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By 23 October 2012 | Categories: news

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Finally arriving at the Cape Town leg of the Samsung World Tour, the company officially launched its newest smartphone/tablet (or ‘phablet’), the Galaxy Note II, at a glittering event held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
 
The theme of the night, fittingly enough, was creativity, as the company stressed that the successor to the original Galaxy Note was aimed at both being a productivity tool and an aid to creativity in general.
 
To this end, the phablet boasts a slightly larger screen, 5.5" as compared to its predecessor’s 5.3", which offers a little bit extra screen real estate for note taking and drawing. Nonetheless, the Galaxy Note II is ironically more ergonomic than its predecessor, as it is slightly taller and more importantly, narrower. This makes it easier to use with, and hold in, one hand, and in our hands on time with it, it felt a bit like a larger S3, although somewhat more solid.
 
Considering the size of the screen, fans of the original phablet will be happy to hear that the Galaxy Note II is certainly not gargantuan; in fact, the physical dimensions are very close to the Galaxy Note. In order to accomplish this, the company has shaved a few millimetres off the bezel.  
 
Additionally, the HD Super AMOLED screen, which offers a 1280 x 720 resolution (267 ppi), looks stunning, and caters to viewing movies in a 16:9 screen ratio.  
 
Side by side, the size differences are marginal. While the Galaxy Note II (on the right) is slightly
larger then the Galaxy Note 1 (on the left), it is also fractionally narrower and taller,
making it more comfortable to hold in one hand. 
 
Speed up   
 
It was the blisteringly fast performance though, that most impressed us, as the device packs a 1.6 GHz Exynos 4412 quad-core processor and a full 2 GB of memory on the best Android OS to date - Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Scrolling through the OS, drawing and taking notes on the device were markedly faster than what we’ve seen to date.
 
The company added that, in line with recent progress on the LTE front locally, the new Galaxy Note II would also be available in a version that supports both 3G and LTE. While the 3G version is available now, the LTE version will make an appearance in the next few months.
 
The device will be available in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB variants, along with a microSD card slot for expanded storage.  Craige Fleischer, director of Mobile Communications at Samsung South Africa, reassured that the 3 100 mAh battery and power management tweaks should provide for a full day on a single charge.
 
While the phablet comes with an 8 MP rear-facing and 1.9 MP front-facing camera with full HD (1080p) video recording, its S pen is a pivotal part of the Galaxy Note II’s distinction. Thicker, longer and more comfortable than that found on the original Galaxy Note, the S pen also boasts 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, which we found a boon in drawing fine details.
 
In our time with it, we certainly found that it felt more ‘pen-like’ in our hand, and thus more comfortable to use.
 
Fleischer also addressed the criticism that accompanied the reintroduction of the stylus as an input device when the company launched the Note category of its devices, explaining that the pen had long been a conduit of inspiration and creativity, and thus fit with the Note’s stated mission of nurturing creativity.
 
 
Whether one prefers the Titanium Gray or Marble White variation, the Galaxy Note II
is certainly attractive.
 
Hover hero
 
New features, such as Popup note, which open immediately when you pull out the stylus, and Air View, which enables users to receive a preview of content by hovering the S pen over an app, to name a few, are also on offer. Also implemented on the device is Quick Command, which lets one launch applications by drawing a pre-defined symbol (such as the @ sign to launch email), while users can further customise their commands to their liking.
 
Another nifty feature is Easy Clip, which allows users to instantly outline and crop any content on the screen in any shape to save, share or paste. As offered by the Galaxy Note 10.1, the Galaxy Note II can similarly do some multi-tasking, enabling users to view two windows on the screen simultaneously, and resize the windows to their liking.
 
“We are further extending our GALAXY Note category with the GALAXY Note II and certainly as smartphones and tablets continue to dominate the market, the growth that is being witnessed in the mobile arena in South Africa is unparalleled, this is another way that Samsung are catering for diverse consumer needs and expectations,” concluded Fleischer.  
 
To the point
 
After our admittedly brief time spent with the device, we nonetheless left impressed. Much of what we loved (and still appreciate) on the Galaxy Note has been refined and optimised, while new features only extend the device’s capability and power. To our minds, it has also ushered in a few tough choices for those facing an impending upgrade, as the S3 and the original Galaxy Note 1 are still alluring options in their own right.   

The Galaxy Note II, which will come in Marble White and Titanium Gray, will cost in the region of R8 000 for the 3G version. The price for the LTE option was not available at this time. 

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