Design | Camera
Software | S Pen
I have a Samsung GALAXY S III, and I am in love with it; or at least I was until the Samsung GALAXY Note II arrived on my doorstep. I can say with confidence that this is one of the top tier smart phones out on the market. It’s the best of both worlds, half smart phone, half tablet, a “phablet”.
The Samsung GALAXY Note II was modeled after the Samsung GALAXY S III. Just as the original Note was modeled after the Samsung GALAXY S II. The Note II retains the same glossy finishing as in the S III. I personally continue to find this a dissatisfying feature with mobile devices. It scratches easily and leaves imprints from greasy fingers. Another negative aspect to the gloss is the texture. It feels slippery in your hands, and I have almost had a few slip ups and dropped the device.
The 1.9 front and 8 MP rear cameras are carried over from the Samsung GALAXY S III. They are placed in the same fashion of the S III as well. Although this has been my biggest dissapointment with the Note II, it holds some sweet features that I will talk about later.
Even though this phone dons a screen bigger than 5 inches, it’s still relatively light and thin. The phone measures at 9.4 millimeters thick and weighs roughly 6.46 ounces. The S-Pen is located in its dock at the bottom right of the device. Besides the S-Pen, you should be familiar with the phones lay out if you have had a previous experience with the Samsung GALAXY S III.
The Note II sports a 5.5 inch 1280×720 HD Super AMOLED Display. This display is non-Pentile screen and the Note II actually uses an RGB matrix. A RGB OLED screen with over 230 PPI means it will have a low lifetime. The Note II has a PPI of 267 making it one of the highest PPI non-Pentile OLED display. The advantage no visible Pentile patterns. The display glass is made from a second generation Gorilla Glass (scratch resistant glass) which is no advancement from the material used in the S III.
Inside the phablet, there is a Cortex-A9 processor, which is a quad-core CPU clocked in at 1.6GHz. The phablet comes with an internal memory of 16/32/64 GB for data storage, a significant upgrade from the first note. The Note II can support a 64GB removable microSD card. This is an insane amount of memory. The RAM in the Note II is a whopping 2GB, which is more than enough for multitasking either games, work, or music. This machine also comes with built in NFC which allows the S-Beam function to work.
The Note II comes equipped with a removable 3100 mAh battery. I was able to get about 11 hours of usage out of the device. My tasks included note taking, drawing with the S-Pen, gaming, watching movies on Netflix, and setting up a personal launcher and layout for my apps. During stand by mode, the Note II was able to go more than 24 hours without a charge.
Having had a Galaxy S III, I was not impressed with the quality of the Note II’s 8 MP rear camera and 1.9 MP front camera. They are the same sensor, and image quality looks the same. The Camera is loaded with features that come pre-loaded. You can now include burst shooting into your Single Shot mode. All I have to do is hold down the camera button, and this pup will shoot more than 6 frames per second with up to 20 shots. The “Low light” mode worked inefectively in our dimly lit office, it holds nothing can compared to the Nokia Lumia 920.
The video can record high speed and slow motion video. The mode I have had the most fun with is Best Faces. This shooting mode allows you to edit the faces of each person in a group photo by choosing the best face out of a given set. You can now take a goofy group photo to the next level.
The Galaxy Note II is one of the first Samsung smartphones that comes with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) right out of the box. With Jelly Bean you now get new software such as Google Now and the Blocking mode. This is a function similar to Do not disturb in iOS6, it is software that allows you to ignore calls and notifications for a scheduled period of time.
The touchwiz launcher used in the S III is present in this device. The Note II includes a Wacom Digitizer just as its predecessor did. The Galaxy Note II features a new gallery that utilizes the large screen and the powerful hardware of this machine. The lay out is set up to easily organize and create new photos. This includes a command that allows you to arrange your albums in a timeline view, a cascading timeline view, and a grid view. It wouldn’t be called the Note if you couldn’t take notes on the back of your pictures. Tapping on the photo and selecting Draw on image from the menu tab allows you to flip the picture over and do exactly that.
Suddenly, I have found myself productively working from my phone. I have worked on-the-go before, but I have never had a more efficient experience until the Note II. In the past, it has been a headache navigating my phone to do work. With the Note II’s new split screen feature it’s the opposite, I’m having fun. All phones need this. If other developers aren’t taking notes, no pun intended, they’re going to be left in the dust. The split screen feature makes navigation on your mobile device a breeze. It enables you to multitask, such as surfing the web and checking my e-mail or text messages simultaneously on one screen. I do not know what I am going to do with my life when I have to return this phone to the good folks at Samsung. Seriously, how will I ever browse the internet ever again?
I had to save the best for last. The Note II couldn’t be what it is without its handy S Pen. Now this is a new S Pen that is slightly upgraded from the stylus of yesterday. The S Pen is slightly thicker this time around. It feels durable in the hand and fits comfortably. The S Pen features use up a little bit of battery life. You do have the option to turn these features on or off. I first tried the Open Popup Note. Upon removing the S Pen, a small window opened to take notes. This handy tool opens on top of other apps allowing you to easily multitask. Air View is a feature that enables the Note II to detect the point of the stylus when held a centimeter from the screen. You can preview content in small windows by holding the S Pen above the screen. It even works in the web browser acting just like a mouse on your PC. Samsung improved on the S Pen cropping. On the Note II, you can now clip images without taking a screen shot.