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Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Introduction:

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...


Design:

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 - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
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 - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
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 - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

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 - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Left to right; bottom to top - LG Optimus Vu, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S III - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

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.

Front - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Android buttons - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Front camera - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

Front

Android buttons

Front camera


The 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.

Right edge - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Top - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Volume rocker (left) - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

Right edge

Top

Volume rocker (left)

Power key - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
3.5mm jack - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
microUSB and S Pen ports (bottom) - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

Power key

3.5mm jack

microUSB and S Pen ports (bottom)

The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II


The first thing you notice when you take the Note II in your hands is that juggernaut of a screen that Samsung has managed to fit in a more compact body than the Note. It occupies almost the entire front, with a significantly slimmer bezel underneath, where the home key is – the bottom bezel is thinner than not only the one on the Note, but also on the Galaxy S III.

Back - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Camera - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Battery compartment - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

Back

Camera

Battery compartment



Display:

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.

Left to right - Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S III, LG Optimus 4X HD - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

Left to right - Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S III, LG Optimus 4X HD


Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Because of this new HD Super AMOLED, one would argue that the 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.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S III 294
(Poor)
20
(Poor)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7990
(Average)
2.14
7.67
(Average)
6.11
(Average)
Samsung GALAXY Note II 292
(Poor)
17
(Poor)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7793
(Average)
2.19
6.17
(Average)
8.43
(Poor)
View all


S Pen:

Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The stylus sits very tight in the silo, almost too much so, making you put an effort while whipping it out in a brand new unit. The Note II makes a beeping noise and pops a warning when you walk away from the desk, and the stylus has not been inserted back in the silo.

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.

Since the S Pen is longer and way thicker now, it feels much more ergonomic in the hand - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Since the S Pen is longer and way thicker now, it feels much more ergonomic in the hand - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Since the S Pen is longer and way thicker now, it feels much more ergonomic in the hand - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

Since the S Pen is longer and way thicker now, it feels much more ergonomic in the hand







Samsung Galaxy Note II 360 Degrees View:


138 Comments
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posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:43 52

2. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


cant wait to own one!

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:29 16

34. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


I bet the SGS4 will have 5.3" screen.

posted on 26 Sep 2012, 10:26

108. phonerobbie (Posts: 3; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)


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.

posted on 05 Oct 2012, 11:47

119. mills0806 (Posts: 37; Member since: 13 Nov 2011)


Lets also hope it is not going to be $300 on a 2 year contract in the U.S.

posted on 06 Oct 2012, 03:50

120. someones4 (Posts: 619; Member since: 16 Sep 2012)


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

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:45 39

37. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:50 4

40. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5729; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Now all that PA needs to do is not block edits for something like 2 minutes after posting.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:52 2

41. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5729; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


I tested the function just now on your post - it works! I gave you a thumb up for mentioning the feature.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 11:50 2

49. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:16 1

57. 23nikki1 (Posts: 45; Member since: 25 Jul 2012)


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...

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:26 5

58. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


exactly. thats the reason apple has not seen much success. while S2, note2 and s3 are selling like hell.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 16:15 2

87. SmartGadgetS (Posts: 20; Member since: 06 Sep 2012)


LOL.... 5 Million iPhone 5's in 3 days. But Samsung is selling like hell as well :)

posted on 25 Sep 2012, 11:15

106. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


i was talking about india bro. yeah apple sells real well.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 13:40

70. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 13:47

72. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


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.

posted on 25 Sep 2012, 11:57

107. 23nikki1 (Posts: 45; Member since: 25 Jul 2012)


SGS3 costs 36k in INDIA... I'm from Hyderabad

posted on 22 Oct 2012, 20:06

128. GalaxyNote2User (Posts: 2; Member since: 18 Oct 2012)


Super Thumbs Up!!! I totally agree

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 11:42 11

48. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 15:52 4

80. Martine (Posts: 102; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)


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

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:39 4

60. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3009; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Now, i want to see iP5 heads on with this monster!!
Both have the same rating... But we all know who's gonna win!

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:48 5

38. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5729; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


VZW, WHEN are you going to be offering the Note II?

