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

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Hands On walking mate app
Check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phablet.

In case you missed it, Samsung’s Galaxy 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.

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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)

Galaxy Note 3 Rumors: Which were true and which were false?

The Galaxy Note 3 is now a real device. Samsung announced it on Sept. 4 at an event in Berlin and New York. Below are the many rumors surrounding the Note 3 and whether they turned out to be true or false.

Updated on 9-9-2013 by Jeffrey Van Camp: Updated each rumor to note if it was true or not.

Updated on 8-14-2013 by Andy Boxall: We’ve added new info on the battery for the Note 3, revised info about Android 4.3, the screen size, and RAM.

Updated on 8-15-2013 by Andy Boxall: New details show more countries may get both the quad-core and octa-core versions of the Note 3, including the UK.

Updated on 8-30-2013 by Andy Boxall: The optical image stabilization feature has been debunked, while a new rendered image has been leaked, giving us a good idea of how the device will look. Talk has emerged of a basic version of the phone for emerging markets, while 4K video could feature on the primary model.

It will be unveiled Sept. 4 (TRUE)

Before we get into rumor territory we will start off with the one thing we know for sure about the Note 3: it will be unveiled at an event at IFA in Berlin called Samsung Unpacked 2013 Episode 2. Press invitations were sent out and the ever-so-subtle clue “Note the date 9/04/2013” leaves no room for doubt. Of course, we already expected a September Note 3 release because the annual IFA show seems to be the traditional venue for a new Note model announcement.

5.7-inch screen (TRUE)

The size and resolution of the display on any new device always seems to spawn countless rumors and the Note 3 is no exception. Back in January, we heard the Note 3 would have a 6.3-inch display, in March it was 5.9 inches, in June it came down to 5.7 inches. It looks like the rumor mill was confused by Samsung’s relentless release schedule and the Galaxy Mega devices were probably mistaken for the Note 3 – they sport a 5.8-inch display and a 6.3-inch display. It’s likely that all those rumors were wrong; the Korea Times spoke to Samsung and seem confident that the Note 3 will sport a 5.9-inch screen.

Most recently, a leaked list of the Galaxy Note 3’s specs suggested the phone would have a 5.68-inch screen, which is slightly larger than the Note 2, but smaller than the Galaxy Mega. Whatever size it is, we’re sure it will be full HD 1080p to match the latest top releases.

Flexible display (FALSE)

Update: This rumor was not true.

One rumor that’s a bit more interesting is the assertion that the Note 3 will have a flexible screen. Before you get too excited about that we should point out that the device will definitely be rigid. Don’t expect a floppy banana peel of a phone. The benefits of the flexible display technology right now are measured in durability and light weight. This is still good news, if it’s true, because it means a light device and dramatically reduced danger of cracks in the screen when you inevitably drop it trying to type one-handed. Now that your hopes are raised, we’ll pour cold water on them with the words of J.K. Shin, when asked about the unbreakable display in the Note 3 he said, “More time will be needed.”

Show me the specs (TRUE)

A supposed Note 3 leak back in April suggested an eight-core Exynos 5410 Samsung Exynos Octa processor with the Cortex A15 cores clocked at 2.0GHz, and a Cortex A7 core at 1.7GHz. This rumor was further fueled by SamMobile in May. Citing a trusted adviser they also backed the suggestion that the Note 3 will have 3GB of RAM. GSM Insider spotted the Samsung SM-N9005 in the AnTuTu Benchmark database and reckons it is the Note 3. The results show a 2.3GHz processor running Android 4.3 and that tallies with some other strong rumors that the Note 3 will have the Snapdragon 800 in it.

Since then, a new rumor has linked the Note 3 with Samsung’s revised eight-core processor, the Exynos 5 Octa 5420. The new chip ups the primary core’s clock speed to 1.8GHz, while the secondary cores reach 1.3GHz, and Samsung has given it a new graphics chip too. If the 5420 chip does find its way into a Note 3, it’s likely to be the SM-N900, which is said to be the non-4G model headed for certain international markets. The leaked spec list puts the aforementioned SM-N9005 as the 4G version, but doesn’t speculate on the chip inside.

We were preparing ourselves for disappointment when it came to the eight-core processor, as it only received a limited release when it was inside the Galaxy S4. This time around though, things may be different, as a list of countries who should expect to get both the quad and octa-core versions has been leaked, and it’s more extensive than before. The UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia are among the lucky ones, but sadly the U.S. should only expect the Snapdragon 800 version at this stage.

