The Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 sports a PLS (Samsung's derivative of IPS) touchscreen with 2160 x 1600 pixels, an Exynos 5 Octa processor (composed of one 1.9 GHz ARM Cortex-A15 quad-core and one 1.3 GHz ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core), 3 GB of RAM, a Mali-T628MP6 GPU and 32 GB of storage. The wireless connectivity consists of Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, an infrared port and Bluetooth 4.0, and there's a microSD card slot for up to 64 GB more storage. The tablet has a micro-USB 3.0 port (cable included), a 3.5mm audio jack, an 8-Megapixel rear camera and a 2-Megapixel front cam.
The operating system is Android 4.4 KitKat with a helping of TouchWiz and a few pre-installed exclusive apps for the "Pro" series that can also be downloaded for free: Remote PC, Hancom Office Pro and e-Meeting.
This Wi-Fi version of the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 sells for a recommended price of £649, and there's a 4G version also on the way, equipped with a 2.6 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. Samsung plans on releasing a slew of productivity-oriented accessories, such as a thin mechanical keyboard cover, a wireless mouse and a micro-USB adapter with two USB 2.0 ports and an R45/Ethernet port (no USB 3.0).
DESIGN & HANDLING
It would be a slight exaggeration to say that Samsung racked its brains to come up with this design. It's a point-for-point rehashing of the Galaxy Note 10.1's body, which itself was a rehashing of the Galaxy Note 3's body, and so on down the rabbit hole. The only major difference being size.
The G-Note Pro's manufacturing prowess comes in the form of its thin 7.95 mm frame. It weighs 750 g, which is reasonable for its size, but it's still a hefty tablet. That, plus the fact that the bezel is over 10 mm wide on the sides and 20 mm wide on the top and bottom, makes it a difficult object to wield for more than a few minutes. We tended to look for ways to prop it up against something, especially when using the stylus.
As with the other recent Galaxy Notes, the white and black versions wear an entirely different material on the back. The black model has a soft-touch surface, whereas the white model's is smooth, hard, more commonplace. We assume there's some manufacturing-related rationale behind this. Or maybe it's cleanliness-related. Either way, our black model feels more high-end and does better justice to the imitation leather stitching.
The back heats up considerably when you push the Note Pro to its limits, especially in the area where the rear camera is located. This mostly happens when you play video games or have multiple apps open at once.
As for the stylus, nothing new. Just like on the Galaxy Note 10.1, the safe-keeping slot is in the top-right corner. It's comfortable and easy to remove and insert.
As usual, Samsung gives you the choice between different display modes: Standard, Dynamic and Movie (no more Professional Photo), plus Adapt Display, which automatically switches between modes depending on what you're doing on the tablet. Also as usual for a well-equipped Samsung device, Movie Mode is the best, but only by a hair, as this time none of them really change the picture quality that much. But Movie Mode is still the one that offers the most natural image with an average contrast ratio of 1,045:1, brightness of 396 cd/m², relatively faithful colours (average Delta E of 4.1 with accurate skin tones) and a consistently near-perfect colour temperature of 6,635 K.
At 17 milliseconds, the ghosting time is in the upper average as IPS panels go, but the touch response time is a high 125 ms (the iPad Mini with Retina Display's is a speedier 54 ms). By comparison, the Galaxy Note 3's touch response time is 63 ms and the 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1's is 150 ms. All three run TouchWiz.
Naturally, the 2160 x 1600 resolution offers an orgy for the eyes with finely hewn text, icons and web pages.
INTERFACE & NAVIGATION
Samsung used Android 4.4 KitKat as a chance to refresh the TouchWiz interface. The shortcut icons in the scroll window have been given a face-lift and scroll with a downward swipe from the top of the screen to the bottom. The settings menu has also been spruced up to make the whole system undeniably more simple and clear. That said, we think the new style looks all too similar to Asus' new Zen UI.
Aesthetic differences aside, if you're already familiar with the Galaxy Note universe, you'll be right at home here. The interface is almost identical to the new Galaxy Note 10.1's. The biggest differences come in the form of the free apps that are exclusive to the Pro series. These include Hancom Viewer, Businessweek+ and The New York Times. We're not that impressed with Magazine UX, the newsfeed aggregator on the left side of the home screen. Not all of the feeds keep with the graphical style, making it displeasing to look at and use. Then there's Remote PC, an app that allows you to use the Note Pro as a remote control for your Windows or Mac computer. This app does what you want it to, but it isn't particularly revolutionary compared to similar features we've seen on other devices.
e-Meeting is sort of the ultimate app for business meetings. It allows you to link up with your colleagues (as long as they also have a device with e-Meeting on it) via Wi-Fi Direct or regular Wi-Fi to exchange notes, documents and presentations (you can even edit them in the cloud) and share real-time comments during meetings. This really is a handy tool that takes business meetings to a new level, but it's only featured on four devices: the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 and the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, 10.1 and 12.2.
