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Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

Samsung GALAXY Note II

Posted: , posted by Daniel P.

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Interface and Functionality:

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 Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with the newest Android 4.1.1 version - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with the newest Android 4.1.1 version - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with the newest Android 4.1.1 version - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with the newest Android 4.1.1 version - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with the newest Android 4.1.1 version - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with the newest Android 4.1.1 version - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with the newest Android 4.1.1 version - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with the newest Android 4.1.1 version - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

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 Galaxy Note II Review
Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Another groundbreaking feature is the multi-windows mode that Samsung introduced with the Note II, which splits the large screen in area sizes of your choosing, and you can run two apps at once there, so the productivity crown goes to Samsung’s handset for now.



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.

S Planner calendar app - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
S Planner calendar app - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

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.

The Easy Clip feature - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The Easy Clip feature - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The Easy Clip feature - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

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.

Pulling the S Pen out during a phone call evokes the S Note app - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
Pulling the S Pen out during a phone call evokes the S Note app - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review


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.


 
Internet and Connectivity:

If you thought the browser on the Galaxy S III has been optimized, wait till you see what Samsung has done with the one in Jelly Bean. The iPhone 5, which is arguably with the fastest browser out there, scores 947 on the SunSpider JavaScript browser test (the lower, the better), while the Note II scored slightly above at 1028, showing that we have a record holder in Android land now, until we measure what the Snapdragon S4 Pro phones are capable of.

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 browser is a joy to use with this large screen - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The browser is a joy to use with this large screen - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The browser is a joy to use with this large screen - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The browser is a joy to use with this large screen - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The browser is a joy to use with this large screen - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The browser is a joy to use with this large screen - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The browser is a joy to use with this large screen - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review
The browser is a joy to use with this large screen - Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

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.

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Samsung GALAXY Note II

Samsung GALAXY Note II

OS: Android 4.4.2 4.3 4.1.2 4.1.1
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
9Excellent
Display5.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (265 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Samsung Exynos 4 Quad, Quad-core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
2 GB RAM
Size5.94 x 3.17 x 0.37 inches
(151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm)
6.44 oz  (182 g)
Battery3100 mAh, 35 hours talk time

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