Congratulations are in order for Samsung: The world's most prolific smartphone manufacturer has managed to add yet another gargantuan device to its ever-increasing Galaxy lineup. The Note 3 phone-tablet hybrid naturally follows the Note II, adding a faster quad-core processor, bigger, battery, higher-res display, and 4K video recording capabilities.
The improvements are minor, but send an important message: the Note phablet line is a success, and won't be going away any time soon. We're now looking at only iterative, generational improvements as these behemoth devices settle into place in the Samsung line-up.
The Note 3, which was announced early Wednesday during Samsung's IFA Berlin keynote, features a 5.7-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display--just a bit bigger than its predecessor's display, but less than an inch smaller than the display of the recently released Galaxy Mega.
The Note 3 comes with a dockable S-Pen stylus, as the Notes before it did, but Samsung has added "Air Command" features to the it. Air Command brings up a circular menu when you press against the screen with the stylus, giving you quick access to Samsung's own proprietary pen apps: Screenwrite, Action Memo, Scrapbook, S Finder, and Pen Window, an app that essentially allows you to draw a window on the screen to bring up an app you'd like to use. Most of the apps included with Air Command could be replaced with a more functional, likely cross-platform application from the Google Play store, though they wouldn't be fully compatible with the S Pen. Samsung has made it obvious that it intends to woo consumers with an all-inclusive package of custom apps, luring users away from the Google Play store toward the proprietary Samsung ecosystem.
Power users will appreciate the device's quad-core, 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, which Qualcomm announced earlier this year at its CES keynote. The new system-on-chip (SoC) comes paired with 3GB of RAM and the Adreno 330 graphics processing unit, which will drive the pixels of Samsung's demanding 1920-by-1080 screen, as well as enable UltraHD 4K video capture (which captures video at twice the size of 1080p). It should be noted that this isn't the first handset capable of capturing 4K video; earlier this week Asus announced its 6-inch Liquid S2 handset with the same Snapdragon 800 processor and 4K recording capabilities. However, you won't be able to view the content at its full resolution unless you have a display that's capable of playing it back.
Samsung stuck with its standard curved plastic chassis for the Note 3. It will also include a leather backing that houses a 3,200mAh battery pack. Photo buffs will appreciate the 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, in addition to the Galaxy Note 3's 4K video capture abilities. Samsung has also packed up the Note 3 with Samsung KNOX, a security suite that protects sensitive corporate data. You'll also be able to use it in conjunction with Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
The handset will be available in 32GB and 64GB variants on September 25 in most of the world. In the U.S., Samsung only says that it will be available "later this year" on T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.