After dominating IFA 2011 with its Galaxy Note introduction, Samsung is hoping to repeat the feat today with the Galaxy Note II. Now thinner and lighter, the new Note device comes with a redesigned S Pen stylus, a bevy of new software features layered atop Android 4.1, and an enlarged 5.5-inch display. Oh, and it now runs on a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor.

The display resolution is the same as very similar to the original Note, 1280 x 720 versus 1280 x 800 on the older model, and the technology employed is still Super AMOLED, though the Pentile subpixel arrangement has been tweaked a little. It's still not a perfect stripe of RGB pixels as you might get on LG's IPS displays or the laudable HTC One X, but it's somewhere closer to it than the standard Pentile. An improvement, in any case.

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The physical design and materials, however, are a direct match to Samsung's Galaxy S III, which launched earlier this year. The Note II even uses the same 8-megapixel camera. The software interface looks identical to the GS III's, but for the S Pen-specific "Magic Wand" sub-homescreen and a selection of other stylus enhancements. NFC, a choice of two colors (Mountain White and Titanium Gray), and three storage options (16GB, 32GB, or 64GB) are other similarities to Samsung's flagship smartphone. 2GB of RAM will come standard on the Galaxy Note II.

The physical design and materials are a direct match to Samsung's Galaxy S III

Unique to the new Galaxy Note is the battery, which does battle with Motorola's Droid RAZR Maxx for mightiest in the smartphone category by weighing in at 3100mAh. Then again, it's debatable that a 5.5-inch device can reasonably be considered a smartphone.

New software features include Air View, which allows you to hover your S Pen approximately 10mm above the surface of the screen and have the phone recognize and react to that by launching little previews of onscreen items (such as pictures inside an album, they're enlarged atop the album view rather than taking you to a new window). Screen Recorder sounds like a more useful addition, doing what its name suggests and recording your on-screen actions for posterity and sharing. The Pop-up Play feature of playing local video in a little window overlay, first seen on the Galaxy S III, has seen an upgrade: the video window can now be resized. On the camera side of things, Best Faces lets you create a composite image from multiple pictures, splicing the best-captured images of different people's faces in the frame, while the Photo Note feature can create handwritten notes on the back of pictures. For that extra touch of classy.

Samsung tells us an LTE version of the Galaxy Note II is a safe bet, but refuses to divulge any details on when, where, and which carrier this new device will launch with. All we know is it's set for a debut in the fourth quarter of this year.