Firstly, I would like to thank Samsung Mobility South Africa for providing me with a test device for review. It is really appreciated.
Before I get into the hardware specs, please note that the Podcast is primarily an audio demonstration of the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
I have also decided to split the podcast up into 5 parts. The podcast is at the end of this post. For those with screen readers, just jump the the headings.
And if you don’t feel like listening to the podcast or reading any further but, would like to know if this phone is for you…. The answer is:
It depends on you.
This phone is really powerful, has an absolutely stunning battery life; includes loads of features for those with some vision left and is also a lot more accessible thanks to the Android updates. I love this phone and think that it deserves to be considered by the visual impaired folks who are looking for a really powerful Android device.
However, as always, try and get your hands on an actual device; play with it, if you can.
Go to your local Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Virgin Mobile or 8ta outlet and ask them to activate the accessibility features by going to settings, accessibility and by turning talkback on. Remember to turn the (Explore by touch) feature on if you are totally blind. They do not need to download the voices or connect to the internet for this to work and shouldn’t take them long at all.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II brings twice the processing power, a brand new screen (of even larger size) and a bigger battery. These are real attractive differentiating factors that made this phone a real pleasure to handle.
Let’s take a look at the hardware specs:
- Quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G with 21 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA support
- Optional LTE connectivity
- 5.5″ 16M-color Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen of HD (720 x 1280 pixel) resolution; Corning Gorilla Glass 2
- Android OS v4.1 with TouchWiz launcher
- 1.6 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU, Mali-400MP GPU, 2GB of RAM, Exynos 4412 Quad chipset
- S Pen active stylus with deep system integration
- 8 MP wide-angle lens autofocus camera with LED flash, face, smile and blink detection
- 1080p HD video recording at 30fps
- 16/32/64GB internal storage, microSD slot
- Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n support
- GPS with A-GPS connectivity; GLONASS support, Digital compass
- NFC support
- Stereo Bluetooth v4.0
- FM radio with RDS
- microUSB port with USB host and TV-out (1080p) support, MHL, charging
- Accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensor
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
- Great audio quality
- Very slim at only 9.4mm
- 1.9MP secondary video-call camera
- Document editor and file manager comes preinstalled
- Extremely rich video and audio codec support
- Huge 3100 mAh ba
The Note II retail package includes a wall-mount charger, where you plug the supplied microUSB cable to charge your phablet. There’s also a nice one-piece headset with several spare earbuds (so you can find the right size for you).
The bad news is that the MHL adapter required for HD TV-out and the USB adapter enabling the USB host functionality aren’t included.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 measures 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm, which makes is slightly taller, but narrower and slimmer than its predecessor. And while it is notably larger than even the biggest droids with their 4.7-4.8″ screens, the Note II is reasonably easy to fit in a pocket.
The weight has remained virtually unchanged – the original Note tipped the scales at 178 g, while the Note II comes in at 180 g. It certainly won’t let you forget that it’s in your pocket, but to put things in another perspective, it weighs less than the Nokia Lumia 920 and that one has neither a 5.5″ screen, nor a 3100mAh battery.
The front panel of the Note II has several interesting elements other than the screen. On top is the earpiece, with the 1.9MP front-facing camera and proximity sensor to the right.
The ambient light sensor and the status LED are on the left side of the earpiece. From the settings you can choose the types of events that light up the LED – charging and low battery, missed calls and during voice recording (only if the screen is off).
Below the screen you’ll find the classic arrangement of physical hardware Home key flanked by the capacitive Menu and Back keys.
The sides of the Note II has a volume rocker on the left and a Power/Lock key on the right.
The top of the Samsung Galaxy Note II features the 3.5mm audio jack along with the secondary microphone, which handles noise reduction and stereo sound recording.
The primary mic is at the bottom, exactly opposite the secondary one. The microUSB port handles charging and data connections with a computer. It’s MHL-enabled, so you can output HD video through an HDMI adapter or enable USB Host via another adapter.
I must admit that the location of the Microphone initially gave me a few issues when I was using Zello and Voxer. I kept covering the mic unintentionally with my finger whilst holding the the phone.
The stylus slot is at the bottom too, with the top of the S Pen curved to fit the shape of the Note II. The stylus itself isn’t perfectly round like the original stylus, so it doesn’t rotate in the slot, making it easier to put back in.
The back of the phablet looks pretty barren – it houses an 8MP camera lens and a single-LED flash near the top and the loudspeaker grille near the bottom. You should be able to feel it. The camera lens protrudes slightly, so the Note II rests on it when placed on a level surface, but judging from the original Note its hardened glass is not too easy to scratch.
The back cover is removable and below it you’ll find the 3100mAh battery along with the microSIM and microSD card slots. The SIM card compartment is blocked by the battery, but the memory card is hot-swappable. The NFC antenna is on the back cover, so you are free to replace the battery without losing the NFC connectivity.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II runs on Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is powered by a Samsung-made Exynos 4412 Quad chipset with four Cortex-A9 cores clocked at 1.6GHz, 2GB of RAM and a Mali-400 GPU.
Frankly, quite a punch in that combination.
And now for the five part podcast.