Samsung launched its Galaxy Note 2 at a huge ‘Unpacked’ event in Berlin last night. The Note II is the Korean company’s latest ‘phablet’, a word we despise – it’s basically a big phone that uses a stylus.
At 5.5-inches, this is the biggest smartphone we’ve seen and a shade larger than the original Samsung Galaxy Note. This time there’s a quad-core processor buried inside, backed up by a massive 2GB of RAM, so gamers and media fans will be delighted by silky smooth performance. The smoothness is futher boosted by Android Jelly Bean 4.1, which has been refined to eliminate any kind of lag or stutter evident in previous versions.
The Galaxy Note II is surprisingly thin and light considering its large stature, but the metallic body showed no sign of flex when we tugged and twisted it (to the horror of nearby demonstrators and a particularly surly security guard). It feels good in the hand too, mostly thanks to its lightweight build. Despite the fact that the phone uses Jelly Bean, Samsung has thrown out the virtual Home, Back and Menu buttons and replaced them with touch-sensitive buttons and a physical Home button below the screen.
While the eight-megapixel auto-focus camera might not hit the enormous resolution of Sony’s new Xperia T and V phones (which rock 13-megapixel snappers), it’s still clearly an excellent camera. We had a quick try and were impressed by how crisp our shots appeared on the large screen. Of course we won’t know how good it really is until we fully test it out, but there are plenty of great features too.
You can hold down the on-screen shutter button to take multiple shots in very quick succession (around three or four a second), and you have all kinds of filters and scene settings to play with. You can also shoot HD video, and as with the Galaxy S III, take photos at the same time or even pause mid-video. Strangely there isn’t a physical shutter button on the side of the device, so you’re stuck with prodding the screen.
The screen itself is an HD Super AMOLED masterpiece, both colourful and sharp. This being a Note, you can use the bundled stylus to scribble on the screen using apps such as Popup Note, writing memos to yourself or constructing some arty design. Or, like us, you can simply draw a stickman. The screen and stylus are once again pressure sensitive, making it easy to draw thick or thin impressions simply by adjusting your touch.
Rounding off the features are S Beam (Samsung’s NFC tech for sharing movies, music, websites, contact info and more), AllShare for throwing your media out to compatible TVs and other devices, a front-facing basic camera for webchats, plus a microSD slot for expanding the memory up to 64GB – essential for movie fans and gamers.