The IFA tradeshow has barely got off the ground and Samsung has already set the bar high for all other exhibitors of the biggest European consumer-electronics tradeshow. At its "Unpacked" event, it unveiled the Galaxy Note II, a successor for the 'tabphone' that has scored massive market success, selling over ten million units.
Build & Design
This upcoming model is a very serious upgrade of the previous one, and almost everybody at IFA saw it as a Galaxy S III on steroids in both the specifications as well as its design.
Despite a bigger screen and a larger battery (it now has a 3100 mAh capacity), the Galaxy Note II will be lighter and somewhat smaller than its predecessor is. Due to its rounded shape shared with Galaxy S III, the prototype I tried out felt excellent when held in my hand, and did not seem as huge as Galaxy Note I. True, not many users will be able to use it with just one hand, but the power key, as well as the main key on the front side of the device are logically situated enough that those with big hands will get the hang of it after a while.
The Note II's display is going to be impressive: it will come with a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED screen at a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, which will offers a pixel density of 267 ppi and a 16:9 ratio. This will, actually, be a somewhat lower resolution than that of the original Note (800 x 1280 pixels), but is a far more standard one, which means it more compatible with numerous Android OS applications.
Furthermore, the phablet will use Gorilla Glass 2 and Android OS 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with a version of Samsung's TouchWiz user interface especially modified for this device, which results with more exceptional imaging -- all the superlatives that accompany Galaxy S III can be said for Galaxy Note II. The display on the prototype I tried at IFA was exceptionally sharp, with vivid colors and good saturation, which made working with this device a pleasure.
This product will come in two colors. Samsung didn't say which, but it's not hard to guess -- the same colors the Galaxy S III started out with: white and blue.
Samsung is putting a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor in this model, giving it outstanding performance. In my preliminary testing, it is capable of true multitasking, and it is possible to watch video clips in a special window while some other task is being performed on the device, e.g. wile watching a video, the user can touch another position on the timeline and see a thumbnail of the same video that will be shown in the given moment. Web sites are zoomed in and scrolled without any lags, irrespective of their size.
The biggest improvement in the upcoming model compared to the first Note relates to the S Pen -- the stylus that is a hallmark of the Note series. It will have 1024 levels of sensitivity and a rubber tip and can be used in three ways. The first is called Air View: when the S Pen it is brought closer to the screen, the user can see a preview of various objects, like the content of emails or text messages. The second way is the usual one -- the pen touches the screen (usually used for writing notes). The third way includes touching the display by pressing S Pen's button, when the alternative function is used, e.g. for deleting written notes.
A fantastic and highly practical app is the Pop-up Note, where the S Pen has the starring role. While making telephone calls, all the user needs to do is take the S Pen out of its slot and the screen will show a window where notes can be written.
Samsung has had problems selling its larger tablets, while its smaller offerings have sold by the million. Samsung has a lot of confidence in the Note II -- a company representatives promised us they expect to sell more units before the next IFA event than the first Galaxy Note did in its first year.
It will be on sale globally in October -- it will be released in the U.S. before the end of the year.
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