Berlin, Germany — Long expected, Samsung unveiled its update to its oversized Note smartphone/tablet (or "phablet"), the Note II, here at the annual IFA electronics show. Note II's screen now measures 5.5-inches — a .3-inch growth spurt — but somehow Samsung made it not at awkward to hold as the original.
Note II has a 1280 x 720 pixel screen to create a true 16:9 aspect ratio; the first Note's screen was a wider 1280 x 800. Most important logistically, the Note II can squeeze into a man's sports shirt breast pocket — not that you would. Even at a relatively light 6.35 ounces (a hair heavier than the Note I) it would sag embarrassingly.
In addition to the larger screen, Samsung has packed the Note II with a hefty 3100 mAh battery (Note I: 2500 mAh), which you'll need to keep that screen running, a 1.5 GHz dual core processor (Note I: 1.4 GHz), 2 GB of memory, and will be available in 16, 32 and 64 GB versions (Note I: only 16 GB).
Samsung also has redesigned the stylus, adding girth to make it more grippable, and a scratch-free rubber tip. Feature-wise, the stylus now has an "Air View" hover mode — hold the stylus around 10mm from a folder or calendar and the contents are splayed out in a preview mode. This way you can do a quick check instead of opening items, closing them, opening another, etc.
You can also use the stylus to cut items out of Web pages, photos or apps and share them separately. You also can now handwrite notes on a calendar (or other apps) as if it was hanging on your wall.
Samsung says Note II will be available in the U.S. this fall, but there were murmurs that maybe it wouldn't appear here until early next year.
At the same preview event, Samsung unveiled something even cooler than a new Note. Come back in half an hour to find out what it is.
Posted on location at IFA 2012 in Berlin. All images by Stewart Wolpin for DVICE.