When Samsung launched the original Galaxy Note last year, it was the most powerful phone on the market but it was also criticized for being either too big to be a phone or too small to be a tablet, and its ‘S Pen’ stylus wasn’t as easy to use as the standard pen or pencil that it was touted as a replacement for.

It went on, nonetheless, to sell more than 10 million units. My own initially negative feelings were soon banished after I spent more time with it and saw others excited about its possibilities. The screen was good, it was fast for web browsing, gaming and watching movies or TV. The Note became a useful travelling companion because it fits easily on even the smallest train or plane table, but is more than big enough for what most people need.

Now, however, the new Note II has been launched. Its screen is extraordinary – the new HD Super Amoled 5.5” display is more compelling than ever, its 1.6 MHz quad-core processor is faster than ever, the battery lasts longer and the S Pen has been updated to provide huge improvements over its predecessor. Although it’s just 0.7” larger than the Galaxy S3 mobile phone, the device feels very different. It’s totally unlike anything else on the market.

So while the Note II is merely an iterative improvement over its predecessor it feels far more fully formed. This is a device that now recognizes my handwriting fast enough to be usable, and allows me to annotate pictures or web pages with the ease that the original Note lacked. While a return to the stylus felt like a retrograde step, now Samsung have added ‘Air View’ a feature that allows you to see previews of, say, emails or calendar appointments if you hover the S Pen over an item, or pop out a video and keep it on screen while you’re doing something else. It makes a real difference and largely works very well. While I struggled to make the S Pen gestures work consistently – often the device interpreted the line that’s supposed to introduce a space as a hyphen – even these too are broadly helpful.

Samsung, too, have made the S Pen more fully integrated – simply pull it out and up pops a new, blank note, for instance. All of these factors combine to make the Note look lovely, and feel even better to use. The Note deserves to sell many more than its popular processor, in part down to Samsung’s own decent software.

For Samsung Galaxy Note II Benefits and Specifications Click Here