DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

When Samsung unveiled the original Galaxy Note a little over a year ago, it marked the revival of a stillborn concept: the “phablet,” bigger than a phone, smaller than a tablet. Early efforts in this twilight category like Dell's 5-inch Android-powered Streak failed to catch on. But progress on the software and hardware fronts, as well as a market evolving towards larger handsets, made the original Samsung Note a substantial success. Now the Note II has arrived with an even bigger screen - 5.5. inches vs 5.3 inches on the original.

Of course the screen size is not the only specification that has changed. The Note II comes with a beefed-up processor (1.6GHz quad-core vs 1.4GHz dual-core), more RAM (2 vs 1GB) and a bigger battery (3,100 mAh vs 2,500 mAh). The operating system has been updated to version 4.1 of Android (Jelly Bean) too but at 8MP the sensor resolution of the camera remains unchanged.

Is the Note II just a phone for users who like it big or can it offer advantages over its smaller-sized siblings in the mobile imaging context? We did some finger stretches and then put the Note II to work as both an image capture and editing tool. Read on to find out how it fared.

Key photographic/video specifications

  • 8-megapixel backside illuminated sensor
  • 5.5-inch 1280x720 dots (267 PPI) OLED display
  • Stylus
  • F2.6 lens
  • Native HDR, panorama and low-light image stacking support
  • LED flash
  • 1080p video capture
  • Slow motion video capture 

Our six-page review

We've considered every aspect of the Samsung Note II camera, with the photographer in mind. We examined the user interface of the native camera app and its special features. We experimented with the camera's performance when taking stills and video, and had a play with the S Pen stylus. Click any of the links below for more information of specific functions and continue our conclusion for a final summary of our findings.