By Stephen Schenck | September 26, 2012 10:11 AM
Just about one year ago, Samsung introduced the world to the first Galaxy Note, the Android smartphone that dared to play with our preconceptions of how big a usable phone could really be, along with resurrecting the stylus as re-thought, relevant input device. Even the concept alone was worth getting excited over. The actual implementation wasn’t half-bad, either, and the strong consumer reaction to the Note prompted Samsung to follow things up with the Note II.
Better in nearly every way, the Note II took a good idea and refined it, leaving us with something that felt even more like a polished, well-thought-through design. That’s going to satisfy our needs for some time to come, but eventually Samsung will have to come back around to the Note and start thinking about its plans for the Note III. We may still be the better part of a year away from seeing anything like that, but it never hurts to start thinking early; just what might Samsung be cooking-up for the Galaxy Note III?
Where do we go from here? Samsung’s already thrown caution to wind with the Note II and took a phone that was getting some backlash due to its size, and went and made the screen even bigger. That was a hugely risky move, but Samsung tweaked the handset’s design to get away with a 5.5-inch screen without the need to make the phone itself any wider.
Dare Samsung push the envelope again? I’m sort of hoping it does, because I’d love to see something fill the upper-end of the smartphone size range, before we start getting to seven-inch tablets. What about a Note III with a six-inch screen? That would force Samsung to make the phone even larger; would users embrace such a device?
The main problem Samsung would face with a six-inch Note would be in how it’s used as a phone. I already hate talking on the 5.3-inch Note, because it’s just so odd a shape to hold to my ear. Maybe Samsung would finally embrace the size of the phone, bundle it with a Bluetooth earpiece, and just stop encouraging users to talk directly into it. Honestly, I’m not sure such a move would be likely, but I really want to see these six-inch Androids, and someone’s eventually going to have to draw a line in the sand and say “this is too big to keep using like a regular smartphone; let’s think of something else”.
Other than playing with screen size, Samsung might finally give the Note a resolution bump. Though it changed between the Note and Note II, it’s always been in the 720p range. 1080p’s been on the tip of everyone’s tongue for months now, and I’ve got a feeling we’re finally going to start seeing it arrive in a significant way in 2013. While its worth is questionable on smaller devices, marrying 1080p with a six-inch display seems like a smart way to highlight the capabilities of such a very high resolution smartphone screen.
Samsung made some really smart improvements to its S-pen stylus for the Note II. The first Note stylus was a great idea, but it didn’t feel so great in the hand; the Note II takes a new focus to ergonomics, while also increasing just what you can do with the stylus. How would I improve such a design? I’m hesitant to suggest changing much, but I like the idea of more input buttons on the pen itself; every one you add lets you modify the behavior of the stylus and increases its usefulness – the trick’s just not to go overboard.
It also might be nice to see a dual-ended stylus, with a pressure-sensitive tip on both ends. Samsung could copy what Wacom already does with its own tablets and give the S-pen an “eraser” on one end. It need not be used just as an eraser, but as a general secondary input option; some users might even prefer writing with a wider, blunted tip.
I’m very excited to see an Exynos 4 Quad in the Note II, especially in the version coming to the States. Samsung rarely disappoints with its SoC designs, and I don’t expect that to change in the future.
With the Exynos 5 on the horizon, that seems like the obvious pick for the Note III’s SoC. I guess the only question there would be if it gets the Exynos 5 Dual, or if Samsung will have come out with an Exynos 5 Quad by then. Really, either way it’s going to be a hell of a chip, and Samsung’s going to help usher-in the era of the Cortex-A15 core. Cannot wait!
I wouldn’t really expect anything too surprising from the rest of the Note III’s hardware. Maybe we’d see the main camera bumped-up to 12 or 13 megapixels. Maybe Samsung would throw in an even larger capacity battery than the Note II’s. There’s a lot of things Samsung could tweak and I’d never guess them all successfully. Here, I’ve covered the big ones, which I think, when taken all together, paint a nice picture of just what I’m hoping for from Samsung’s design team.
Let us know your own thoughts about what you’d like to see Samsung do with the Note III in the comments below. We’ve probably got eight months or so before we start getting any real news on the phone, so get your predictions in while you can.