Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
In this review we've used the T-Mobile version of the Note II. The other versions are exactly same, with the only difference being that they support LTE connectivity.

Introduction:

Experimenting with something a bit out of the norm, Samsung decided to gamble on bringing back the stylus with the Samsung Galaxy Note – and surely enough, it proved successful in shedding some light on the long forgotten pointing device. As we all know, it wasn’t just your traditional stylus, but rather, the Note’s S-Pen extended the functions of the smartphone. Not only was it accurate in accomplishing expected operations, like making selections and highlighting stuff, but it provided consumers an alternative to the paper and pen.

Beyond the S-Pen, the Galaxy Note was a sight to behold on its own, partly because it stepped outside the box with its immense size and large 5.3” screen. Simply, it pushed the envelope in terms of what was possible with the size of today’s smartphones. Well folks, a good thing is hard to let go, so that’s why Samsung pushed forward in bringing to market its successor – the 5.5” Samsung Galaxy Note II.

Our friends overseas have been getting some good face time playing around with the impressive smartphone, but now the smartphone is coming to the US – with all four major carriers getting in on the fun! Now that we’re seeing light of the US variants of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, it’ll be intriguing to see how it’ll fit into the lineups of the respective carriers knowing that there are other highly prized smartphones lurking about.

Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
The package contains:


  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Stereo Headphones
  • Additional ear buds
  • Start Guide
  • Health & Safety and Warranty Guide

Design:

Instead of seeing a minor change, like what we saw with the US variants of the Note, which ditched the physical home button in favor of an all capacitive lineup, the T-Mobile version we’re checking out retains the design of the international unit. Those familiar with the Samsung Galaxy S III will clearly realize the resemblance with this device, as it’s essentially a stretched out version of Sammy’s flagship to accommodate its larger display. Compared to its predecessor on the other hand, it’s surprisingly similar in size (0.37” thick) and weight (6.42 oz) – while still packing a display that’s slightly bigger. Regardless of that noteworthy item, it’s still a bit unwieldy to hold in the hand, making it more suitable for two-handed operation.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a bit unwieldy to hold in the hand, making it more suitable for two-handed operation - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a bit unwieldy to hold in the hand, making it more suitable for two-handed operation - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a bit unwieldy to hold in the hand, making it more suitable for two-handed operation - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a bit unwieldy to hold in the hand, making it more suitable for two-handed operation


Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

You can compare the Samsung Galaxy Note II with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

With its rounded edges and high gloss polycarbonate body, it makes the handset feel rather slick in the hand. Unfortunately, for a device expected to tangle with some of the premier smartphones in the market, it lacks the premium aesthetics to catapult it into the same category of its rivals. However, it’s one of those devices that get people talking about it, or question what it is – whether it’s a tablet or smartphone. Overall, we can’t say that we’re totally impressed by the design, mainly because we’ve seen it before, but nevertheless, we’re most comforted knowing that it’s maintaining its figure.

Lining the area above the screen, we’re presented with the usual suspect of characters – these include the earpiece, light/proximity sensors, front-facing 1.9-megapixel camera (can shoot video in up to 720p), and LED notification light that’s discreetly hidden from view. On the opposite edge, its prominent home button is surrounded by its capacitive menu and back buttons.

Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
Front camera - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

Front camera

Android buttons - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

Android buttons


With the placement of its volume control and dedicated power button, they’re located in the same positions that we’ve been seeing with most of Samsung’s stuff of late. Thankfully, they have a pronounced feel that makes them easy to touch with our fingers – while exhibiting springy responses when pressed.

Of course, both the 3.5mm headset jack and noise-cancellation microphone are located on the handset’s top trim, with the regular mic and microUSB port are placed on the bottom side of the handset. Not only does the microUSB port offer data and charging connectivity, but we gain video-out functionality with the aid of an optional MHL adapter.

