No more PenTile? Samsung Galaxy Note II specs review

Samsung Galaxy Note II specs review
A larger Galaxy S III with a stylus or a more compact Note, yet with a larger screen? You don't have to choose, as the newly unveiled Galaxy Note II is both. 

We saw an overclocked 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos 4412 fry up the GLBenchmark database not long ago, and rightfully concluded that's what will be powering the phablet. After all, last year we said the same thing that the original Note was a supersized S II with a stylus, and it came with overclocked dual-core Exynos, so the Note II kept that tradition. Let's dig a bit deeper into the specs now:


The phone with the largest screen out there just got an even larger panel in its successor, but the new Note II is actually slimmer and more compact than the original. Samsung has elongated the phone compared to the first Note, but made it narrower, so it is easier to hold. There is a very slim bezel surrounding the screen, too, allowing for the larger display in a more compact body. 

The rest is frankly simply Galaxy S III wrapping, down to the shape, camera lens on the back and the thin physical home key underneath the screen. Thankfully we also have a swappable battery and microSD slot, further positioning the Note II as a versatile, expandable device. The "marble white" and "titanium grey" coloring choice is simple, but proven.

DesignGalaxy Note IIGalaxy NoteGalaxy S III
OSAndroid (4.1)Android (4.0.4, 4.0.3, 2.3.5, 2.3.4)Android (4.0.4) TouchWiz UX UI

Dimensions5.94 x 3.17 x 0.37 (151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm)5.78 x 3.27 x 0.38 (147 x 83 x 9.65 mm)5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 (136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm)
Weight6.35 oz (180 g)
the average is 4.1 oz (118 g)
6.28 oz (178 g)
the average is 4.1 oz (118 g)
4.69 oz (133 g)
the average is 4.1 oz (118 g)
ColorsWhite, GrayBlack, Pink, WhiteBlack, Brown, Blue, Red, White, Gray
Physical size5.50 inches5.30 inches4.80 inches
Resolution720 x 1280 pixels800 x 1280 pixels720 x 1280 pixels
Pixel density
267 ppi285 ppi306 ppi
Talk time (3G) 13.50 hours
the average is 7 h (402 min)
11.60 hours
the average is 7 h (402 min)

Capacity3100 mAh2500 mAh2100 mAh
System chip
Samsung Exynos 4412ExynosExynos 4412
Quad core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9Dual core, 1400 MHz, Cortex-A9Quad core, 1400 MHz, Cortex A9
Graphics processorARM Mali-400 MP4 (Quad-Core)Mali-400MP GPUARM Mali-400/MP4
System memory
2048 MB RAM (Dual-channel: Yes)1024 MB RAM1024 MB RAM / DDR2
Camera8 megapixels, Immobile8 megapixels, Immobile8 megapixels, Immobile
Aperture size F2.6F2.6
Camcorder1920x1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps)1920x1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps)1920x1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps)


The overclocked Exynos 4412 did wonders in the GLBenchmark database not long ago, with scores almost on par with the S4 Pro, while Samsung was testing the device, and we'd assume the retail thing will be even better. The presenter said we won't be disappointed by the benchmarks, but after seeing what the Snapdragon S4 Pro in the Optimus G is capable of, there will be a nasty fight on the silicon power front.

Still, this 1.6GHz quad-core CPU with overclocked Mali-400 graphics should be neck and neck with the Snapdragon S4 Pro, and both are likely to be the best smartphone processors there is, until Cortex-A15 ones enter devices.


Will the PenTile matrix pixel arrangement be replaced with a standard RGB one is the question we are asking before every Samsung flagship since those HD screens became all the rage. The 5.5" HD Super AMOLED screen on the Galaxy Note II is not only huge and with great contrast ratio, typical for the AMOLED series of Samsung, but it seems to employ a different pixel matrix arrangement, too. 

While we were waiting with bated breath for Samsung to announce an HD Plus screen, meaning a regular RGB matrix, it seems to have quietly gotten rid of the typical PenTile arrangement with the Note II, yet employed something different than standard RGB stripes. 

The pixel level zoom-in shows not the RGBG PenTile, but rather the blue stripes seemingly turned purpendicular to the red and green ones, yet overall we get the same amount of pixels as with RGB, not a third less due to the clever "screen door" arrangement of PenTile. We heard recently that Samsung might have improved on the traditional FMM production method for its AMOLED displays, which has allowed for higher pixel densities, so that might be it, in the new Note II.


The 3, 100mAH unit in the Note II is the most capacity you'll see in a phone with a removable battery, so rest assured those second-best times the original showed in talk times and video playback will be bested. Heck, the phone might even threaten the amazing endurance of the reigning champion RAZR MAXX, so that could be a reason enough for many people to get the Galaxy Note II.


Despite the inevitable complaints that the Galaxy Note II is just a bigger S III with stylus, or just an evolutionary improvement to its predecessor, Samsung has weighed things well enough where it counts for it to be worthy upgrade. 

The chipset performance will be best or second best until Cortex-A15 lands in gizmos next year en masse, and probably one of the best throughout 2013 as well, not to mention 2GB of RAM is still double the flagship norm, giving a nice boost to such a multitask-friendly phablet. Considering also that the Note II will be running Jelly Bean out of the box, with its butter smoothness, all that power will be more than enough anyway, plus you don't get to wait for updates for the foreseeable future.

The screen also has received not only a size bump fitted into a more compact, narrower body that doesn't look like an abomination next to your face while talking, but also a new pixel matrix arrangement. While not exactly RGB stripe, it eschews the PenTile way we are used to with HD Super AMOLED so far.

Adding to this the fancy features of the new stylus, which with all those pressure points, Air View and Pop-up Note goodies, is becoming a much more useful everyday tool now, and you get why the Note II might not only repeat the success of its original, but even move the phablet market niche that the first Note carved all on its own, into the mainstream. If it again takes bony supermodels strutting it on the catwalk, so be it. What do you think?

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