Cheaper Note 3 model for emerging markets (FALSE)

Update: This rumor was not true.

While we’re pretty confident Samsung will want to make the Note 3 the most powerful device on the market, it’s likely to carry a serious price tag to go along with it. This would make it a poor proposition for emerging markets, so to make sure it can sell the phone all around the world, Samsung may introduce a more basic model too. A Note 3 Lite, if you like. According to the rumor, the screen may be downgraded to a basic LCD from a Super AMOLED panel, while the camera may have 8-megapixels instead of 13. Although it’s not mentioned, we’d imagine a lesser processor and a gigabyte less RAM will also help get the price down to a more acceptable point.

13-megapixel camera (TRUE)

The general consensus on the camera is that it will be a 13-megapixel affair. ET News also makes mention of anti-shake technology and shutters, to create a “multi-function camera that can favorably compare with any other digital camera”.

A Mexican Samsung employee released some sample shots on his Google+ account (since taken down), but there’s no telling if they were legit. SamMobile also published a photo supposedly taken with the Note 3, but it doesn’t reveal much, other than the poor photography skills of the person who took it. It is likely to have a 2MP front-facing camera to match that 13MP main camera.

Early rumors suggested the Galaxy Note 3 would have optical image stabilization, but despite Samsung’s best efforts to incorporate it into the device, production won’t be able to keep up with the inevitably high demand, and plans have been abandoned. Instead, a 16-megapixel camera with OIS may make its way on to next year’s Galaxy S5.

Although the lack of OIS is a blow, the Note 3’s camera could still impress, as it may be able to capture video at 4K resolution. That means 3840 x 2160 pixels, which is twice that of 1080p. This fits in with rumors of the Snapdragon 800 processor being used to power the Note 3, as Qualcomm’s top chip has been shown to handle not only recording at that resolution, but also playing it back.

It will be designed like the S4 (TRUE)

Galaxy Note 3 RenderIs Samsung considering a metal chassis for the Note 3? We think it’s unlikely, and so does another insider who spoke to SamMobile to tell them it would match the S4’s design language. The sketches that were sent to SIM Only Radar appear to back that up.

Some photos of the prototype and internals surfaced on Chinese site Weibo via SamMobile, but it’s clearly not the final design. There were also some photos posted by @evleaks which appear to show a device with a possible S-Pen slot, but it’s not necessarily a Note 3 prototype.

A slightly suspect rendered image has been seen on case manufacturer Spigen’s website, and as we thought, it looks like an oversized S4. There’s a good chance it’s an artist’s impression of the device rather than the real thing, but as Spigen makes phone cases, they could have had access to the exact dimensions, so at the very least it’s a good indication of the Note 3’s shape.

It will come with Android 4.3 (TRUE)

We hope it will come loaded with Android 4.3? Most rumors are suggesting that and we concur. A listing on the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) website shows a device with the model number SM-N900 having recently undergone certification, and it had Android 4.3 installed at the time. It’s tough to imagine Samsung would release the Note 3 with an older version of Android, though 4.2 is a possibility, as it would match the Galaxy S4. Of course, whatever happens, TouchWiz and Samsung’s many software features will all be installed too.

A hefty battery (FALSE)

Update: The actual battery in the Note 3 was 3200mAh, a slight increase over the Note 2.

The Galaxy Note 3 has been consistently leaked with a battery similar to that seen in the Galaxy Note 2, a 3100mAh pack, or the Galaxy Mega 6.3’s 3200mAh cell. However, an anonymous source has told the Note 3 will hide an even larger 3450mAh battery, bigger than all its closest competitors, and almost matching the new Motorola Droid Maxx’s 3500mAh battery. If this is the case, we shouldn’t expect it to match the Maxx’s standby time though, as it’s going to have to run a large, full HD screen, a quad-core or higher chip, and plenty of other tech.

Anything else? (TRUE)

Update: Samsung did unveil a Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

That’s about it for the Note 3 rumors, but we also now know it’ll be joined at the launch event by the Galaxy Gear, Samsung’s smartwatch. We’ve heard almost as much about that as the Note 3, and you can find a complete rundown of everything we think we know about it here. September 4 is all set to be a very busy day.

Whatever the Galaxy Note 3 has in store for us you’ll find the full lowdown right here, including a hands-on just as soon as Samsung lets us at it.

Article originally published by Simon Hill on 8-6-2013. 

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