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 21:31

96. Blubberkinesis (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Jun 2009)


And they better keep the same specs.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:15 5

55. SleepingOz (unregistered)


Same here!
GNOTE II, here I come!

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:38 3

59. mandkeee (Posts: 78; Member since: 27 Feb 2009)


i cant believe that this phone has 9/10

using cheap plastic phone....

posted on 25 Sep 2012, 08:36

102. Jericho (Posts: 302; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


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.

posted on 25 Sep 2012, 08:41

103. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2165; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)


Sounds just like something Y2J would say.

posted on 01 Oct 2012, 06:29

116. m_hemanth7 (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 16:09 3

84. Jelly_Bean (Posts: 109; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)


It should have got 10/10 :(

Can't wait for ma beast now :(

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 18:26

89. lsutigers (Posts: 723; Member since: 08 Mar 2009)


5806 on Quadrant, that's about what my EVO LTE gets with the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Dual-Core "Krait" processor.

posted on 01 Oct 2012, 06:27

115. IHateApple (banned) (Posts: 122; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)


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.

posted on 08 Oct 2012, 00:46

124. Intelligence (Posts: 4; Member since: 08 Oct 2012)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:45 8

4. loken (Posts: 462; Member since: 09 May 2012)


so how this get a 9 and xperia t got an 8... ?? sony haters..

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:47 14

10. eisenbricher (Posts: 971; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:00 18

15. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


sonys still a year behind

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:15 5

56. mukrenol (Posts: 90; Member since: 03 Sep 2011)


i own a sony... but unfortunately... i do agree with you there = =

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 20:04

90. tmcr7 (Posts: 152; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)


But Xperia T is James Bond's phone. It should get a 10 solely for that.

posted on 08 Oct 2012, 12:24 2

125. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


Ive really never liked Jame bond.. lol

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:05 1

17. tluv00 (Posts: 134; Member since: 18 Oct 2007)


Because reviews are opinions. Not eveyone is going to have the same one as you.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:45 23

5. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


Good Job Samsung on another excellent device

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:25 13

31. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


Make the battery bigger and it will destroy an Ultrabook.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:45 23

6. lee480 (Posts: 174; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


At least it is much better than some rotten fruit.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:45 32

7. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3989; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Geez!!!

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?

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:52 12

13. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3989; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


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

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:01 23

16. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


happens when apple pays for reviews

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:07 11

18. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


9.4 for me. Better than s3. But needs more improvement. :)

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:18 8

19. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3989; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


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

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:09 2

28. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


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

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 10:32 1

35. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 11:53 1

50. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


exactly. this phone clearly deserves 9.7

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 12:05 3

53. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 13:18 1

67. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3989; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


lol YES Samsung is bringing sexy back with the S-Pen. The return of the stylus IS in full effect!

+1 :-)

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 11:37 3

47. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2165; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)


I also think this phone deserves a higher rating than the S3, but whatever, we're all entitled to our opinions.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:45 11

8. eisenbricher (Posts: 971; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)


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..

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:57 4

25. JKING_25 (Posts: 53; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:47

9. Mozarrt (Posts: 295; Member since: 08 Oct 2011)


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 ;)

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:50 1

11. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


Finally! a full review, gotta read this later. This will decide whether I'll have this or other phone.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:52 11

12. nofear (Posts: 149; Member since: 22 Jun 2012)


iPhone 5 has nothing to compare with this lovely beast.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 08:55 7

14. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2165; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)


9/10? As if I wasn't already sold on the fact that this is the phone for me. Can't wait.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:37 8

20. henrickrw (Posts: 404; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


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.

posted on 24 Sep 2012, 09:44 4

21. Mozarrt (Posts: 295; Member since: 08 Oct 2011)


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?

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Samsung GALAXY Note II

Samsung GALAXY Note II

OS: Android 4.4.2 4.3 4.1.2 4.1.1
view full specs
Display5.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (265 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Samsung Exynos 4 (4412), Quad core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
2048 MB RAM
Size5.94 x 3.17 x 0.37 inches
(151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm)
6.44 oz  (182 g)
Battery3100 mAh, 35 hours talk time

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