Samsung Galaxy Note II Smartphone Review

Introduction & Specifications

The original Samsung Galaxy Note was a bit of an oddity in the smartphone market. When it was first introduced, many reviewers, analysts, and industry pundits scoffed at the device’s relatively large form factor. The 5.3” screen on the original Note looked simply gargantuan next to anything else available on the market at the time, leading many folks to call the original Note a “phablet”. It wasn’t quite large enough to be a full-blown tablet, but was considered too big by some to be called a smartphone, hence “phablet”.

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...

Samsung Galaxy Note II
Specifications & Features
  • 3G: HSPA+21Mbps (HSDPA 21Mbps / HSUPA 5.76Mbps)
  • 4G LTE: 100Mbps / 50Mbps
  • 1.6 GHz quad-core processor
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • 140.9 mm (5.5") HD Super AMOLED (1,280 x 720)
  • 80.5 x 151.1 x 9.4 mm, 180g
  • Standard battery, Li-ion 3,100mAh
  • 16/32/64GB User memory + 2GB (RAM)
  • microSD slot (up to 64GB)
S Pen Optimized Features
  • S Pen Experience
  • S Note, S Planner, Email with hand-writing integration
  • S Pen Keeper
  • Quick Command, Easy Clip, Photo Note, Paper Artist
  • Shape Match, Formula Match
1 Step tasking / Multitasking features
  • Air View
  • Popup Note, Popup Video
  • Page Buddy / Tag Buddy / Word Buddy
Connectivity / Sharing Features
  • Bluetooth v 4.0 (Apt-X Codec support) LE
  • USB 2.0 Host
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5 GHz), Wi-Fi HT40
  • Wi-Fi Direct
  • NFC
  • S Beam
  • Samsung AllShare Play & Control
  • Samsung AllShare Cast (WiFi Display)
  • Mirroring & Extention
  • Samsung AllShare Framework


  • Main (Rear) : 8 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash, BSI
  • Sub (Front) : 1.9 Megapixel VT Camera, BSI
  • Best Photo, Best Face, Low light shot
  • Codec: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, VC-1, DivX, WMV7, WMV8, WMV9, VP8
  • Format: 3GP(MP4), WMV(ASF), AVI, FLV, MKV, WebM
  • Full HD(1080p) Playback & Recording
  • Codec: MP3, OGG, WMA, AAC, ACC+, eAAC+, AMR(NB,WB), MIDI, WAV, AC-3, Flac
  • Music Player with SoundAlive
  • 3.5mm Ear Jack
  • Samsung TouchWiz / Samsung L!ve Panel
  • Samsung Kies /Samsung Kies Air
  • Samsung ChatOn mobile communication service
  • Smart Stay, Direct claa, Screen Recorder, Quick Glance
  • Samsung ChatOn mobile communication service
  • Samsung S Suggest
Content / Services
  • Samsung Apps
  • Samsung Hub
  • Game Hub
  • Media Hub (US only)
  • Learning Hub / Music Hub / Video Hub
  • Accelerometer, RGB Light, Digital Compass, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer
  • A-GPS
  • Glonass

Enterprise Solutions

  • On Device Encryption (H/W)
  • Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync
  • VPN(F5, Cisco, Juniper)
  • MDM(Sybase Afaria, MobileIron, SOTI, Good)
  • CCX
  • VMware MVP


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.

Samsung Galaxy Note II Accessory Bundle

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.

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