Note 2 - Software, Camera and Verdict

Software
Note 2 - Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean update planned
Note - Android Gingerbread, upgradeable to ICS

Like the first Note before it, the Note 2 will reportedly launch with an outdated version of the Android OS. The Note started off with Gingerbread, and has finally lumbered up to Ice Cream Sandwich, the Note 2 will start off with Ice Cream Sandwich before - at some point - climbing up to version 4.1 Jelly Bean.

It seems a shame that the Note 2 won't start off with Jelly Bean, though, as its extra hardware acceleration would work a treat with the device's rock-solid innards. Recently rumours have pointed towards a Q4 release for a Jelly Bean update to the original Note, and there's no way Samsung would leave the Note 2 with an older version of Android than its predecessor. So, you can expect an update fairly soon after release.

Storage
Note 2 - 16/32GB, microSD
Note - 16/32GB, microSD slot

As arch smartphone rival HTC starts to leave microSD support out of its top smartphones, Samsung has resisted the urge to "go Apple". The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a microSD slot, the Note had a microSD slot and the Note 2 will in all likelihood have one too.

Storage size is unlikely to change. 16GB and 32GB versions of the Note are available in the UK, and the vast majority sold are the 16GB model. With a microSD slot to hand, the lower-capacity version generally makes much more financial sense anyway. 16GB memory cards can be bought for around £10, and you can bet the 32GB Note 2 will cost more than £10 extra over the 16GB edition.

Connectivity
Note 2
- HSPA (LTE in US), Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, MHL via adapter
Note - HSPA (LTE in US), Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, No NFC in UK, MHL via adapter

Like any mid or top-range Android device these days, the Galaxy Note already ticks most connectivity boxes. Fast mobile internet, Wi-Fi support and Bluetooth - particularly useful for wireless headphones - are already in.

However, the UK model of the current Note does not have NFC. It will be included in the next model, you can be sure. The iPhone 5 is set to be the first iPhone to have NFC and - sad as it is - this is likely to be the catalyst that makes NFC spread throughout the high street.

NFC is a wireless communications standard that can be used for mobile payments. Coffee, food, clothes, train tickets - before too long you'll probably be able to pay for all of them with your phone.

The Note and its successor offer LTE (Long Term Evolution) in countries other than the UK, but it's not much use to us. This is a 4G equivalent, but we don't have any LTE networks here.

Cameras
Note 2 - 13MP, LED flash, plus user-facing
Note - 8MP, LED flash, 2MP user-facing

The original Note was mighty impressive in its ability to pack-in the specs without resulting in a ridiculous asking price. We don't know how much the Note 2 will cost yet, but it looks as though the second one will play the same game.


Just look at the rumoured megapixel count - 13 megapixels is more than the brand new Samsung Galaxy S3 offers (8MP). This is one rumour that may fizzle out though. In the last 12 months, the trend has moved away from simply upping the megapixel count in upgrades to changing aperture and sensor size. These improvements are more likely to actually result in better image quality.

That said, the original Note's camera was very capable among its smartphone schoolmates. Expect good photos, although you can also expect to look like a bit of a plonker taking them. A 5.5in screen phone ain't small.

Verdict - Worth the Upgrade?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is set to improve on its predecessor in almost every way. More power, more screen, more megapixels and more connectivity. If it turns up with the specs we're expecting, it'll be a seriously impressive gadget. However, we're not convinced that any current Note owners need to be putting up a classifieds ad for their phablet (cringe) just yet. The series will moved on, but not to the extent that the first Note will be shut into the past.

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