The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 - part smartphone, part tablet and on track to offer Samsung’s flagship smartphone experience on a large scale. We’ve trawled the web to find the freshest information on the phone cum tablet so you have the best picture of the end result before Samsung spills the beans.
A few years ago consumers would have scoffed at the idea of a 5-inch smartphone, then the Samsung Galaxy Note came along and accumulated millions of sales worldwide. A year later and the Galaxy Note 2 wowed the tech world at IFA with a more refined user experience, quad-core processor and even larger 5.5-inch HD display. So here we are in 2013 and with the release of the Samsung Galaxy S4 out the way, we now turn to wonder about the forthcoming successor to the most established ‘phablet’ brand out there.
The look of the Galaxy Note 3 is naturally a point of contention and there appears to be a number of directions in which Samsung is deliberating over. The most outlandish proposition suggests that following the entrance of the likes of the Sony Xperia Z and HTC One with their nearly all-metal/glass construction methods, Samsung is “worried” that its conventional plastic designs might just not cut it anymore; this coming from industry insiders who contacted SamMobile.
Samsung has always worked in plastics with regards to its flagship Android devices, partly as a means to reduce costs, but also as a way to manufacture the volume of units it traditionally deals in at a fast enough pace; what’s more, plastic is more durable than glass or metal when we’re talking about everyday wear and tear. An all-metal Galaxy Note 3 could look incredible and prove to be extremely strong, however with a device the size of the Note 3, weight could also be a serious issue.
A different, more conventional design direction sees Sammy borrow heavily from the Samsung Galaxy S4, in much the same way that previous Notes were inspired by their respective smartphone counterparts. This would likely take the shape of a more squared design than the current Galaxy Note 2, hewn primarily out of high quality plastics. The trick would be to squeeze its new larger display into a footprint either the same size, or at least only marginally smaller than the current generation. In truth, proportions are more likely going to adhere to the dimensions of the Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 that Samsung announced last month.
Update: SamMobile reports that Samsung will be sticking to the all-too-familiar plastic construction after all. According to the site, Samsung isn't going to be able to perfect the metal chassis construction process in time for the device's launch. Instead, the Galaxy Note 3 is said to have a design identical to the Galaxy S4, just on a larger scale. SamMobile does mention, at least, that the bezel surrounding the display will be dramatically reduced, again mirroring the Galaxy S4.
It goes without saying that the Galaxy Note 3’s display will be larger than that of the current generation Note 2; which utilises a 5.5-inch 720p HD Super AMOLED panel. With the company’s current device lineup it makes sense to opt for a bigger display - bridging the gap between the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 5-inch screen and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0’s 8-inch display, both of which tote phone functionality too.
The loudest whispers from The Korea Times suggest that the Galaxy Note 3 will employ a 5.99/6-inch Full HD display, but rather than the conventional glass AMOLEDs we’re used to, will instead utilise full 1080p HD plastic OLED screen tech; the first of its kind on a commercially available Samsung product. Sure it won’t have the same ‘wow factor’ as say, a YOUM flexible display, but the potential and increased durability touted by plastic over glass is obvious. With such a material choice, the rumours that the Note 3’s screen will be unbreakable hold a lot more credibility.
Update: Notorious Twitter leaker @evleaks chimed in recently to say that the Note 3 may actually have a 5.7-inch display.
And that seems to have been backed up by a recent report from SamMobile. The site believes that Samsung's next Note device will feature a 5.68-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display. But just like the Galaxy S4, Samsung will reportedly be cutting down on the bezel, allowing for a larger screen without increasing the physical dimensions over the Note 2.
Leaked pictures of a purposed front fascia for the Note 3 point that informaton being true. Sonny Dickson acquired the screen from a "trusted source in China who has had access to device parts in the past." Upon closer inspection, the bezel definitely looks to have been cut down, with the active display area pushing up right against the edge of the fascia - just like the Galaxy S4. Otherwise, Samsung looks to be using the same tried and tested design seen on its other devices recently.
OS and UI
Establishing which version of Android is set to grace the Galaxy Note 3 is another tricky one and it fundamentally hinges on what Google plan to unveil at their I/O conference later this month. With the next major release being Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, we’re led to believe that given enough time, the Note 3 could sport this OS out the gate.
