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Samsung Galaxy Note II review

8.4/10 AVG.
RATING



8.4/10
Informr score
The Samsung Galaxy Note II currently has an Informr score of 8.4 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 65 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

What ever happened to smartphones that were comfortably pocketable? Don’t ask Samsung, as it’s still too busy raking in the profits off its Galaxy Note range of mini-tablet-sized handsets. Phablets, as most people call them, have risen to dominance in world smartphone market. So it’s no surprise that, after its first phablet offering became wildly successful, Samsung saw it fit to release a follow-up: the Samsung Galaxy Note II. It’s bigger, faster, and more powerful than the original. And it runs the latest version of Google’s Android software.

With the Galaxy Note II, Samsung seems to have crammed in as many high-end features as possible on a handheld device. It features a fast and powerful quad-core Exynos processor, 2GB of RAM, at least 16GB of internal storage, a 5.5-inch 1280x720 HD touchscreen display, an 8-megapixel camera, and a 3,100mAh battery. Other hardware features include a microUSB port, HDMI-out, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. There’s even built-in stylus support, and an actual stylus lies hidden at the back of the phone when it’s not in use.

The default OS of the Note II is Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. As such, it can be used to run thousands upon thousands of apps that are available for download through Google Play. Imagine playing your favorite 3D games and running your most-used apps on a huge high-res screen. It’s every bit as awesome as that. And don’t forget, it’s also a phone. It works with quad-band GSM and tri-band UMTS networks, and supports HSDPA as well as HSPA+ data. Web browsing is immensely enjoyable on it not only because of its large screen but also because of fast browsing speeds.

As feature-rich as the Galaxy Note II is, though, it certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s slim but it’s undeniably bulky and far too large to pocket. And some people just don’t like using styluses to make their way around touchscreen applications.

Need to Know: Samsung Galaxy Note II

1. Has a 5.5-inch HD touchscreen display. (The Good)

2. Default operating system is Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. (The Good)

3. Lacks 4G LTE connectivity. (The Bad)

4. Camera performance could be better. (The Bad)


Operating system
Android
Processor
1.6 GHz
Screen Size
5.5"
Camera
8+ MP


What the Critics Are Saying...


GottaBeMobile

The Galaxy Note 2 features a large 5.5-inch display that offers more flexibility than the iPad mini by offering up a multi-view feature that lets users use two apps at the same time. This makes it possible to reference something while I am writing on part of the screen. Not every app will work with...

- Josh Smith, GottaBeMobile
Androinica

I love this phone. The Galaxy Note 2 is the best phone I have ever used. Anyone that gasps about the size is correct, it’s a really big phone that isn’t seen very often. But, you’re hand(s) become accustomed to it, and eventually a smaller phone just doesn’t cut it for pictures, movies, and Redditin...

- Ben Crawford, Androinica
What Hi-Fi

The Galaxy Note 2’s size will no doubt be the, well, biggest aspect for most people to think about. But you can rest assured that if you do want that big screen, everything else this smartphone offers is more than up to scratch.

- Ced Yuen, What Hi-Fi
Daily Mobile

The Note II is much improved from the original Note, in terms of processing power, user experience, screen size and OS. It is a refined version of the original Note and worth the upgrade. If you love lots of real estate on your devices and Android is your OS the Note II is worth the money. Sans a fe...

- Kevin Everett, Daily Mobile
Gadget Review

Every single aspect of the Galaxy Note 2 is praiseworthy. After testing it, I’m equally conflicted considering my upcoming iPhone 5 review, which I won’t spoil but makes some bold claims regarding the device. The Galaxy Note 2 is an incredible device, one that I’m not only glad to see people purchas...

- James Pikover, Gadget Review


Prices (Where to Buy)




Common Questions


Samsung released the Galaxy Note II on October 25, 2012.


The Galaxy Note II price will vary depending on retailer, age, special offers and whether or not it's purchased with a service plan. If purchased with a 2 year service contract for example, you would likely pay much less for the phone itself up front. You can compare Samsung Galaxy Note II prices from around the web here on The Informr.


We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Samsung Galaxy Note II user manual here.


