Launched in late 2012 with Android 4.1.2 out of the box, Samsung’s second-generation phablet hasn’t received a single major Android update – it was supposed to get Android 4.2.2, until the Korean manufacturer decided all its yesteryear flagships should be updated directly to Android 4.3. A commendable plan, except that it meant leaving those who spent their hard-earned money on the device sticking to a version of the OS that’s now three iterations old, for more than a year.
Well, that long wait is expected to come to an end sometime this month, but for those that just can’t get wait even a few days more, a test Android 4.3 firmware is now available, courtesy of SamMobile. Carrying build number N7100XXUEMK4, it is for the unlocked international variant of the Note II (GT-N7100) – according to SamMobile, it’s one of the final versions of the software, and will not differ much from the official update that is supposed to start rolling out next week, except for a few bug fixes and improvements.
As a refresher, Android 4.3 brings mostly under-the-hood changes in its default form (faster file system performance, always-on background location scanning even when Wi-Fi is off, security enhancements, etc.), but Samsung’s own additions are considerably major, including new versions of Samsung’s keyboard, browser, and TouchWiz launcher, improved RAM management, KNOX functionality, newer camera firmware, and a visual look that’s closer to what you see on the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3.
The firmware can be downloaded at the source link, and flashed using Samsung’s Odin application. Bear in mind that this is pre-release software, so there might be a few issues that make it less than ideal as a daily driver, and that you won’t be able to update to the official release through the usual over-the-air method. You might also need to wipe all data on your handset before it boots up, so make sure to take the necessary backups beforehand.