First look at the Samsung Galaxy Note II

10 Oct 2012

The Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung’s new Galaxy Note II is a 5.5-inch smart device that sits somewhere in between a smartphone and tablet and intends to be an ‘everyday creativity enabler’. We got our hands on the intriguing ‘phablet’ to see where it fits in to the smart device market.

The second-generation Galaxy Note was first unveiled at IFA 2012 earlier this year, and last night the smartphone-cum-tablet was introduced to the Irish market at an exclusive event in Dublin’s City Hall.

Thinner, lighter and bigger than its predecessor, the device comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variants in either marble white or titanium grey. It features 8MP rear-facing and 1.9MP front-facing cameras with HD video recording and all the imaging capabilities of the Galaxy S III smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Operating the camera on the Samsung Galaxy Note II

Anyone familiar with the S III will find plenty of similarities with the Note II. It has a 16:9 HD Super AMOLED display, for example, only on this device it measures at an enlarged 5.5 inches.

The first thing that struck me about the new device is its ability to multi-task. This was first introduced on the Galaxy Note 10.1 and has also been incorporated into the smaller Note device.

Users can open two apps alongside each other in a split-screen and quickly switch between the two, copying and pasting content from one to the other if required. The video player also features a pop-out window and, when this is enabled, users can actually do three things at once on the Note II: watching a video with two apps open on the window screen.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Multitasking on the Galaxy Note II: Messages app, Gallery app and pop-out video player open at once

Also like the Note 10.1, the Note II comes with the S Pen stylus, which gives much added functionality to the device. The handwriting recognition technology on the device is high quality and the S Note app borrows the Shape Match and Formula Match technology of the Note 10.1, digitising scribbles into exact geometric shapes and mathematical equations.

Samsung Galaxy Note II with S Pen

Galaxy Note II and S Pen

Air View lets users preview content when hovering the stylus over the device, while the Quick Command gesture pad lets users take shortcuts using the S Pen. The stylus also has small button that, when pressed, allows users to cut and copy a section of the screen as an image for pasting elsewhere.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

This small section of the screen – the ‘Send’ field in the Messages app – was copied using the S Pen, then pasted into S Note and enlarged

Running on Android Jelly Bean and powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core processor the Note II is fast and powerful, though I didn’t have my hands on one for long enough to see if the 3,100mAh battery could keep up.

As can be expected, the Note II also comes with all of Samsung’s latest technologies and innovations, such as Screen Recorder, Buddy Photo Share, Smart Stay, AllShare Play and AllShare Group Cast.

Overall, I found this to be a high-performance device with impressive multi-tasking capabilities providing a wealth of creative options at my fingertips via the S Pen. With all this and calls too, the Galaxy Note II could be an ideal purchase for someone who needs a smart device that offers more than just the basic apps, but performance and productivity too. Though the large size isn’t appealing as a handset, I see phone calls as a mere added service with this device, not its main function.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.