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

Finally, there’s the battery, and while we haven’t had much luck with 4G devices lasting much longer than 18 hours, we found a full day of life is capable from the Galaxy Note 2 on 4G networks, extending into a second day possible if you don’t use your display or 4G connectivity too much.

Use it far less than we did – speed tests, the odd game, making phone calls, web surfing, social networking, email – and two days are possible.

That is without a doubt the best 4G battery performance we’ve seen thus far, hardly surprising given the 3100mAh battery found on-board, but good to know, anyway.

For what it’s worth, Samsung has made an excellent handset with the Note 2, effectively following the same template that garnered awards in the Galaxy S3, but increasing the size and making it more tablet-like in the process. But it’s not perfect, and even though it gets close, we have a few small bones to pick.

One of these is something we saw on the 4G Galaxy S3, and it seems to be an issue with Samsung’s latest Android software versions: you cannot replace or change the icons and shortcuts in the Samsung bottom dock.

You know those icons at the bottom of the screen, and at the bottom of every homescreen? Well you can’t customise them, so get used to phone, contacts, messaging, and a web browser, because that’s the order Samsung has selected, whether you like it or not.

Not every app works with the split-screen multi-tasking either. From our testing, it looks as if its limited to specific apps, though most of these are the office and internet apps you’ll use regularly. For instance, you can use the split screen with web browser and Twitter, but not with Flipboard or Angry Birds.

Like big buttons? You got 'em. Prefer one handed operation? That's here too, with smaller buttons that can shift to each side.

Owners of the first Galaxy Note might feel a bit proud in one area, too, as the second Note sports a lower screen resolution, even though it has 0.2 inches on its brother in overall display size.

It might seem strange, but the 5.3 inch Galaxy Note featured a 1280×800 resolution, while the new Galaxy Note 2 uses a 1280×720 panel on a 5.5 inch size, which effectively reduces the pixel per inch ratio, and makes it appear less precise than its predecessor.

That said, we’d be surprised if anyone complains, and outside of the technical difference, it’s a very pretty screen that still manages to be very clear.

Pick a pen, or a pencil, or a brush.


For its second effort at a big phone, Samsung has pretty much nailed it, turning the Galaxy Note into more than “just a big phone,” but something far more usable as a production tool, a smartphone handset, and a media tablet.

There are features in the Note II that are just so clever and creative that you have to wonder why no one else has thought of them, such as the accessory specific homescreens and split-screen multitasking, the latter of which is something we think should be on more devices, especially tablets.

Then there’s the performance, which is staggering. Samsung has given this phone 4G, a big 5.5 inch screen and a blazingly fast 1.6GHz quad-core processor, and yet it lasts longer on 4G than any other handset we’ve tested this year.

That said, the big screen and size won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and while we think this is an excellent handset, if you don’t want to carry around something this big, it’s not for you.

If, however, you’re after an excellent handset with a massive screen, or you want a phone that lets you take advantage of it in the way you would a computer, you’ll want to check out the Galaxy Note II. Highly recommended.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
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;
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;