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Hands-On: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Gear

Note 3 Gear Smartwatch Comments  16  

Sep 4, 2013, 12:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's third-generation phablet is an impressive improvement and the Gear adds a unique twist to how we interact with smartphones.

from Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a marriage of the Note 2 and the Galaxy S4 with a few unique details tossed in for good measure. It's the latest phablet from Samsung and isn't shy about offering the best specs on a device this year from the Korean company.

The Note 3 is a bit boxier than last year's device, with sharper corners and sharper edges, to boot. The phone takes some design cues from the GS4 with its silver-colored polycarbonate edge, but thankfully makes a big change with the rear cover. Samsung has ditched the oft-bemoaned slippery battery cover for one that has a faux leather feel to it. The back cover has a soft-touch finish that looks and feels like hardened leather, though it is still made from plastic. If you're thinking it must be cheesy, don't worry, it isn't.

The Note 3 is still quite large. I have grown used to the size of the Note 2 over the course of the last year, and the Note 3 is a bit smaller. I have mixed feelings about the feel in the hand thanks to sharper edges. I wish it had the rounder profile of the Note 2. It is big, but still pocketable thanks to its slim profile. It is also lighter than last year's phone. I think the weight is really quite nice, and it is easier to hold onto for a long period of time.


Note 3

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The display is fantastic. It measures 5.7 inches across the diagonal and uses Samsung's Super AMOLED technology. It is a full HD screen, which gives it 1920 x 1080 pixels. Colors pop off the screen and everything looks razor sharp. I honestly can't offer enough praise for the screen, it's that good.

As with Samsung's higher end devices, there is a single physical button below the screen for accessing the Home screen. There are capacitive buttons on either side, left is Menu, right is Back. They worked just fine in our time with the device. The rest of the buttons are placed right where you expect to find them. The volume rocker is on the left and the screen lock button is on the right. Both have great profiles and feel very good to use. There's a clean satisfying click when they are pressed that I really like.

The device runs Samsung's latest version of TouchWiz on top of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. It carriers over most features from the GS4, but adds several new features that have to do with the S Pen (see video).

Samsung found that many people don't use the stylus because they forget it is there. Samsung made the stylus stand out a bit more along the bottom, and when it is removed a smart piece of software called Air Command launches to let you know what you can do with the S Pen. Air Command is a tool that lets you access all the other tools that are part of the S Pen and its software.


Note 3 Interface

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The new functions are called Action Memo, Scrapbook, Screen Write, S Finder, and Pen Window. Action Memo makes scribbled notes actionable by letting you interact with phone numbers or addresses. It's pretty cool. Scrapbook lets you capture content from a web site or other document and store it in a scrapbook-like app. What's better is the content is live and searchable. The Screen Write feature takes a screen shot when opened and then lets you write notes on top of the screen shot. The S Finder tool lets you search through all your notes (even the handwritten ones) and everything else on the device as well. It's really cool that the Note 3 lets you search your handwritten notes, that's a big feature to add to the device. You can also tag your notes to make them more easily found. Last, Pen Window acts just like LG's QSlide apps. It opens small sub-apps that run on top of whatever other app you're using. This means you can use a calculator when looking at a spreadsheet, or watch YouTube videos while also scanning your email.

Last, Samsung updated the multifunction feature. It is now possible to drag and drop content from one window to another. For example, you can drag a photo from the gallery and drop it directly into an email that you're composing. It's a really neat addition to the multi-pan functionality.

The Note 3 is Samsung's premiere device, and it didn't leave out anything. Every spec and feature you can think of is included. It will be available from U.S. carriers beginning later this month. Pricing has not yet been announced, but expect it to fall in line with that of last year's phone.

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Subject Author Date
Rich Corinthian Leather bluecoyote Sep 4, 2013, 12:46 PM
i got to be negative nancy... :( Futuredevildogx Sep 7, 2013, 10:56 PM
Samsung has done it again! Ann Droid Sep 4, 2013, 5:29 PM
Bravo! Doom Wolf Sep 5, 2013, 10:25 AM
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