Samsung backs up the Galaxy Note II with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.


If your Galaxy Note II has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Samsung support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Samsung's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.



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Quick view

Screen Size
5.5"

The Samsung Galaxy Note II's screen size is 5.5 inches with 720 x 1280 pixels resolution.

Processor
1.6 GHz

There is a Exynos Quad-core 1.6 GHz processor (CPU).

OS

The phone runs on the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (Update Available: 4.4 KitKat) operating system (OS).

Camera
8+ MP

You can take photos with the phone's onboard 8+ megapixel camera.

There is also a secondary front facing camera with 1+ megapixels resolution.

Storage
No

Internal memory is No. An external, MicroSD, MicroSDHC (up to 64 GB) expansion slot is available for increased storage capacity.

Battery
3100mAh

The phone is powered by a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion), 3100 mAh battery. Samsung's performance ratings are 900 minutes, 528 minutes Wi-Fi surfing.

Galaxy Note II Specs

Overview
Release date October 25, 2012
Regions available USA, Canada, UK
Networks
GSM:
850/900/1800/1900 MHz
UMTS:
850/1700/1900 MHz
Data:
GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSPA+
variations
SIM card Micro-SIM
Dual SIM No
Operating System Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (Update Available: 4.4 KitKat)

Compare Android Smartphones

Processor Exynos Quad-core 1.6 GHz
Internal Storage No
RAM 2 GB
ROM 16 GB
GPS Type A-GPS
Digital compass Yes
Flightmode Yes
Hearing Aid Compatible Yes
TTY/TDD Yes
Noise Cancellation Yes
SAR Head: 0.45 W/kg
Body: 1.16 W/kg
Languages English
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included AC Charger, Manual, Standard Battery, Stylus
Power & battery
Type Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Battery Capacity 3100 mAh
Removable Battery Yes
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Video Playback Time Up to: 687 minutes
Internet Use (Wi-Fi) Up to: 528 minutes
Internet Use (Celluar) Unknown
Talk Time Up to: 900 minutes
Standby Time Up to: 12.5 days
Physical Characteristics
Design type Bar
Multi-Use Smart Phone / PDA Yes
Material Plastic
Colors Marble White, Titanium Gray, Amber Brown, Ruby Wine
Dimensions [H x W x D] 15.1 x 8 x 0.9 cm (5.9 x 3.2 x 0.4 in)
Weight 180 grams
Water Resistant / Waterproof Unknown
Rugged design No
IP Rating No
Antenna Type Internal
Changeable Faceplates No
Display / Screen
Type Color
Technology Super AMOLED
Colors 16.7 million
Resolution 720 x 1280 pixels
Pixel density 265 pixels
Size 5.5 inches
3D No
Secondary Display No
Sensors Ambient Light, Proximity, Motion / Accelerometer, Gyroscope
Graphics Yes
Themes No
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock Yes
Multi-Touch Yes
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Additional Display Features Capacitive touch screen
Input / Navigation
Sleep / Wake Key No
Home Key Yes
Mute Key No
Input Type Touchscreen
Navigation Type Touchscreen
Predictive Text Entry Swype
Physical keyboard No
Voicemail Key Yes
Any Key Answer Yes
Voice Commands Yes
Keypad/Screen Lock Yes
External Volume Control Yes
External Media Playback Controls No
Fingerprint Sensor No
Call Management
Wi-Fi Calling Unknown
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) Unknown
Contact List Capacity Depends on system memory
Multiple Numbers Per Contact Email address, Other fields
Contact Groups Yes
Auto Answer Yes
Voice Activated Dialing Yes
Photo Caller ID Yes
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser Yes
Email Client Yes
Email Protocols POP3, IMAP, SMTP, Microsoft Exchange
Additional Email Features Gmail
Messaging SMS, MMS, Google Talk
Push-to-talk (PTT) No
Connectivity
USB Micro-USB 2.0
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth 4.0
Bluetooth Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, OPP/FTP, HID, HFP, HSP, PAN
Bluetooth Audio Codecs SBC, aptX
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
WiFi Encryption WEP/WPA/WPA2
Mobile Hotspot Yes
WiMAX No
Memory Expansion Slot Yes
Expansion Slot Info MicroSD, MicroSDHC (up to 64 GB)
PC Synchronization OTA
TV Out HDMI
DLNA Support Yes
NFC Yes
UMA Support No
Data Tethering Compatibility Yes
Java Applications No
Brew Applications No
ECML / Digital Wallet No
PictBridge No
Camera
Main Camera
Aperture
Unknown
Resolution
8+ megapixels
Dual lens
No
Zoom
4x digital
Flash
Yes (LED)
Additional Rear Camera Info
Auto focus, Effects, Face detection, ISO, Multi-shot, Panorama, Self-timer, Smile detection
Video Recording Formats
3GP / 3GPP, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4, WMV, DivX, FLV
Video Recording Parameters
Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 30 fps
Front Camera
Resolution
1+ megapixels
Zoom
Additional Front Camera Info
No
Video Recording Parameters
Audio / Video
Audio Playback Yes
Audio Formats AAC, AAC+, AMR, eAAC+, MIDI, MP3, OGG, WMA, WAV
Radio No
Video Playback Yes
Video Playback Formats 3GP / 3GPP, DivX, FLV, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4, WMV
Mobile TV No
Streaming Video Yes
External Speakers Yes
Headset Jack 3.5mm
Custom Ringtones No
Vibration Alert Yes
Downloadable Ringtones Yes
Ringtone Composer No
Ringer ID Yes
Haptic Feedback Vibration Yes
Speakerphone Yes
Apps
To-Do / Task List No
Calendar Yes
World Clock Yes
Alarm Yes
Stop Watch Yes
Timer Yes
Calculator Yes
Currency Converter No
Document Viewer Yes
Viewable document types XLS, PPT, PPTX, DOC, DOCX
Weather Yes
Stocks No
Maps Yes
NotePad Yes
Voice Memos / Recorder Yes
Games Downloadable, Pre-installed
Apps Downloadable, Pre-installed (Dropbox, Google+, Play Store, Polaris Office, YouTube)
Included Software / Apps -
More
Additional comments Other Names (AKA): Samsung SGH-T889

