Samsung Galaxy Note II In-Depth Review (Part 1)

4/19/2013 9:25:50 AM

Samsung's first attack on the smartphone segment larger than 5 inches came in the form of the Galaxy Note. It differs from most phones we saw earlier: first, it is very large, and related to the use of pen, a very outdated concept at that time. Who are willing to buy this stuff? However, despite the huge size, this tablet/phone (please forgive us: phablet) has attracted the hearts and wallets more than what Sammy had expected. The S Pen showed it was not just a simple pen, the painters and technology enthusiasts loved it and the successful marketing campaigns helped sell millions of units. The Note’s success could not be denied.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung Galaxy Note II

At that time, did Samsung realize that it was sitting on a gold mine? It's hard to know for sure, but its success has only one meaning: the inevitable next model. The Galaxy Note II has some big shoes to fill. However, we believe it will accomplish the task: it has a quad-core Exynos processor, double RAM, a bigger screen and the new S Pen tricks. It sounds interesting, but the new version has actually won the old version? Is it worth spending a sizable investment (the prices vary, but start at around $788 for non-SIM version) when it is only one year far apart? We will satisfy your curiosity.


To see the new Galaxy Note II, it is necessary to attend an intensive course in Samsung’s favorite design language. While the original version has the overall appearance and slightly square corners similar to the Galaxy S II, its successor is also inspired by nature and "is designed for people" like the Galaxy S III. We will not reject the possibility of that you mixed them up (the size difference is a clear sign, but on the other hand, the phones look quite similar). In fact, Samsung has a habit of changing things on an annual basis, may seem a bit boring than every of a few months. However, by accepting the annual design cycle, the devices like the Note II likely spend through the initial stages of development faster than normal.

We also figure out that the new consistent strategy of the company will have a major impact on the brand recognition of Samsung. The original Galaxy Note owners - whether it is the international N7000 or one of its many versions - all know very well how it feels when sometimes getting the question, "What is that?" from the random passersby. With the width of 3.16 inches (80.5mm), the height of 5.95 inches (151.1mm) and the depth of 0.37 inches (9.4mm), the Note II is slightly thinner, narrower and higher than its predecessor. Along with the pebble-like shape, of course, it provides a more comfortable experience when holding it in the hand, although it is slightly heavier at 6.35 ounces (180g). Even though it is more attractive than the first Note, undisputedly, it is a great device, and it will continue to attract stares for that reason.

While we all want our smartphones in the long run, the issue of build quality is extremely important here, based on the fact that the size of the phone makes it easy to be dropped. That's the reason why we're pleased with the company’s decision to make use of a polycarbonate frame, which is the same frame on the Galaxy S III. After using the Note II frequently, we believe that Samsung has created a durable, stable device. (Also, you can find some tests of dropping the phone on the web. Please notice: it suffered very well). Since the new Note has a larger screen and a thinner frame, its buttons on each side have been scaled down a notch. For example, the power key now lies in a natural position which is easier to find by feeling. The only disadvantage is that it is also easier to hit accidentally. It is due to the fact that we are discussing the button layout, we will continue with the full sightseeing Vanna White-style tour: beginning with the front, you will find a LED light (it is not on the first Note), earpiece, the sensors and a 1.9MP camera on the screen, while the large physical home button found below the screen surface is flanked by two capacitive keys (menu and back) on each side. The bezels on the top and bottom are smaller than the original Note, even though the left and right bezels are still similar.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II’s power key now lies in a natural position which is easier to find by feeling.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II’s power key now lies in a natural position which is easier to find by feeling.

Honestly, the front is the busiest part of the phone; Samsung announced the minimum policy for the rest of the Note II. There is a power button on the right; the volume rocker is on the left, the place holding the S Pen and micro-USB charging port (with the ability to MHL) is below and the 3.5mm headphone jack is above. The back is quite discreet; there is an 8MP camera module and LED flash on the unique Samsung logo, as well as a speaker grille located near below. The battery cover is completely flat- fixed at the back of the phone (except for the fact that the camera and speaker are slightly bulging) and curved in when it is adjacent to the edges.

One design decision we always appreciate from Samsung is a removable battery, which had been increased to 3100mAh (2500mAh on the original Note). Above it, you will see the slot for the micro-SIM card and microSDXC well as the contacts for the NFC and wireless charging. Our special review unit, provided to us by our friends at Negri Electronics, is the white N7100, the international version that lacks super-fast LTE speeds that many users desire.

Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 vs. Galaxy Note II N7100

Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 vs. Galaxy Note II N7100

So, those who are looking for the fastest Note II will now need to buy the N7105, which offers the next-generation data in bands 7 (2,600MHz) and 20 (800 MHz). Those who love speed in the United States may also be interested in the version of the Note II sold on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, although there will be little aesthetical difference between them and the international copies - as we have seen with the Galaxy S III series. The two international versions of the Note II can run HSPA+ 21.6Mbps (850, 900, 1,900 and 2,100MHz) along with the quad-band GSM/ EDGE. They also have dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n with Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA and NFC. If you are a device addict who needs the full list of specifications, we have compiled all the details of these specs below.

Galaxy Note N7000

·         Dimensions: 5.78x3.27x0.38 inches (146.9x83x9.7mm)

·         Weight: 6.28 ounce (178g)

·         Screen size: 5.3 inches

·         Screen resolution: 1280x800 pixels (285ppi)

·         Screen types: HD Super AMOLED

·         Battery: 2500mAh

·         Internal storage: 16GB

·         External storage: microSD (up to 32GB)

·         Rare camera: 8MP

·         Front-facing camera: 2MP

·         Video capture: 1080p

·         NFC: In select variants

·         Radios:  HSPA+/UMTS, GSM/EDGE, LTE

·         Bluetooth:  Version 3.0

·         SoC: 1.4GHz dual-core Exynos 4212

·         RAM: 1GB

·         MHL: Yes

·         Operating system: Android 2.3 (upgraded to 4.0)

Galaxy Note II N7100

·         Dimensions: 5.95x3.16x0.37 inches (151.1x80.5x9.4mm)

·         Weight: 6.35 ounce (180g)

·         Screen size: 5.5 inches

·         Screen resolution: 1280x720 pixels (267ppi)

·         Screen types: HD Super AMOLED

·         Battery: 3100mAh

·         Internal storage: 16/32/64GB

·         External storage: microSD (up to 64GB)

·         Rare camera: 8MP

·         Front-facing camera: 1.9MP

·         Video capture: 1080p

·         NFC:  Yes

·         Radios:  HSPA+/UMTS/GSM/EDGE; LTE (in the N7105)

·         Bluetooth:  Version 4.0 LE (with Apt-X support)

·         SoC:  1.6GHz quad-core Exynos 4412

·         RAM:  2GB

·         MHL:  Yes

·         Operating system: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean


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