Power key (right) - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

Power key (right)

microUSB port and S-Pen slot (bottom) - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

microUSB port and S-Pen slot (bottom)

Volume rocker (left) - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

Volume rocker (left)

3.5mm jack (top) - The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

3.5mm jack (top)

The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note II


In the rear, the Samsung Galaxy Note II is sporting an 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash as before, which also has the ability to shoot 1080p videos. Meanwhile, two notches towards the bottom edge tuck away its internal speaker. Using the slot on the upper left corner of the rear, we’re able to pry off its plastic rear cover – thus, granting us access to its beefy user-replacable 3,100 mAh battery, microSD slot, and microSIM card slot.

Back - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

Back

Rear camera - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

Rear camera

Battery compartment - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

Battery compartment



Display:


After overcoming the shock of realizing how gargantuan in size the handset is while holding it in our hand, our attention is soon fixed onto its obnoxiously large 5.5-inch HD 720 x 1280 Super AMOLED display. Detailing it already, the Note II manages to maintain its predecessor’s overall size – while being able to accommodate a slightly larger display panel. At first glance, some will quickly realize that the resolution has dropped to 720p, as opposed to the WXGA 800 x 1280 from before, but it doesn’t prove to diminish its detail primarily because Sammy has decided to employ a modified RGB matrix arrangement with its pixels. As a result, we’re presented with details that aren’t softened in the least bit.

Viewing angles - Color production - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
Viewing angles - Color production - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
Viewing angles - Color production - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
Viewing angles - Color production - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
Color production - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
Color production - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
Color production - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
Color production - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

Color production


Whereas AMOLED screens in general are known to exhibit cooler looking colors, the improvements made upon the HD Super AMOLED display of the Note II is evidenced by its disposed appearance – giving it a softer tone. However, its color production is still on the saturated side, which isn’t bad at all, considering that it gives the handset its wow factor. Beyond that, it exhibits all the qualities we naturally adore about AMOLED screen in general – like its high contrast, wide viewing angles, and deep black color. For all of its beauty, it’s still prone when it comes to outdoor visibility, as the display is hardly viewable in direct sunlight.


S Pen:

Tucked away in the bottom right corner of the device, just like last time, the S Pen discreetly blends into the handset when it’s not in use – ensuring that it won’t be misplaced or lost. Once it’s take out, we notice some appreciable improvements made on the design of this new S Pen. For starters, it’s both thicker in size and longer to make it easier to handle, which essentially makes it more ergonomic than its predecessor. Fashioned into the shape and style of a pencil, we’re able to grasp it with a natural feel.

The S Pen discreetly blends into the handset when it’s not in use - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
The S Pen discreetly blends into the handset when it’s not in use - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
The S Pen discreetly blends into the handset when it’s not in use - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)

The S Pen discreetly blends into the handset when it’s not in use


Of course, it’s accurate in terms of its responsiveness with the display, but there are some additional new features with the S Pen that extends the functionality of the handset further – we’ll expand on it more in the interface section. Showing its appreciation to the S Pen, there’s an option that allows us to be notified if we’ve forgotten to put the S Pen back into its slot when we take a few steps away from where we placed the S Pen. Overall, it’s a wonderful alternative to interacting with the smartphone.



Samsung GALAXY Note II 360-degrees View:



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89 Comments

1. dr_fajardo12

Posts: 134; Member since: Aug 26, 2012

its difficult to pick one: LG optimus G or Lumia 920 or Note 2. My money dont know what to do D:

5. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Just a 9, PA? I would have thought it'd get 9 and change (equivalent of an A, rather than an A- or B+) but short of A+ (9.6+). That said, I'd still get the Lumia 920 over anything and everything out this year, and probably into most of next year.

8. sheik

Posts: 249; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

Hey do you know windows os well? I have a question to ask

12. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Yes, I own a Lumia 900 and use it for my daily phone if you're referring to Windows Phone. I also am very familiar with WIndows for computers as well. Feel free to ask anything!

