Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 review: Writing home

GSMArena team, 3 October 2012.

Introduction

Samsung has produced many great handheld devices in its time, but few have reached iconic status. The company builds its success on great adaptability, an eye for trends and a knack for improving on others' successful formulas. And yet, every now and then it pulls off a truly inspirational device - like the Galaxy Note last year.

The 5.3" half-smartphone half-tablet carved a whole new niche in the mobile market, which many have tried to tap into since. Competition, it seems, was caught off guard though. A year later, it's yet to produce a real Note killer. But Samsung is showing no signs of complacency - even though the first of their phablets is yet to be properly challenged, they're ready to go to number 2 and set the bar even higher.


Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 official photos

The Samsung Galaxy Note II brings twice the processing power, a brand new screen (of even larger size) and a bigger battery. Those alone make the second-gen Samsung phablet a worthy upgrade, but it's just the tip of the iceberg - here's a sneak peek of what's going on under the hood.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G with 21 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA support
  • Optional LTE connectivity
  • 5.5" 16M-color Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen of HD (720 x 1280 pixel) resolution
  • Android OS v4.1 with TouchWiz launcher
  • 1.6 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU, Mali-400MP GPU, 2GB of RAM, Exynos 4412 Quad chipset
  • S Pen active stylus with deep system integration
  • 8 MP wide-angle lens autofocus camera with LED flash, face, smile and blink detection
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30fps
  • 16/32/64GB internal storage, microSD slot
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n support
  • GPS with A-GPS connectivity; GLONASS support, Digital compass
  • NFC support
  • Stereo Bluetooth v4.0
  • FM radio with RDS
  • microUSB port with USB host and TV-out (1080p) support, MHL, charging
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Great audio quality
  • Very slim at only 9.4mm
  • 1.9MP secondary video-call camera
  • Document editor and file manager comes preinstalled
  • Extremely rich video and audio codec support
  • Huge 3100 mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • Large size makes single-hand operation problematic
  • No dedicated camera key
  • All plastic construction (would have probably weighed a ton otherwise, though)
  • S Pen not as good as on the Note 10.1

So, the Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 got a proper screen upgrade, getting rid of the PenTile matrix. It comes with an extra powerful chipset and an improved S Pen. The slim and slender body should be easier to handle than the predecessor. That addresses just about every shortcoming of the original Note, but is it where the progress ends?

Of course not - the Note II comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box, making it a member of a very elite club at this point. Even more impressively, Samsung has thrown in a few neat software tricks of its own to sweeten up the deal - Direct call and Smart stay already impressed us when they debuted on the Galaxy S III and now we get Smart rotation too.

Samsung Galaxy Note Ii Review Samsung Galaxy Note Ii Review Samsung Galaxy Note Ii Review Samsung Galaxy Note Ii Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 at ours

So it appears the Koreans really gave the Galaxy Note II N7100 their best. But was that enough to make it the world-beater they were hoping for? Well it all boils down to the real-life performance and the synergy of all those features listed above.

Let's find out then what kind of difference the Note II makes - join us on the next page for the hardware inspection.

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