As widely expected, Samsung has unveiled the successor to the massively popular Note 2 – the Galaxy Note 3 – at an Unpacked event in IFA, Berlin. The Note 3 is a true beast in every sense, right from its 5.64-inch display to its internals to its design.
If you thought that the Galaxy S4 was a marvel of engineering with ridiculously less bezel space, be ready to be surprised with the Note 3. The phablet manages to retain the same size as its predecessor, the Note 2, and yet accommodates a better and bigger screen (5.64-inches vs. 5.5-inches). This is largely due to the bezel space being greatly reduced, with the side bezels being reduced to only 2.2mm. The Super-AMOLED panel has a 1080p resolution, and the same RGB sub-pixels arrangement as seen on the Galaxy S4.
While from the front, the Note 3 looks somewhat similar to a stretched Galaxy S4 with a bigger screen and the same hardware layout buttons, it is very different from the back. For the first time, Samsung has done away with the flimsy plastic back cover, and replaced it with a faux-leather textured back cover. The back cover is still removable though, giving access to the 3200mAh battery.
Internally, the Note 3 is like any other flagship phone that has been released in the second half of 2013, and is packed to the cores. Samsung has fitted the Note 3 with an advanced LTE modem that supports multiple LTE bands, which will help in reducing the SKU variants of the device.
The full spec sheet of the Note 3 includes a Snapdragon S800 SoC in LTE markets, Exynos 5250 SoC in other regions, 3GB of RAM, 32/64Gb of storage space, 13MP camera with a CRI LED flash, Ultra HD video recording on selected variants and 1080p Full HD video recording at 60FPS on all variants, Ultra HD Audio quality with playback at 24-bit at 192kHz, enhanced S-Pen and all the usual other connectivity features such as NFC, GPS and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.
It is interesting to see Samsung use a 13MP camera without OIS but with a new type of LED flash, when most of the competition has already shifted to using cameras with OIS that greatly improve image quality in low-light.
The Note 3 is also the first phone to sport a USB 3.0 micro B port for speedier file transfer and quick charging times. The back and menu buttons can also be used via the S-Pen on the Note 3, which was a major usability annoyance on the Galaxy Note 2.
On the software front, Samsung has added many new features to the Note 3 including Air Commands. The new feature works in conjunction with the S-Pen, and allows users to automatically perform actions quickly via a small circle, when they push the button on the S-Pen while hovering it above the screen, or whenever they extract the S-Pen from its silo.
Air Command contains quick access to some of the major new features of TouchWIZ debuted on the Note 3 including Action Memos, Pen Window, S Finer and Scrapbook. S Finder, as its name suggests, is a universal search function from Samsung, while Action Memos automatically turn your handwritten scribbles into actionable items. Examples including automatically identifying the name and number of a contact you have written, and allowing the ability to directly call them or save the information to your Contacts.
Another new feature introduced by Samsung is the My Magazine interface for “content snacking”. This service is similar to HTC’s Blinkfeed and Flipboard, and can be activated by simply swiping up from the bottom of the home screen. Samsung has also improved its multi-window multi-tasking feature allowing users to have instances of the same app. For example, users can simultaneously chat with two ChatOn (don’t ask me who uses it) multi-windows at the same time.
Underlying TouchWIZ is the latest and greatest version of Jelly Bean, Android 4.3, which brings with it Bluetooth 4.0 LE and OpenGL ES 3.0 support.
The Galaxy Note 3 will be available in more than 149 countries worldwide from September 25th this year. In the US, the phablet will be available on all major networks including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile sometime soon.