Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

The Note is back, bigger and better

Hands on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Hands on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2

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Samsung has taken a product many people - including us - expected to sink. It's built on that and given us something even better.

Faster, stronger, better looking, and more functional. It's better connected than ever, and thanks to that increased screen size, now takes the crown in our eyes as the perfect media player.

We liked

Samsung has achieved something special here, because it has made the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 bigger than the original, but pulls it off so that you don't notice it too much.

The fact that it launched running Android Jelly Bean - now upgraded to version 4.1.2 - and has such grunt with that processor makes this a class-leading phone. And with a camera that churns out fantastic snaps, it's the perfect device in many ways.

We disliked

But we just can't get over the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is biiiiiiiiig and feels a bit odd in the hand at times. The S-Pen is a welcome addition, but it's so complicated.

And sometimes, the whole experience can be too technical - for example having to dig about in the menu for web reformatting options or download extra bits just to get it to sync with a Mac.

Final verdict

It's tricky to pull all of this together in a final summary. Do we mark the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 as a phone with a trillion bells and whistles? Or as a personal media player that makes phone calls?

As a phone, it's big, but once you get over that, if you can, it's great. As a PMP, it really does excel, and as a web communicator, it is almost second to none (though we can't fully get the taste of Flash absence out of our mouth).

But it's also expensive, and the kind of handset that we think will struggle to find mass appeal. We already hear lots of people complain that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is far too big. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 takes that to another level. But we are seeing more and more of them on the tube, which is a good barometer. And months after release, with the Samsung Galaxy S4 release imminent, there is a massive marketing push still underway.

Ultimately, there's no getting away from the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a niche device. But it does almost everything it sets out to do perfectly, with grace, class and maximum functionality. And if you're in the market for a larger smartphone or a small tablet, there really is no better device.