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Samsung Galaxy Note II - Pleasantly Surprised (Part 3)

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It will come as no surprise to say that the Galaxy Note II is fast and smooth. Running essentially the same tried and tested software as the Galaxy S III, o nly this time underpinned by Jelly Bean. With its Project Butter performance benefits, as well as a faster processor and more RAM, there is a complete absence of lag as you scroll around the phone’s system.

Call quality and reception were good, as was the Wi-Fi performance. Video playback was very smooth with all types of files, and the built-in video player supports a wide range of common video formats.

Call quality and reception were good, as was the Wi-Fi performance. Video playback was very smooth with all types of files, and the built-in video player supports a wide range of common video formats.

It is powered by an Exynos quad-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz with a very ample 2GB of RAM that rarely threatened to be filled even when running multiple apps simultaneously. Our review unit came with 16GB of internal storage, of which about 10.5GB was available for our content, and it also supports micro SD cards up to 64GB so storage is unlikely to ever be a problem, especially when you also factor in the 50GB of free Dropbox storage as well.

Call quality and reception were good, as was the Wi-Fi performance. Video playback was very smooth with all types of files, and the built-in video player supports a wide range of common video formats. Even the speakers were louder and clearer than we would normally expect to encounter on most Android devices.

The Note II comes with an eight-megapixel camera around the back and a secondary 1.9-megapixel camera on the front. The main camera is the same as on the S III and is among the best around. It has zero shutter lag and takes a fantastic snap in good light, but the quality inevitably tails off in darker conditions. There are a few clever tricks on board, including a fast burst mode and the ability to take stills while shooting video. The impressive HDR mode helps overcome the dynamic range weaknesses of the sensor and although the anti-shake mode doesn’t match the kind of innovation we’re seeing from Nokla’s Lumia 920 it does help you grab an important snap in low light without resorting to the feeble flash.

Battery life was uniformly excellent. The 3100mAh battery in the Note II is second only to Motorola's specialist RAZR Maxx phone and it delivered without fail two days between charges. With lighter use, and by turning off some of the motion and pen detecting features you could extend that even further.

Split-screen

One of the biggest innovations in the software is a new split-screen mode that was activated through an update. This works with the main Google and Samsung apps and enables you to view two on screen at the same time. Although fairly limited in some respects it does have its uses, and represents a great way of making more of the larger screen real estate

One of the biggest innovations in the software is a new split-screen mode that was activated through an update.

One of the biggest innovations in the software is a new split-screen mode that was activated through an update.

Wrap up

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a success in virtually every respect, and one of the best Android devices we’ve seen. It is as fast and responsive as anything on the market, has a terrific screen, well considered software (for the most part) and a stylus that has moved way beyond gimmicky to become a genuinely useful tool.

The only question that remains is our original one: is it a large phone, or a small tablet? Even after an extended period of testing we’re still unsure of the answer.

The size of the Note II makes it a niche device, but the popularity of the original shows that it is a pretty big niche and those that want a larger screened, but still pocketable device, for whatever reason, will lap it up.

Battery life

The battery is fantastic, perhaps the best you’ll get on any current smartphone

Performance

Fast in every respect and with outstanding battery life

Design

No complaints with the build quality; design is the same as the S III

Features

It’s all here - and more. The S Pen is a genuinely useful addition

Value for money

Expensive, yes, but this is a proper pocket computer

Verdict

Still something of an oddity, but the Note II has been polished in every area and is now a thoroughly impressive product

The S Pen tucks away when you’re not using it

The S Pen tucks away when you’re not using it

Details

·         Price: $840

·         More information: www.samsung.com

Technical specs

·         Operating system: Android 4.1 with TouchWiz

·         Processor: Samsung Exynos 1.6GHz quad-core

·         Memory: 2GB RAM, 16GB storage

·         Dimensions: 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm

·         Weight: 180g

·         Display size: 5.5-inch

·         Display resolution: 720 x 1,280 pixels

·         Expansion slot: micro SD

 

 

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