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IFA: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 hands-on review

We get an early look at Samsung's Android Jelly Bean phablet in Berlin
Fri Aug 31 2012, 15:28

BERLIN: KOREAN SMARTPHONE MAKER Samsung unveiled the sequel to its phone/tablet hybrid device, or phablet, the Galaxy Note 2 at the IFA tradeshow in Berlin this week and we got some hands-on time with the device at Samsung's exhibition stand.

The first thing we noticed about the Galaxy Note 2 was its similarity to Samsung's flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S3. It's made from the same materials, having a very similar design with its rounded edges, which Samsung refers to as a "pebble" design. Though ergonomically it fits in the hand well considering its large size, it feels a little cheap due to the glazed plastic used in the casing, something which Samsung says improves reception.

samsung galaxy note 2 smartphone front

One good thing that comes out of the textured plastic casing is that it makes the device really light and thin, weighing only 180g and measuring only 9.4mm thick, which is excellent for a device of this size.

On the underside of the Note 2 is where the S-pen stylus is housed and when you pull it out, an S-note document ready for writing on is presented on screen instantly. Build quality isn't the highest we've seen on a smartphone, but what we did like about the Note 2 was that its bundled features, such as the S pen, seem to work well with the device, with touchscreen response being immediate.

samsung galaxy note 2 smartphone side

Screen and performance
The best thing about the Note 2 is without question its super HD AMOLED screen that is even bigger than its predecessor, measuring an impressive 5.5in as opposed to the original Note's 5.275in display. This has to be the best screen we've seen on a phone, ever. The colour representation is simply excellent. It's extremely bright and clear, and watching videos in HD 1080p resolution on the 16:9 ratio display was quite enjoyable.

Swiping your fingers across the screen leaves fewer greasy smudge marks than you'd expect, and copying and pasting images to and from various tabs with the stylus is a breeze. The Note 2's quad-core 1.6GHz processor and 2GB of RAM ensure that operations remain smooth and responsive with no waiting for it to complete simple tasks.

For example, when we played around with HD video, pulling it from Youtube onto the homepage and resizing it while it was playing, we didn't encounter any lag. Samsung really impressed us here.

Operating system
The Note 2 brings a slew of new software features all loaded on top of the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system. Perhaps it's Google's embedded Project Butter feature in the new version of the OS - a feature aiming to make tasks on the phone run more smoothly - that is responsible for the Note 2's ability to respond fast to commends.

Battery and Camera
On our quick hands on, we found that the Galaxy Note 2 camera worked the same way it does on the Galaxy S3, only with a much bigger screen that makes picture taking a more pleasurable experience.

It has a rear-facing 8MP camera and a front-facing 1.9MP camera, and can also shoot full HD 1080p video. Unfortunately, we didn't get enough time with the Note 2 to really scrutinise it's camera's image quality reproduction in comparison to other high-end smartphones on the market, but this is something we'll do when we get our hands on the device for a full length review. Nevertheless, in our tests the Note 2 camera was fairly good in taking photos quickly without blur, as long as you didn't move around while doing so.

As for the battery, Samsung claims the Note 2's 3,100mAh battery means that the device will last for at least a day. But as with the camera, we'll have to wait for the arrival of a review unit in The INQUIRER's offices so we can test the battery to see if this is really the case.

The Note 2 will ship globally in October, available in white and dark grey colour options. Check out our video demo to see the device in action. µ



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