Samsung Galaxy Note II

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Samsung Galaxy Note II

The Note II, like the Note, can be fitted with a cover. While originally intended as a way to protect the display, Samsung has found that business users also like the privacy it offers, when the cover is held in the hand at a 90-or-so-degree angle.

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To attach the cover, which has its own back panel, the phone's original back panel needs to be popped off—which is done very easily. It also offers a view of the Note II's battery, which offers 25 percent more user time; despite its size, the Note II is no heavier than the original Note.

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In Profile

The Note II, which features a 5.5-inch display, measures 5.95 by 3.17 by 0.37 inches. The original Note, with its 5.3-inch display, meaures 5.78 by 3.27 by 0.38 inches.

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S Pen

The S Pen slips into the bottom-right corner of the Note II, to the side of the mini USB charger, and is flush with the exterior. If you don't know to go looking for it, it's easy not to know it's there.

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Single Button

As with previous Galaxy devices, Samsung has stuck with a single physical button—which delivers a user to the home screen—on the bottom. On either side of it are touch-based buttons, a back button on the right and on the left a button that brings up a menu of helpful options relevant to what a user is doing.

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S Pen

Samsung continues to improve on the S Pen. With the Note 10.1, Samsung made it ridged, so it won't roll off a tablet. It's now also longer and thicker.

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Also as with previous Galaxy devices, Samsung offers lots of guidance on using and figuring out the shortcuts and tricks that it has included.

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A rear-facing 8-megapixel camera takes great photos—this one exactly as it came off the camera—that benefit from the bright, color-saturated display.

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New to the Note II is a spiral layout for photo albums.

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Star Wars

Another new album layout is impossible to view without imagining the words "in a galaxy far, far away ..."

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Front Camera

A perk that Jelly Bean brings to the Galaxy Note II is a button on the camera interface that makes it super-easy to switch to the front-facing camera.

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A digitizer layer in the Note II's display enables a user to hover over a video, making it simpler to click to the part you want to get to.

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By Hand

With the S Pen, users can jot down notes, annotate texts and lasso, cut and paste images, among other capabilities. The design of Samsung's S Note apps, however, begs for some simplification. It's possible, for example, to turn this handwritten note into text; it's just not intuitive to figure out how.

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Voice Recognition

Taking another tack toward a tidier list, I tried the voice-recognition feature. What I hoped to return from the store with was bread, cheese, milk, kale and cereal.

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Powering On

Another design quibble is that it's too easy to accidentally push the volume buttons when powering on the device.

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Galaxy Note II

In summary, it's a classic Galaxy device: big, smooth, bright, crisp and feature-packed to almost an overwhelming degree. Consumers and business users are going to love it.

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