The Samsung Galaxy Note II has begun shipping abroad, suggesting a U.S. release isn't far off. Samsung expects early sales to happen "three times faster" than with the original Note.
Samsung has begun selling the Galaxy Note II through 260 operators in 128 markets, beginning in South Korea, Bloomberg reported Sept. 27.
Samsung introduced the device—which it calls a smartphone, though anyone would be forgiven for thinking it a tablet—in August but didn't share details about when it would reach U.S. shores.
The Note II features a 5.5-inch display around which Samsung has slimmed down the bezel. So while the original Note featured a 5.3-inch display, the Note II manages to be thinner, weighs the same 6.3 grams and doesn't feel dramatically larger in the hand.
Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note in October 2011, and at a New York City event in August showing off a Note 10.1 said that it had sold more than 10 million of the 5.3-inch Notes. With the Note II, Samsung expects quicker, if also stronger, sales.
J.K. Shin, Samsung's head of mobile, told reporters during a briefing in Seoul that Samsung expects the Note II "will probably sell three times faster than the previous Note did in the first three months, as more carriers are set to offer the product," said the Bloomberg report.
Samsung's marketing team has described the Note II as the company's "fifth iconic device in 12 months." It was proceeded by the Galaxy S II smartphone, an influencer in the trend toward ever-larger displays; the Samsung-made Google Nexus smartphone; the original Galaxy Note, which found users newly open to the formerly shunned 5-plus-inch form factor; and finally the Galaxy S III. The latter was smartly introduced in May, ahead of the long summer lull before Apple's autumn introduction of the iPhone 5.
In July, Samsung said it has sold 10 million Galaxy S III smartphones, and on Sept. 6 announced that in 100 days—a record for the company—it had sold more than 20 million of them.
"I would like to express my sincere appreciation to customers who have chosen the Galaxy S III," Shin said in a statement. "We will never stop providing the latest smart mobile technologies to help users live a life extraordinary."
Samsung has since, to various markets, expanded the smartphone's color options to include brown, black, red, gray and even pale pink.
Apple, Samsung's primary competitor, sold 5 million iPhone 5 smartphones within three days of the device's Sept. 21 launch.
The Galaxy Note II runs Jelly Bean, the latest version of Android, and a 1.6GHz quad-core processor. Its 5.5-inch display is an HD Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic LED) with a 16:9 screen ratio and a resolution of 1,280 by 720. It measures 80.5 by 151 by 94mm and weighs 6.3 ounces. The original Note measures 83 by 147 by 9.7mm. And while the scale hasn't budged between the two, the Note II features a 25 percent larger battery.
"We're committed to this form factor," Teri Daley, Samsung's vice president of public relations told U.S. journalists during a hands-on demonstration of the Note II. "You're going to see amazing upgrades to this device."