• Better the second time around? Our Samsung Galaxy Note II hands-on


    One of last yearís unexpected hits was the Samsung Galaxy Note. Boiled down it was basically a Galaxy S II with a stylus, a bigger higher resolution display and a bigger battery. It screamed Ďmy phone is better than your phone because itís biggerí. I figured it would appeal to guys who wear huge watches, drive showy cars, that sort of thing. However, if you go out youíll notice actually notice a lot of girls with Notes. Turns out a Note fits just fine in a purse. I guess size really doesnít matter.

    Anyways, itís been about a year now and a lot has changed. Samsung is now the de facto power in the Android smartphone space so thereís a lot of anticipation on the Galaxy Noteís successor.



    The new one now has a 5.5Ē display vs the 5.3Ē on the old one. Itís not actually that much bigger because the screenís resolution is actually lower plus the aspect ratio has changed. I dusted off my calculator, the new one is only about 2% bigger. The old one had a resolution of 1280x800 while the new one is 1280x720. So, the new one is slightly taller but more narrow. This actually makes the Note a little easier to use in portrait mode which is how I use mine 95% of the time.



    Probably the biggest change is under the hood. The old Note came with a Qualcomm S3 dual core processor clocked at 1.5Ghz. Basically, Samsung chose the S3 because it had LTE support. While I wouldnít say that the Note is a slow phone, when I use it there are many times where it feels a little underpowered. The new one has a quad-core Exynos processor for Samsung which offers a substantial improvement in performance.



    2GB of RAM is double what you get from the old one. Itís the same amount that Galaxy S III comes with. When I reviewed the S III a while back I wondered what benefit an extra 1GB of RAM would have but it actually makes the S III a very capable at multi-tasking. You can switch one program, run a bunch of others and then switch back without missing it breaking a sweat.



    LTE is a given but the bigger battery is a welcome change. 3100mAh is quite large. Weíll have to see what effect it has on the actual battery life.



    In my hand it feels an awful lot like a large Galaxy S III. I prefer the old note in this regard. While the new Note has a cool glass-like finish I donít really like how it feels in my hand. Itís kind of slippery but more importantly, it kind of exaggerates the fact that itís plastic. Anyways, this becomes somewhat of a moot point if you put the Note II in a case.



    The Note IIís battery cover fits much more securely because the plastic tabs on it are much bigger plus there is more of them.

    While the new Note is a bit narrower itís not a big difference.

    Like the original Note the Note II includes a stylus called the S-Pen. On the original you could use it to take screen shots which you could write or or use it to write notes with Samsung S-Note and S-Memo applications. On the II Samsung has added more software which makes use of the S-Pen. You can select specific area to screen cap.

    Thereís also a cool hover feature. When watching a video you can hover over the navigation bar to preview that point.

    It ships with Jellybean Android 4.1. One of Jellybeanís main features is smoother transitions and indeed, I can tell thereís a difference between it and my Galaxy S III.



    The Note will have the usual Samsung accessories A flip cover, some TPU cases and a dock.



    The dock has an HDMI out, 3 USB and a microUSB (for power) so you can connect a keyboard, mouse and a monitor to use it like a computer.



    Another interesting accessory is an AllShare Cast dongle. With it you can project whatever youíre looking at on the screen onto a HDMI equipped TV. It works better than youíd think though Iím not sure if it works well enough for gaming. If nothing else it could make a good practical joke. When a Note II owner isnít looking project their screen onto a TV. It also works with the Galaxy S III.

    Thatís all for now. Iíll have a full review in a few days.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Better the second time around? Our Samsung Galaxy Note II hands-on started by howard View original post
    Comments 30 Comments
    1. Guest 252's Avatar
      Guest 252 -
      Thanks for the review Howard. Did you have a chance to do a side by side? I've looked at the screen (which is pentile) and noticed that Samsung changed the layout in comparison to the Note I. Although it has slightly less ppi, the new matrix seems pretty tight. What do you think?

      Sent from my GT-N7000 using HowardForums
    1. Mr Mystery's Avatar
      Mr Mystery -
      Quote Originally Posted by Whatever2009 View Post
      I've looked at the screen (which is pentile)
      The Note II is NOT pentile matrix
    1. OCZ's Avatar
      OCZ -
      Howard, mind if I ask where did you get yours from and is it an international version or one of the Big3?


      Thanks!
    1. Guest 252's Avatar
      Guest 252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr Mystery View Post
      The Note II is NOT pentile matrix
      That's right, I just realized how I worded that. I meant to say that instead of an RGB, its an RGB with a very different pixel configuration. Sorry about that!

      Also note that even though the Note II has 20 less ppi, the shift from pentile to this uniquely arranged RGB is a significant upgrade from the Note I

      Sent from my GT-N7000 using HowardForums
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Quote Originally Posted by OCZ View Post
      Howard, mind if I ask where did you get yours from and is it an international version or one of the Big3?


      Thanks!
      It's a TELUS version I got from Samsung.

      Quote Originally Posted by Whatever2009 View Post
      That's right, I just realized how I worded that. I meant to say that instead of an RGB, its an RGB with a very different pixel configuration. Sorry about that!

      Sent from my GT-N7000 using HowardForums

      LOL that would explain it. I just assumed it as PenTile. I haven't gotten around to looking at it really carefully yet but I was marvelling at how un-PenTile it looked.

      The screen looks awesome indoors. It's brighter than the GS3 and to my eye looks sharp. Like the GS3 it's a bit of a dog outdoors. I was walking around outside and noticed the screen goes black in bright sunlight.
    1. Guest 252's Avatar
      Guest 252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
      It's a TELUS version I got from Samsung.




