Samsung Galaxy Note II 4G smartphone review
Samsung’s Galaxy Note II can be accurately described as a Galaxy S III on steroids with a similar design but a much larger 5.5-inch screen and S Pen stylus.
The device takes most of the features and apps of the Galaxy S III and offers them on a grander scale but also adds some unique features of its own which are made possible because of the larger screen and S Pen.
Running the Android 4.1.1 operating system, the Samsung Galaxy Note II is an excellent follow up to the original Note that took the smartphone boldly into tablet territory.
And while “phablet” is an accurate way to describe it, the Note II is still easy to carry around despite its larger size.
The Galaxy Note II has taken a leaf out of the Galaxy S III’s design book with the same rounded edges and styling.
The device is 15.1cm long, 8.05cm wide and 9.4mm thick and weighs 182.5g.
This is a big handset but it can still easily fit into a pocket or bag. The first reaction when people saw it was surprise at its size but after a few minutes they were mesmerised.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note II is dominated by the 5.5-inch Super AMOLED screen with a home key below and soft keys for menu and back on either side.
On the left edge is the volume up/down rocker switch while the top edge has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the right is the on/off/lock key and while the bottom edge has a microUSB charge/sync port.
The back panel has the Note II’s 8-megapixel camera centred near the top edge beside the LED flash.
The bottom edge also has the storage slot for the Note II’s S Pen. The S Pen itself can write directly on the screen but also has a feature called AirView that allows it to preview emails and documents by hovering the nib over the screen.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note II has 4G connectivity on both the Telstra and Optus networks for fast download and uploads from the device.
The large screen makes an excellent stage to enjoy the product’s many features.
With so much screen real estate, users can utilise a feature called Multi Window that allow users to have two applications open at once.
Simply press and hold the back key and a small tab appears on the side of the screen.
Users can open this tab and select the two applications from this menu that they’d like to use simultaneously.
Easy Mode is another handy feature that places all of the key settings and applications of the device on the home screen at your fingertips to give users quick access.
But some of the most impressive features of the Note II involve using the S Pen.
AirView lets you preview the images in a folder, an email or a calendar entry just by hovering the S Pen above it. A small blue dot appears on the screen to indicate the S Pen is close by and this makes it easier for the user to position it right.
This is a handy timesaving feature that allows you to view the contents of the file or the entry without having to open the app.
And with Pen in its name, the S Pen of course is great for taking notes like you would with a regular notepad.
But the device also has excellent handwriting recognition for those who’d rather write than type on glass.
It’s also possible to make notes while you’re in the middle of a call so forget having to carry around a pen and paper.
There are even more notepad templates with the Note II so users can really unleash their creativity.
Photo Note – as its name implies – makes it possible to write notes directly onto photographs.
Easy Clip – another title that exactly describes the feature – lets users cut out and save content including text and images to either share or save in the device’s scrapbook.
The Galaxy Note II is also a fully-fledged big screen GPS device with the pre-loaded Navigon app for turn-by-turn directions.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is powered by a quad core 1.6Ghz processor and the result is an impressive, snappy performance.
This is evident with the real time note taking abilities of the device which is just as responsive as writing with a real pen on a piece of paper.
Another demonstration of the processing power is the ability to play a high definition video in a window while you’re using another app or navigating the home screen.
The device’s 5.5-inch screen is bright and clear and allows for a much easier way to browse the web and view apps.
And with so much extra space, writing on the screen also offers a lot more scope for note taking or sketching.
The 8-megapixel camera aboard the Galaxy Note II also holds its own and produces some fine images.
It has Face Recognition to focus on the subjects of your photo along with Best Face which takes a burst of eight shots so you can select the best face for every person in the shot.
Another strength of the Galaxy Note II is the battery which easily lasted a day and half under heavy use before we needed to reach for the charger.
Because the Note II is a bigger device it can fit in a bigger battery and power users will be very thankful. That’s one advantage of carrying around a larger device.
But one disadvantage for many will be that size which makes it difficult to operate the device with one hand.
There is a one-handed operation mode that allows users to set the keyboard and number keypad and in-call buttons to either the left or right side of the screen.
The thumb radius of your hand is just too small to be able to reach the entire screen. This is why Apple decided to stick with the same width screen on its iPhone 5.
The Galaxy Note II’s screen is so big it can fit the iPhone 5 entirely inside the area of its display.
For our usage we found it easy to carry the Galaxy Note II around in our back pocket.
One other niggle we found with the device was the sensitive on/off/lock button on the side which sometimes interfered when we were trying to take a photo.
A couple of times we either locked the phone or re-started it again.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is an impressive handset that offers a large luxurious screen, a fast processor and a bucket load of handy features that will suit a wide range of users.
Once you’ve experienced the Galaxy Note II it will be hard to go back to a smaller screen.
Samsung Galaxy Note II
Price: $899 or on a plan through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone