Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review [updated]

Reviews Paul Briden 14:28, 9 Oct 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 display

What you have here is, as we mentioned, 5.55-inches of capacitive Super AMOLED screen technology with multitouch and reinforced by Corning Gorilla Glass 2 (the same as original Gorilla Glass but thinner and lighter).

It sports a 1280x720 pixel HD resolution and the pixel density comes in at 267 pixels-per-inch (ppi).

In terms of the picture quality, it’s not quite as sharp as the Galaxy S3’s (306ppi) smaller Super AMOLED display but it’s not very far behind at all and brightness, colour and contrast are all on a par.

On a display of this scale a sacrifice in pixel density and therefore a loss of some clarity is to be expected, but to have lost so little is what’s really impressive here.

This display is easily better than many other smaller displays from premium handsets on the market currently, while being significantly larger and therefore more rewarding for use with multimedia and the S-Pen stylus.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 hardware

Alongside elements of its aesthetic design, the Galaxy Note 2 shares plenty of its internal hardware with other recent members of the Galaxy range.

Specifically, it has the same ARM Cortex-A9-based quad core Exynos 4412 chipset (with Mali-400MP quad core graphics processor) as both the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 and, like the latter, it also sports 2GB of dual-channel RAM (which is faster than the still too common single-channel variety).

Sensible decisions all round by Samsung, then.

You see, the original Galaxy Note was dual core with 1GB of RAM and the Wacom stylus software layered on top of Android was a bit too much strain for it to cope with.

With quad core and an additional gigabyte of RAM the Galaxy Note 2 is a much more capable stylus-based handset.

While we won’t go so far as to say you’ll find it latency free at all times, it’s still remarkably impressive in terms of responsiveness, smoothness and accuracy most of the time we were using it.

We tried to break it by doodling some unnecessarily fine detail with lots of extra lines for it to register but on the whole it performed brilliantly and is much improved from the original Note.

Gaming is quite good, though variable. Dead Trigger ran as well as we’ve seen on many other quad core handsets. N.O.V.A 3 performed admirably, though was noticeably a bit slower than on the iPhone 5.

The processor clockspeed is 1.6GHz and it uses 32 nanometre (nm) semiconductor technology.

What this means in practice is that it doesn’t run as hot as Nvidia’s Tegra 3 quad core setup.

But make no mistake, it’s not the coolest running handset on the market either and prolonged intensive use of the stylus, demanding multitasking or high-end gaming will cause it to heat up and can adversely affect performance for a short time.

General performance for multitasking, navigating the interface and other typical smartphone tasks is excellent. We’ll cover this in more detail in the software section.

However, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 running Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 processor has officially launched on China Mobile.

The Note 2 Snapdragon 600 edition has the model number N7108D and is virtually identical to the original Exynos 4412 quad-core device. Benchmarks for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU running inside achieved 26,901 points on AnTuTu, far outshining the performance of the Note 2 on the ARM Cortex-A9-based quad core Exynos 4412 chipset.

Internal storage varies depending on how much cash you want to splash but options exist for 16GB, 32GB or 64GB and all of them come with a MicroSD slot capable of taking cards up to 32GB or high capacity (SDHC/SDXC) up to 64GB.

The Galaxy Note 2 runs from a Micro SIM and for connectivity you’ve got your standard 3.5mm audio jack at the top and a MicroUSB data/charging port handily positioned at the bottom of the handset.

Other support includes MHL A/V TV out, GPS (A-GPS and GLONASS), NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Hotspot and DLNA.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is just one of the devices available on EE's 4G network and we decided to benchmark the network's performance on the 4G version.

Results are impressive to say the least with EE’s 4G network averaging around 40mbps, ensuring rapid-fire webpage loading, super-fast HD video, and very low ping times.

Existent HSPA speeds vary from 12mbps on older services up to 21mbps on newer HSPA+ on newer networks. With 4G you’re getting pretty much double the speeds and it really shows, everything moves along at an unprecedented speed.

You will pay a premium for this level of speed, however, with EE tariffs starting from £36 a month – that gets you 500MB of data – and topping-out at £56 a month with 8GB of data.

Current handsets offered by EE on its 4G networks are the iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, HTC Sensation XL, Galaxy Note 2, and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE. 

Check out the benchmarking video below:

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