      LOL that would explain it. I just assumed it as PenTile. I haven't gotten around to looking at it really carefully yet but I was marvelling at how un-PenTile it looked.

      The screen looks awesome indoors. It's brighter than the GS3 and to my eye looks sharp. Like the GS3 it's a bit of a dog outdoors. I was walking around outside and noticed the screen goes black in bright sunlight.
      LOL, yeah I shouldnt type and yak at the same time. The outdoor thing is minor but if you spend a lot of time outside it could become a pain. God i wish the Note II was hd ips+ lcd

      Sent from my GT-N7000 using HowardForums
    1. OCZ's Avatar
      OCZ -
      how is the LTE speed on Telus Howard ...

      Thanks!
    1. Drillbit's Avatar
      Drillbit -
      My daughter is one of those girls with a Note. Daddy here only uses an S3.
    1. Tsepz_GP's Avatar
      Tsepz_GP -
      Great hands-on Howard. Im excited to try this one out, doubt i'll get it though, what stopped me getting the OG Note was its width, and if the II isnt that much different then i'd rather hold off.
    1. Mr Mystery's Avatar
      Mr Mystery -
      Just launch this thing and "take my money!"
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Quote Originally Posted by OCZ View Post
      how is the LTE speed on Telus Howard ...

      Thanks!
      For some reason mine won't work with network data. Just WiFi. I'm trying to sort it out. I'm sure the shipping version won't have this problem.
    1. NickC's Avatar
      NickC -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr Mystery View Post
      Just launch this thing and "take my money!"
      Seriously! I never have bought a phone on launch day but I will for this one! Has at&t announced official release date, now that sprint has?
    1. Guest 252's Avatar
      Guest 252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tsepz_GP View Post
      Great hands-on Howard. Im excited to try this one out, doubt i'll get it though, what stopped me getting the OG Note was its width, and if the II isnt that much different then i'd rather hold off.
      You will be so happy with the Note II and its new superior screen

      Sent from my GT-N7000 using HowardForums
    1. OCZ's Avatar
      OCZ -
      Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
      For some reason mine won't work with network data. Just WiFi. I'm trying to sort it out. I'm sure the shipping version won't have this problem.
      obviously you checked the APN lol

      I just want to see if the LTE version is worth the money or should I just get the international version without LTE
    1. Popasmurf's Avatar
      Popasmurf -
      I seriously think I want to get this phone. I have had the Motorola Electrify (Photon 4G) for almost a year and have been REALLY happy with it. My biggest concern is the size of the screen and how it will feel using as a phone. Will it engulf one side of my head when I use it? It does look REALLY nice though...
    1. Guest 252's Avatar
      Guest 252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Popasmurf View Post
      I seriously think I want to get this phone. I have had the Motorola Electrify (Photon 4G) for almost a year and have been REALLY happy with it. My biggest concern is the size of the screen and how it will feel using as a phone. Will it engulf one side of my head when I use it? It does look REALLY nice though...
      I was worried about my Note (which is larger but not as long as the Note II) like you. After one week your brain accepts the size and you no longer see it as big. Trust me.

      Also the display is better on the newest Note. It is now RGBG (yes RGBG) vs the pentile of the original note. The screen is bright, very bright. If you do buy it, let me know and I'll be happy to give you a few pointers on how NOT to experience "AMOLED burn-in".

      "Google Now" on that beast is why I may give this Note to the kids to watch movies on and pick up the Note II myself.

      BTW, thanks again for being so nice to me during my ban :-) much appreciated.



      Sent from my GT-N7000 using HowardForums
    1. xtachx's Avatar
      xtachx -
      Quote Originally Posted by Whatever2009 View Post
      I was worried about my Note (which is larger but not as long as the Note II) like you. After one week your brain accepts the size and you no longer see it as big. Trust me.

      Also the display is better on the newest Note. It is now RGBG (yes RGBG) vs the pentile of the original note. The screen is bright, very bright. If you do buy it, let me know and I'll be happy to give you a few pointers on how NOT to experience "AMOLED burn-in".

      "Google Now" on that beast is why I may give this Note to the kids to watch movies on and pick up the Note II myself.

      BTW, thanks again for being so nice to me during my ban :-) much appreciated.



      Sent from my GT-N7000 using HowardForums
      Isnt the screen RGB matrix and not RGBG? I mean RGBG is pentile and the new note has 3 subpixels/pixel. The RG is horizontal while B is vertical :-) I think sammy is using the Ignis AdMo-P technology which auto-compensates AMOLED's blue LED fading problem

      Sent from my Transformer TF101 using HowardForums
    1. Guest 252's Avatar
      Guest 252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by xtachx View Post
      Isnt the screen RGB matrix and not RGBG? I mean RGBG is pentile and the new note has 3 subpixels/pixel. The RG is horizontal while B is vertical :-) I think sammy is using the Ignis AdMo-P technology which auto-compensates AMOLED's blue LED fading problem

      Sent from my Transformer TF101 using HowardForums
      It is RGBG. If you look at the setup it is red green red green with line of blue running against it. It is a very different kind of RGB. The first color to fade in AMOLED is usually green and the new Note has a lot more green than before. It has been dubbed RGBG by many who have reviewed it. It has slightly less ppi however the setup of the grid is way better and produces a much sharper cleaner image.

      Sent from my GT-N7000 using HowardForums
    1. joshhud's Avatar
      joshhud -
      Where are those TPU cases... ive been looking for some since i plan on getting the Note this week.
    1. snipestech's Avatar
      snipestech -
      I have mines on T-Mobile incredible phone I must say

      Sent from my SGH-T889 using Tapatalk 2