Related Links Manual (PDF)
Samsung Galaxy Note II Reviews
Where to buy Samsung Galaxy Note II
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Critic Reviews


GottaBeMobile

An impressive smartphone that delivers productivity and features worthy of the large size

from GottaBeMobile

The Galaxy Note 2 features a large 5.5-inch display that offers more flexibility than the iPad mini by offering up a multi-view feature that lets users use two apps at the same time. This makes it possible to reference something while I am writing on part of the screen. Not every app will work wi...More

The Galaxy Note 2 features a large 5.5-inch display that offers more flexibility than the iPad mini by offering up a multi-view feature that lets users use two apps at the same time. This makes it possible to reference something while I am writing on part of the screen. Not every app will work with the Multi-Window view feature, which is very frustrating but the included Polaris Office app, the default browser, the Falcon Pro twitter client and others do.

Read full review

Less

Androinica

A must-buy, even if the price tag gives you hesitation

from Androinica

I love this phone. The Galaxy Note 2 is the best phone I have ever used. Anyone that gasps about the size is correct, it’s a really big phone that isn’t seen very often. But, you’re hand(s) become accustomed to it, and eventually a smaller phone just doesn’t cut it for pictures, movies, a...More

I love this phone. The Galaxy Note 2 is the best phone I have ever used. Anyone that gasps about the size is correct, it’s a really big phone that isn’t seen very often. But, you’re hand(s) become accustomed to it, and eventually a smaller phone just doesn’t cut it for pictures, movies, and Redditing. Looking at my Galaxy Nexus, it is almost a disappointment now, even though I’m on the latest version of Android with stock UI. A battery that lasts the whole day using LTE is a serious game changer and keeps your mind at ease. Samsung and their Touchwiz UI have made the buttons ever-so-slightly bigger to be reached easier, and the multi-window feature (especially if you figure out how to get any app to use it) is a serious advancement in smartphones.

