You know the Samsung Galaxy Note was one of our top picks last year, right? Well, the Samsung Galaxy Note II, a 5.5" smartphone or phablet is even better. Bigger display, much faster CPU than our US first gen Note, a better camera and more S Pen features. The Note II will be available on all major US carriers, with a $299 price tag with contract. You can get one right now on T-Mobile and Sprint, and it will be out this month on Verizon and AT&T.
In this video review, we look at the Sprint version, but all Note II variants have identical hardware (other than cellular radios) and software (other than carrier-added apps). The Note II is available in white or titanium, and in either case it's finished in Samsung's beloved glossy plastics. The phone is a little bit taller and ever so slightly narrower than the first gen Note, so it's no more difficult to hold in one hand. That said, this is a very large phone, though not as ungainly as the 4:3 aspect ratio LG Intuition on Verizon. It makes the Samsung Galaxy S III look dainty and the iPhone 5 like a mini-phone.
The Galaxy Note II has a 1280 x 720 display (down a bit from the first Note's 1280 x 800 display) but it's bigger at 5.5". You're actually getting the same resolution as the Galaxy S III and other high end Android phones, but everything is stretched bigger. That means more readable webpage text and movies are immersive on the huge display. Pixel density is reduced from the GSIII, but the Super AMOLED HD display still looks sharp. Samsung has improved the display to an uneven RGB stripe, and despite the lower pixel density vs. the GS III I have trouble seeing individual pixels with my admittedly average eyes. Color fringing is minimized but colors are still hyper-saturated compared to IPS displays. Many folks enjoy lots of color saturation, and the high contrast with deep blacks is lovely.
The Note II and Samsung Galaxy S III.
The smartphone runs on Samsung's powerful 1.6GHz quad core Exynos CPU with MALI 400 graphics. It eats up benchmarks, it laughs at 3D tests. The Note II scored 6,001 on Quadrant, which is faster than the Tegra 3 and it only falls behind Qualcomm's S4 Pro quad core CPU. On AnTuTu, GLBenchmark 2.5 it beats everything, including the S4 Pro. This Android smartphone won't feel slow a year into your contract!
The Sprint, AT&T and Verizon versions have LTE 4G along with 3G. Other goodies include NFC, dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, a front 1.9MP camera and rear 8MP camera with BSI sensor and fast lens (same as the excellent Galaxy S III camera). The Sprint version has 16 gigs of internal storage and there's a microSD card slot as well. And yes, the battery is removable: go Samsung!
Here's our Samsung Galaxy Note II video review. Our full review will follow.