Oct 30 AT 2:42 PM Nick Gray 48 Comments

Samsung Galaxy Note II first impressions

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Now that all the Android 4.2, Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 news has settled, we thought it would be a good time to remind you of the Samsung Galaxy Note II. We were invited to last week’s Samsung Galaxy Note II North American unveiling in New York City where Samsung put on an impressive show in order to convince the press that the Samsung Galaxy Note II is quite literally ”the next big thing.”

We plan to do a full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, but we thought we’d go over some of the handset’s highlights just in case you’re chomping at the bit. To say that the Samsung Galaxy Note II is the largest phone I’ve ever held would be a bit of a lie. I’ve used 3G-enabled 7-inch tablets to make phone calls from time to time, but there’s a huge difference between a tablet that can make phone calls and a phone with a massive 5.5-inch display. Holding the Samsung Galaxy Note II forces you to rethink how you hold your phone. Most of us are probably quite used to interacting with our devices using a single hand. While that’s certainly achievable with the Galaxy Note II (Samsung even has settings to make the on-screen keyboard smaller and shift it to the side of the screen to facilitate single-hand typing), we really wouldn’t recommend it. Like a tablet, the Note II wants to be securely held with one hand and beckons you to use your other hand to caress its gorgeous display.

The spec sheet of the Samsung Galaxy Note II looks like the world’s biggest nerd’s wish list to Santa. Samsung has included a 5.5-inch 720×1280 Super AMOLED display, 1.6Ghz quad-core Exynos processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, microSd card slot, 8 megapixel camera on the back, 1.9megapixel camera on the front, NFC, 3,100 mAh battery and nearly every radio connectivity option known to mankind. Yes, the list is certainly impressive, but the screen size, battery and S Pen support are the features that make the Note II truly unique.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II’s size may be a setback for many, but it lends itself well to the handset’s main selling point, S Pen support. Like its predecessor and its much larger brother (Samsung Galaxy Note Tab), the Note II is able to capture all your notes and doodles with the new S Pen. It’s longer, wider and lot more sensitive to pressure than previous versions. Note taking is extremely simple. Pull out the pen from the bottom on the Note II, and the device comes to life with various note options. Samsung has created an array for note templates and has even included about a dozen examples to inspire you with different note taking ideas.

The S Pen works flawlessly, but that’s not to say the note taking experience is perfect. Samsung’s software does have a few glitches here and there. There’s noticeable lag when using specific pen types with thicker brushes.

Using the Note II as a phone can be a little unsettling. The massive display on the device forces you to think about how you carry it around when you’re not using it. I typically put my HTC One S in my front or back pocket without a thought, but I found I’m constantly holding the Note II in my hand. The issue is not that it won’t fit into my pocket, but that it’s a hassle to get it in or out of the pocket. For ladies this shouldn’t be much of an issue, since the phone can easily be thrown in a purse.

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When it comes to performance, the Note II is on par with the best Android phone currently on the market. The quad-core Exynos processor has more than enough power to burn through the most graphic intensive games currently available for Android. The handset also benefits from running on Android 4.1 with Project Butter, which makes Samsung’s TouchWiz UI extremely smooth. Keep in mind, that does not mean we endorse Samsung’s UI in any way.

The camera on the Samsung Galaxy Note II is impressive. It’s hard to say if the phone can outperform the HTC One X or the Galaxy S III, but we’d be surprised if anyone actually complained about the quality. We’ll be sharing sample shots and video in our full review.

Our first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Note II are fairly positive. The device looks good, performs admirably and offers unique functionality. The only real issue people should be concerned about is the size. With its 5.5-inch display, the Note II  is massive when compared to my HTC One S, but I find that surfing the web, watching YouTube videos and playing games on the Note II is much more enjoyable. The question that you need to answer is “Can I make room for the Galaxy Note II in my life?”

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started HTCsource.com (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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