Beauty and Brains: The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 looks amazingAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
So we've just finished up with Samsung's second Unpacked event of the year, this time in Berlin for the start of IFA 2013, where we finally get the official announcement of the next generation of Samsung's successful Note line, the Galaxy Note 3. It seems like just a couple of months after the Galaxy Note II was released last year we had people sparking up dreams of what they might see come from the next Note. But now that it's finally here, how does it compare with its highly praised predecessor?
First, let's talk specs. The Galaxy Note 3 comes with a 5.7-inch full HD Super AMOLED display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, giving it 397 pixels per inch. It runs on a Quad-core Snapdragon 800 Processor that's clocked at 2.3 GHz and has 3GB of RAM. You get a 13-megapixel camera on the back (capable of 4k video capture) with a 1.9-megapixel camera on the front, and the device features either 32 or 64GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot for additional storage. The device will ship with Android Jelly Bean 4.3 and runs on a 3200mAH battery, and with both software and processor improvements Samsung claims the Note 3 to have 40% more battery life than the Galaxy Note II did. Of course, you also have the S-Pen dock and pen in the bottom corner of the device.
The Snapdragon 800 processor is something that we've been waiting to see in next gen phones for a few months now. By having as large of a phone as the Note 3 that's catered for crazy amounts of multitasking you're going to want that processing power to make this device run as smoothly as possible. Along with a great processor, you're also seeing a boost in the amount of RAM with 3GB rather than the traditional 2GB we've seen in recent flagship releases. Something else that I really liked about the Galaxy Note 3 is that the screen size didn't jump up too much at all - just a couple of millimeters, just like the Note II differed from the original Galaxy Note (5.2-inches to 5.55-inches).
Design-wise, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 answered the prayers of many as it is the first Note device to ditch the traditional plastic housing and instead uses a textured leather backing. The Galaxy Note 3 also reverts to a shape that is similar to the original Galaxy Note with sharper corners; there is no mistaking the Galaxy Note 3 from the Galaxy Note II, something that was widely scrutinized between the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S III. Samsung has also managed to create a larger screen size while keeping the width of the next generation Galaxy Note the same size as the Galaxy Note II simply by making the bezels smaller. Design-wise, the Note 3 is beautiful and looks well-made; I have no complaints.
With all of this considered, what do I think of the Galaxy Note 3? The design is beautiful, the optimized multitasking and S-Pen features are awesome and the specs are very much next-gen. The Note line, despite this being its third generation device, has still managed to be the only line of devices that take the use of a stylus seriously, and that in itself is something that I can appreciate. The better processor, amount of RAM, camera and display are all great, but I think the biggest benefit (and the only time I will probably ever say this) is that Samsung added new and improved features to the S-Pen, the key selling point to the device. According to Samsung's statistics, 71% of Note users make regular use of the S-Pen. My fellow editor Evan even mentioned earlier today in his article that the S-Pen was the main reason why he paid any attention the device. Who knew that a simple accessory like the S-Pen would be a true defining part of a modern day phone? Of course, the S-Pen has really become much more than just your run-of-the-mill stylus.
While the S-Pen on any generation of the Note still provides a far superior experience compared to those ridiculous bulb-y styluses, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 really brings out the phrase "It's more than just a pen," which Samsung frequently uses. All you need to know is: dot, circle and box. By hovering the pen over the Note 3's screen, a dot will appear. By pushing down on this dot, a variety of options for your S-Pen are presented to you in a menu called Air Command. Air Command's menu lets you select features like Action Demo, which allows you to choose an action from something that you've written (i.e. calling a phone number, adding it to contacts, sending a message, etc.). Scrapbook, another option from Air Command, was probably my favorite command that makes use of the "circle" part of the equation. All you need to do in order to place something in your scrapbook is circle it with your S-Pen, and then it's placed in your Scrapbook application. And finally we have "The Box", which is part of a new multitasking feature where you simply draw a box the size that you need it to be on any screen, and it will pull up a list of useful applications that you can use. The application you bring up is the same size as the box that you drew, and allows you to view things like numbers, words or images that you may need to refer to while using the second application layered on top of the first. That, my friends, is cool.
The Galaxy Note 3 has the benefit of riding on the success of its predecessors, and there are more eyes than ever that are looking at this device. Should you purchase the Galaxy Note 3 or should you go for the Note II? Obviously, if you're looking for a device on a budget you'll be much better off with the Note II, but if budget isn't of any concern then I would definitely recommend going for the Galaxy Note 3. With such a speedy processor, better screen resolution and upgraded S-Pen functionality, you have a whole lot more to gain with the Galaxy Note 3 than you might think. The Galaxy Note line has always been, in my opinion, the best in the business thus far for phablet functionality. While the Note may no longer be known as the "biggest" phones in the industry, it's still one of the more useful devices for those who are in desperate need for an optimized multitasking device. The Galaxy Note 3 looks very promising in terms of making multitasking that much easier, and for once I support Samsung's excessive thirst for more features.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be available in 149 countries starting on September 25. Customers yearning for this device in the U.S. can expect to see this device hit the shelves sometime in October.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the Galaxy Note 3? Will you be picking up the new and improved phablet device? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Image via The Verge