Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Key Features:

  • 5.55in Super AMOLED Display (720 x 1280)
  • Wacom S Pen Stylus
  • Android Jelly Bean
  • 1.6GHz quad-core processor w/ 2GB RAM

UPDATE: Samsung has said that the Galaxy Note 2 will arrive in the US in mid-November, so we expect to see the 5.55in giant in the UK around the same time, and certainly before Christmas. Talk about a stocking-filler.

Despite being responsible for the phrase 'phablet', the Samsung Galaxy Note has always been a smartphone that we've admired; with its enormous screen and stylus it proved that smartphones don't all have to look and work the same.

A year after the original Note took the smartphone world and turned it on its head, Samsung once again took to the stage at IFA, Berlin to announce its successor, the even bigger Galaxy Note 2.

Featuring a 5.55in HD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1280, the Galaxy Note 2 takes the original Note formula and brings it on a step, with the introduction of a more advanced S-Pen stylus developed by graphics tablet experts Wacom.

Sensitive to 1,024 levels of pressure, the S-Pen is similar to that found tucked inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, but it's slightly thicker and instantly feels more accurate when writing on the screen.

The Note 2 is powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM and comes with 4G (where available), NFC and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean right out of the box.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Galaxy S3 on the left, Galaxy Note 2 on the right

During out hands-on time with the Galaxy Note 2, we found it to be substantially larger than a Galaxy S3 and absolutely dwarf the 3.5in iPhone 4S - even if Apple boosts the new iPhone screen to 4in, it'll still look small in this company.

Speaking of the Galaxy S3, the new Note shares almost its entire design with its little brother - save for the S-Pen, which is housed in a slot in the lower right corner of the Note.

As you would expect from a smartphone with such vast processing power, the Galaxy Note 2 flies through Android Jelly Bean, booting apps just about instantly and multitasking between them without breaking a sweat.

As we said above, even compared with the recently launched Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, writing on the Note 2 with its S-Pen feels better than it ever has before - and although our handwriting is truly dreadful at the best of times, we recognised our scrawls right away; writing on the Note 2 feels very natural indeed.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

The screen also has the same technology as the Note 10.1 tablet so it knows the difference between your hand and the S-Pen, which stops you accidentally writing with your palm while resting on the screen.

At more than 5.5in, the Galaxy Note 2 is of course going to be a handful (see what we did there?) for users with small hands. Indeed, we found it impossible to type on the new Note one-handed.

Despite the huge screen, the Note 2 is surprisingly slim - measuring slightly thinner than the iPhone 4S.

Samsung has introduced a new feature with the Note 2 and its S-Pen, and that is the ability to interact with the screen without even touching it.

Hold the stylus up to around two centimetres away from the screen and if you're hovering over the thumbnail of a gallery, a preview of the contents of that gallery will pop up - and disappear again when you move the stylus away.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

The same thing happens if you hover over an email preview - the whole message will appear in a floating window, without the need for tapping on and opening up the email to full screen.

Finally, this hovering feature works when watching a video - so you can hover the pen over the timeline to see frames of video from the corresponding time, while the video itself continues to play unaffected.


Around the back, Samsung has given the Note 2 an 8 megapixel camera with auto focus and there's an impressive 1.9 megapixel camera at the front.

It looks like Samsung is on to a winner again with the Note 2, although at 5.55in we're starting to wonder if smartphones will ever get any bigger.

Samsung is yet to give the Galaxy Note 2 a price or release date - but when it does we'll be sure to give the giant smartphone a thorough in-depth review.

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IFA 2012: Everything you need to know