Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Papa’s got ‘em Jelly Beans! The Note II comes with the newest Android 4.1.1 version, which many argue takes Android to a whole new level with the excellent Google Voice natural language recognition service, and the Google Now personal butler. Not only that, but the interface is silky smooth at 60fps with JB’s Project Butter, and with the zippy quad-core processor.
The 5.5” screen real estate is taken good advantage of in several of the default apps, like the Gallery or the YouTube app, where categories can be listed on the left, and their content on the right of the monster display, for much faster access and navigation.
Samsung insists to use its S Voice service, but frankly Google Voice in Jelly Bean is leaps and bounds ahead, to the extent that Samsung could not have bothered at all developing S Voice, which is only slightly above the level of Windows Phone’s TellMe voice recognition service. To its credit, Samsung gives you the option to use Google’s creation for your voice searches.
All the Nature UX features from the Galaxy S III like PopUp Play, Smart Stay or the AllShare Cast media streaming functions are here on the Note II, so you can check our S III review for the details, and we will focus on the stylus-specific apps instead.
S Pen apps and performance:
Starting with the improvements from what we already had in the first Note, we now have extra templates to choose from in the S Note app. Just like in the Note, the productivity tools include a formula section, where you can scribble a more sophisticated formula, and a pop-up browser will calculate it for you through Wolfram Alpha.
Handwriting is significantly improved, too, due to the reworked S Pen stylus, which is thicker, longer, and more ergonomic, with new technology inside, and with almost nonexistent lag when you write on the screen now. You can handwrite in emails, messages, or simply use it to convert the handwritten words to text automatically.
The S Pen has learned new tricks now, too, with the most intriguing one being Air View, which brings up previews of emails, image galleries and videos by hovering the stylus over them, or simply tells you what this or that button does with a pop-up label. In the S Planner calendar app, Air View makes the appointments pop, so they are now readable much easier if you have a crowded schedule.
The S Pen button now tells the device that selected content is to be copied or edited, and there is an Easy Clip feature to outline and crop while holding it. The cropped region than can easily be sent via email, inserted in a note, or simply put into the clipboard for later use.
Another stellar application of the S Pen is that pulling it out during a phone call evokes the S Note app. Not only you can quickly jot down addresses and other trivia from the caller, but make gestures on the screen, too, to do things such as initiating calls and bringing up emails, which can come pretty handy when you don’t have paper and pen lying around.
Processor and memory:
The best thing about the Note II silicon is that it will be the same quad-core endeavor everywhere, not replaced with S4 for LTE reasons in the US, for example. What we get is the same excellent Exynos 4412, which powers the international Galaxy S III without a hitch, but even more powerful, as the cores are clocked at a 1.6 GHz maximum now. In short, in terms of processing power, what we have on the Note II is the best Android can offer before the S4 Pro phones like Optimus G arrive, so the handset is pretty future-proof in that regard.
We have the respectable 2GB of RAM on the handset, and the basic Note II version with 16GB of internal memory has about 10GB of them user-available), which can be expanded via a microSD slot. There were also 32GB and 64GB versions announced.
Higher is better
Samsung GALAXY Note II 6501
Samsung Galaxy S III 5335
Higher is better
Samsung GALAXY Note II 20771
Samsung Galaxy S III 15152
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps)
Higher is better
Samsung GALAXY Note II 18
Higher is better
Samsung GALAXY Note II 623
Vellamo HTML 5
Higher is better
Samsung GALAXY Note II 1882
Internet and Connectivity:
Fast, fluid, with no hiccups, the browser is a joy to use with this large screen. Unfortunately there is no Adobe Flash support in JB, so you’d have to hit the Play Store, or sideload the ICS browser APK if you need it.
The Note II sports 100Mbits LTE downloads, and 42Mbits HSPA+ ones, if your network supports those, plus the works when it comes to wireless radios - Wi-Fi, BT 4.0, A-GPS, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, and FM Radio with RDS. There is NFC, too, and the wired connectivity is covered by the MHL to HDMI video-out port.
34. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)
I bet the SGS4 will have 5.3" screen.
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.
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.
120. someones4 (Posts: 618; 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
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.
40. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5536; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)
Now all that PA needs to do is not block edits for something like 2 minutes after posting.
41. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5536; 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.
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.
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...
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.
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 :)
106. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)
i was talking about india bro. yeah apple sells real well.
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.
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.
107. 23nikki1 (Posts: 45; Member since: 25 Jul 2012)
SGS3 costs 36k in INDIA... I'm from Hyderabad
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.
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
60. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2993; 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!
38. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5536; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)
VZW, WHEN are you going to be offering the Note II?
55. SleepingOz (unregistered)
GNOTE II, here I come!
59. mandkeee (Posts: 78; Member since: 27 Feb 2009)
i cant believe that this phone has 9/10
using cheap plastic phone....
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.
103. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2105; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)
Sounds just like something Y2J would say.
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.
84. Jelly_Bean (Posts: 109; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)
It should have got 10/10 :(
Can't wait for ma beast now :(
89. lsutigers (Posts: 698; 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.
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.
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.
4. loken (Posts: 462; Member since: 09 May 2012)
so how this get a 9 and xperia t got an 8... ?? sony haters..
10. eisenbricher (Posts: 970; 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.
56. mukrenol (Posts: 90; Member since: 03 Sep 2011)
i own a sony... but unfortunately... i do agree with you there = =
90. tmcr7 (Posts: 148; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
But Xperia T is James Bond's phone. It should get a 10 solely for that.
17. tluv00 (Posts: 134; Member since: 18 Oct 2007)
Because reviews are opinions. Not eveyone is going to have the same one as you.
5. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
Good Job Samsung on another excellent device
31. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)
Make the battery bigger and it will destroy an Ultrabook.
6. lee480 (Posts: 172; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)
At least it is much better than some rotten fruit.
7. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3764; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
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 (Posts: 3764; 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
18. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)
9.4 for me. Better than s3. But needs more improvement. :)
19. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3764; 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
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
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.
50. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)
exactly. this phone clearly deserves 9.7
53. remixfa (Posts: 13902; 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.
67. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3764; 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!
47. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2105; 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.
8. eisenbricher (Posts: 970; 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..
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.
9. Mozarrt (Posts: 294; 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 ;)
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.
12. nofear (Posts: 149; Member since: 22 Jun 2012)
iPhone 5 has nothing to compare with this lovely beast.
14. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2105; 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.
20. henrickrw (Posts: 403; 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.
21. Mozarrt (Posts: 294; 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?
|Display||5.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (265 ppi) Super AMOLED|
Samsung Exynos 4 (4412), Quad core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
2048 MB RAM
|Size||5.94 x 3.17 x 0.37 inches|
(151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm)
6.44 oz (182 g)
|Battery||3100 mAh, 35 hours talk time|