Samsung’s latest flagship phablet, the Galaxy Note 3, has finally been unveiled. The successor to the device that introduced a totally new segment in the smartphone market, and facing increasing criticism over the increasingly jaded Galaxy design language, the Galaxy Note 3 is arguably one of the most important devices to be launched by the company this year.
Shortly after its launch event, I was able to catch a glimpse of the powerhouse of a smartphone for a brief hands-on. Check out the first impressions after the jump.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3, as expected, does not stray far from other Galaxy smartphones. What is very different, however, is the introduction of a new faux-leather back cover. It is a move that will likely divide opinion more than the previous plastic cover did. On the one hand, faux leather is always going to be seen as inferior to premium options such as metal. On the other hand, I found myself thinking it may be an ingenious move, as despite the faux-ness of it, the back cover definitely added a touch of class to the device. Of course, in the long run things may get messy due to wear and tear.
In terms of hardware, Samsung is at it once more: they’ve managed to fit one of the most powerful set of hardware to be found on any smartphone. Featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset with a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and Adreno 330 GPU, the Galaxy Note 3 also sports 50% more RAM than any smartphone in the market, at 3GB. This allows for the exceptional Multi-Window performance on the device, which is beautifully displayed on the Super AMOLED Full HD screen.
The rear camera has also been significantly bumped from the Galaxy Note II, now featuring a 13MP BSI sensor. Even more impressive is its recording capabilities: with the Adreno 330 GPU, the Galaxy Note 3 can record 1080p videos in 60fps, and 4K videos in 30fps. It’s not the first smartphone to be capable of that (Acer beat them to it just a few days back), but 4K video recording was nigh-on impossible on a mobile device just six months ago. And, with its 3200mAh battery included, the Galaxy Note 3 still only weighs 168g.
Then, there is the new and improved S Pen. It’s a whole lot more sensitive now, and with that, an even more expansive set of features that builds on the Galaxy Note experience. There’s the powerful Pen Window overlay that can be activated by hovering the S Pen anywhere on the screen and clicking the button on the stylus, which opens up a variety of productivity apps that are centralised on the S Pen. Handwriting recognition has also been vastly improved, and can immediately be saved in more than just a note. Also, there’s the Air Command feature, which can bring up features such as the new S Note. With the new S Pen and the increased integration on the Galaxy Note 3 and its features, the phablet experience really does feel a lot more polished and, quite frankly, far ahead of the competition.
Interestingly, the Galaxy Note 3, which will run on Android 4.3, was also launched alongside Samsung’s first-ever wearable device, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The company is touting the Galaxy Gear as the perfect companion device to the occasionally bulky phablet, similar to how the Galaxy S4 was billed as a “life companion”, and almost every promotional material on the Galaxy Gear prominently features the Galaxy Note 3. It may prove to be a masterstroke for the success of both devices, particularly given the deep integration between the two devices.
Stay tuned for our hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Gear, as well as our round-up video of Samsung Unpacked Episode 2!