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For months now, we've been hearing bits and pieces of information on the upcoming successor to one of Samsung's more surprising success stories of 2011 and 2012, the Galaxy Note.

Being what was once considered such a niche device, it was odd to learn how wildly popular the device was and that it was in such high demand. Verizon customers started a petition to get a Galaxy Note on Big Red, and T-Mobile fans (myself included) went to great lengths to get the incompatible AT&T and international versions to work on Magenta's network.

Enthusiastic fans of the original Note have speculated and scoured the Internet high and low for any and all information they could get their hands on. Word on the street was that the successor, dubbed the Note II, would feature an even larger, 5.5-inch display and possibly a quad-core Exynos processor with support for 4G LTE. And just two weeks ago, a possible render of the Galaxy Note II found its way to popular tech sites around the Web.

Turns out, the investigative hand of the Internet can yield some pretty accurate results at times.

This afternoon at IFA in Berlin, Samsung made the Galaxy Note II officially official. Purported specifications were nearly spot-on. The Samsung Galaxy Note II features a 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED display, a 1.6GHz quad-core processor with support for both HSPA+ and 4G LTE, 2GB RAM, 8-megapixel rear camera, a 1.9-megapixel front-facing shooter and a 3,100mAh battery. It will come in either Marble White or Titanium Gray colors and either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB options with the option to expand storage space via micro SD. Best of all, the Note II ships with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box.

The actual chipset that's powering the Note II wasn't disclosed, but it's a safe be that it's the quad-core Exynos 4412 by Samsung. Then again, it could be the Snapdragon S4 Pro we've heard tale of, but my money is on the Exynos chip.

Like the one before it, the Note II comes with the S Pen. However, like the Note 10.1, the S Pen on the Note II is thicker, longer and more ergonomically designed, offering "a more precise, comfortable, and natural writing and drawing experience." It also features all the same TouchWiz attributes the Galaxy S III has, such as S Beam and a plethora of camera features. Supporting S Pen software includes:

Air View – Hovering the S Pen over emails, S Planner, an image or video allows the user to quickly preview content without actually having to open it
Popup Note – Pulling the S Pen out during a call automatically opens a new note for quickly jotting down notes
Quick Command – Using the S Pen, you can quickly and easily open frequented applications
Easy Clip – Pressing the button on the S Pen users can quickly outline and crop any content to edit and paste elsewhere
Idea Vizualizer – In S Note, users can insert illustrated images using handwritten keywords

Starting in October, the Galaxy Note II will launch in major European, Asian and Middle East markets. A statement from Samsung Mobile US clarifies that a U.S. version of the Note II will be available later in 2012, but no time frame or specific retail channels were given.

The original Galaxy Note is easily one my my favorite devices of all time. While I was skeptical of its size at first, I quickly fell in love with the gargantuan device after just a few hours with it. Eventually, I had to switch to something a little more refined, though, as the S3 chipset in the original Note caused an intolerable amount of lag.

This being the case, the Note II has been near the top of my wishlist for the majority of 2012. I need another phablet in my life. However, Samsung's IFA announcement is somewhat disappointing. I have no doubt that the Note II will be a fantastic phone, that it will run circles around its predecessor. But if you take a gander at the pictures above, you will quickly notice that the Note II looks a lot like its next of kin, the Galaxy S III, a device I'm not very fond of.

I explained just yesterday that design now plays a major part in my smartphone purchase decisions, that specifications only mean so much anymore and the experience is what really matters. Yet I don't particularly like the cookie cutter design of the Note II. It's a larger Galaxy S III with more squared corners and a S Pen. It still has the HD Super AMOLED display with a PenTile Matrix subpixel layout (not that I expected anything different) that I despised on the original Note. And that home button … it kills me.

At the end of the day, it's exactly what we all expected, which is a good thing. But it also leaves quite a bit of room for improvement.

Despite my distaste for Samsung's choice in design and displays, the giant display, S Pen and quad-core processor (specifically, a chip that will nip lag in the bud) are working their magic on me. I'm drooling. I need another phablet and the only other device in the phablet market is the Optimus Vu. Unless HTC comes forward with a proficient counterpart, I may find myself carrying the Galaxy Note II before the end of the year. (I knew I kept the S Pen holder around for a reason.)

Ladies? Gents? Is the successor to the original Galaxy Note a drool-worthy entry from Samsung? Is it enough to make you take the phablet plunge? Or are gargantuan phones just a fad?


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eBay prices for the Samsung Galaxy Note II Titanium Gray 16GB


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