galaxy note ii review

Samsung Galaxy Note II Review

When Samsung launched the Galaxy Note II, critics around the world questioned the move, mainly the controversial 5.5 inch screen which was, at the time HUGE. Many feared it wouldn’t fit in pockets, or might lead to hand conditions and so on. But today in 2013, 5 inchers are a common form factor, and no longer are big phones an issue. This is thanks to how the Galaxy Note II revolutionized our notions of a smartphone. Read on to find out if the Galaxy Note II is the king of 2012, and how it stacks up against the 2013 contenders. Read on to find out!

Hardware

The Galaxy Note II is basically a blown up Galaxy S3, but that’s not a bad thing. Samsung have taken a design that’s already familiar by the masses, and expanded to fit the huge 5.5 inch 720p screen. Yes, there are critics who hit on Samsung’s choice of plastic. But hey, at the end of the day, the sales numbers don’t lie. The Galaxy Note II comes with a 1.6Ghz Quad Core Exynos processor paired with 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage, expandable via SD card up to 64GB. On the front is 1.9MP camera, while an 8MP camera with LED flash wraps up the back. It is an all plastic housing, with a removable battery, definitely to please many. That battery of course, is a huge  3,100 mAh battery. So far with our perfomance tests, the Galaxy Note II is still the only phone ever to come though CrackTech’s HQ that lasts the whole day on  a single charge, more on that later.

Display

As mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Note II has a 5.5 inch taking up most of the front real estate. The HD Super AMOLED display pack a resolution of 1280 x 720, with a PPI of 264 for those counting. The AMOLED screens are known for their deep blacks and bright saturated colours, and the Galaxy Note II certainly doesn’t dissappoint. It is obvious that you are using a much bigger phone, but pictures, text and icons are sized accordingly thanks to the high resolution. You don’t have to worry about blurry text or giant font unlike other big low res displays. Colours pop, text is crisp and pictures are bright and colourful, although a tad oversaturated. Of course not everyone is eagle-eyed, so you would enjoy a great viewing experience from this display. The screen is very touch sensitive, of course it brings a new way of interaction via the S Pen, meaning you don’t even have to touch the display with the S Pen to register inputs. It’s a new, fun way of interaction and not a gimmick as some might think.

Battery Life and Performance

As mentioned earlier, no phone has that has come through CrackTech has ever bested the Galaxy Note II in terms of battery life. It’s the one department that is still superior to the Galaxy S4 or HTC One. While newer hardware may boost processor power, it certainly sacrifices battery life. Something that’s becoming increasingly an issue. Anyone looking for a phone to keep you juiced all through the day, this is the phone for you. No matter how much I tried, I coudn’t drain the battery with heavy usage. With casual use, which includes calls, SMS, occasional browsing and some games, the Galaxy Note II lasted two full days. If you’re a heavy user, and take calls, SMS, emails, browse the web, social networks, and music all in a day, worry not. The Note II will still have enough juice to last you to your bedtime with 5%. In retrospect, the Galaxy SIII died by 5PM, and the Galaxy S4 only managed till dinner. Performance wise, it packs a benchmark setting quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. Even the most demanding of games like ShadowGun and Riptide ran without a hitch. Couple that with the huge screen, and suddenly the Note II is a fantastic media consumption device. Full HD video ran smoothly although loudspeaker was slightly distorted, due to the speakers being located behind the device.

Software

The Galaxy Note II is the first Samsung device to launch with Android Jelly Bean 4.1. It  comes with almost identical software to the Galaxy SIII, however Samsung did add a few welcome features, most notably Multi Window and a bunch of S Pen optimised apps. The standard S features first introduced in the SIII are present, including the favourites like Smart Stay, S Voice, AllShare Cast, Popup Video and S Beam.  S Beam is actually a very nifty feature. Combining NFC and Wifi – Direct, you can send full length HD videos in seconds between Galaxy devices with the app. It was extremely easy to setup and worked as advertised. Samsung have tried to keep their Touchwiz UX experience consistent across all their devices, and they managed to pull it up despite the different Android versions. You’d feel right at home with the UI, and won’t notice thats it’s running the latest of Android. ( Aside from the performance boost). The notifications bar is the best among all the Android skins. Samsung have provided you with all the essential toggles as well as the brightness settings ( Customisable ). A two finger swipe down brings up the entire toggles list, a Jelly Bean feature.

Verdict

Whatever said and done, the original Galaxy Note redefined our notions of a smartphone. With the Galaxy Note II, Samsung have taken that winning formula, thrown in some extras and made it a 2012 flagship. Packing blazing fast internals, a 720p screen, a great camera and of course, the TouchWiz UI which made the Galaxy line so famous. Is it the best phone of 2012? Yes, without a doubt. It’s hard to see what else Samsung can add after what they’ve accomplished with the Note II. Keep it locked to Cracktech for the latest in tech.