16. sheik

Posts: 249; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

What's the difference between windows 8 between windows RT? I googled a lot only to find that even tech websites columnists have confusion about their difference. Is win RT a hybrid between win 7 & win8? Also whats the point of Win Pro? can you enlighten me on that?

28. Mobile-X-Pert

Posts: 565; Member since: Dec 20, 2010

Windows RT is developed under the ARM architecture, so therefore it does not run any of the windows xp, vista, 7 programs. Windows 8 pro on the other hand, is developed under the X86/X64 architecture and it runs all of the legacy programs and apps from previous operating systems. Note: Windows RT and Windows 8 pro share the same Native code (kernel) and both have the full desktop environment in the background.

61. jshan

Posts: 200; Member since: Dec 25, 2011

Hey man I'm asking you this cz it's like your a xpert on mobile industry eh ? K so give me your idea bout iPhone and android (iOS and android ) which is the best between em ?

69. shandesilva

Posts: 105; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

jshan my friend, you still havent made up your mind? :)..its android !,,,and the galaxy phones are much better than iphones in lots of aspects.

70. Mobile-X-Pert

Posts: 565; Member since: Dec 20, 2010

I like both Android and iOS operating systems, they have their cons and pros. Android is an open source operating system developed under the linux core, it gives you almost the same freedom as a linux operating system on a PC, many customazion options, the ability to root it and great third party support. But all this comes at the cost of performace in some cases, most Android phones lag at a certain point, and they are not the easiest phones to use. But I think they finally got it right with Jelly bean. iOS: It's a well built ecosystem all around, music, videos, movies, apps...almost everything you need. However it is a closed ecosystem, meaning that everything you do or use has to come from Apple. Third pary support is great too. The operating system is very simple to use, but sometimes boring and that makes you wanna upgrade your phone every year. There is no lag at all, at least 98% of the time. In my case, I trust the finns more (Nokia), finland has the highest student achievement rate. They always come up with great stuff, I also like their designs and build quality of their products,I like their maps system (which is the best), and finally the great support that they're giving to their Lumia line.

79. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Between ios and android, Android hands down. Better ecosystem, better phones, cheaper to own/operate, and upgrade. That said, I've moved from Android to WP and haven't looked back. It's a good system, just not for me, and, really, probably not for most general non-enthusiast consumers. iphones have had their day, the world is moving on.

14. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Seriously, there are no "cons" listed here, how is this not a 9.3-9.5?

19. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

"Seriously, there are no "cons" listed here, how is this not a 9.3-9.5?" iP(hone/ad) bias?

63. OptimusOne

Posts: 694; Member since: May 22, 2012

oh tyou want to be like the palm pre at 9.9?

6. sheik

Posts: 249; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

Wait for nexus or Go with Note II. You will never regret for choosing that. Want reasons? Note comes with JB out of the box where as Opt G still runs ICS not to mention that 4.2 is gonna be released in next week. And note II is still lighter than 920 with its gigantic 5.5 screen and has better eco system compared to windows store.

7. The.Dark.Knight.Rises

Posts: 72; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

Pick note 2. You don't have to insult yourself by buying LG.

13. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

LGs are just fine, and Nexus devices have a nice aspect to their ownership in terms of getting the newest OS versions sonner than anything else (typically, unless you're on verizon).

43. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

You can root & not have to deal with Verizon. I am on Android 4.1.2 & I have Verizon.

80. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

True, but you void the warranty on it, and I wouldn't do any rooting until after the warranty was up.

21. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

My thing with the Galaxy Note II will be the root scene. I root because I get total control of customization, features & performance. I know the source have been released but I am really interested to see how it does. If the phone proves to have GREAT developer support on both the phone & processor then I am there. If not I am really hoping for this rumored HTC Nexus 5 to be a reality. I have to admit that if I didn't root & would be ALL over this sexy/beast called the Samsung Galaxy Note II. For a stock phone this is REALLY hard to beat. The battery life is really, really impressive. Droid Razor MAXX HD who? lol

30. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

dont worry about Dev support as Sammy has already confirmed on twitter that they are looking into problems concerned with the proper documentation related to exynos. so I guess it will have great Dev support.

31. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

The phone is one sexy piece of hardware for sure. But is it worth nearly double the cost of the Nexus4.. that's my issue. And unless the N4 just sucks, I cant find many reasons that it's worth the extra cost. Have to wait to see N4 reviews to find out for sure though. Sammy definitely hit a high end home run with this thing though, that's for sure.

40. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

The Samsung Galaxy Note II has the S-Pen, the 3100 mAh beast of a battery, the support of up to a 64GB MicroSD card & the real stunner that beautiful 5.5" RGB Super AMOLED HD screen. All those things equal better than the LG Nexus 4. Plus more functionality. To me the price is justifiable. Now add GREAT developer support as ZEUS.the.thunder.god is saying & I really thing this phone has no rival. I just really hope what ZEUS.the.thunder.god says really pans out.

44. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

totally agree.

48. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

that 5.5 inch rgb screen is still amoled in which i am sure the IPS LCD on the N4 is much clearer and brighter plus its a quad core nexus for gods sakes! Gonna have key lime pie, a better processor S4 pro, and to top it off........THE PRICE MAY ONLY BE 400 DOLLARS!!! sorry but no bueno for me..... nexus all D way lol

49. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Hey that's you. I respect that. The Qualcomm quad-core S4 Pro is indeed the best, no doubt. The Exynos 4 quad-core @ 1.6GHz is not to shabby either. The screen is debatable, they are BOTH 720p screens just that one is 4.7" & one is 5.5". You will be able to see & read things better on a larger screen so the advantage has to go to the bigger screen always. You are right about the price point. Sure the LG Nexus 4 will be cheaper but it won't be able to do what the Samsung Galaxy Note II can, but the Samsung Galaxy Note II WILL be able to do what the LG Nexus 4 can. Also about Key Lime Pie, I ALWAYS root. To me if you own an Android & you can follow steps like in a cook book, then you can most definitely root. If I get the Samsung Galaxy Note II, I will root that beast. I will make it how I want & make it perform better than Samsung could ever do, thanks to the GREAT Android developer ecosystem that is out there. I will have Android 4.2 Key Lime Pie. Maybe not the same day the source is released but as early as a couple of days to a full week after the LG Nexus 4 gets it. That is how fast rooted non Nexus phones get the most up to date Android versions. So when I root my Samsung Galaxy Note II in theory I will be turning the phone into a 5.5", S-Pen powered, 3100 mAh battery & up to a 64GB MicroSD card reading Nexus. As always with the ability to put a custom ROM & Kernels that I choose. That is the beauty of Android, plain & simple. +1

41. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

well I have to disagree with you Remix on the price. I think Sammy has justified it. As much as I love my GneX, I have to agree that this phone is a beast and real value for money. But thats just my opinion.

42. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Hey that is my opinion also. +1

45. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

thanx bro. and yeah I read about Sammy taking care of Exynos documentation issue. They are always very supportive when it comes to Dev community. Lets hope for the best. But I was really looking forward to GneX II this year so may be wait for next year or might go for Lg Nexus if price is right here in India.

39. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

That is good to hear. I love the LG Nexus 4 BUT the HUGE 5.5" screen is so epic.

50. MobileCaseReview

Posts: 242; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

SuperAndro, I agree. As a Note owner in the US, I've been very forunate to have amazing dev support. I've been running liquid smooth on my note since its release and this is straight out butter. The note 2 I'm sure will have plenty of dev support. As much as I love all the innovations Samsung put in, I'm gonna turn that beast into stock android regardless. Crossing my fingers there's a HTC nexus 5. I would hop all over that within seconds get myself into debt haha.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

GALAXY Note II T-Mobile
  • Display 5.5" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.9 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 4 Quad, Quad-core, 1600 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3100 mAh

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