BERLIN: KOREAN SMARTPHONE MAKER Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Note 3 large format smartphone or "phablet" at the IFA tradeshow in Berlin on Wednesday and we got some hands-on time with the device just after the launch.
Boasting a 5.7in full HD 1080p Super AMOLED touchscreen and running the latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean mobile operating system (OS) skinned with Samsung's Touchwiz user interface, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is yet another, even bigger upgrade for the Galaxy Note phablet range.
The first thing we noticed about the Galaxy Note 3 was its similarity to Samsung's last phablet flagship, the Galaxy Note 2. It's made from the same materials, so doesn't look or feel much different, having a very similar design. Though ergonomically it fits in the hand well considering its ridiculously large size, it feels a little cheap due to the plastic casing, especially with its rather unsightly faux leather back.
One good thing about the textured plastic casing is that it makes the device really light and thin, weighing only 168g and measuring only 8.3mm thick, 1.1mm thinner and 15g lighter than the Galaxy Note 2, which measured 9.4mm thick and weighed 183g.
The underside of the Galaxy Note 3 is where the S Pen stylus is housed and when you pull it out, an S Note document is presented on screen instantly, ready for writing. Build quality isn't the highest we've seen in a smartphone, but what we did like about the Galaxy Note 3 was that its bundled features, such as the S Pen, seemed to work well with the device, with touchscreen response being immediate. Samsung said users can expect a more "enhanced" S Pen experience than found on last year's model, and claimed that this will enable better multitasking.
Screen and performance
The best thing about the Galaxy Note 3 is without question its super Full HD AMOLED screen that is even bigger than that of its predecessor, measuring an impressive 5.7in as opposed to the original Note 2's 5.5in display.
This display, which supports 1920x1080 resolution, is one of the better screens we've ever seen on a phone. The colour representation is simply excellent. It's very bright and clear, and watching a video in HD 1080p resolution on the 16:9 aspect ratio display was quite enjoyable.
The phablet was responsive when we swiped our fingers across the screen, and copying and pasting images to and from various tabs with the stylus is a breeze. The Galaxy Note 3's quad-core 2.3GHz processor and 1GB RAM upgrade from the Galaxy Note 2 to 3GB of RAM make most operations smooth and responsive without having to wait for it to perform simple tasks.
The Galaxy Note 3 also has several new software features loaded on the latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean mobile operating system.
During our short time with the Galaxy Note 3 we were able to quickly test how well it responded to touch commands and have a play on the S Note app. In our short test, all features seemed to work relatively smoothly, though even with 3GB of RAM Samsung's Touchwiz interface still did seize up a bit when asked to do two rather demanding tasks right after one another.
Battery and Camera
On our quick hands-on, we found that the Galaxy Note 3 camera works the same way as on the Galaxy S4, only with a bigger screen that makes taking photos a more rewarding experience.
The Galaxy Note 3 has a rear-facing 13MP camera and a front-facing 2MP camera, and can also shoot video in an impressive 4K or UHD format at 30fps.
Unfortunately, we didn't get enough time with the Galaxy Note 3 to really scrutinise its camera image quality reproduction in comparison to other high-end smartphones on the market, but this is something we'll do when we get our hands on the device for a full review. However, during our quick tests the Galaxy Note 3 camera was fairly good at taking photos quickly without blur, as long as you didn't move around while doing so.
Samsung claims the Galaxy Note 3's 3,200mAh battery means that the device will last for at least a day. But as with the camera, we'll have to wait for the arrival of a review unit in The INQUIRER's offices so we can test the battery to see if this is really the case.
Samsung was also keen to point out that its security software Knox comes pre-loaded on the Galaxy Note 3, and said that the software is now commercially available worldwide.
Samsung announced that it will launch the Galaxy Note 3 globally from 25 September, available in white, black or pink colour options. However, the company did not announce specific availability details or pricing information. According to speculation, however, the Galaxy Note 3 will cost around £650 SIM-free. µ