Review: Samsung Galaxy Note II


Stylus-toting smartphone gets an upgrade.

Last year, Samsung single-handedly transformed the hybrid phone/tablet into a viable form factor with the release of the Galaxy Note.

The huge, stylus-toting smartphone was a surprise hit with consumers, amassing sales of more than ten million units worldwide. Not bad for a product category that was previously dismissed as a gimmick.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II.

Fast-forward to 2013 and the smartphone market has followed in Samsung's footsteps. In the past month, we've had multiple similar announcements from SonyLGHuaweiLenovo and Kogan; all boasting screen sizes of at least five inches.

With the competition reaching fever pitch, Samsung has sharpened its tools and re-entered the fray with the Samsung Galaxy Note II – a thinner, faster and slightly bigger offering that comfortably out-performs all of its rivals. 

Design and handling

At first glance, the Galaxy Note II doesn't appear to be that different to the Galaxy Note I. However, Samsung has managed to pack the device with plenty of significant enhancements, including a bigger screen (5.55in vs. 5.29in), a faster processor (1.6GHz vs. 1.4Ghz), a larger battery (3100mAh vs. 2500mAh), more RAM (2GB vs. 1GB) and 4G LTE connectivity; all running on Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean.

In other words, it's a worthy upgrade that retains the same basic look and feel of the original.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is one of the biggest phones on the market.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II handles in much the same way as the Galaxy Note. With monolithic dimensions of 151.1x80.5x9.4mm, it's something of an acquired taste that tends to divide prospective users – some will balk at the device's unconventional size, while others will welcome the additional screen real-estate.

When compared to a 'regular' smartphone, the 5.55in display makes a huge difference to video playback, typing and web browsing: much like miniature tablets such as the Google Nexus 7 and Apple iPad Mini.  

The large screen makes for a roomy UI [Image Credit: Getty].

While it's not really something you can comfortably stick in your pants pocket (especially with protective casing in tow), the added functionality is arguably worth the extra bulk.

Apart from its generous size, the Galaxy Note's main claim to fame is the 'S Pen'; an inbuilt stylus designed for sketching, note taking and user navigation. It works a treat – especially with the included S Pen-tailored apps – but only users with an artistic flair are likely to use it regularly. For most tasks, a finger works just as well.

The 'S Pen' caters to artistic users.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II comes with standard connectivity options: you get a microUSB port, headphone jack and the usual wifi/Bluetooth. It also comes with a microSD card slot which lets you boost the storage capacity by up to 64GB.

Camera and battery

Photography has become an essential smartphone component in recent years, with many people using their phone as their main camera. Thankfully, the Samsung Galaxy Note II does not disappoint in this area: it sports one of the best cameras we've tested on a phone or tablet.

The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera uses the same user interface as other Androids on the market: the photo capture button is located at the right of the screen within easy reach of the thumb. Other popular functions, such as colour filters, white balance, scene modes and an 4x digital zoom are just a quick finger (or stylus) tap away.

The Galaxy Note II's camera is incredibly solid [Image credit: Getty]

The Samsung Galaxy Note II was equally solid when it came to battery life. During intensive use, the battery lasted around two days in between charges. When you consider its screen size and processing grunt, this is a very impressive result indeed. 


The Samsung Galaxy Note II is unquestionably one of the most powerful smartphones on the market. It comes with a beefy quad-core 1.6GHz processor and 2GB of RAM running the latest version of Google's Android operating system; 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. It's also 4G capable.

In the Android benchmark tool Quadrant, which assesses a device's CPU, I/O and 3D graphics performance, the Samsung Galaxy Note II smashed competitors with a total score of 6232. By contrast, the previous best performing smartphone, HTC's One X, returned a score of 4868. The Note II even beat Samsung's flagship Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, which recieved a total score of 5381.

This translates to a smooth and zippy user experience that won't slow down during multi-tasking, video streaming or taxing applications.

The speed of the device is very impressive [Image Credit: Getty].

We were especially impressed by the phone's web browsing performance which has been buoyed by the inclusion of 4G. HD YouTube clips load effortlessly with zero lag, making this an excellent device for online video consumption. 

Phone reception and call quality are both adequate, although as with most modern smartphones, full volume is essential in all but the quietest environments.  


The Samsung Galaxy Note II is currently the smartphone/tablet model to beat: it's fast, intuitive and packed with innovative features, not to mention good battery life. If size matters to you, this phone needs to be on your shortlist.    

Copyright © CRN Australia. All rights reserved.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note II
Overall Rating
Product Info
Price when reviewed:
Top Stories
Content, cost & constant innovation: How Foxtel plans to take on Netflix
Nell Payne inhabits the “brave new world of blue strings and networking”. Just don't ask her to put a TV screen on your microwave.
Sending in the drones
Margins are getting tighter in the industrial services industry, so Transfield Services' Stephen Phillips looks offshore - and to the skies - for the solutions he needs to keep pace.
Westpac fires starting pistol on core banking upgrade
St George readies itself for move to Celeriti.
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
Microsoft launches Office for Android preview
May 22, 2015
Microsoft has launched a preview of Office for Android smartphones. Pre-release versions of ...
Microsoft is working on an iOS email chat feature called Flow
May 22, 2015
Microsoft is working on a new chat app, but at the moment we know more about what we DON'T know, ...
Windows 10 free upgrade: Microsoft details who gets what
May 22, 2015
Microsoft was meant to be streamlining its OS with Windows 10, so why is upgrading so confusing? ...
Windows 10 has an edition to suit everyone's needs
May 15, 2015
Microsoft unveils a mind-melting six editions of Windows 10 ahead of its Winter 2015 launch. ...
Firefox 38 FINAL released, debuts new tab-based preferences
May 13, 2015
Mozilla has unveiled the latest version of Firefox 38.0 FINAL for desktop, with Firefox for ...
Latest Comments
Should Optus make a bid for iiNet?

   |   View results