Hands-on: Can Samsung's new super-sized Galaxy Note 2 beat iPhone 5?

Samsung's Galaxy Note II, released today, is the most powerful smartphone on Earth.

The only problem is that a lot of people would dispute whether the huge 180g gizmo IS a phone.

It has a phone connection, and can be used for calls, but many people may find it too large to comfortably hold against their heads.

Samsung's Galaxy Note II has a 5.5-inch screen - far bigger than iPhone 5's four inches, and bigger even than Samsung's giant Galaxy S3.

The smartphone-cum-tablet - people have used the word 'Phablet' - has gone on sale today across the UK.


In the hand, Samsung's Galaxy Note II is light and responsive, but the signature attraction is a stylus, which is as responsive as drawing with an actual pen.

Some of the tricks with the stylus are destined to be a hit with hardcore gadget fiends, such as hovering it near the screen to see the contents of an email without opening it.

Samsung hopes that users will add written signatures to email - but it seems fiddly and unlikely, despite the incredible precision of the stylus. 

It's pocket-sized - just - but offers the computing power of a tablet, driven by a high-end processing power more akin to a laptop than a phone, with a 1.6GHz quad-core processor and 2Gb of RAM.

The phone-cum-tablet is built to be used with fingertips as well, but users switch to a rubberised metal stylus for more precise control, and to draw on screen.

The screen is thinner, but slightly taller and narrower than its predecessor, with a 16:9 screen ratio designed to work well with Hollywood films.  It's also equipped with a new rubber-tipped pen which can activate the screen simply by hovering near it - so that, for instance, users can look inside an email without clicking to open it.

In the phone's photo gallery, users can 'blow up' pictures simply by waving the pen at the screen like a magic wand. When calling, hovering the pen near the screen brings up an instant notepad, Pop-up Note, which can be used to note down phone numbers and other information while calling.

The pen has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity so users can sketch on screens as precisely as they would with a pen. It's just 9.4mm thick - as thin as many smartphones.

Apps on the phone have been customised to allow the pen to be used to add a personal touch - such as drawing diagrams or adding a written signature to emails.

The S Pen can also be used to add handwritten notes 'to the back of' digital photos - with photos flipping over on the phone's display, so you can add notes on the rear.