The Samsung Galaxy Note II is massive - and a bit ludicrous. But luckily for Samsung, their latest phone-tablet hybrid is also a really well-designed product, which redresses many of the problems associated with the original.

It's still somewhere between a phone and a tablet, but more than ever it makes the case that it's good enough to work as both, rather than neither.

In design terms, the new Note clearly takes its, well, notes, from the Galaxy S3 smartphone.

Everything from the shape of the device in your hand to the plastic (but well crafted) backplate recalls the flagship S3 - except for the fact it's about twice as big.

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Above: the Samsung Galaxy Note II


The screen is larger that the orignal (a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD, 1,280 x 720 pixels) and it's extremely bright and clear. It's a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but that's only because it's virtually impossible to resist touching it.

It's also running a speedy 1.6 GHz quad-core processor, and has an 8 Megapixel rear-facing camera.

Coupled with the upgraded S-pen stylus, which felt more responsive and more accurate in our hands than the previous note, it has the feel of an exceptionally well-made device.

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Above: The Note II from the back


The S-pen features 1024 levels of sensitivity, and there are a range of new shortcuts to add to the original's note-taking and drawing functions. If you hold down the second button on the pen, you can draw gestures onscreen to bring up a handy notepad. If you take a note preceded by an @ symbol and a name, it will email that note to the right contact. Likewise if you draw calculator symbols or phone numbers, the Note II will use that note contextually in the right apps.

Another neat feature was the ability to play a video, and then pop it 'out' of the player to hover over the rest of the device - finally, true multi-tasking on a handheld.

With a new suite of SDKs to help developers make the most of the S-Pen, and an overall better device with which to use them, it could be that the Note's time has finally come.

Hands-on preview from IFA 2012.