Despite the fact that Sammy were able to push Jelly Bean onto the Note 2 at launch, the earlier arrival time suggested for its successor means that we’ll more likely get our hands on a device sporting Android 4.2.2 or 4.3 – more advanced, refined versions of the current release, Jelly Bean.
As we don’t yet know what additions will grace the stock KLP experience, we can at least be sure that Samsung will push the most recent version of their TouchWiz Nature UX overlay on top. Expect a very similar experience to the Samsung Galaxy S4 but with Note specific additions. Key features like Air View, Smart Scroll and Smart Pause will undoubtedly appear along with new ways to utilise the device’s S Pen, as well as more advanced note taking and illustration apps out-the-box.
Besides an innovative high-resolution display, the underlying hardware of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is expected to pack a pretty hefty punch. For starters, the brains of the outfit will fall to another octa-core processor, although some regions such as the US and UK may again receive quad-core variants if 4G (LTE) integration still hasn’t been achieved on Samsung’s newest Exynos 5 chipset.
MyDrivers.com cite two quad-core processors running in parallel: an A15 chip clocked at 2GHz and a secondary A7 processor clocked at 1.7GHz.
Interestingly, odd numbers don’t typically work well within the world of electronics (256MB, 2TB etc.), but it would appear that many expect the Galaxy Note 3 to employ not two but 3GB of RAM, one more than the Galaxy S4. Meanwhile, eight cores are on track to grace the GPU as well as the CPU, with a Mali 450 chipset expected to feature; presumably as a means to ensure that the device’s user experience can run smoothly on that 6-inch screen at Full HD resolution.
We’ve only had a brief encounter with the Galaxy S4’s camera and we’re already impressed. As such we expect the Note 3 will marry up with a similar sensor,13-megapixels, as quoted again by SamMobile, although with the likes of the Sony Honami reportedly on its way, perhaps it will force Samsung's hand to dig even deeper with regards to imaging.
Update: Samsung has hinted that it may includ optical image stabilisation in the Galaxy Note 3. According to ETNews, the company has been considering several new features for the camera in the next iteration of the Note series, but nothing has been locked down just yet. The publication echoes previous rumours that say the camera will come in at 13-megapixels, however. OIS wouild definitely make sense seeing how Nokia has managed to achieve great results with the same technology in the Lumia 920 and Lumia 1020.
The Note 3 may also include 4K video recording. The Korea Economic Daily believes that the device will be able to record 4K videos without any issues, going on to say that it could be the "world's first" device to do so. The Sony "Honami" has also been rumoured for the same feature, and Acer just announced the Loquid S2, a 6-inch device capable of the same feat. It's safe to say, then, that Snapdragon 800-equipped phones will be able to record 4K without any issues.
In addition, the publication believes that the Note 3 will include 24-bit/192kHz audio playback, just like the recently announced LG G2. As for the battery, SamMobile says that the Note 3 will include a 3,200mAh pack, a slight increase from the 3,100mAh battery included in the Note 2.
Release Date and Pricing
With all this enticing new tech waiting in the wings, all we have left to find out is when and how much? IFA in Berlin has served as a suitable world stage thus far, with both the first and second generation Notes having been launched there, however this year may well be different.
Mobile World Congress highlighted manufacturer’s intentions to move away from launching flagships at big industry expos, instead opting for independent launches; something Samsung lead the way in with regards to their Galaxy S flagships and Android in general.
Originally anticipated for an August/September-time launch, due to IFA 2013, KnowYourMobile are quoting a possible arrival a little earlier this year, mid-summer in fact, stating sometime in June.
Expect the new Samsung Galaxy Note to feature a price tag around £600 when it does eventually arrive - a little steeper than the Note 2's £550 price tag, but anticipated as a result of the larger display.
Update: Engadget has spied a potential release date for the next Galaxy Note. According to a leaked internal document from Three, the handset will launch on the network in time for September 16th. That would be a pretty quick turnaround for Samsung, as the company is expected to announce the device on September 4th. At least eager fans of the Note series will be able to get their hands on the next iteration relatively quickly compared to past announcements.