Samsung's Galaxy Note 2 Just Made the Phablet Even Bigger (Updated with Hands-On)

By Sam Gibbs on at

Samsung's just unveiled the Galaxy Note 2 at IFA in Berlin, the phablet just got bigger and faster. The 5.5-incher takes the original Note idea, that quite a few people loved, and runs with it, including some fancy Wacom-style stylus tricks.

Building on the success of the previous iteration, we've got the same stylus equipped phone, that's getting rather big to pocket. The Note 2 comes packing a 1.6GHz quad-core chip, backed by 2GB of RAM; 16/32/64GB of storage, plus a microSD slot, and will come running Jelly Bean from the start. It's also equipped with an 8MP shooter on the back; a 1.9MP chat cam on the front, and 4G LTE, but there's no word yet whether it'll support Everything Everywhere's incoming 1800MHz 4G network.

Samsung's also rolled out a new button-wielding S Pen that becomes a "magic wand" courtesy of Samsung's new "Air View". It seemingly works like a Wacom tablet stylus, where you can hover over the surface of the screen to move the cursor, rather than having to tap it to interact with it. It's also got a load more levels of sensitivity, 1024 to be exact, and it’s a bit chunkier at 8mm, which should make it a tad more comfortable to hold. There are a load of software updates to go with the new S Pen, including popup notes; the ability to write on the back on the back of photos, and a load of other stylus-centric features. The good news is that the original Galaxy Note will be getting some of these newfangled software toys too in an update at a later date along with Jelly Bean.

The new 5.5-inch Super HD AMOLED screen should make tablet fans who want a phone built-in happy, while Samsung's worked hard to try and minimise the rest of the phone's dimensions. It's just 9.4mm thin, and weighs 180g in your pocket, err, if you can get the thing shoehorned into your pocket that is.

Powering that beastly screen and processor, Samsung's thrown in a 3,100mAh battery, plus aggressive new power management, which promises pretty decent battery life -- we'll have to take that at Samsung's word for the time being.

The Galaxy Note 2 should be available come October this year, for an undisclosed price, possibly with support for our incoming UK 4G, in marble white and titan grey.

Update: We got the chance to have a quick play with the Galaxy Note 2, and here are our hands-on first impressions.

It's the Note, but bigger. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if you thought the Note was too big to hold comfortably, then the Note 2 will really stretch your palms. It is light, though, which is good for such a large phone, but it still feels solid and slick in the hand, not cheap and flimsy.

It's packing Jelly Bean, which feels as smooth and buttery as it does on the Nexus 7, but it's got Samsung's skin on top. It's not ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're a naked-Android lover you might be disappointed. It's kind of a necessary evil, though, considering how much work Samsung's had to do to make the most of that stylus.

Talking about styluses, the new and improved S-Pen is probably the biggest step up over the original Note. The rubberised tip feels like a smooth roller ball on the screen; much more akin to writing on paper than Samsung's previous effort. It's also noticeably thicker, but I can't help but think it's still too tiny for prolonged use by people with anything other than miniature hands. The increased pressure sensitivity also works really well, adding to the feeling of using good ol'paper and a pen. However, even at 5.5-inches, it's still too small a writing area to mimic a real paper notebook -- you'll find yourself quickly running out of real estate when you get to note writing.

Overall, if you liked the original Note you'll probably love the new Note 2. It's improved in almost every way, the screen looks sharp and vivid and the S-Pen really is a step up. But you're not likely to be able to fit this beast-of-a-phone in any slim jeans pocket any time soon, which is kind of important, for me at least.