Samsung has announced the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, a device that promises to be demonstrably faster than its predecessor while keeping the tradition of being thinner, lighter and more compact than the Note II.
The 5.7-inch device has been upgraded to 1920×1080 pixels, and at 168 grams and 8.3mm thick, it’s actually thinner and lighter than the Note II. It comes with a soft-touch, textured backing in three colours, black, white and pink. Running Android 4.3 with TouchWIZ, the Note 3 looks like a mix of the Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Note II, and embraces the skeumorphic idea of the device being a “living notebook.”
The Canadian version, when it debuts in October, will sport a 2.3Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32-64GB internal storage with microSD slot, a 13MP camera with 4K shooting capabilities and image stabilization, Category 4 LTE support with carrier aggregation, Bluetooth 4.0 LE support and a 3200mAh battery that promises 40% more uptime than the Note II.
The Note 3 also comes with a few interesting software features, including Air Command, an on-screen portal to four specific features:
- Action Memo - Quick handwritten notes that can be converted into actions. For example, you can write out someone’s name, phone number and address and the software will automatically parse the data and add him or her to your address book.
- Scrapbook - Basically a mobile Evernote Web Clipper, this allows you to grab pieces of web page — text or photo — and save it in various notebooks
- Screen Write – Full screen memos with annotations
- S Finder – Finds content online or in the phone just by entering keywords
- Pen Window - Arguably the most interesting piece of the puzzle, it allows users to open a separate app in a window size of your choosing, overlaid on top of another app. For example, if you’re chatting about expenses with your wife or husband in the SMS app, you can overlay a calculator on top and perform the addition without leaving the app.
There’s also a new and improved Multi Window feature, which now allows for data sharing and interaction between apps. This was the one piece of MW that I sorely missed in the Note II and can’t wait to see how developers use it.
Samsung has finally implemented KNOX security into the Galaxy Note 3, the first device to officially support it out of the box, since it was announced earlier this year. KNOX actually containerizes the Android experience, separating apps and data into a secure area that cannot be accessed even if the phone is stolen or compromised.
The company is also debuting a new Galaxy Gear smart watch, which has many of a smartphone’s capabilities such as voice input and calling when paired to an Android device. For $299, the Gear comes on a little strong, but the aluminum frame and large display promise to add value to the computer-on-a-wrist.
The Gear interacts with your Galaxy Note 3 out of the box, and will be compatible with the S3, S4 and Note II with a software update coming in October.
Gear actually offers its own app store, and has a 1.9MP camera for quick snaps on the go. When connected to a smartphone, it shows incoming messages and notifications from popular apps — Path and Life360 are launch partners — and the built-in speaker blends seamless calling with hands-free usage. S Voice interaction lets users search for information and make inquiries — “What’s the weather going to be tomorrow?” — and answer calls without touching the screen.
Speaking of the screen, the Gear has a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 320×320 pixels, a 1.9MP camera, 4GB of internal storage, 512MB RAM and a 315mAh battery. It weighs 73.8 grams and comes in at 36.8 x 56.6 x 11.1 mm. It has two microphones for noise cancellation and a loud speaker.
Out of the box, Galaxy Gear will be compatible with a number of apps, including Evernote, Banjo, Path, eBay, Glympse, Line, Pocket, RunKeeper, TripIt and Vivino Wine Scanner.
While Samsung claims that it will have all-day battery life, a concern with early users is that the device does not seem to reach that mark. Also interesting will be to see how Samsung manages its own Gear app store independently from Google’s Android store, and whether it will be able to convince developers — beyond the initial launch partners — to design apps for the $299 device.
Lastly, in a relatively unsurprising “one more thing,” Samsung has also announced a refreshed Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, with a 10.1-inch 2560×1600 Super Clear LCD display, a faster processor, better imaging and exclusive content.
It comes with a 1.9Ghz Octa Core Exynos processor, 3GB of RAM, an improved S Pen, 16-64GB of internal storage, an 8220mAh battery and Android 4.3.
All three products will be available in Canada later this year, though pricing and specific available has not been announced.
Rogers, Bell, TELUS, MTS, SaskTel, Videotron, Mobilicity and WIND will be carrying the Galaxy Note 3 later this year, likely in October with the US carriers, but we can’t offer any specific details just yet.