Samsung GALAXY Note II hands-on
Just when you thought the Note’s display couldn’t get any bigger, Samsung has done it again. We got a hands-on look at the Samsung GALAXY Note II - this device is alllllllll screen.
The Samsung GALAXY Note II is slated to make its U.S. debut in two choices of paint jobs – Titanium Grey and Marble White. The physical body design takes cues from the GALAXY S III, which makes it minimalistic and clean. It sports a headphone jack at the top, USB charging at the bottom, volume rocker on the left and a power/sleep button on the right edge. All the buttons have a nice tactical response and their locations felt intuitive.
On the rear of the device is an 8-megapixel camera that also shoots 1080p HD video at 30 fps. The devices is expected to be available in stock configurations of 16, 32, or 64GB, but the backplate of the device is removable, which gives you access to a microSD expansion slot if your need for storage increases. Also under that cover is a 3100 mAh battery that should keep you powered for a full day.
Taking a look at the front of the device we have a 1.9-megapixel camera for video chat, the home button, earpiece, and, of course, that huge display.
In comparison to the original Note, this display kicks up to 5.5 inches. Now if you felt like the form factor of the first Note was pushing the boundaries in terms of physical size, you’ll be happy to know that Samsung slimmed down the bezel while enlarging the screen. The result is the Note II is actually a tad thinner width-wise than its predecessor and weighs the same even with the larger battery.
This time around the Note II sports a Super AMOLED 16:9 True HD display. The colors are bright and beautiful while text is nice and crisp. When snapping photos and video and playing with some of the new editing and playback features on the Note II, the larger display coupled with a generous resolution makes this device a joy to edit and view various types of media on.
The Samsung GALAXY Note II comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and the overall user experience is fantastic. Being powered by a 1.6GHz Exynos 4412 quad-core CPU with 2 GB of RAM really lets you fly. We weren't able to test the data connectivity, but Samsung promises that this device will be "LTE Optimized" therefore, depending on carrier, you should have a super fast Internet experience as well.
Some of the really exciting things about the new GALAXY Note II are the improvements to the S Pen. Let’s face it, most people commit to a device for 2-years. While the bells and whistles are nice, it's the day to day usability that really counts during those long contracts. Samsung really made some great improvements to the S Pen that will benefit the average user in everyday tasks.
As you can see in the video below, when you remove the S Pen, the device actually wakes from sleep and goes to a special S Pen screen. It also utilizes the onboard accelerometer to determine when the device has been moved away from the S Pen and will sound an alert to notify you that the S Pen was left behind.
The physical design of the pen itself has changed as well. It is thicker, longer, and asymmetrical, which makes it much more comfortable to use. The tip material has also been re-engineered to create more friction, which in turn gives the user a closer experience to a pen on paper rather than plastic on glass.
The GALAXY Note II uses a technology called Air View that allows it to detect the S Pen when it is hovering over the screen. This now allows you to hover over the screen to scroll through lists and text fields such as your email, as well as preview various types of media such as emails, calendar events, photos, and videos, without actually launching them.
Samsung S-Pen Demo Video:
Overall the Samsung GALAXY Note II is a great device. It’s biggest downside is that its size makes it almost completely unusable with one hand, but those that enjoy the stylus experience – particularly with the new S Pen improvements - will love it. We don’t have specific carrier information just yet, but hope that Samsung will reveal more details regarding carrier availability and launch dates soon enough.
Samsung Galaxy Note II Hands-on:
Things that are NOT allowed: