In spite of the widespread criticisms of the original Galaxy Note’s form factor, a funny thing happened—Samsung sold a boatload of the devices. In fact, by mid-August Samsung had sold over 10 million Galaxy Notes worldwide, making it an unmitigated success. And what do you get when the first product in an unchartered market is a success? A sequel, that’s what.
Today Samsung is launching the Galaxy Note II in the U.S. An international version of the device has been available for some time, but variants compatible with most of the major wireless carriers here in the states will become available shortly. We’ve had a T-Mobile compatible version of the Galaxy Note II in house for testing and have our impressions and results posted on the pages ahead. First up though, is a quick look at the Galaxy Note II’s main features and specifications. As you’ll see, they’re pretty impressive...
The list of specifications above put the Samsung Galaxy Note II among an elite group of smartphones. Not only does it pack a quad-core SoC and 2GB of RAM, but it’s outfitted with a gigantic (relatively speaking) screen and the latest version of Google’s Android mobile OS, a.k.a. Jelly Bean.
Samsung has powered this device with a proprietary SoC that, as you’ll see a little later, offers excellent performance. The Samsung Exynos 4 Quad at the heart of the Galaxy Note II proved to be a beast of a SoC. The Exynos 4 Quad was referred to internally as the Exynos 4412. The chip features quad, ARM Cortex-A9 cores, clocked at up to 1.6GHz, with an ARM Mali-400 MP4 GPU and a 32-bit dual-channel memory controller. It’s the same chip used in the international version of the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. In the Galaxy Note II, the Exynos 4 Quad chip (and the rest of the Note II’s components) are linked to a relatively large 3100mAh, 3.8v battery. The combination of the high-performing Exynos 4 Quad and a high-capacity battery culminate in a device that not only put up some of the best performance numbers we’ve seen from an Android-based device, but excellent battery life as well.
The Galaxy Note II also features 16/32/64GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. The storage configurations are standard for the current crop of high-end smartphones, but 2GB of RAM is a definite plus in a sea of 1GB or 512MB equipped devices. In addition, the Note II sports an easily accessible microSD card slot for users looking to expand their storage options or easily transfer files to the device. An accelerometer, digital compass, flash, gyroscope and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (2.4 & 5 GHz) are also standard equipment, as is support for the majority of 3G and 4G network types in the U.S., including LTE.
The standout features with the Note II are obviously its large screen and S-pen stylus. At 5.5” diagonally, the screen is gigantic next to virtually every other modern smartphone on the market today. The S-Pen is similar to the stylus offered with the Note 10.1 tablet and offers additional functionality and precision, versus clumsy finger input. More on the screen and S-Pen in just a little bit, though.
Before we dig into the Note II, we should show you what’s included with the device. What you see pictured here is the T-Mobile version of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, model T-889. Included with the Note II was a fairly extensive documentation pack, a pair of ear-buds with interchangeable ear-cups, a micro-USB cable and a charger. We should also mention that Samsung will have a whole line-up of accessories available for the Note II, in multiple colors, including the excellent flip cover that was so popular with original Note and Galaxy S III owners.