Samsung Galaxy Note II Smartphone Review

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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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rapid1 2 years ago

Yeah; I have been watching this one for quite a while, and on my next upgrade it will most likely be the one I go for. The problem is that is not until next April by then there mat very well be worthwhile competition. I use my Sensation for now which I got a couple of days prior to release and it is as well as has been an outstanding phone. I have gotten where I process pretty consistent business over the web now in my several channels and use the GPS, programs, take credit cards etc as well as do some live web replies/conversations with perspective customers as well as onsite submissions so a little bigger display especially with the active pen input will be great to.

molanjames 2 years ago

Samsung has been relatively prompt and punctual regarding their Android 4.0 updates, which is good news for Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note owners. The international version of the Galaxy S II received it’s update in March, and now check out 5 New Features added in the AT&T Galaxy Note Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Update

mhenriday 2 years ago

One of our retirees bought one recently and brought it round to show the populace - of course it hasn't received anywhere near the publicity provided the iPhone5, but that's par for the course here in Sweden ; I doubt that the Second Coming would inspire journalists here as much as the latest and greatest from Cupertino. Be that as it may, I hope the learning curve for this device isn't too steep - some of our club members are no doubt going to be asking me for help with this beast, and I don't even own a mobile phone, much less Samsung's top-of-the-line....


rapid1 2 years ago

We seem to be hitting a nice pocket of specialized devices now from all sides the mini iPad is out this Samsung note 2 the Surface the Fire HD etc etc and the all in many ways fit into the same area even though there just as different as alike in many ways. The RT surface and this one from Samsung both in there own way seems to be above the rest as well as special in there own unique ways as well.

TotalWattage 2 years ago

I desperately wanted the original SG Note, it reminded me of my beloved Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC. I will be getting a Galaxy Note 2 with my Tax refund!

kinggeek 2 years ago

I am always loyal to Samsung.

So will be to Galaxy Note II.:)

choibean 2 years ago

Seems legit :D

Combatd 2 years ago

How is the battery life on this phone with Juicedefender installed?

ironmann520 2 years ago

from what i hear with out juice defender the battery lasts all day long with lots of usage. so with juice defender i can possibly see battery lasting over a day

altereDad 2 years ago

Portability to me requires one thing... how long will it last?

Honestly I like the design and size. The stylus makes me think of it as much more than a phone or mobile app device.

Overall, a great design, and marvellous specs. I'd throw money in for something like this. It certainly beats my current fling. The EVO 3D. Honestly the best thing of the EVO is the Sense software provided by HTC.

electrolyte 2 years ago

I am very excited about this phone... I think I see a Note II box under my Christmas Tree!

shima ismail 2 years ago

where can i buy this , plz email me

dugwood2 2 years ago

I would love to have one. But unfortunately, it is not available with no-contract phone plans. After being with Sprint for 12+ years i left them for a no-contract plan with Virgin Mobile. I still have unlimited everything but I am paying a hundred dollars less per month. The money I am saving makes it possible to pay for a nice phone but, the Note (I or II) is not available. They have iphones but the screen is too small for me. Not to mention I am an Android fan. The best I can do is get an EVO 3D (4.3") or a Samsung Galaxy SII (4.52") Oh well, maybe in the future...

thunderdan602 2 years ago

This and the HTC DNA are worth a look for Verizon.

JarretBarber one year ago

Does anyone know how to deactivate 4g? It is absolutely smashing my battery life.. id be lucky to get 4-5 hours solid use out of it. Im amazed at how much price has come down in recent years though, really makes smart phones accessible by anyone.

digitaldd one year ago

[quote user="JarretBarber"]

Does anyone know how to deactivate 4g? It is absolutely smashing my battery life.. id be lucky to get 4-5 hours solid use out of it. Im amazed at how much price has come down in recent years though, really makes smart phones accessible by anyone.


Sprint has a guide up here

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