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Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

The Note is back, bigger and better

Our Verdict

Still a little too large for some, it's still a great device to help users enter the phablet market at a reduced cost.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 16 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 1 Day
  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 720

View full specification

For

  • Enormous battery
  • Expandable memory
  • Amazing screen
  • LTE capable
  • Blazingly fast

Against

  • Expensive
  • S-Pen is still complicated
  • Slow camera shutter
  • Size may be a barrier

As a portable media player, what can we say? The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 excels once again. The love-it-or-hate-it larger screen is perfect for viewing media, as one would expect.

And media is certainly a priority for Samsung. Not only do you get 16/32/64GB storage built in, but you can also bump that up by another 64GB.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

This deserves a special mention, because even though it's not an innovative idea, Samsung is clearly bucking a trend here by still allowing users the option to expand their storage.

We're seeing so many new handsets with non-expandable storage to encourage (force) us to go to the cloud - but for those who want to store lots of high quality content locally, it's good to have the option.

Video

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

Watching videos is a pleasure.

That HD display looks stunning, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 isn't so heavy that you'll need to lie down after holding it for half an hour.

We love how you can stream the audio to a Bluetooth headset too, so you can enjoy movies completely wirelessly.

And there's even an outdoor setting to make it easier to see in bright sunlight, though it cranks the display up, so don't expect your battery to thank you.

The range of file types supported is impressive too: MP4, M4V, Xvid, DivX, AVI and 3GP - in fact, not once did we get the dreaded 'file type not supported' error message.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

You also get the Pop-up Play function that we saw on the S3, which means you can have your video play on top of whatever app you're using. Multitasking ahoy.

Our only criticism is that it works only with the stock video player.

So for example, we wanted to watch live TV via TV Catchup at the same time as browsing but couldn't.

Still, that's an annoyance that can't really be blamed on Samsung.

You can get videos on the phone in one of two ways - you can sync from your computer or buy/rent films from Google Play.

Google Play is getting better and better every day. In terms of what it offers, the main blockbusters are there, but it doesn't have the back catalogue of iTunes.

Still, there's bound to be something there to keep you occupied until you can get to a computer to put your own stuff on.

Music

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

In terms of music, Samsung has clearly learned lessons from the original Samsung Galaxy Note.

We had no complaints back then - it was all nice and safe and stock Android.

But it's clear that for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung has really decided to go for it.

Firstly, the music player is no longer stock Android, but a much beefed-up version, with support for playlists and an equaliser that really does make an enormous difference when listening with headphones.

Externalisation, or Virtual 7.1ch in particular, make your music come alive.

Album art is displayed beautifully, and there is even something wacky called Music Square, where you touch a part of the square to choose what genre of music you want to listen to.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

Left is Passionate, top is Exciting, right is Joyful and bottom is Calm. Depending on how near to each corner your finger drops, you'll get anything from 2 Unlimited to Tupac.

We're big fans. It's fun and the audio quality is top notch. Plus, you never know what you're going to get.

On top of this, Samsung has been busy updating its Music Hub, which scans your phone for tunes and matches them to other music that you might like.

It's kinda like Apple's Genius, and is really good.

We tried it with something random - 'Turn It Into Love' by Hazell Dean - and were pleasantly shocked when it threw back a load of Bananarama and Martika.

The real emphasis here is on getting you to sign up for an account, and then you can enjoy access to millions of songs for streaming.

The service is powered by 7digital, but it'll set you back £9.99 a month for a subscription.

And when you can get Spotify for the same price, you have to sit and weigh up which one is actually better.

Radio

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

Luckily, if you don't want to pay and have not got a single MP3 to your name, you can still get in on the action with the FM radio that is included.

We love it when these are bundled, since it's nice sometimes to just listen to the radio with no complications.

You can launch the FM radio from the home screen using a handily supplied widget, and even control it with your voice if you want to change the station.

Sometimes, we did find ourselves going to the TuneIn Radio app because it was clearer, but then that can rinse the battery as it streams, so it's a case of flipping between the two.

Sharing

If you're a streamer, you'll have no issues here.

We enjoyed sending media across using the All Share Cast receiver (purchased separately) but without that, if you have a DLNA-capable TV or Apple TV, you can send stuff across - such as videos from YouTube.

We used an app called iMedia Share and were able to send our media straight across to an Apple TV - but even without that, playing to a PS3 or Wi-Fi TV is easy as pie.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+, GPRS
SAR Value0.17 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy Note II
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 700, GSM 850
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourTitanium Grey
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time1 Day
Product ModelGT-N7100
Screen Size14.1 cm (5.6")
Screen Resolution1280 x 720
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)182.5 g
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerSamsung
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.1.1 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log, Call Waiting, Call Holding, Caller ID, Conference Call
Pixel Density267 ppi
Height151.1 mm
Width80.5 mm
Depth9.4 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerSamsung
Product NameGalaxy Note II GT-N7100 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.60 GHz
Processor TypeExynos
Product LineGalaxy Note II
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Magnetometer, Gyro Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Barometer
Manufacturer Part NumberGT-N7100TADBTU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing Information

Unbeatable viewing experience - See more clearly in one view
The Galaxy Note II features a 5.55" (141mm) HD Super AMOLED display providing brilliant visual clarity. Its 16:9 screen ratio ensures an immersive and enriched movie theatre-like video viewing experience. Its larger screen allows users to see content clearly and vividly, which enhances readability. In addition to the rich content consumption experiences, users will also be able to do more tasks efficiently and create content freely, whilst on-the-go, as Galaxy Note II comes with a thinner, lighter, but yet bigger screen.

Advanced S Pen & S Note usage
Everyday tasks on Samsung Galaxy Note II are made easier and more intuitively using S Pen enabled features. Air View allows you to hover with the S Pen over an email, S Note, S Planner, image galleries, or videos to preview the content without having to open it. This gives you quick access to search and view more information in detail without screen transitions; and the device's new gesture pad feature called Quick Command lets you use to the S Pen to take shortcuts.

The S Pen's advanced features also provide enhanced capabilities to capture ideas and inspirations instantly or to combine handwriting with any digital content directly on the screen. By simply pressing the dedicated S Pen button, it magically recognises that you want to clip or edit the selected content on the screen. This action allows you to instantly crop the screen or its contents in any shape required-ready to save, share or paste-and you can also edit Web or digital images instantly with colouring, shading, or your own personal handwriting. It is as quick and easy as pen and paper but better because there is more functionality. Users can also capture screen-shots for instant copying or sharing, or use the Screen Recorder feature to record a whole sequence of actions on their screen- for example, a demonstration of how to use an application-and then share it with friends for comment, or just for fun.

Seamless multitasking

Whether you're watching a video, texting a friend or sketching an idea, the Galaxy Note II makes multitasking seamless and intuitive with three new features:

Popup Note lets you open an S Note instantly as a pop-up window anywhere on the screen. For example, you might watch a soccer game on the display while looking up a player's statistics at the same time. Or you can take notes on S Note while your friend gives you directions over the phone, or even sketch the directions as a map during the conversation. Whatever the task, Galaxy Note II has the right tools to keep you active while on-the-go.

Another new multitasking feature is Popup Web. You can now open a web browser anywhere on the screen and open a web link without having to switch between screens.

Thanks to the breadth of Galaxy Note II's amazing viewing experience, a feature called Popup Video extends the concept of 'Pop up play.' While watching a video, with the touch of a button, the video will become a floating window on your display. The video will continue to play and it can be repositioned to any part of the Galaxy Note II's screen. This versatility means you are free to load other applications beneath it to browse online, connect with friends or plan your day.


Limited Warranty2 Year