Samsung Galaxy Note II, With Android Jelly Bean, Demands Attention
Of Samsung's four other recent handsets, it's the original Note that Samsung, of course, expects the Note II to be compared to, and happily. That quad-core processor is far faster than the dual-core on the original Note and the Note II's battery lasts 25 percent longer, though the devices essentially come in at the same weight. And while the Note featured a 5.3-inch display, Samsung slimmed the bezel around the Note II's display, enabling the viewing area to grow to 5.5 inches while making the overall size increase hardly noticeable. In fact, the Note II is slightly thinner and narrower than the Note. Other differences involve the S Pen stylus, which is now thicker and longer, so it's easier to hold, and has different—softer and more resistant—pen tips, so users can choose which feels best to them. The tip of the S Pen can also now be moved along the bar of a video, so a user can see the action (and cut to the part they'd like) without watching the whole thing. Note II users also have the option of beaming content to other Note II users, with Android S Beam, and the way the device handles photos is new—images in an album can be viewed in a climbing spiral or in a "galaxy far, far away" fashion, and for group photos, there's the ability to snap a handful of photos at once and use a combination of the best individual expressions from each. All these deliver as promised and are easy to use.Really, though, the extras—and the Note II, like the Galaxy S III, is packed with them—are what they are. The world had no great need for a spiral-view photo album or to be able to tap or shake the phone to make it do something that can be accomplished with a finger swipe. If people are going to buy the Note II, it's very likely for its display, its camera, its battery life and its tablet functionality.
Call quality was also good—crisp—and though I tried to avoid it, holding the Note II to my head to make a call wasn't as awkward as I'd expected. (Jefferies analyst Peter Misek has likened speaking into the Galaxy S III to holding a waffle to the head.) The Note II reminded me of holding, well, a telephone.