Following Samsung’s tradition of upgraded devices bearing the “II” brand, the Note II has made its way as expected to Indian shores. In a recent launch held in Hyderabad, we got the opportunity to get real up close and personal with the new handset and here are the first impressions. 

Video hands-on with the Galaxy Note II

 

Video hands-on with the Galaxy Note II


Design

If you thought the Note was big, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! The Note II has been graced with a whopping 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED display sporting a 1280 x 720 resolution. It’s just as sharp as the Galaxy S III’s and just as vivid in terms of legibility, contrast and colours. In the dimensions part of its specifications, the Note II is naturally taller than its predecessor, the Galaxy Note. What’s truly remarkable, however, is that Samsung has succeeded in making it slimmer and narrower than the Note. Thanks to a thinner bezel, the Note II’s display really comes alive. 

A quick look at the specs of the Galaxy Note II

A quick look at the specs of the Galaxy Note II

Even with its immense size and S III-esque design and colour form, the Note II was nevertheless an easy device to manage. Thanks to the slightly narrower form, it’s easier to hold. The S Pen nestles neatly into its little bottom-corner slot. Removing it was easy, but you need to get accustomed to it to put it back in. The S Pen itself is just as comfortable to use as the previous edition, but we wish the button could have been more useful. 

Measures 9.4mm in thickness

Measures 9.4mm in thickness

Under the rear panel rests the heart of this raging beast, i.e. a 3100 mAh battery that should be quite handy for those with a long work day. The Note II also has a hot-swap memory card slot that supports 64GB cards. This is in addition to the 16 Gigs of on board storage. 

The Note II’s overall form factor revels in an easy to manage, yet large, in-your-face styled product that was comfortable to hold and easy to manipulate any which way you choose. More on the design when we’ve conducted a full scale review and used it for a few days as a primary device. 

Features and Performance

Ahh Jelly Bean…you and your project Butter do make things just as slick as a warm knife through butter. That, paired with a 1.6GHz Quad Core processor running things under the hood and you’ve got yourself a multitasking mammoth of a handset in a figurative, metaphorical and literal way. All of the test devices available at the launch seemed to fare the same; the gesture-based systems were fluid and presented no lag whatsoever even with plenty of background running apps. TouchWIz could still use a makeover, though. 

Using the S Pen

Using the S Pen

Samsung has upgraded the S Pen’s capabilities tenfold. The new system is very focussed around this stylus aspect. We’re not going to go into too much detail, so do stay tuned for the review. But just to give you a few of the aspects we thought were really worth mentioning:

  • The S Note app automatically get’s activated the moment you slip the S pen out of its “holster”. This setting can be disabled from the menu, but for the avid ‘jotter’, or anyone who enjoys a good quick scribble of their thoughts, this is certainly a handy option to have.
  • Swiping upward on the desktop Home Screen will pull up a Quick Command menu that let’s you search for contacts and even run apps by scribbling with the S Pen.
  • Air View is another new and very innovative feature. Hovering the S Pen over a message, email, note or even a photo gallery gives you a quick preview of what’s inside that option. The stylus tip can be a good 1 cm away for this system to be activated. 

There’s a lot more that we’ll cover in the review.

The S Pen itself, like the one on the Note 800, is pressure sensitive but will require a steady hand if you really want to explore that feature. 

Videos obviously look so much better on this larger display, especially those of the HD variant. We did a quick listen in to the audio and that feature also seems to have been given a slight upgrade.  

The Note II is fuelled by a 3100mAh battery

The Note II is fuelled by a 3100mAh battery

We also had a quick run through with the 8MP camera strapped onto the handset. Videos looked really good and very defined. Touch focus and image capture while recording are once again, handy features but come bundled with quite a few other devices. There are plenty of settings to choose from depending on your location or preference. Burst mode is also on board and seemed just as speedy as the S III's. 

First impressions and Price in India

With a price tag of Rs. 39,900 for a 16GB edition of the Galaxy Note II, it would seem that Samsung has another winner on its hands. The handset is a well-conceptualised device even though it’s quite identical in looks to the S III. Then again, the SII and Note were also similar. Nevertheless, the choice of purchase will be left to those who will derive the best usage out of the device. Like the Note 800 Tablet, the Note II seems like a handset designed for professionals. This could very well be the biggest, brightest star in the Samsung Galaxy as of now. 

Stay tuned for the full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note II coming up on tech2.com.

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