Samsung has announced the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone/tablet hybrid and the Galaxy Gear smartwatch during Episode 2 of its 2013 Unpacked events, the first being back in March for the Galaxy S4 smartphone. This time, we were again treated to a full orchestra, but not the cringe-making on-stage antics witnessed earlier in the year.
Introduced by Samsung’s JK Shin, the Galaxy Note 3 was the first to be announced on stage, following some rabble-rousing cheers from both Berlin and those in Times Square, New York. The new device has a warm, textured touch to the chassis, and is slimmer and lighter than before.
Equipped with a 5.7-inch AMOLED 1080p screen, Samsung has managed to squeeze the larger screen into a body shell which is no wider than the Note 2. The rear panel is made from a leather-look material, and is finished with an unusual stitched edge, while the chassis itself measures just 8.3mm thick. Overall, the Galaxy Note 3 weighs 168 grams.
The phone comes with Category 4 4G LTE connectivity, and will work on all LTE networks across the world. A new, revised S Pen comes with the phone, which is enhanced by a new menu system installed in the Android 4.3 operating system. The menu, called Air Command, brings up several quick access features such as a search and a window for writing notes.
Powering the 4G LTE Galaxy Note 3 is a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 3GB of RAM, and a 3200mAh battery. The exception to this is the 3G version, which will use Samsung’s 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa eight-core chip. A 13-megapixel camera with 4K video recording is found on the back of the phone. Samsung will offer the Note 3 in a choice of three colors, Jet Black, Classic White, and Blush Pink.
With the Galaxy Note 3 detailed, Shin showed off the Galaxy Gear smartwatch on his wrist. He said it brings, “Smart freedom,” and expects it to become a fashion icon over the next few months. Thankfully, the final product is far more refined than the prototype leaked earlier this week. The Super AMOLED screen measures 1.63-inches, and has a 320 x 320 pixel resolution. As the leaks suggested, the Gear has a 1.9-megapixel camera called Memographer fitted to the strap, which can take stills and 10-second videos at 720p.
Built from stainless steel, the user interface depends on swipe gestures, and displays everything from calendars and notifications, to call logs and emails. When a notification arrives on the Gear, a feature named Smart Relay seamlessly transfers it to your phone, ready for you to read on the big screen. If you want to answer a call, you can raise Gear to your head and talk as usual, thanks to a speaker and microphone mounted in the clasp.
Deep inside the watch is a single-core 800MHz processor with 512MB of RAM (before getting too upset, remember this is a watch, not a phone), and comes with 4GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.0, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a 315mAh battery. According to Samsung, this should provide 25 hours of standby.
The Galaxy Gear is limited to working with Samsung phones and tablets running Android 4.3, which at the moment is the Galaxy Note 3 and the new 2014 edition of the Galaxy Note 10.1. Luckily, Samsung will be updating the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S3 to Android 4.3 in October, so those will be compatible too. It’ll come in six different colors, with Shin himself wearing one in orange.
Samsung has confirmed the Galaxy Gear has third-party app support, and there will be 70 partners at launch, including Path, RunKeeper, eBay, and MyFitnessPal. Built-in functionality includes S Voice, Find my Device, S Translator, and a pedometer.
Before the event drew to a close, Samsung also revealed an updated, 2014 edition of the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. The screen, unsurprisingly, remains at 10.1-inches, but the resolution has been increased to 2560 x 1600, plus Android 4.3 will be installed, along with the new S Pen features seen on the Galaxy Note 3. Otherwise, the 8-megapixel camera, choice of Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity, and either 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of memory are the same as the current Galaxy Note 10.1. Samsung has also given it the same faux-leather and stitching on the rear panel as the Note 3.
If you’re itching to get your hands on a Galaxy Note 3, then it’s coming to the U.S. in October, or if you’re outside America, it’ll be out alongside the Galaxy Gear smartwatch on September 25 in 140 countries. As for the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, Samsung tweeted it would be arriving around the same time.
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