Samsung Galaxy Note II Smartphone Review
Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The Samsung Galaxy Note II is the best performing, Android-based smartphone we have ever tested. In terms of its CPU and GPU performance, the Note II’s Exynos 4 Quad SoC with its quartet of ARM cores and Mali 400 GPU put up the best numbers we have seen to date, besting phones like the HTC One X and Galaxy S III. Only the iPhone 5 offered better graphics performance, but the Note II was able to overtake Apple’s latest iPhone in BrowserMark and hang right alongside it in SunSpider. Despite its relatively large screen, the Samsung Galaxy Note II also offered excellent battery life and its camera was decent as well. The images were somewhat under-saturated for our tastes, but the resolution is there and the camera is quick too. Although we haven’t devised a means to easily quantify voice quality just yet, we’re comfortable saying the Galaxy Note II also offers excellent voice quality, should you actually be making calls on the device. It is a smartphone, after all.
If we run down the list of things that make a good smart phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note II has them all. The device has a very nice screen, it’s very fast, offers good battery life, its camera and voice quality are also good, it’s running the latest version of Android, and the build quality is top notch, save for a couple of minor quibbles. Samsung also goes a few steps further and includes the S-Pen stylus, which adds some additional functionality over and above “touch-only” smartphones. And Samsung’s TouchWiz UI enables a few unique features as well, like the pop-up video player. In light of its features and performance, the Galaxy Note II is a clear winner, no ifs ands or buts about it.
The only things that are likely to give consumers pause are the Galaxy Note II’s form factor and price. The T-Mobile variant we showed you here is expected to sell for $349 on contract. AT&T has announced a $299 price point, also on contract. That puts the Note II in the upper echelon in terms of pricing. The Galaxy Note II’s form factor also makes it stand out. With its huge 5.5” screen the Galaxy Note II is the husky kid of the smartphone market. It’s the Hulk, Thor, or Eric Cartman, of smartphones—whatever metaphor works for you. Deciding whether or not that’s a bad thing, however, is going to be up to individual preference. When the original Galaxy Note hit the scene, it was easy to say the thing was “too big”, because there was no context for a device of its size. After 10 million+ Galaxy Notes were sold though, it’s clear consumers are open to form factors this size and actually want them. It's not fair the label the Galaxy Note II "too big". You simply don’t sell 10 million smartphones if they're so big that nobody wants them.
With that said, in our opinion, the Galaxy Note II is absolutely worthy of consideration. If you dig the form factor and have the funds to score one of these devices, by all means give it a shot. The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a great device and you may even make a couple of new friends when strangers ask why you’re holding a tablet up to your head to make phone calls.