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Full Review

Generally technology is getting smaller – but some of the high-end smartphones are taking things the other way – take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Note II for example. Here’s one of the biggest phones on the market, with a huge 5.5-in display, as well as a whole host of features and an S-Pen stylus. Now Samsung has brought out a new version, which also rocks the latest 4G LTE support for ultrafast downloading.


Sitting under the hood is a powerful 1.6 GHz quad-core Exynos processor that is more powerful than both the chips found in the Note 10.1 and the S III – plus it’s backed up by 2GB of RAM for ultra-smooth performance. The Note II comes in versions with 16, 32 or 64GB of onboard memory, so there’s plenty of options if you like to carry round lots of films and apps.

We were even more impressed by the Note II’s battery life – that huge screen looks like it will suck juice at a rate of knots, but you get a good day out of a full charge – and even more impressive, about 10 hours if you’re streaming video – double what you would reasonably expect. If you go on long journeys, this device will easily keep you entertained.

Good looks

Looks-wise, the Note II LTE is pretty similar to its predecessor, with a shiny white chassis. It is pretty big (and weighs 182g), but no larger than it needs to be to support that massive 5.5in display. It won’t be slipping into your jeans pocket though.

As you’d expect from a Galaxy phone, there’s one ‘home’ button, as well as a pair of touch-sensitive buttons for Back and Menu. The front-facing 1.9MP snapper is positioned next to a pair of tiny lenses that are used for neat features such as Smart Stay, which ensures the screen stays bright as long as you are still looking at it. On the back sits an eight-megapixel snapper complete with LED flash. Take off the back plate and you’ll see the SIM card slot, memory card slot and battery.

Touch me

The operating system of choice here is Android Jelly Bean, which is streamlined and a joy to use, Samsung has added its TouchWiz user interface, but has toned it down somewhat, so happily the unimpressive Social Hub is no more. It has left in the usable features such as calendar and weather widgets as well as the Video and Music Hubs, which let you buy content. There are plenty of opportunities for personalising the interface, with live backgrounds and widgets – you can even choose the fonts you use

Galaxy Note II LTE S-Pen

The onscreen keyboard is also a joy, thanks to that large display. There’s an extra line for the numeric keys and it makes typing out long emails and notes really speed – plus of course you can use the stylus if you want to make handwritten notes. 

4G support

One of the major differences between the original Note II and the Note II LTE, is, of course the 4G support. This lets you download data at ultra-fast speeds. We noticed that web pages loaded far faster than on 3G, but the real differences comes when you stream video (particularly HD video), which comes without buffering and stuttering.

Needless to say, you have to be in a 4G hotspot to benefit – and we noticed that as we headed out of central London the data speeds began to fall quite considerably. Nonetheless they were still better than 3G. 

One of the other enjoyable features of the Note II LTE is the ‘Pop Up Play’ feature. Say you’re watching a film but want to open up another app. Just tap a button and the film will shoot into a smaller window, which you can them move around the screen as you see fit, so that you can access your other app. It’s a neat feature and only works because of the incredible power at work under the device’s hood. This is just one of the amazing features in a long list.

Where the S-Pen is mightier

One of the main attractions of the Note II LTE is its S Pen stylus. This is a wonderful tool for doodling, sketching and writing notes. Its pressure sensitive, so responds well if you’re sketching, recognising light and heavy strokes. It’s also supported well by the S-Memo app, which lets you create diaries, memos, cards and lots more. There are some handwriting recognitions features too, as well as Shape Match, which turns your hand-sketched hexagons into proper geometric forms, and Formula Match, which can solve any maths equation you write.

 As we said, the different weights of strokes with the S-Pen are registered by the screen, which runs Wacom technology. It’s amazing just how responsive this is – our signature came out just as it does on paper – and anyone arty will appreciate how their highlighting and shading in sketches is translated onto the screen.

There are some neat extras too – write down a list of ideas and it’s easy to transform them into a mind map – you can also attach map links and pictures to notes then save as PDFs or JPGs to send to friends or colleagues, Press the button near the tip of the stylus and you fire up the select action, so you can take a screenshot by tapping the display – circle an area and it will just grab that for you.

Moving pictures

The snapper is the same 8MP version found on the Galaxy S III, which features an instant shutter and LED flash. Put it on auto mode and you’ll get bright, sharp pictures – and that speedy shutter is excellent for grabbing action shots. Colours prove vibrant and the detail is amazing. The flash does tend to overexpose on low light, so switch to Night mode instead – the resulting images are dim, but okay.


There are plenty of modes to choose from, depending on light conditions, as well as neat features such as Buddy Photo Share, which lets you automatically share pictures. Facial recognition is not always as good as it could be though. It’s easy to share pictures online – great after a night out with friends.

The camera also grabs HD video – and does an impressive job. Sound capture is good, as are colour reproduction and clarity, You can also shoot still pictures while recording video.

Our conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE offers the same amazing power and impressive 5.5in display as its predecessor. The S-Pen is so useful it avoids being gimmicky, and while the device is really a niche product, if you can deal with its size, there’s plenty on offer to please the buyer.




Type of device Smartphone
Operating System Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Dimensions 80.5 x 151.1 x 9.4 mm
Weight 183g
Form factor Touchscreen
Input Touch Screen
Processor speed 1.6GHz quad-core
CPU Quad-core
Graphic chipset  
Status Available


Screen size 5.5 inches
Screen type Super AMOLED
Resolution 1280 x 720
Display type 16 million colours


Internal storage 16-64GB
Memory card slot  


Camera 8 megapixels
Secondary camera 1.9 megapixels
Special camera features Flash


3.5mm Jack  
Music player MP3, OGG, WMA, AAC, ACC+, eAAC+, AMR(NB,WB), MIDI, WAV, AC-3, Flac
Audio recording  
FM Radio description  


Video recording  
Video player MPEG4, H.263, H.264, VC-1, DivX, WMV7, WMV8, WMV9, VP8
Video calling  
Video streaming  

Additional Features

Browser Android
Games Google Play
Voice control  
Voice dialling  






Band Quad-band


Colours (Standard) White, Black
Handsfree speaker phone  
Customisable ringtones  
What's in the box Charger
Website www.ee.com


Standby N/A
Talktime N/A
Battery life multimedia 10 hours

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