Cape Town - The Samsung Galaxy Note II is such a higher grade smartphone that it makes almost everything else look decidedly dated.
Beyond the top-of-the-line specifications, the Note seems to anticipate your future needs from a smart device.
It sports an 8 megapixel camera with an f/2.0 aperture which results in better pictures than most point-and-shoot cameras.
Of course you can flummox the camera in those low-light conditions, but only a steady hand and a DSLR camera could do better.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is at the high end of mobile phone specifications and users can expect a1.6GHz quad core processor, with 32GB of built-in memory, 4GB of RAM gives the phone bragging rights (until the Note III).
As is expected from a premium device, it shoots video in high definition and there is the additional feature of pausing video recording, giving the user more opportunity to create compelling content - or just better home video.
Of course, the most obvious feature that differentiates the Galaxy Note is its massive screen that some have criticised as too big to be practical for a phone.
Samsung has listened: The company has included a range of programs to make the device more practical and easy to use.
For smaller hands, the Galaxy Note II allows a one-handed operation setting which makes it easy to use the calculator and phone dialer with either left or right hand.
Samsung has also gone a bit S-berserk by including programs to aid productivity such as S Note for taking quick memos; S Planner - a calendar; S Suggest, which promotes specific apps for the device and S Voice, a voice-controlled information app.
The S Pen is better than the previous version in that it has more pressure points, making texture more realistic in creating personal notes and drawing pictures.
The device recognises a variety of different handwriting which it converts to text, shapes or formulae. One can also use the S Pen to make notes across the calendar program, on contacts, and to edit images.
There is also a unique image editor called Paper Assist which cleverly allows the customisation of images in the library or images taken with the camera with artistic effects.
Samsung is also determined that the Note is more than just a big Galaxy SIII. The company has made use of the extra real estate on the massive screen.
There is a shortcut toolbar that can be displayed that gives access to e-mail, contacts and camera. The device runs the Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean) operating system.
Samsung has gone in a slightly different direction from competitors in that it has included a micro-SD card to expand the already generous 32GB of memory.
Even though the device is mostly plastic, the build feels decent and the power button and volume rocker are neatly recessed on the smartphone.
The screen does consume much of the 3 100mAh battery's energy and over the test period, it consumed around 70% of battery power, Despite that, the phone still managed more than two days on one charge.
Features like Smart Stay which keeps the screen on as long as you are looking at it may be a drain on the battery, but extensive use of the Note did not result in a faster battery drain.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II sells for R8 499, and is available on contract from R429 per month.