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What’s Different? Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs. Galaxy Note

When the first Samsung Galaxy Note was released last year, I had visions of the old Dell Streak and I wondered why on Earth someone would want a smartphone with a display in excess of five inches. Well, it turns out that the original Note has been quite the resounding success and Samsung followed up with the Note II. But what’s different between the two? How much of an upgrade is it?

It starts with the screen. The original Note had a 5.3-inch 800×1280 (285ppi) Sumer AMOLED touchscreen, whereas the new Note II has a larger 5.5-inch 720×1280 display. It’s physically bigger but actually has fewer pixels (267ppi). This is because they’ve changed the aspect ratio, which changes the outward dimensions of the phone too. The new Note II is a little longer than the original (151.1mm vs 146.9mm), but it’s actually narrower (80.5mm vs 83mm) and thinner (9.4mm vs 9.7mm).

The overall design borrows a lot from the Galaxy S III too, so you lose the textured back of the Galaxy Note in favor of a slippery “river rock” like back on the Note II.

The new Note II is more powerful with a quad-core 1.6GHz processor compared to the 1.4GHz dual core in the original, though it retains the same 2GB of RAM. The Note II ships with Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, whereas the original shipped with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, though a Jelly Bean upgrade is available. Naturally, they both use Samsung’s TouchWiz UI too.

The S Pen smart stylus is still here–as will be the case with the entire Note lineup–but it’s gained a few tricks, like Wacom-style “hovering” functionality. The Note II does have some additional features though, like a custom menu for one-handed operation of the dial pad, as well as some features borrowed from the S3, like Smart Stay. The battery is bigger (3100mAh vs 2500mAh) too, helping to improve battery life.

If you already have the original Samsung Galaxy Note, there isn’t as much of a motivation to upgrade to the Note II. However, if you’re looking to enter the phablet arena for the first time, I’d skip the OG Note and head straight to the Galaxy Note II. It’s a beast of a device.



About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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  1. יוהאןJohannSchumacherישראל

    BadAss phone =)

  2. I will settle with the note 1,it have everything you need.

  3. I did accidentally do the drop test twice and no scratches…am so happy with Note 2.People who work in my company are iphone users and after seeing my S3 and Note 2. , five people decided to sell their iphone 4s. Galaxy rockz !!

    • I had to come back to the article to say i have accidentally dropped my note-II face down on tile, and no scratches OR the dreaded cracked, scratched or broken screen!

      D A M N this is one nice phablet!

  4. My best friend bought the note 2 and I led hands on it for some time. The big screen is soo cool and the pen was wow…my boyfriend has the samsung galaxy s3… smaller screen but same speed and same quality. I have no clue about the note 1. I am going to wait until September or October so the note 3 will arrive so I will choose between note 3 and s4.

  5. wow just wow.. well how about the difference about the price between the two?

  6. Note l sound was bad earphones and speaker
    Callers voice is sharp and muddy and distorted compared
    To old mini galaxy phone
    Note l phone becomes hot noticed with skype i cant talk without
    Note l with android 4 ics stop responding sometimes frequently
    I recieve messege like unfortunally contacts has stopped
    Does they fix those i dont think so

  7. I just got my Note 2 yesterday. It’s an awesome phone. I can’t believe how fast it is. When I got my previous phone and EVO 3D it was an awesome phone but in that time this upgrade is HUGE. I love the 2 gigs of Ram it really speeds it up. Everything is so smooth. The battery life is awesome. I play with my phone a lot and after 9 and half hours I still have 40% battery. My EVO was getting so bad that after 4 hours I was dead. I think this phone and I are going to get along fine LOL

  8. What about the issues with the amount of heat outputted on the original device? It has stayed on and started to create a burning smell. DId they fix that or will it be more prevalent with the larger battery?

  9. The original Note only had 1GB of RAM versus the 2GB in the Note 2. The Super AMOLED screen may have less ppi but is non-pentile with RGB stripe layout making it look much sharper than the original Note. With increased capabilities of the S-Pen, 1.6GHz Exynos processor and Jelly Bean it makes it quite the formidable beast of a phone. Should have mine early next week. Looking forward to it.

  10. The article says” though it retains the same 2GB of RAM”, but I believe the original note had only 1GB of RAM.

  11. Yes, what will make me saybi want THIS one now?

    So, if I used a note2 for a day, whats “noticeable” that would make me reallly really want to upgrade other hen the obvious larger screen? I am tending to not look at “speed” per say, considering we are limited to what the carrier network procesz and varies in locations.

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