Read full review

Less

What Hi-Fi

Big-screen browsing and a capable battery make the Note 2 a tempting proposition

from What Hi-Fi

The Galaxy Note 2’s size will no doubt be the, well, biggest aspect for most people to think about. But you can rest assured that if you do want that big screen, everything else this smartphone offers is more than up to scratch.

Read full review

The Galaxy Note 2’s size will no doubt be the, well, biggest aspect for most people to think about. But you can rest assured that if you do want that big screen, everything else this smartphone offers is more than up to scratch.

Read full review

Less

Daily Mobile

Has killer specs in almost every department

from Daily Mobile

The Note II is much improved from the original Note, in terms of processing power, user experience, screen size and OS. It is a refined version of the original Note and worth the upgrade. If you love lots of real estate on your devices and Android is your OS the Note II is worth the money. Sans a...More

The Note II is much improved from the original Note, in terms of processing power, user experience, screen size and OS. It is a refined version of the original Note and worth the upgrade. If you love lots of real estate on your devices and Android is your OS the Note II is worth the money. Sans a few minor details it is great device and is currently on top of the Android food chain.

Read full review

Less

Gadget Review

The best Android phone and tablet you can buy

from Gadget Review

Every single aspect of the Galaxy Note 2 is praiseworthy. After testing it, I’m equally conflicted considering my upcoming iPhone 5 review, which I won’t spoil but makes some bold claims regarding the device. The Galaxy Note 2 is an incredible device, one that I’m not only glad to see people purchase after reading my first impressions or after hearing me speak about it only after a few days of use. The fact that they’re all not just content but extremely happy with it is proof — perhaps just to me — that it is a really great device....

More

Every single aspect of the Galaxy Note 2 is praiseworthy. After testing it, I’m equally conflicted considering my upcoming iPhone 5 review, which I won’t spoil but makes some bold claims regarding the device. The Galaxy Note 2 is an incredible device, one that I’m not only glad to see people purchase after reading my first impressions or after hearing me speak about it only after a few days of use. The fact that they’re all not just content but extremely happy with it is proof — perhaps just to me — that it is a really great device.

But what’s most critical to think about if you’re in the market for a smartphone today is that the Note 2 isn’t just a smartphone. It offers users the two-for-one deal with none of the backlash that Android tablet users have felt for years with non-tablet specific apps. Even with Android 4.2 the number of applications made for 7″+ screens can be counted on hands and feet, compared to the iPad’s 250,000+ apps. With the Note 2, that problem vanishes.

My real conflict is that I like the phone so much I don’t want to give it up. Sure, ye readers can say “I bet you say that all the time.” For smartphones, that hasn’t happened once yet, until now. The Galaxy Note 2 offers everything that a smartphone should, that a tablet can, and with all the freedom that Android offers. As an iOS user and iPhone owner, I’m actually willing and ready to part with that ecosystem and those devices for this phone. That’s right, I’d trade in the iPhone 5 and iPad mini for the Galaxy Note 2, and I wouldn’t look back.

Read full review

Less

Laptop Magazine

Continues to be the gold standard for big-screen phones

from Laptop Magazine

From its huge 5.5-inch display to the improved S Pen and fast quad-core CPU, Samsung took everything we loved about the original Note and supersized it while providing the longest battery life you can get on a 4G LTE phone. The Multi-Window multitasking feature is yet another reason to get this A...More

From its huge 5.5-inch display to the improved S Pen and fast quad-core CPU, Samsung took everything we loved about the original Note and supersized it while providing the longest battery life you can get on a 4G LTE phone. The Multi-Window multitasking feature is yet another reason to get this Android handset. Not everyone will want to spend $299 or use a 5.5-inch phone, but those who like the idea of a carrying big-screen device should look no further than the innovative, powerful Galaxy Note II.

Read full review

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Phone Scoop

Impresses with good call quality, excellent LTE 4G performance, and exceptional battery life

from Phone Scoop

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a big, big phone in more ways than one. True, it is one of the largest handsets you can buy, but the new dimensions make it an easier device to use day in and day out. Unlike the original, I found I was used to the size after a few days. It’s still difficult to use one-handed, however, and for some that might be a deal breaker....

