Huge 16:9 aspect ratio screen will be great for video
Powerful quad-core processor
Lots of software treats on
Whether or not you're familiar with the original Note, the size of this behemoth will give you cause to double-take.
The 5.55-inch HD Super AMOLED display is massive enough for photos and high-definition video to be easy on the eye. You'll have plenty of space when it comes to web browsing, eliminating the cramped feeling that sometimes afflicts smart phone surfing.
Tiny-handed folk need not apply.
Unusually, the Note 2 has a 16:9 aspect ratio. A rumoured feature of the upcoming iPhone 5, this screen shape means that when you spin the Note 2 on its side, you'll be able to watch movies without any annoying black bars at the top and bottom of the display. I'm looking forward to watching some flicks on this jumbo display to see what kind of difference the aspect ratio makes.
The enormous screen comes with a bucketful of benefits, but in practical terms, there are compromises here. You'll struggle to fit the Note 2 in a jeans pocket. Even a handbag or jacket pocket may find its seams stretched trying to accommodate this mammoth mobile.
"Is that a tea tray in your pocket or are you pleased to see me?" The screen size has crept up from 5.3 inches to an eye-catching 5.55 inches.
I'd recommend having a hands-on with the Note 2 before splashing your cash. Give it a go in the shops and see how comfortable you find typing on the great big screen. Those of you with shorter thumbs may prefer a more diminutive dog and bone.
Software and stylus
Excellent -- and surprising -- news is that the Note 2 will arrive runningAndroid 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is the very latest version of Google's mobile operating system. Jelly Bean has only recently come out and I'd feared the Note 2 would be powered by the older Ice Cream Sandwich.
Samsung thinks you're ready for this Jelly.
Apart from the warm glow of having spanking new software humming away under the bonnet, Jelly Bean brings an improved frame rate for silky smooth menu surfing, plus smarter widget organisation and a revamped notifications bar. Its headline new feature is Google Now, which tailors information by learning what you use the device for, based on things like your location and search history, and offers personalised tips like traffic reports and nearby restaurants.
As usual, Samsung's chucking some of its own software goodies in for good measure. The ability to do two things at once returns, with a feature that lets you watch video while you're doodling or reading a web page, and there are a bunch of new tricks you can accomplish using the stylus.
Unique among smart phones, the Note's stylus lets you jot notes on the back of your photos.
The stylus -- or S Pen as Samsung calls it -- can now act as a virtual pointer, placing a cursor on screen. That could come in handy if you're giving a presentation, or if you just fancy superimposing a cursor icon on your home screen.
The button on the side of the S Pen can be used to toggle brush shapes and sizes, speeding up your artful on-screen sketching. Adorably, you can even virtually flip photos over to write notes on the back of each one. Expect pre-loaded apps and games that are designed to work with the S Pen.
Expect oodles of doodle-friendly apps.
Hardware and battery life
The first Note was powered by a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, but the stakes have been upped this time around -- the Note 2 plays host to a 1.6GHz quad-core chip and 2GB of RAM, which I'm sure will help it excel in the power stakes.
There aren't many Android apps that'll really push a processor this mighty, but it's comforting to know it should be powerful enough to run anything likely to appear in the next year or so. More grunt on the inside also means you're less likely to find Samsung ignoring your phone when it's time to upgrade to the next version of Android.
There's enough muscle here to future-proof the Note, if you're planning to get one on contract.
Storage-wise, the Note 2 comes in either 16GB or 32GB flavours, but if that's not enough room, you can bolster the on-board space using a microSD card slot.
Samsung's equipped the Note 2 with a 3,100mAh battery. It's hard to know how much life you'll squeeze out of this gargantuan gadget -- at least until we're able to punish the Note 2's battery in our barrage of benchmark tests. Lasting more than a day before needing its charging cable would be a huge plus, but with a massive screen and potent processor to power, we'll have to wait and see.