Galaxy Note 3: What You Need to Know about Samsung’s new phablet

Check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phablet.

In case you missed it, Samsung’s big Unpacked Episode 2 event was held at the IFA in Berlin. One of the three devices featured at Unpacked was the Galaxy Note 3, its latest phablet, or device that’s somewhere in size between a large smartphone and a small tablet. Since we’ve finally used the Note 3, we’ve put together all the facts you need to know about the Note 3.

A brief overview

Samsung’s flagship phablet continues to be an absolutely massive smartphone with borderline tablet functionality. Compared to its predecessor, the Note 3 is offering up a faster processor, larger screen, and a bunch of new TouchWiz features. It’s also thinner and lighter.

Customization is also a big focus for the Note 3, suggesting Samsung’s focus on offering the Note 3 to more audiences than simply those who look for bigger screen sizes. The Note 3 itself will have a choice of three different colors –  black, white, and pink – and will also feature a number of different colors for its smart covers, the flip covers Samsung sells with many of their Galaxy devices that allows a quick look at information such as missed calls without opening the device.

The last major highlight of the Note 3 is the bunch of new software Samsung packed into it, offering better-than-ever S-Pen integration for even more intuitive usage of the Note 3, increased mulit-tasking functionality, and a bunch of other new features added to its TouchWiz interface.

What are the specs?

With a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display compared to the Note 2’s 5.5-inch display, the Note 3 removes a bit more bezel to give a slightly bigger screen. However, the real advantage of the screen is that it now features a 1080p resolution, as opposed to the 720p display of the Note 2, offering a much richer viewing experience.

Powering the Note 3 is a 2.3GHz Quad-core processor (or 1.9GHz Octa-core processor if you have a 3G version). While it may not seem like a huge jump from the Galaxy Note 2, it’s still a serious improvement from that phablet’s 1.6GHz Quad-core processor. Plus the Note 3 has an impressive 3GB of RAM, which is offering a ton of processing power for almost any task. Despite the huge power-increase though, the battery has been bumped up to 3200mAh, allowing the Note 3 to maintain all-day performance without much concern.

The Note 3’s rear camera, clocked in at 13 megapixels, can also record 1080p video at 60 frames per second as well as 4K Ultra HD video. You won’t be able to see the 4K difference on your Note 3, but it should look better on an Ultra HD TV. We figure this is a proactive move on Samsung’s part.

What’s the new software?

Samsung’s software development team certainly has a lot to be proud about already with the many features they’ve crammed into the Galaxy S4 back in March. This time around, the Galaxy Note 3 is getting everything the Galaxy S4 had feature-wise plus several more features.

The biggest software improvement for the Note 3 is its inclusion of extra S-Pen functionality, which with past Note devices has sort of fell short in functionality. With the Note 3 S-Pen users will be able to make phone calls by writing down names or numbers, and manage their phone’s content with the S-Pen. Using Air Commands and other new S-Pen functions Note 3 users can save content to their notes by circling them, take full-screen screenshots by gesturing with their pen, and more.

Other added TouchWiz and Galaxy-focused software improvements include a new version of S-Note with 12 months of premium Evernote service, the new Samsung Orb camera function to create Streetview-like panoramas, added security functions through Samsung Knox, and a bunch of added features for multitasking. Note 3 users can run two apps at once (such as holding two chat conversations at once) and drag and drop items between apps running simultaneously, giving added usage to the Note 3’s huge screen real estate.

These are all a lot of interesting new features, but it’s also worth noting that it feels like Samsung is on the brink of app overload, offering way more apps then folks are going to end up using. 

What’s the big deal?

Depending on what you find important about your gadgets, the Galaxy Note 3 may or may not be a big deal to you. For one, the device is still a rather minor upgrade from the Note 2 between some added features and improved hardware, but it still offers an improvement in almost every aspect of the device. You certainly won’t miss too many of the new features (and often new software features trickle their way to older devices) if your Note 2 works fine, but you may also enjoy the overall better performance. Depending on what device you currently own, the Note 3 may be just the upgrade you’re looking or seriously nothing worth getting excited about.

Release date

Whether or not you think the Note 3 is a big deal, one thing you will hate to see is its price. Samsung made no mention of this but based on past pricing we can probably see this bad boy cost $300 or higher with a 2-year contract, so be ready to spend a pretty penny for this latest member of the Note family. If you’re keeping an eye on the Note 3, it will hit shelves in the US and Japan in October and everywhere else in late September. In the US, it will come to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Cellular to start.

Next Page: Galaxy Note 3 Rumor Roundup (What was true and what was false)

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