So up until now I’ve felt like the Galaxy Note 2 is really just a larger Galaxy S 3 with an active digitizer. But the 1280x720 HD SAMOLED display at 5.5 inches diagonal is where the Note 2 begins to strongly diverge from that trend. First off, it’s bigger than the Note’s HD SAMOLED which was 5.3" and 1280x800.

 


Galaxy Note 2 (left), Galaxy Note (right)

When I heard that Samsung was going to be doing a Note 2, I originally suspected that they would use the original Note’s display in conjunction with the hardware platform I outlined earlier. Instead, Samsung has gone with an entirely new revision of HD SAMOLED yet again for the Note 2, one that represents an interesting middle ground between a traditional RGB stripe like you’d see on an LCD and the RG BG Nouvoyance PenTile tech that we’ve seen countless times and iterated through a few different geometries to date.

With Galaxy Note 2, Samsung has gone with an entirely new subpixel rendering matrix, which I’ve heard was going to be called S Stripe. Instead of the previous PenTile tech which used two subpixels per logical pixel (either RG or BG), this new subpixel geometry uses 3 subpixels per pixel (RGB) but with a green subpixel above the red subpixel and a long vertical blue subpixel.

The reason for this change in geometry has always been an interesting one. The blue material has a lower luminous efficiency than the other colors, and thus requires either a larger area or higher drive power to match the equivalent green and red luminance. This is why you hear people saying the blue subpixel ages faster — sure, at the same size it ends up burning out faster due to this lower efficacy.

The mitigation is thus to craft a matrix that allows for a nonuniform geometry, and this one brilliantly does it without the tradeoff in longevity or loss of spatial resolution from going to two subpixels per pixel. The tradeoff that does get made is that subpixel smoothing only really gets two pixels to turn off - the blue, or the red and green unit. In the past the display driver could handle the RGBG unit cell and do font smoothing, from what I’ve seen the above is how the new one works as well.

I’m not complaining, this is a great tradeoff and makes sense for the resolution and size that Samsung has selected for the Note 2. Going with a PenTile RGBG layout at this size would not be desirable, instead the “S Stripe” layout runs with subpixels small enough that I can’t see them. It’s tempting to look at the 1280x800 of the Note and the 1280x720 of the Note 2 and assume it’s lower resolution, when in fact the Note 2 has more subpixels (2.05 MP vs 2.76 MP) and in spite of the size increase stays around the magical 1 arcminute subtense (1.073 arcminutes on Note 2).

Brightness (White)

The Note 2’s brightness unfortunately isn’t that high, but like always Samsung makes up for it with huge contrast from the black subpixels being almost entirely dark. I have a feeling this is still being very conservative for the panel for battery life concerns and to minimize both aging effects and burn-in.

Next up is color accuracy and calibration, where Samsung AMOLED has traditionally been very oversaturated — which looks vibrant and draws customers in at stores — but results in inaccurate rendering. We’re using Chris’ new suite here which is in CalMAN 5, I touched on the details in the iPhone 5 review.


 


 


Our target is sRGB, as Android doesn’t have a CMS, and the Galaxy Note 2 doesn’t stop the trend of SAMOLED having a gamut much larger than sRGB. At the same time however things could be much worse. I also measured the Galaxy Note 2 display at maximum brightness with Francois who said much the same thing - it isn’t alltogether bad among SAMOLED displays.

Color temperature at 200 nits is around 7000K but as the blue subpixel wears it will warm up and get closer and closer to 6500K. Overall the Galaxy Note 2 display makes some tradeoffs but ends up being quite appealing. There’s still something to be said for how contrasty AMOLED is even if it still is oversaturated compared to sRGB.

