The Galaxy Note II unveiled at IFA 2012 last month, amid a bevy of other Samsung-related news that dominated the popular trade show, and immediate reactions placed it somewhere between the original Galaxy Note and the Galaxy S III.

Well, those summarizations were spot-on.

SPECS

I recently sat down with Samsung at a media event in New York City to get a closer look at the global version of its “phablet.” At first glance, it is easy to notice the new Note’s lighter and thinner design, redesigned S Pen stylus, larger 5.5-inch display, faster 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor, and a slew of fresh software features layered over Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

The 720p Super AMOLED display, which boasts a slight improvement over the original, carries a 1,280-by-720-pixel resolution, and Samsung U.S. Director of Product Marketing Ryan Bidan noted it is the company’s “brightest, sharpest, clearest screen.”

The Note II also features a shrunken bezel and a physical design akin to the Galaxy S III, including the same 8-megapixel camera, and even its user-interface mimics many of the S III’s core highlights. The phablet is notably different, however, due to its new S Pen-specific functions.

“The Galaxy Note II brings the design and software experience that we created for the Galaxy S III to the Note platform,” Bidan contended.

Additional specs include a “Magic Wand” homescreen, NFC, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB storage options, and 2GB of RAM. It ships in both Mountain White or Titanium Gray flavors and further touts a massive 3100mAH battery, which is 25 percent larger than the original Note’s, for 10- to- 12 hours of normal use.

A gallery is below.

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SOFTWARE

All physical attributes aside, Samsung clearly wants to define the Note II by its software and S Pen. Air View, for instance, now allows the S Pen to hover roughly 10mm above the screen’s surface so the device can recognize and respond by previewing various media elements (i.e., enlarging a picture above an album or playing a mini video clip equipped with sound) instead of opening a new window. A similar function, dubbed “Web Everywhere,” also shows up in the Note II’s Internet browser. When clicking an element, the overlay will open a movable preview box instead of launching an entirely new Web page.

With that said, a Pop-up Play feature, which the S III first showcased, will export local video into an overlaid, movable and resizable window that is watchable on any sub-screen. More ways to experience media on the device include new gallery options, such as nifty timeline and spiral views, as well as the ability to capture and share screen actions with a built-in Screen Recorder.

CAMERA

Best Faces is a fancy new enhancement that essentially replaces blurred or undesirable faces in an image with improved faces from multiple pictures. It splices them together to create the perfect picture where everyone present has, well, their best faces on. A Photo Note feature further adds to the phablet’s image-customization capabilities by allowing folks to handwrite a note on the back of pictures. The camera software also offers a new Burst mode—simply hold down the camera button to snap photographs one right after another.

S PEN

As for the redesigned S Pen, its improved grip and new rubberized tip allows for seamless interaction with the ultra Buttery-smooth Jelly Bean OS. The stylus works in conjunction with almost every new feature and app found in Samsung’s overlay. While the tweaks may not be very useful in the every day world, they are certainly interesting gimmicks to show off to friends and family.

Those who love Android (better yet—those who are dying for Jelly Bean), styluses and big ‘ole screens will want this phablet. It is a fast, crisp all-in-one device that will surely fill every user’s need. Samsung would not provide a specific launch date for the Galaxy Note II, but it is expected to land in the United States by the end of 2012.

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