No more PenTile? Samsung Galaxy Note II specs review

No more PenTile? 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?

Related phones

  • Display 5.5" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.9 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 4 Quad, Quad-core, 1600 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3100 mAh(16h 3G talk time)



1. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

i love this phone! now if only I had the money to get the Galaxy camera, the Ativ S and an i5 W8 tablet, i'd be the happiest creature in the universe.

25. MeoCao unregistered

S-pen is better than ever.

2. CivicSi89

Posts: 349; Member since: Jul 23, 2011

Im happy i didnt grab the GN1. Because this is very exciting! Now hopefully it gets here with LTE and that hot quad core goodness onboard.

36. apocalypsebc

Posts: 148; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

I hope it has quad core as well to go along with the 2 gigs of memory.

3. jrandolf

Posts: 22; Member since: Aug 29, 2012

why it has a lower pixel density than note 1 ?

5. darkskoliro

Posts: 1092; Member since: May 07, 2012

bigger screen + lower resolution

8. Paradox

Posts: 124; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

It is no longer pentile, so even though its ppi is lower, the screen actually will look sharper, and you wont get the pentile style big square pixels (brixels, as I say). The screen is a tad bigger too. This means you wont be looking as close to it, so the lower ppi wont be as evident. For example, a 1920x1080 50 inch television will only have around 44 ppi, but you can't tell because you sit far back from it.

18. jrandolf

Posts: 22; Member since: Aug 29, 2012

oh i see . thank you by the way . :)

27. gaby1451

Posts: 119; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Wait but I'm confused... Is the screen HD Super AMOLED PLUS or just HD Super AMOLED? And if so, how is it the latter without PenTile? Someone please clarify :-/

30. jrandolf

Posts: 22; Member since: Aug 29, 2012

its HD Super AMOLED .

38. sam_tek

Posts: 105; Member since: Feb 18, 2011

ok look at it this way: Sumer Amoled - Pentile Sumer Amoled Plus - RGB HD Super Amoled - something else as it's mentioned in the article (but not pentile, neither is it rgb exactly) I would speculate it to be better than the pentile. now, is it on par with the rgb or even better, someone needs to do a proper review - my take!.

47. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

37. Hammerfest

Posts: 384; Member since: May 12, 2012

Lower resolution, crappy aspect ratio, lower ppi... Ill stick with my OG Note... The screen is pretty damn decent, sure the GS3 screen might look a bit better, but ill be just fine with my OG Note and the non crappy resolution

49. blackadder1996

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 13, 2012

how is does it have a crappy aspect ratio? and technically it has a higher resolution screen (in terms of subpixels)

4. wendygarett unregistered

Huh?? Only 267ppi??

6. YaIphoneiscool

Posts: 27; Member since: Aug 29, 2012

ya wow lol.

7. doejon

Posts: 411; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

but a rgb matrix

12. Zero0

Posts: 592; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

The original Note was 285ppi on a PenTile display, which uses RGBG instead of RGB. RGBG skews the ppi and makes it look higher than it should be.

9. Paradox

Posts: 124; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

I want this phone, but I also want a new nexus phone. I'm sick of waiting for updates on my phone, and I've decided the next phone I will get has to be a nexus. I'm going to wait see if there will be any phablet variant of the nexus, otherwise I might actually consider this phone.

10. ayephoner

Posts: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 2009

my galaxy nexus developed a faulty charging port today. after 40 minutes with verizon customer care, i found out they wont honor my warranty due to a 1" hair line crack on the other end of the phone. i am done with verizon. i am done with samsung. i am done with android. when the new iphone drops, i'll be buying one for any carrier but big red that day. android will always have inferior build quality and inferior customer service. were this an apple device, it would be far less likely to have the problem this "new, improved, flagship, frequently updated" android device has developed. and even if it did have the exact same issue, i would walk into an apple store and walk out with a new phone 10 minutes later. /rant

11. YaIphoneiscool

Posts: 27; Member since: Aug 29, 2012

Should have got a Iphone way better!

50. blackadder1996

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 13, 2012

how is it better?

13. Zero0

Posts: 592; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

Riiiiight. Because iPhones never break. I have never once seen an iPhone with a cracked screen or anything.

14. ayephoner

Posts: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 2009

you're awesome at missing points

15. Paradox

Posts: 124; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

Well, the nexus is actually intended for developers. And idk if you noticed, but android isn't a phone, so it can't have inferior build quality and inferior customer service. Go get yourself ripped off on an iphone if you really want to, you will only regret it.

23. ayephoner

Posts: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 2009

thats why i specifically mention samsung and verizon. android is stuck with other hardware manufacturers and carrier's customer service. they lack control. dont be dense. i used to have an iphone 3g on ATT. i loved it. not sure why i ever left.

34. 305Bucko

Posts: 506; Member since: Aug 07, 2011

If you got a hairline crack on that Gorrilla glass, I cant imagine what your iPhone woulda looked like had you chosen a 4S. They are infamous for shattering and since they have glass on the backside that only DOUBLES your chances. Regarding the charging port. Neither Carriers or Assurion cover warranty on ports (its better to report phone stolen) And if you think apple will honor ports they dont. I sent a customer to the apple store and they said it was "corroded" and warranty wont cover. Im with you on Samsungs "Quality" (its the worst) but dont be mad at Verizon, all carriers will do the same. And dont be mad at Android either.

17. ahhxd717

Posts: 332; Member since: Dec 08, 2011

Android isn't to blame for that. I guess Samsung is at fault for having bad build quality and s**tty warranties. Maybe you should've gotten insurance.

24. ayephoner

Posts: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 2009

i have insurance. i dont know why. after $70 in coverage payments, they want $100 for a deductible. all for a phone that has a used value of about $200 and is 10 months old and is falling short on all the promises made at launch. i just cancelled my insurance. i'll be leaving vzw, android and samsung for good on 9/21.

26. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

Leaving android. You know what Android doesn't like u either. And if you want an alternative WP8 will be far superior then IOS. I used to work for Verizon and it is what it is. Your device had a hair line crack. Don't get mad at mommy cause you didn't get your way. By the way apple could give two craps if you have a hairline crack. The same thing will occur. My best advice is to spend money on a case

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