Is the stylus dead? It’s an age old question that many thought had been answered by Steve Jobs and the Apple iPhone, but ever since Samsung and Wacom paired to bring us the Samsung Galaxy Note, capacitive screens all over the world have been in awe of the sheer utility a stylus can in fact don a modern day mobile with. Samsung have since released a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and now the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has finally arrived S-Pen in hand and this time packing 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as a revised software suite to take full advantage of it.
But what’s the difference between the Samsung Galaxy Note and Samsung Galaxy Note 2? Let’s find out.
Samsung Galaxy Note vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Design
“Honey, I blew up the S3”. Yes, that’s right, both the Note and Note 2 are like Galaxy S2s and S3s that fell down the rabbit hole and drank from THAT tincture. With the Note packing a 5.3-inch screen, when we learnt that the Note 2 would be 5.5-inches, we were dubious as to whether Samsung could pull it off, but thanks to that S3 gloss and curve, it almost sits less imposingly in the hand and pocket than the original Note.
Looks wise, it’s all very informal with the Note 2. These are expensive phones, and the Galaxy S2 and first Note were aimed at a distinguished user. Since Samsung hit mainstream success with both however, you can tell their design team decided to go for the everyman – young and old, male or female, with the handset’s fun, pebbly roundedness and availability in black and white on launch.
The screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is interestingly lower resolution than the original Note in order to achieve consistency across the 2012 Samsung flagship line no doubt. At 720p, videos will look fantastic and apps won’t need to be laboriously re-formated to the new aspect ratio and resolution. That said, it isn’t as sharp as the original Note or as wide, so may not be as enjoyable to read on in portrait.
Samsung Galaxy Note vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – User Interface
While we might have hoped this round was more a case of Ice Cream Sandwich vs Jelly Bean, it isn’t. Instead, we’re pitting TouchWiz against TouchWiz Nature UX, as that’s really all you get to interact with on these phones. For those of you who don’t know, TouchWiz is Samsung’s skin on their Android devices. Ice Cream Sandwich is the version of Android that sits on the original Note and Jelly bean is the version on the Note 2.
Off the bat, TouchWiz Nature UX is more attractive, looks less dated and feels smoother than Touchwiz 4.0. Rightly so. It’s a newer iteration, it hasn’t been on an obscene number of Galaxy phones to date and it’s being powered along by a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor. There are also some key stylus-centric UI enhancements to the Note 2 which you can see in the video from Samsung below.
The Galaxy Note 2 has adopted the smart features that made the S3 stand out. These include smart stay which keeps track of your eye movements to keep the screen awake and the floating video window to name a few. Some are hit and some are miss, but these are really nice points of differentiation in a very samey Android ecosystem.
S-Note and the Wacom digitiser have also been given a turbo-charge. Not only is S-Note more fully featured, reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, but it’s also incredibly sensitive to input with the Wacom Stylus, packing a full 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. There’s also a lot of Note 2 exclusive innovation. If you saw the video above you’ll have seen Air View, allowing a preview of an element by simply hovering over it as well as many more neat features.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is also better suited to writing on than the original. Whether it’s the additional screen size, the pressure sensitivity or improved hand writing recognition, it feels considerably more natural to jot on based on our initial impressions.
Samsung Galaxy Note vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Camera
This round is deja vu all over again. Not long ago, we compared the camera on the Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3, we might as well just copy and paste our findings here because the respective Notes pack the same camera sensors and lenses as their smaller siblings. To sum up, both are 8-megapixels with an f/2.4 lens, however the Note 2 uses a newer sensor module as found in the iPhone 4S. This results in sharper pictures and one brilliant HDR mode. That the Note 2 also likely packs is the same mind-blowing dual-LED flash found on the S3, bettered only by Xenons is another big plus.
Packing the same sensor as the S3 is good news for video recording and full HD video should fare impressively. There’s every chance that Samsung have optimised the software on the Note 2 camera to better take advantage of the screen size, so don’t take our first impression as sacrosanct, wait for our full review for the final word.
When it comes to video playback, the 5.5-inch screen will be perfect for all your video viewing needs. Samsung notoriously pack fantastic codec support on their high end phones and with an HD Super AMOLED display, they have every reason to on the Note 2. With no HDMI port, the Note 2 will depend on MHL technology to send video to a TV over a wire, however if you have an Allshare enabled TV, you can do it wirelessly with the pre-installed app.
Samsung Galaxy Note vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Connectivity and Storage
There is minimal software difference in terms of the web browsing experience across the Samsung Galaxy Note and Note 2. The stock browser does have a couple of additional options on the newer Note such as offline reading, however the main difference lies in speed. While the original Note is quick, 1.6GHz quad-core is quicker with faster refresh rates and silky smooth pinch to zoom.
Another advantage the new Note will have over its Ice Cream Sandwich predecessor is Google Now. This service from Google does its best to get to know you, synchronising with your search queries and habits in order to deliver bespoke location based content such as recommended eateries, train times and weather.
When it comes to storage, the original Note packed either 16 or 32GB of internal memory and expandability via microSD card. The Note 2 does exactly the same, with support for microSDXC cards as well, offering up to 64GB of additional storage should you need it.
Samsung Galaxy Note vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Performance and Battery
With the blistering 1.6GHz quad-core exynos processor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is the fastest phone on the block, bettering all other quad-core devices other than the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity in terms of sheer GHz. It certainly looks smooth to the swipe and hid any signs of stutter. Even though the additional power leaves us hopeful, our original Note was extremely smooth when we started using it. A few months in though and it stutters and creaks every now and then.
The 3100mAh battery on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is considerably meatier than the 2500mAh cell on the original and the reality is – it needs to be. With a larger screen, albeit 0.2-inches and a much more powerful processor, it’s going to need all the juice it can get. Naturally, until we get one in for review we can only speculate as to its performance, but we’re hoping for a full day at the very least out of the Note 2, something the original Note could deliver at a push.
Samsung Galaxy Note vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Conclusion
A worthy successor indeed. That’s our first impression anyway. While the screen resolution drop from 1280×800 to 1280×720 is a bit of a throw, it makes sense for Samsung to adopt the more standardised 720p HD aspect Ratio. The user interface is much more attractive despite being busy and the S-Pen’s heightened sensitivity and improved integration is welcome. Is it a worthy upgrade? For anyone who uses the original Note for drawing, note taking and S-Pen related tasks, odds are you will really appreciate Samsung’s innovations in the Note 2. It’s also quicker for all you gamers out there. If however you use your Note more like a phone with an oversized screen, great camera and web browser, you’re probably going to be better off waiting until next year’s Note. Naturally, this is all based on first impressions, so for a more conclusive run down of Samsung’s new phablet, stay tuned as we’ll be bringing you our full review soon.
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