More

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a big, big phone in more ways than one. True, it is one of the largest handsets you can buy, but the new dimensions make it an easier device to use day in and day out. Unlike the original, I found I was used to the size after a few days. It’s still difficult to use one-handed, however, and for some that might be a deal breaker.

The Verizon variant of the Note II is probably the best of the bunch. It has all the same features, but surpasses the performance of the AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile versions in the key areas of voice quality and data speeds.

The software and tools are robust, the media powers second-to-few, the camera and video camera excellent, and the cool features of the S Pen and its associated software are much improved over the original Note.

For the consumer seeking to merge their smartphone and tablet into one device, the Note II is certainly the first device to get the formula (mostly) right.

Read full review

Less

BitBitByte

Has laundry list of features backing up its hardware might

from BitBitByte

In the modern smartphone world, the Note 2 is the big daddy Cadillac. It’s brute strength and sheer size command respect. The AT&T LTE issue is slightly worrying and a potential deal breaker for customers on the major GSM carrier.

Adding to its immense physical proportions are b...More

In the modern smartphone world, the Note 2 is the big daddy Cadillac. It’s brute strength and sheer size command respect. The AT&T LTE issue is slightly worrying and a potential deal breaker for customers on the major GSM carrier.

Adding to its immense physical proportions are bags upon bags of features (both native to Jelly Bean and Samsung add-ons). The S-Pen also takes the Note 2 to a completely different level over previous gems like the Galaxy S III. In a world of increasingly competitive smartphones, the Note 2 stands on a pedestal of its own, far and away above just about every other device on the market. If the best is all you’re after, we’re hard pressed to find anything better in terms of the combined power, longevity and utility.

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Androinica

It is one of the better phablets available in the market today

from Androinica

During my review of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, I honestly fell in love with its vibrant and large display. While I think it is a tad too large for everyday usage on my part, it does affirm my decision to purchase a smartphone with a large display. If you are fine with how the Galaxy Note II feel...More

During my review of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, I honestly fell in love with its vibrant and large display. While I think it is a tad too large for everyday usage on my part, it does affirm my decision to purchase a smartphone with a large display. If you are fine with how the Galaxy Note II feels in your hand and pocket, then there is really no reason not to purchase it. Granted, the device is a little on the expensive side, but I imagine it will come down in the coming weeks and months. At the very least, I can definitively state it is one of the better phablets available in the market today. If you want to take notes on your smartphone, or want to use a device with extremely fast processing speeds, then the Galaxy Note II is undoubtedly worthy of your consideration.

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Wired

Bigger but not better

from Wired

While the TouchWiz UI is cumbersome, at least everything else runs very quickly on the Note II. And it should, after all — the Note II is one of the most powerful smartphones Samsung has ever built, with a 1.6GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos processor and 2GB of RAM packed inside. The Note II has enough speed to make John Force feel proud. There’s also an enormous 3,100 mAh battery sitting behind the massive display. I was regularly charging up the Note II every other day during my two weeks with it. That’s some astounding battery performance, and one of the few features I can honestly say I love about the Note II....

More

While the TouchWiz UI is cumbersome, at least everything else runs very quickly on the Note II. And it should, after all — the Note II is one of the most powerful smartphones Samsung has ever built, with a 1.6GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos processor and 2GB of RAM packed inside. The Note II has enough speed to make John Force feel proud. There’s also an enormous 3,100 mAh battery sitting behind the massive display. I was regularly charging up the Note II every other day during my two weeks with it. That’s some astounding battery performance, and one of the few features I can honestly say I love about the Note II.

If you must have a gigantic smartphone, the Note II is a solid performer. But the problems of the first-generation Note — unwieldy size, messy software, gimmicky stylus — still haunt the sequel.

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User Reviews


Sandy

Best phone ever

I have the note 2 note 4 etc this is the best of all the phones I've ever had. Nokia use to be the phone for me not anymore. SAMSUNG EVERY TIME

Never know if the phone is decent since battery won't hold charge

TELUS provided the phone directly (not from a kiosk) Battery would only charge to 40% And discharged to 0 within an hour of being USB/charge disconnected Total FAIL for both TELUS, SAMSUNG and the Note II

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