to have the same one as you.
31. AppleHateBoy posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:25 13
Make the battery bigger and it will destroy an Ultrabook.
7. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:45 31
Look at the cons & it STILL only got a 9 out of 10. The Apple iPhone 5 had more cons & can expand its memory, has more RAM, has a more powerful processor, & not to mention the innovation that is the S Pen. I am sorry but PhoneArena.com's reviews are very suspect!
If the Apple iPhone 5 is a 9 out of 10 then the Galaxy Note II is a 11 out of 10. Get my drift PhoneArena.com?
13. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:52 12
The iPhone 5 had more cons & the Galaxy Note II.... Yeah I am having a bad day today. I can't type for the life of me. & I hate I can't edit because some posted right after I did.
PhopneArena.com PLEASE CHANGE OR FIX THIS!!!!!! I want to EDIT at anytime or at least for 5 to 10 min after even if someone posts right after me! lol
18. neutralguy posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:07 11
9.4 for me. Better than s3. But needs more improvement. :)
19. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:18 8
Thank you. lol I really was exaggerating just to make my point. To me it's a 9.75 because the loud speaker actually has some bass with it. To me that is VERY sweet. I can't remember the last phone that can make that claim.
Also the battery life is phenomenal EVEN with a 5.5" screen. Also the VERY excellent photo & video quality is awesome feature. We all know that the poor sounding recording can be fixed in a future update so that should be squashed fairly quickly.
Also the innovation that is the S Pen can be made even better once 3rd party apps take advantage of its tech. I can keep going but to me the Samsung Galaxy Note II legitimizes that "phablet" category & it will now get more & more mainstream.
Basically another thing Apple will copy from Android & Samsung. lol
28. neutralguy posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:09 2
9.75 for me is too much given the fact that there's more room for other technology to fit on this device such as S pen as a mic and earpiece for calling, wireless charging and many more.
But I'm so excited to have this one. :D
35. AppleHateBoy posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:32 1
I agree. How about putting Quad Core S4 Pro? Or maybe a SGX 543MP2 instead of Mali-400MP? Or how about a Mali-T604?
A15s are basically useless for mobiles according to me. Go either Quad A9 or Custom design.
50. ZEUS.the.thunder.god posted on 24 Sep 2012, 11:53 1
exactly. this phone clearly deserves 9.7
53. remixfa posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:05 3
Agree. I'd go with a 9.25-9.5... taking off for its sound issue while recording. If it has great call sound quality for the user and the person on the other end, then its obviously a sound glitch while recording video which can be patched, I agree.
If we start getting apps/games that use S-Pen in an intuitive way, that would make this device even more sweet. Prepare for the return of the stylus lol.
67. SuperAndroidEvo posted on 24 Sep 2012, 13:18 1
lol YES Samsung is bringing sexy back with the S-Pen. The return of the stylus IS in full effect!
47. g2a5b0e posted on 24 Sep 2012, 11:37 3
I also think this phone deserves a higher rating than the S3, but whatever, we're all entitled to our opinions.
8. eisenbricher posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:45 11
s**t! Only if I had money Q__Q
Well I have it reserved for Lumia 920 :)
But clearly, this is an awesome product. I love the way how android is customizable..
25. JKING_25 posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:57 4
Same here. I am loving the Galaxy Note II, but the Lumia 920 seems to have stolen my heart. This phone sure is a beast though.
9. Mozarrt posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:47 0
Now I bet nobody is going to criticize the mark it got. (I really love PhoneArena for this reason)
Nice phone in my opinion, but I always get the feeling most users are actually compensating for something having one ;)
11. neutralguy posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:50 1
Finally! a full review, gotta read this later. This will decide whether I'll have this or other phone.
12. nofear posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:52 11
iPhone 5 has nothing to compare with this lovely beast.
14. g2a5b0e posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:55 7
9/10? As if I wasn't already sold on the fact that this is the phone for me. Can't wait.
20. henrickrw posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:37 7
Well, the Iphone 5 score the same rating & it's light years behind the S3 & the Note2
Well, I would have given a 9.5 to the Note2.
21. Mozarrt posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:44 4
The iPhone has more premium materials, it's got a blazing fast processor, a very nice screen with high PPI and an optimized OS. How is it lightyears behind?