The Samsung Galaxy Note II is big. Colossally big. Funny big. Write down every adjective you can think of to change the description of something big and it will most likely fit the description of the Galaxy Note II. It's important to get this inescapable description out of the way as anyone who sees or holds the Galaxy Note II will have no choice but to be amazed at how big the phone and tablet are.
The same situation led doubters to believe the original Galaxy Note was too big to be successful, but millions of phones later sold turned out to be a false prediction. Despite the size of its build, the Galaxy Note II isn't over the top in everyone's eyes or hands. How does the newest super-large handset from Samsung manage to draw the line between too big and too good to go without? Read below to find out.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is actually slimmer and thinner than its predecessor. Despite enlarging the screen to 5.5 inches, the phone is 80.5 mm x 151.1 mm x 9.4 mm (3.14 inches x 5.94 inches x 0.37 inches). That's slightly smaller than the original Galaxy Note, but the newest Note doesn't compress enough to be mistaken for anything but a juggernaut. In addition to a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the Galaxy Note II looks bigger than normal. It looks larger than life next to a Motorola DROID RAZR M.
One-hand operation is feasible with the Galaxy Note II, but cumbersome. When users try to get a thumb across the screen, they inevitably hit the back or menu button unless they always remember to arch and bow in a delicate dance. Surprisingly, the 180g phone isn't heavy, which makes it a lot easier to use. While the size of the phone may seem daunting to some, the weight of the phone certainly isn't. The thin profile and lightweight frame also make it easy for the phone to fit comfortably in jeans pockets or purses.
There's a reason for all of this size: a big screen and deliberately trying to be both a phone and a tablet. Just as the original Galaxy Note felt like a bigger Galaxy S II, the latest Galaxy Note feels like an extension of the design of the Galaxy S III. The phone has a large 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED screen with a thin bezel that floats smoothly from edge to edge. Consumers often complain about AMOLED screens that have a bluish tint, but the Galaxy Note II display doesn't suffer from this problem. The screen has an HD resolution of 1,280 x 720, which displays colors and text neatly and cleanly – cleaner than the Galaxy S III in fact – and at the right intensity. Simply put, photos, videos, and text look great on the Galaxy Note II.
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Samsung also continues its design philosophy of using physical home, back and menu buttons instead of the virtual button maker proposed by Google. The corners of the device are smoothly curved, and a hard silver rim accentuates the edges of a glossy plastic finish available in marble white or titanium gray. The main differentiator, and possibly the best ally in justifying the handset's dimensions, is the S Pen in the lower right corner of the Galaxy Note II. The S Pen is a specialty pen that enables various software functions and handwriting and drawing, which is what the Galaxy Note does II makes it so unique. The Wacom pressure sensitive digitizer is incredibly light and easy to use when used with the large Galaxy Note II screen. It is then safely plugged back into the back of the device when it is no longer needed.
The Galaxy Note II has a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and 16 to 64 GB of internal storage for your daily activities. A microSD slot adds even more storage by offering the option to support an additional 64GB of storage. It is hard to imagine running out of storage space when the phone supports so many more storage options compared to other devices.
Although NVIDIA and Qualcomm have worked with developers to improve the graphics quality of games that target their processor and GPU, the Exynos chips that Samsung itself produces don't have this bonus. So graphics are good, but not as impressive for some marquee games like Riptide. With other games that weren't geared towards Tegra or Snapdragon, Exynos can more than hold its own. The quad-core processor makes up for the lack of bespoke games by being fast. This can also be seen in regular use of the TouchWiz infused Android 4.1 Jelly Bean software. The Galaxy Note II can easily switch from app to app and do tasks, although there are noticeable delays when pressing the home button or when switching between portrait and landscape format.
The original Galaxy Note was designed for constant lag because of its outdated software, but the new Galaxy Note II is quite fast. Stuttering is hardly a problem, and Android 4.1's animations and transitions go a long way in improving the perceived speed of normal activities.
When comparing technical data sheets, the Galaxy Note II can stand tall with any device. It has all of the sensors and codecs you need for gaming or media enjoyment, and it comes with a variety of tricky but practical software options. The only thing that few devices have and do even less well is the S Pen. The digital pen device enables unique use cases for pressure-sensitive drawing or complicated noting.
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The included S Note application can mix photos with handwritten notes to create clarity on an idea or to aid memory. Creative types can capture ideas in notes that combine text, voice recordings, photos, or handwritten notes. Whether you're designing a suggested layout for an apartment or taking notes in a meeting, the tablet-like screen and S-pen make a good combination.
The S Pen holds its weight even in standard applications. The S Pen can trigger actions like a finger, and the tip is more precise. The standard keyboard is large and offers plenty of space for typing with two fingers. However, the S Pen can work with Swype to slide from letter to letter and instantly recognize words from gestures.
The handwriting and input technology is incredibly responsive and fluid, although the handwriting-to-text conversion tool has a hard time distinguishing between punctuation marks like commas, periods, and apostrophes. The pen also has a nifty AirView feature that lets you hover your mouse over items to see mouse-over effects on the web, larger thumbnails in the gallery, or a preview of the action if you're in after a certain amount of time search for a video file.
Call / data
Newer Samsung phones in the US have relied primarily on Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips for compliance with 4G networks. However, Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Note II with an Exynos chip that meets all network requirements. The Galaxy Note II supports 4G LTE for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, as well as HSPA + speeds for T-Mobile. Performance will vary by market, so the presence of LTE and the strength of the network in your area will determine data speed and reliability. The T-Mobile version of the Galaxy Note II performed well in the New York City area and achieved average speeds of 2 to 6 Mbit / s downloads and 1 to 2 Mbit / s uploads.