The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a super-sized, super-smartphone. Surf the web and jot down notes on this Android smartphone's expansive 5.5-inch touchscreen. With a HD Super AMOLED Plus display, images are bright and detailed as you preview photos, stream videos, and play games. Handwrite notes and scribble on photos with the included S Pen. Intuitive to use and easy to customize, the Galaxy Note II is more than a smartphone; it is a productivity tool and a mobile entertainment powerhouse. Popular apps are pre-loaded, with hundreds of thousands more Android apps, widgets, and games available to download in the Google Play Store. Samsung's impressive quad-core processor enables seamless multitasking, streaming without interruptions, and less lag than other smartphones. The Galaxy Note II is also an advanced digital camera, packing in both an 8 megapixel rear-facing and a 1.9 front-facing camera. With so many great features, you'll never want to put down the Galaxy Note II. Fortunately, you won't have to because it also has a huge 3,100 mAh battery to last all day.
When the Samsung Galaxy Note first launched in 2011, many users found it large, cumbersome and strangely outdated due to its limited media options and accompanying stylus. So who would have thought that the Galaxy Note would become one of Samsung's most popular smartphones?
It's inevitable that the company would capitalize on their success and release an updated model of their bestseller, and the good news is that the Galaxy Note II proves to be just as buzzworthy as its predecessor but with better speeds and nicer features. It also corners the market on what's known as the "phablet," a cross between traditional phones and tablets.
There are a few flaws to the device, of course, but all phones have them. Buyers will simply have to weigh the pros and cons of the Galaxy Note II and decide if this model fits their needs.
Without further ado, here's a guide to the Samsung Galaxy Note II and all its capabilities.
At almost six inches tall and more than three inches wide, the Galaxy Note II is slightly smaller than the first, but it's still a hefty phone and one that may not fit into tight pockets. Samsung took a lot of heat for designing the first Galaxy Note as a larger-than-average phone, and it's apparent that they tried to incorporate that feedback here, though they didn't completely overhaul the design. Users will have to sacrifice some maneuverability for the convenience of a larger interface and a solid bulk.
3.16" x 5.95" x 0.37"
HD 1280x720 resolution
Perhaps anticipating that their large phone would be fumbled and dropped, Samsung went for a polycarbonate chassis this time around, a definite upgrade from the first model. Drop tests from consumers have proved that the Galaxy Note II can indeed survive falls from up to five feet.
In terms of buttons, the Galaxy Note II has a busy front, offering both a larger home button and two menu keys flanking either side. You'll also find additional buttons on the sides, including power and volume.
There's a stylus holder, of course, since the entire Galaxy Note platform runs on the return to the stylus. They call it their "S-Pen" in official press releases. A pleasant surprise is that the S-Pen holder is sturdier than its previous counterpart, perhaps in response to user complaints. You'll also find a headphone jack and micro-USB charging port around the side.
3.5mm headphone jack
USB port with MFL capabilities
Battery life is an important consideration of any phone, and the Galaxy Note II offers better results than most other devices in its weight class. User tests have it lasting anywhere from 10 to 12 hours.
Also worth noting is that the battery provides 3100mAh of juice, an upgrade from the previous Galaxy Note which only offered 2500mAh. The increased capabilities of the new model translates into better stamina and less overheating during, say, long flights or video streaming.
As always, the battery is fully removable, and taking off the back will reveal slots for microSDXC and micro-SIM cards.
3100mAh, up to 12 hours of continued use
With NFC capabilities, the Galaxy Note II distinguishes itself from other smartphones. Even competitors like the iPhone 5 aren't equipped for NFC. It's also LTE-ready and fully compatible with S-Beam, the new technology that allows users to touch phones to exchange data. For businesspeople who like to share files or swap contact information on the go, the Galaxy Note II is a great investment.
The WiFi is standard for the type, nothing noteworthy but also nothing flawed. For users of Samsung's AllShare, the Galaxy Note II chinks gently into place and allows for streaming to a variety of phones, tablets and Blu-ray players.
Those who want to stream directly to their television can do so with the previously mentioned USB port. They'll need to buy a separate cable, however, and it needs to be an MHL-to-HDMI converter and Samsung-approved.
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
LTE and NFC ready
The Galaxy Note II offers an absolutely incredible interface thanks to its ultra-HD Samsung Super AMOLED panel. It also forgoes the usual RBG matrix for a BGR variety, meaning brighter colors and less pixel density despite its increased size. This all comes together in an attractive package for high-def video streaming and a vivid interface. It even boasts an LED notification light, a first for the Galaxy Note line. Samsung has definitely committed themselves to visibility and readability, perhaps as part of their marketing campaign that declares their phones "designed for humans."
Over on the technical side, the Galaxy Note II is the first phone to unveil Android's 4.1 Jelly Bean. Eagle-eyed users may notice a few differences from the original Note's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but most of them are improvements resulting in faster speeds and stronger processing power.
Unfortunately, TouchWiz is still the required skin for Samsung products. While it's possible to replace it with third-party skins, most of them aren't compatible with the S-Pen. The better option is to simply stick with it.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
1280x720 HD Super AMOLED
A major concern among first-time smartphone buyers is how "tech savvy" they need to be in order to use the device. This means both good and bad things for the Galaxy Note II.
On one hand, it was almost certainly designed with new users in mind. For those who are uncomfortable with the dizzying array of options, apps and buttons on the home menu, it's possible to switch to an "easy mode" that offers larger widgets and less confusion.
On the other hand, the Galaxy Note II offers a lot of perks for the experienced smartphone owner. Its motion controls are so cutting-edge they almost bleed, with tilting, tapping and turning capabilities that allow users to interact with their phones with almost no contact required. For example, tilting the phone while inside the photo gallery will toggle zooming options.
Since the S-Pen is part of the reason so many buyers flocked to the first Galaxy Note, it's worth the effort to examine the new model and see how it compares to the old.
Fans of the S-Pen will enjoy all the same functions and features offered from the original. Removing the stylus from its cradle will automatically pull up stylus-related apps; taking the stylus too far away from the phone will trigger an alert. One upgrade is the Wacom digitizer, which now recognizes when the stylus is hovering above the screen in addition to pressing down on it. Users won't have to dig their S-Pens into their screens to see activity.
Another notable change is the increase in pressure sensitivity. The Galaxy Note II boasts more than 1,024 levels, more than four times the original's 256. For users who had trouble with the sensitivity of the first Note, the problem has been quite thoroughly fixed.
Last but certainly not least, the Galaxy Note II is a powerful device that does an excellent job of meeting both professional and recreational needs. It can play games just as easily as it connects to cloud, and with its accelerated speeds and strong battery, it would be difficult to find a stronger, faster and better-connected phone currently for sale.
Indeed, the Galaxy Note II actually breaks records in terms of CPU and GPU. It sets the new benchmark for Exynos, an already impressive system, with 69-119 fps and around 1,000ms depending on the device. It also offered speedier downloads and quicker video streaming than all other devices when tested.
It's a phone that just won't quit, and users will definitely enjoy its specs even if they don't understand all the numbers.
1.6GHz Exynos quad-core processor
Is the Samsung Galaxy Note II as good as it gets? Most users seem to think so. Though it has a number of flaws, including its large size and occasionally glitchy apps, it more than makes up for its drawbacks by offering a strong foundation of speed, power and control in addition to hundreds of extras and options.
All in all, the Galaxy Note II more than fills its predecessor's shoes, and it might just be one of the best smartphones currently on the market.
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