CalMAN Display Comparison
Metric iPhone 5 iPhone 4S HTC One X Samsung Galaxy S 3 Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Grayscale 200nits Avg dE2000 3.564 6.162 6.609 4.578 5.867
CCT Avg (K) 6925 7171 5944 6809 7109
Saturation Sweep Avg dE2000 3.591 8.787 5.066 5.460 7.986
GMB ColorChecker Avg dE2000 4.747 6.328 6.963 7.322 8.185

 

Camera Analysis - Video Cellular Connectivity, WiFi, GNSS
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  • djpavcy - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    Brian, as others have pointed out there must be something wrong with your battery tests. All the other reviews on the net show much better performance than what you see which makes sense - this phone has a quite large battery. Maybe you have a defective unit? Reply
  • Vinas - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    There's a reason ford put a rubber tray on the dash - it's for your GN2! At least that's where I put mine while I drive (until I buy a dash mount for it). The GN2 is a bad ass phone, and maybe the novelty of the device has not worn off yet (got it yesterday at release) but I mean, there is something to be said for having the world's most powerful smartphone in your hands! haha eat it suckers Reply
  • khanikun - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    I was probably one of the few thousands of ppl who bought the Dell 5" Streak when they first came out and gigantic phones....not all that great. I got away from them, only for a bajillion other phones to get big. Reply
  • fate_accompli - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    Well, thanks for that, Dr. Freud.

    In my own case, I'm getting the Note 2 because IT TAKES NOTES!!
    Imagine that !? One of the things it was designed for! The big screen
    also makes it easier to stab icons with my bigass finger. Also, movies
    look cooler with bigger screens- it's why people buy bigger screens for
    their home theaters...same principle.

    Nothing subconscious about it. Otherwise, a very nice review.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, February 01, 2013 - link

    Exactly, it fits the small package, big guns, PC insanity clack, which of course every idiot spews incessantly, ignoring the other reality that actually is a fact that the big gun in the big bad ghetto everywhere is toted by the big black packaged...

    So much for the small minded retards parading around as the cultural elite minded peak of our society.
    Reply
  • jwhyrock - Saturday, October 27, 2012 - link

    I know I'm going to enjoy using the Note 2 more than a smaller device which is the primary concern for me. I currently have the Samsung Vibrant (Galaxy S1) so I'm going to see a huge performance increase just having current technology.

    I'm not g33k enough to fully wrap my head around each test that was run. I did see a pattern of the iphone 5 and Droid beating out other phones in the testing. I intensely dislike Apple as a company and find the iphone on the whole to be uninspiring.

    Winning on some of the benchmarks isn't going to persuade me to ditch the Note 2.

    I wonder if the author or anyone else can put in perspective the overall performance between Note 2 and higher performing devices. Is it a noticeable or just a benchmark number?
    Reply
  • Anon - Sunday, October 28, 2012 - link

    Why oh why it's always missing the audio chip report? I need to know whether the US version will retain the Wolfson chip . Reply
  • hemanthj - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    If I would buy the USA version of Note 2. Will I be able to use the LTE outside US in Asia and Europe. Or I need to buy the Note 2 International version for that. Reply
  • bellasys - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    While T-Mobile is not generally considered primo, I had the opportunity to understand just how fine their network was while supporting network services for AT&T during the Cingular merger. At that time, our company had a division which provided similar services for T-Mobile, and I got the inside track from my buddies.

    So, I really respect the author giving credit where it's due, and writing about a feature such as DC-HSPA+ which techs like me might care about. It reminds me of T-1 modem bonding before Y2K. Big kudos on this point.

    Although I can't say this one feature would be enough to make me switch- no single carrier can do it all.

    Great and informative article. Thanks :)
    Reply
  • garrun - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    I have a Samsung GS3 and have been pretty unhappy with it for one, annoying reason. When I use it in my car (Infiniti G37, but I've heard the same problem exists in others, including Ford Sync) I have two problems. First, if bluetooth is enabled, it takes preference for audio input, such that I can't use S-Voice (S3's SIri equivalent) to send text, plays songs, use maps... anything). My car doesn't support music over bluetooth, so I plug in to the headphone jack when listening to books or music. When THAT happens, the line out trumps the bluetooth for audio priority, and I can't even use bluetooth for phone calls. The net effect is that I can't use voice commands while driving at all, unless I unplug the line out and disable BT. The other effect is that if I am listening to music or books, and I get a call, I have to reach over and yank out the audio cable in order to take the call. I had to buy off contract, so I paid about $600 for this thing, and these are not problems I've had with my previous Android phones or with iPhones, and I don't understand why I didn't see them mentioned in any reviews.

    This all brings me to my point here - I'm thinking of selling my GS3 and getting a Note 2 or maybe an HTC 8X - can anyone here or at Anand confirm if these problems exist in those devices? Does anyone else share my pain with the GS3? Why is this not a bigger deal in the tech media?
    Reply

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