Read the latest news on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Think the iPhone 5 is a weakling of a mobile, and that even the Samsung Galaxy S3 could do with gaining a few curves? The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 may be what you're after. Thanks to its 5.5in screen, it's a phone so large that some people can't decide whether it's a phone or a tablet.
It does demand man-sized hands or a handbag to slot into your life easily. But the large screen and its great stylus make it one of the most desirable mobile devices around. At around £549.99, it's £50 more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S3, but you can't complain too much given the extra features and screen inches you get here.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Video Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 looks and feels a lot like a larger Samsung Galaxy S3, with aesthetic trimmings closer to the smartphone flagship than the first Galaxy Note. A host of little design tweaks have been made to bring the Note series to bring in-line with Samsung's 2012 devices.
Its soft key is a little sleeker, and while it its body is still palm-worryingly big, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a little longer and less wide than its predecessor. The result is a phone that looks a bit leaner and less stubby, and is a little comfier to hold.
There's no sugar-coating the truth, though. If you have small hands or wear femur-hugging skinny jeans the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will pose a logistical problem or two, and may have to be consigned to the handbag for transportation.
However, Samsung has made some seriously handy design improvements that minimise the size issues for most people. The buttons along its sides, which control volume and power, have been lowered a little. Those bearing at least mid-sized man-hands will be able to operate the basics without shifting grip. And we couldn't say that about the original Note.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is also a little slimmer and lighter than its forebear. It's 177g in weight and 9.4mm thick. That's a smidge thicker than the 8.6mm of the Samsung Galaxy S3, but this is presumably to enable the phone to pack-in a seriously impressive 3100mAh battery. Excuses for a tiny bit of back fat don't get much better than that.
The basic construction of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is typical Samsung. Its rear is covered with a thin plastic battery cover, and while the sides are metallic in finish, they are made of plastic.
Just like the look, the feel in-hand is much like a Samsung Galaxy S3. It doesn't have the hard, cool touch of a metal-backed phone like the iPhone 5, and the back is made of familiar, ultra-thin plastic. The free flexing of the thing as it's removed doesn't exactly fill you with confidence about the phone's strength, but technically its physical credentials aren't too bad.
The Note 2 battery cover - keeping it bendy
For one, you can replace the back cover should it get scuffed or scratched to matt oblivion, and the front is covered by a sheet of Corning Gorilla Glass 2. Corning's toughened glass has become the smartphone industry standard, and the second generation makes it thinner, and even stronger.
Other benefits of using a removable battery cover include being able to remove the battery, and east-to-design custom covers-cum-cases. Samsung includes a second rear with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, one that apes the Pebble Blue finish of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and has an integrated front flap screen protector.
The cover also hides a microSD slot, letting you upgrade the 16/32/64GB of internal memory both easily and cheaply. You don't have to remove the battery to get access to the memory card slot, either.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a phone that looks less geeky than its predecessor, while keeping the design nods that techies will love. However, these days it doesn't need that many connectors to keep up its tech cred.
There are just two here, a microUSB port on the bottom and a 3.5mm headphone jack up top. The bottom socket is used for charging, transferring files and to pipe video out using Samsung's MHL-compliant cable. Samsung does not include one in the box, though. What you do get are the USB cable, power adapter and a pair of basic IEM-style earphones with an integrated handsfree kit/remote.
The most important accessory of all, though, is one that slots perfectly into the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - the re-designed S Pen stylus. Unlike the original S Pen, it features a triangular stem design for improved ergonomics, has a select button on one of its sides and has a rubber tip. Its tech specs have been significantly improved too.
It lives in a little cubby hole at the bottom of the device, and the Note 2 even notifies you with a bleat if you leave without it. This is done using a clever combo of the Wacom digitiser that makes the stylus so clever, and the phone's accelerometer judging when you've walked away with the device. We'll cover the positive effects of the other S Pen changes later.