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Bigger and better: Samsung’s Galaxy Note II 4G reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 3:22 pm 16/11/2012

The second of Samsung’s big phones to be released, the Galaxy Note 2 is one massive device. Featuring a 5.5 inch screen, you’ll never call the 4.8 inch Galaxy S3 a big phone again, and while that huge display is one of the reasons to draw you to the Note II, it’s the little things and performance that will keep you there.

Features

Combining the work Samsung did with the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S3, the Note II is a blend of the two devices, marrying productivity and performance with a sleeker design and better specs.

Starting with those specifications, the Galaxy Note II features a new faster version of the chip found in the Galaxy S3, with a 1.6GHz quad-core processor manufactured by Samsung. Speed is obviously a priority here, and you can expect 2GB RAM keeping the experience moving at a steady pace, while 16GB storage was included in our model, with the microSD card slot underneath letting you expand it considerably.

Wireless connectivity is mostly standard here, though the WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n support relies on a dual-band antenna, which should fare better than the typical smartphone. Otherwise, you’ll find Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, Near-Field Communication, DLNA, GPS, and support for both 3G and 4G in Australia.

The screen is fairly important too, with Samsung moving to a 5.5 inch display supporting the 1280×720 resolution, protected by Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 2.

With a bigger 720p display, the pixel per inch value is lower than the Galaxy S3, with the Note scoring 267ppi and the S3 grabbing 305ppi. This reduction in ppi means the Note’s display isn’t technically as sharp as the S3’s, or even the iPhone 4S or 5, though you do get a bigger screen size for your troubles.

Compared to the Galaxy S3 on the left, the 4G Galaxy Note II (right) is massive.

The battery is big too, with Samsung jumping from the 2500mAh on the original note to a 3100mAh, a decent leap, for sure. Pull the plastic back off and you’ll see this battery, with the microSIM slot sitting next to the battery and a microSD slot just to the right of this.

Multimedia support is taken care of with an 8 megapixel camera on the back, capable of Full HD 1080p capture, while the front-facing 1.9 megapixel camera can capture stills and provide video conferencing.

Like most handsets these days, there aren’t many physical buttons or ports to speak of.

For the buttons, you’ll find a power button on the right side, a volume rocker on the left, and a small home button on the very bottom of the handset. Ports are equally limited, with a 3.5mm headset jack on the top, microUSB on the bottom, and the Galaxy Note’s S-Pen held in a crevice on the bottom.

Performance

The world is changing, and while a few years ago we found phones were getting smaller – so small, you could accidentally sit on them – now they’re getting bigger, thanks to our consumption of the web, social networking, video, and this desire to have tablet computers with us at all times.

Enter Samsung’s Galaxy Note, the biggest smartphones of the lot, marrying the best of what Samsung develops with the largest form-factor.

We saw the first Galaxy Note in Australia earlier this year, that model arriving a touch later from its release around the world late in 2011.

Not even a year later, we have the Galaxy Note II, an even bigger handset that borrows from the template made popular by its Galaxy SIII brother, and makes what could be Samsung’s best handset ever.

Let’s start with the size: if you thought the Galaxy S3 was big, think again.

With a 5.5 inch screen, the Galaxy Note II is positively massive, encompassing anything that tries to compete with it.

Aesthetically, Samsung has stuck with a similar design to what it used in the Galaxy S3, choosing to use plastic as its main material, with a removable battery, main home button at the bottom, soft buttons on each side, shiny metallic grey trim, and a slippery feel.

It’s not the best design, and out of the plastic bodies we’ve seen and felt this year, doesn’t exude the strongest quality, especially compared with the likes of the HTC One X and Nokia Lumia 900. Still, you find you get used to the feel relatively quickly.

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Price (RRP)

$899; Available on plans from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Strong performance in the operating system; Fantastically fast 4G connection; Just over a day's battery life on 4G, more if you use your phone less; One handed operation mode makes it possible to use the phone's core functions with one hand; Split-screen multitasking works a treat; Homescreens that activate based on what you're doing are very clever;

Product Cons

Screen resolution isn't as high as last Note; Not every app can go to split-screen; Android exhibits the same bugs in the 4G S3, so you can't switch out your dock shortcuts;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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