Samsung goes bigger without going bigger

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So the Galaxy Note 3 has launched, and I use that term appropriately, since several aircraft could conceivably launch from it. We already covered our first impressions during our live hangout (some more silently than others). Of course we have a bevy of coverage already released and more to come. Overall, we were pretty impressed by what we saw. Specifically, we were ecstatic by the lack of tap-dancing children. So, well done Samsung.

But beyond all that, Samsung managed to do what they failed to do in Unpacked, Episode 1. They really did go big this time around, and I’m not just talking about the hugemungous phone itself.  The Note 3  is remarkably similar to the Note II, from a size perspective. The body of the Note 3 is mere millimeters bigger than its older brother, so as you’ve probably guessed by now, that’s not what we’re talking about. What we’re talking about it what Samsung has shoehorned into  that same size body.

note-iii-renderSize matters

The display size remains very similar to it’s predecessor, but the resolution jumps up a remarkable 119.5 ppi to 386.5 ppi. (Point five? Anyway…) The 1,920×1080 resolution alone is something to be gawked at, especially with the 5.7” screen fitting within basically the same frame as the Note II. Some versions of the Note 3 will also sport cameras with the ability to record 4K video, which will be a killer feature for those of you with $5,000 TV’s (spoiler alert: That’s not me).

Lets also not forget the guts this puppy is packing. Both variants of the Note 3 out punch its fore bearer. At 2.3Ghz Quad-core and 1.9Ghz octa-core for the LTE and 3G models respectively, the Note II’s 1.6 GHz processor looks paltry by comparison. Well, as paltry as a 1.6 GHz processor can look anyway. But Android is an operating system built for top end specs, and the Note 3 certainly delivers those top end specs. In a world where specs have almost become obsolete, Samsung has taken it to 11.

Sizzling software and other alliterations

But where Samsung really brings on the sexy is in the software and the S Pen. Samsung has really capitalized on what has really made the Note II…well…notable – the S Pen. So much of the Note 3 is built around the S Pen, it makes one hope that it’s either easily replaceable, or not-easily losable. That being said, Samsung knows they’ve found a winning feature here.

Returning to the Note 3 is the powerful multitasking introduced in its older sibling. The split screen multitasking is very close to a perfect use of all that screen real estate available on the 5.7” screen. Using the S Pen, you can still make the adjustments to sizes if you need more space for the Youtube and less for the twitters. One can also use the split screen view to copy and paste and drag items between windows.

gs4-vs-note3Dot, circle, square

Now we get to “the dot, the circle, and the square”. For a moment, I was waiting for Whoppi Goldberg to start answering trivia questions, but as it turns out Samsung took a different – and probably a wiser course. With the S Pen at the center of all these features, the dot, circle and square bring a suite of fun to the Note 3. When hovering over the screen – yes, we’re hovering again – you will get a dot on the screen. Pressing the button on the S Pen opens Air  Command, a fan shaped menu with allows for a few neat tricks – searching, scrapbook, action memo, screen writer and pen window.

It’s Action Memo that really captured my attention. Making memos useful is a feature that I’ve been looking for for quite some time. I’ve too often opened a memo, jotted something down quickly and then had to decide how to do something with it – be it copy/paste or what have you. But action memo uses handwriting recognition and an intuitive menu to import that quickly jotted data into your contacts, memos, email etc.  Sure, there are probably “apps for that” with character recognition, importing data, etc, but to have it finally built in to the core of the operating system is nice. Especially since this is the Note, and now….you can do something with those notes.

Check, check, and check

Overall, Samsung delivered and they did it without corniness, child labor, or sexism. So compared to Unpacked Part I, it was already ahead of the curve. Those concerns notwithstanding, Samsung really did bring some sexy back today. The Note 3 is compelling on both the hardware (we didn’t even talk about the massacre of fake cows that went into making those soft battery covers) and software fronts. With all that, it should be at the top of many Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice, and other various winter days which may or may not be holidays shopping lists.

And did someone say pink? Yes, please.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs.Read more about Adam Doud!