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In January when I was glumly leaving CES, out of the thousands of nifty gadgets and flashy new prototypes at the show, there was a single device that I just could not wait to get my hands on. Earlier in 2011, I had called this particular device absurd and wondered why anyone would want such an enormous device. After all, a phone is meant to tuck away nicely in your pocket, right?

In case you haven't already guessed it (as if the title wasn't a dead giveaway), that device that left a lasting impression on me at CES was the U.S. variant of the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Unfortunately, at the time, I was not an AT&T customer. Instead, I was using T-Mobile and we could only assume AT&T had an exclusivity deal with Samsung on their first phablet. It was also believed that the AT&T Galaxy Note was not compatible with T-Mobile 3G/4G(the international version definitely wasn't). Unlocking it and popping a SIM card in would only yield 2G speeds. Ew. However, a tinkerer in a development forum for the Note discovered that you could flash T-Mobile modem software from a similar Samsung device (Galaxy S II, I believe) and start picking up 3G and HSPA+.

Upon reading this news, I shot a text message to my friend and had him trade my Galaxy Nexus for a Note. I took some time to get all the right software in place and made the Galaxy Note my T-Mobile device. Despite the speeds being horrible (both because the software hack wasn't very refined and because I had moved and T-Mobile data coverage in the area was pretty poor), I loved every minute with the Note.

After a month or so of it, though, I was ready to pull my teeth out. I would get a 4G emblem next to the signal meter in the notification bar but only get 2Mbps down and .12Mbps on the uplink. And then I started noticing all the little quirks about the Note. Its display was fuzzy next to other devices (both because the density is lower and the HD Super AMOLED panel uses a PenTile Martix subpixel layout). And the Snapdragon S3 just wasn't enough horsepower in light of the snappier S4.

In short, the original Note was a device released at the wrong time – in the middle of a significant specification jump. So I somewhat reluctantly switched it out for something a little newer, something better equipped for a power user. Once you go with such a large smartphone, it's difficult to switch back down to something, say, the size of the HTC One X.

But I knew there would be a successor. And considering the original Note was a success for Samsung, I knew others would eventually want a piece of the phablet pie. So I waited ...

Back in August, Samsung announced the successor to the Galaxy Note, the Galaxy Note II. It's bigger, more trim, has a larger battery life, a refined S Pen and better specifications all around. It also looks as if it might not fall victim to an exclusivity this time around.

When the Note II was announced, sure, I was excited. But there was one little factor that had me slightly upset. I swore off HD Super AMOLED displays back in May. Samsung has their own reasons for using the PenTile panels, but that doesn't justify how terrible it looked, especially on the Note. Text was extremely fuzzy, whites looked gray and if you turned the display below 50% brightness, whites looked like parchment.

It was disheartening to learn the Note II would also feature the HD Super AMOLED display.

However, a follower of mine on Twitter (@mdmxchristian) pointed out on Monday a very important detail that somehow flew under my radar. GSMArena.com discovered that the Galaxy Note II, despite touting an HD Super AMOLED display, does not use a PenTile Matrix subpixel layout. It has a rather strange layout instead, but the result is a noticeably sharper display despite a slight drop in density (because the Note II display is larger, remember?).

For your viewing pleasure, here is a comparison of the original Galaxy Note display and the Galaxy Note II display, courtesy of GSMArena.com. It is visibly clearer and brighter thanks to the obscure subpixel layout.

Don't get me wrong, I'm super excited for other devices. I have a pre-ordered iPhone 5 that should be here by the end of the week. The DROID RAZR MAXX HD is lustrous simply for the gargantuan battery inside. The Nokia Lumia 920 is also one sexy device I can't wait to get my hands on. There's also an HTC-made phablet on the way. But, above all, the Note II is already shaping up to be my favorite device of 2012. I loved the original Note, and now it seems Samsung has ironed out all the kinks with the second-gen phablet.

Does news that the Galaxy Note II isn't PenTile instill a little more interest in you? Or are your sights still set on another device? What do you think will be your favorite mobile device of 2012?


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74 Reactions to this post

"What do you think of the Samsung Galaxy Note II?"