Also new on the Note Pro 12.2 is four-app shared-screen multitasking that allows you to have up to four apps open simultaneously onscreen. You just swipe from the right edge of the screen towards the centre and a list of sixteen compatible apps opens up. It's a varied list that includes apps like Chrome, Contacts, Gmail, S Note, YouTube and e-Meeting. To add an app you just slide it to the middle of the screen, and you can decide how much space an individual app or group of two apps takes onscreen.
It's just too bad these are the only apps that work with it—in Windows RT 8.1, for example, you can only open two at a time, but any app will work, whereas here it's only certain ones. All the same, the Note Pro's system is practical, especially on such a large screen, and easy to use, plus you can transfer content between open apps.
We don't see why Samsung insists on not giving the Galaxy Note 10.1 the same features as the "Pro" models. Remote PC and e-Meeting would be great on the Note 10.1. We say Samsung is putting too much stock in the thought that companies will suddenly up and buy Note Pros and Tab Pros by the crate-load just because it says "Pro" on the box and conveniently leave the non-Pro models to households. Samsung's representatives tell us it's hard to achieve this technically, to which we can only respond that the only thing really separating the two slates is the screen size, so that's a difficult pill to swallow. We also think it was an error to leave the Galaxy Note 3 out of the loop.
Along with the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 comes the now-classic Wacom-designed S Pen stylus. Though as precise as ever, the S Pen is starting to stagnate. It's simple: Samsung hasn't come up with any new uses for it since the Galaxy Note 3. The stylus-oriented apps are the same as always (S Note, S Memo, etc.), and there's the rather restrictive Air Command wheel that lets you select one of five stylus functions from anywhere on the screen.
As for performance, the Note Pro 12.2 is pretty much equivalent to the Galaxy Note 10.1. TouchWiz keeps devouring RAM (good thing there's 3 GB of it) and the Exynos 5 Octa platform once again proves how much trouble it has when attempting to run a high-end Samsung device to perfection. Yes, this eight-core SoC performs outstandingly in benchmarks, but that doesn't necessarily translate into real-world performance. We noticed little lags here, there and everywhere: when launching big video games, switching between apps, flipping through home screens, doing four-app multitasking... We'll have to test the 4G model out before we can confirm what we suspect will be a noticeable difference between this Exynos-equipped model and the 4G Snapdragon variant.
That said, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is one of the best tablets we've used to browse the web with. Pages load quickly, vertical scrolling is fluid and the pixel density is high enough that you rarely feel the need to zoom in. Google Chrome comes pre-installed, and we prefer it to the default browser.
Video playback is always a pleasure on Samsung's mobile devices, thanks largely to a dedicated platform that has better decoders than the usual Android fare. The Note Pro never flinched with any of the media files we played on it, including Full HD 1080p videos, some of which were located on the tablet itself and some on peripheral devices.
This Wi-Fi model's Exynos 5 Octa/Mali-T628MP6 GPU combo doesn't work miracles with video games. Graphics turn out noticeably less detailed than they would on a tablet like the 4G Note Pro that boasts a Snapdragon 800 and its Adreno 330 GPU. Here, big demanding titles execute very well, but the graphics look more basic, the image is overly smoothed and there's far less detail. Games run fluidly for such a large, high-def screen, but the visuals are underwhelming for a high-end tablet like this.
With a 9,500 mAh battery, Samsung obviously tried its best to prolong the Note Pro's battery life to its fullest, but between the Exynos 5 Octa, the giant screen and the high resolution, even this has its work cut out for it. In real-life situations, we got fairly similar results to what we observed with the Galaxy Note 10.1—that is, just over 9½ hours of Full HD videos, e-mails, games, Internet and so on. You can expect it to last about 6½ hours of non-stop video playback. That's a bit better than the Note 10.1 and a bit worse than the iPad Air. It does take a while to charge, though, just over 4 hours for a full cycle.
The 8-Megapixel sensor is a fine rear camera. The flash overexposes subjects, but in most conditions you can get workable photos without much noise and, at the very worst, passable sharpness. Just watch out for low lighting, because it can cause an utter catastrophe. Of course, then there's always the question: how many people are really going to carry this huge cutting board around to take pictures with? I mean seriously.
As for the 2-Megapixel front cam, the photos are clearly made for the rubbish bin, but videos turn out nicely enough for some quality Chatroulette. Even in moderate lighting, you can still clearly see the person you're talking to (assuming you want to) and there's little latency or ghosting.