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Samsung Galaxy Note II GT-N7100 first impressions mini review

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I was lucky enough to be one of the first to buy the phone on the pre-launch day in London 30th September. I previously owned the Original Note and currently also have a Galaxy S3 so I was keen to compare them.

First thing I noticed was the Note II seemed less bulky but also appears to be heavier in the hand than the original. It's subjective but I also feel it looks more premium and more attractive. Some people aren't fans of the S3 styling but if like me, you are, then you'll love how the Note II is clearly the bigger brother of the S3.

The screen is vibrant and definitely brighter than original. Loss of the pentile matrix isn't that noticeable, there isn't a blue tint but I can't help feel there is a tiny hint of red instead. It's hard to tell.

Placing the S3 and Note II side by side however revealed something that made me a little disappointed. The text just isn't as sharp as the S3 and although I realise this is down to the overall resolution and on a much bigger screen, it just made me feel a little let down. It's still amazing of course and it was always going to be a challenge to beat the S3. Fortunately the Note II has many more goodies to distract you.

The S-Pen is better, being longer and now has a slight texture to the button making it easier to locate. Also shaped slightly different for easy slot loading. These are welcome changes. There's also a few neat tricks that have been introduced in what happens when you remove, insert or leave behind the pen. Some new gesture commands and clever interactions with various apps have been introduced.

I am not going to dwell on these features as they are all demonstrated in any of the online reviews you look at online. This review focuses on what my first impressions.

For the first time in a long time though I actually had to consult the manual to work out and discover the new smart features, because there are many of them! Various gesture and motions to interact, some useful others gimmicky. I found that: with the screen off and laying flat, you place your hand near to the screen and it glows slightly to reveal any missed notifications was a handy one for me. Then there's a way the phone knows you are laying on your side to view the screen so it doesn't rotate to landscape mode. It works and it's amazingly useful.

The speed of the device is highly noticeable over the original Note, understandably. It flies through any amount of screen swiping. Even with a custom launcher and hundreds of installed apps I stuck on there, it has no obvious lag at all.

Battery life is outstanding. Bearing in mind I haven't done too many recharge cycles, the battery is easily lasting all day with the screen on so much of the time and all those apps I mentioned! No issues for me there.

The camera is on a par with the S3, haven't had the pleasure of a nice day outside to test it fully. Low light shots are a slight improvement over previous incarnations.

Sound from the speaker is - at last - very very good. It's loud and has more bass and less distortion. Really am pleased this has been improved.

So for me, Samsung have done a great job with this 2nd generation. Build quality, battery life, raw power, feature rich and fully loaded. Difficult to fault and even more difficult to put down!
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