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SmithsLane fuck that thing XD
Anonymous the note 2 is awesome!! i just want it to come with retina quality display one day!
Aaron Hostutler Honestly, I have an upgrade around the time of the predicted AT&T release date and I'm still wondering if it's worth picking it over the original Note that has been upgraded (or will be) to 4.0.4. Guess it comes down to staying in the store for 2 hours messing with both of them... Either way, it's obviously an iPhone KILLER!
Jon Stroud I want it!
Jose Rodrigues note 2 gonna be amazing quadcore lte
Robert Skeen Doesn't even cross my mind. Got the SG3 :-)
Teresa L Smith Absolutely this is the phone for me!
Anthony Means The note is awesome but it is too big. I will take my galaxy s 3 any day over the note!!!!
Mehr An A fully functional product from Samsung
Gretie Tadda quad-core!!! my next cp! :)
Ricardo H Garzón F I have big hands, so i like big phones and have pockets to carry them easily. With those specs it is easily the phone of the year for me.
John Leasure If it is available from Sprint I am there but need unlimited data.
Naj Khan Very good
Evan Klein Lg optimus G!!!
Steve Doric Yes but the oppo find 5 has much more impressive specs. Hard choice...
Lewis Hall it is going to be the next phone I get
Anne Lock I am soooooo lusting for this phone! Can't wait to get my hands on it!
Michael Schneider Note 2 will be better
Huey Liggins Whoa whoa. Some of these things are wrong. I keep my note on the Lowest birghness (mind you I'm talking rooted lowest brightness) and the only problem I have is the black shades while watching movies and videos. Sometimes it's like looking at an old pc screen. Other than that this thing has been great. I want to upgrade to note 2 though
Mark Harmon When it's available for sale in the US and the spec I will see are known, I'll let you know.
Marti Ruiz my hand is not big . but i want the gn2
Marti Ruiz who want to buy my galaxy s2 tmobile
Vanna Sem if ur a Bit*h get a apple iphone if ur a man get a samsung galaxy s3 or note 2.
Daniel Ayala haters are guna hate with there little tiny hands lol! galaxy note 2 is going yo be a beast !
Gaurav Bhardwaj Just awewome..
Brandon Johnson I'm gettin that phone.
Israel Ramos I want one so bad...I need to have it...I'm going to get it..
Christian Lisowski Is it coming to verizon wireless?
Cesario Brito Jr. I would love this phone if it came out with stock JB out the box.
Camar Green nice phone seen it in action. more like a palm tablet. I see alot of my Chinese customers with this type.
Gregory Holbird Im getting one, but what happened to the 3 versions originally announced with 16, 32 and 64 gb or onboard memory? I was all set to throw down for a 64 gb.
Carmen Jessica I LOVE IT!!!
Phil Ofthefuture idk. Send me one so i can tell you
Lawrence Lepes It is going to be an awesome phone! It is like an improved version of the Galaxy S3, and the Galaxy Note combined. I like to call it "The Iphone Destroyer!"
Donald Hixson Way too big. Even 4.3 is pushing it in my opinion. The specs are great but that thing looks impossible to hold. I think they're only saying it could be the phone of the year because of the quad core processor. Hasn't hit the U.S. yet till it comes out. I have always thought, and still think phone companies come out with way too many phones at a time. Makes it hard to choose. As soon as you buy "the best phone out there" something twice as good comes and takes it's place.
Moises Castro I was about to get the s3, but when i saw this bad boy coming out, imma just wait for it, i heard its coming to all carriers so that should be good
Santiago Alexander Cruz I will be paying full price for this device and selling my S2 on eBay.
Jimmy Pai i just like it so much....i already cant wait much longer to put this device into my pocket....
Garrett Vincent My galaxy s3 with jelly bean is just fine. Root and ROM FTW
Syedul Islam Is it a phone and is it a tablet.. No it's a Samsung tv :D
Paul Davis I wish it would fit into my pocket.... Maybe it will be worth it when they finally slap a 1080p display on it
Enoch Serna Sweet phone.
Markus Howard Razr max haaa yea right , that thing has lockboot loaders
Darlene Angele Johnson My dream android!
Adrian Ruiz Phone of the year? Hahahaha you guys have no clue what your talking about over there. The Motorola DROID RAZR HD Maxx will be the phone of the century!
Jackson Hollingsworth Quad core at 1.6ghz and lte mmm
MinnieMouse Lovingu Waddell Thank goodness it is coming to Sprint. I will be trading in my galaxy S3 for the note 2.
Lanh Nguyen It's called the note for a reason. It's meant to be large so for people complaining about its large size obviously don't know what it was designed for.
Travis Oleson I know it sprint galaxy note 2 will be so awesome than other normal. =D
Zach Cline It's not just a " phone" brad . The note is a tablet hybrid hence the large size.
Michael Horn Too big the back of the phone looks like a htc mixed with the new iPod touch I don't see why anybody would want a 5.5 inch phone
Ruben Munoz now all you samsung "heads go pre order the "note 2" that way 2 months after you get it the "note 3"" will be out..ahahahaha...samsung owns you...........Evo lte......HTC!!!!
Abram Wenevermet Dennis It's nice.. I was thinking of buying one until I remembered how buggy androids are.
Brad Opphile To big for a phone. You might as well get a tablet.
Juwon Donte Galaxy note 2 will crush everything else simple as that iPhone 5 same boring the device as usual lumia 920 on the other hand does look promising..ppl thinking that the note 2 won't sell Because it's a big screen are wrong look at how well the first note sold...unless you have girly hands the size won't be a problem
Shoeb Hussaini i <3 note 2 specs but note Looks sexier than note 2
Mohsin Qazi nope not with that ugly crappy plastic -_-
Joel Diaz S3 and note 2 , best thing since pasta wrapped with melted American cheese.
Ayo Q Sipho Galaxy s3 Is. The note looks good for what it can do but I doubt to many pple will want a that size over the gs3
Muayyad Zohair Al Mulla Good, but a bit boring I would have to say.
Fray Contreras That big brick is not even a phone and I believe is not gonna be the phone of the year. I'll say the Lumia 920 or the iPhone 5. I'll stick to Lumia tho :)
Ricardo Contreras Jr. I don't know, is it coming to Sprint?
Tuan Bui Look ugly just plastic ,
Aaron Mock I think Verizon should get it!
Anthony Evans Jr it IS the phone of the year for me! Galaxy note 2 is best phone of 2012
Arvydas Gr Sorry, Lumia 920 is the phone of the year. And this Note is not a phone.
Steve Hartsock A little too big.
Khalid Dris such a hero




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