Samsung was among the first to discover the demand for very large smartphones and quickly addressed that market with its Galaxy Note lineup. The smartphone Notes combine a large display (greater than 5-inches) with an active digitizer (S Pen). Last year Samsung expanded the Note family to include 8 and 10-inch tablets as well as smartphones. Blurring lines even further are the cellular variants of Galaxy Note tablets, some of which can function as full fledged smartphones in that they can make and receive phonecalls. Earlier today Samsung announced the third generation of its successful Galaxy Note smartphone device, the aptly named Galaxy Note 3.

The Note 3 continues Samsung's recent habit of making its devices thinner and lighter while increasing screen size. The Note 3 increases its screen size by 0.18" diagonally compared to the Note 2 (the 5.7-inch display actually measures 144.3mm or 5.68"). Despite the larger display, nearly all dimensions of the Note 3 shrink compared to its predecessor. The Note 3 is slightly taller (+0.1mm) but is less than a millimeter narrower and nearly a full millimeter thinner. The Note 3 also drops in weight by 12 grams. The result is an even bigger display in a smaller, more usable device.

Responding in part to criticism of Samsung's use of cheap feeling plastics in thier phones, the Galaxy Note 3 adds a bit of texture into the mix. The back of the device is covered in a soft touch faux leather, complete with stitching. The plastic trim around the device also gains a texture, apparently designed to mimic pages of a notebook:

The combination of the two definitely help make the Note 3 feel less of a slippery mess, but those hoping for a truly premium feel will probably continue to be disappointed. The Galaxy Note 3 will be available in classic white, jet black and blush pink at launch. The back cover is removable, hiding a slightly larger 12.16Wh (3.8V) removable battery. Samsung offers other back covers in 9 other colors if you want some additional personalization.

Internally the Galaxy Note 3 becomes a far more modern platform. LTE versions of the Galaxy Note 3 will feature a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC, while 3G versions will use Samsung's updated Exynos 5 Octa (5420). The Exynos 5420 features four ARM Cortex A15s running at up to 1.9GHz and four Cortex A7s running at up to 1.3GHz. The updated design should hopefully feature a fully cache coherent interface between both processor islands, something that wasn't functional in the first Exynos 5 Octa SoC.

The rear facing camera gets a bump up to 13MP, while the front facing sensor moves to 2MP. Samsung is likely using the same sensors it uses in the Galaxy S 4 in the new Note 3. The on-board memory also sees an increase to 3GB. Finally, like the Galaxy S 4, the Galaxy Note 3 adds 802.11ac support.

Galaxy Note Physical Comparison
  Samsung Galaxy Note (USA) Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Samsung Galaxy S 4
Height 146.8 mm 151.1 mm 151.2 mm 136.6 mm
Width 82.9 mm 80.5 mm 79.2 mm 69.9 mm
Depth 9.7 mm 9.4 mm 8.3 mm 7.9 mm
Weight 178 g 180 g 168 g 130 g
CPU 1.5GHz APQ8060 (Dual Core Scorpion) 1.6GHz Samsung Exynos 4412 (Quad Core Cortex A9) LTE: 2.3GHz MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 or 3G: 1.9GHz Exynos 5420 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 or 3G: 1.6GHz Exynos 5410
GPU Adreno 220 Mali-400MP4 Adreno 330 or Mali-T628 MP6 Adreno 320 or PowerVR SGX 544MP3
NAND 16 GB NAND with up to 32 GB microSD 16/32/64 GB NAND (?) with up to 64 GB microSD 32/64 GB NAND with up to 64 GB microSD 16/32 GB NAND with up to 64 GB microSD
Camera 8 MP with LED Flash + 2 MP front facing 8 MP with LED Flash + 1.9 MP front facing 13 MP with LED Flash + 2 MP front facing 13 MP with LED Flash + 2 MP front facing
Screen 5.3" 1280 x 800 HD SAMOLED 5.5" 1280 x 720 HD SAMOLED 5.68" 1920 x 1080 HD SAMOLED 5.0" 1920 x 1080 HD SAMOLED
Battery Removable 9.25 Whr Removable 11.78 Whr Removable 12.16 Whr Removable 9.88 Whr

A big part of the Galaxy Note story is the integrated S Pen active digitzer. Samsung redesigned the S Pen for the new Note and combined it with some new features:

Action Memo allows users to handwrite a note, and automatically execute a function or convert that handwritten information into formatted content. Action Memo can instantly initiate a call, add to contacts, look up an address on a map, search the web, save a task to a to-do list, and more

Scrapbook enables users to organize or track down content and information from various sources including the web, YouTube and Gallery in one place so that users can easily look back at collected content all at once. When consumers save content for future use, Scrapbook also collects source material or URLs allowing them to easily refer back to the original source.

The Screen Write feature captures the full screen image of the current page on the device and allows users to write comments or additional information onto the captured image.

S Finder allows users to expansively search for content on their device regardless of the type. By putting in keywords or filters such as date, location, and content type, users can search related documents, events, communication threads, and even the Help page – all in one place. In addition, users can also search for hand-written content in their Notes and memo applications, as well as symbols and formulas.

Pen Window allows users to use the S Pen not only for drawing sketches or writing notes, but now also for opening a small application window for a true multitasking experience. Simply by drawing a window of any size, anywhere on the screen, users can easily and quickly open another application window such as YouTube, calculator or Browser without pausing current activity on the screen.

Other traditional Touchwiz features see enhancements with the Note 3 as well. Samsung has supported multi-window applications for a while now, but with the Note 3 you can now actually open multiple windows of the same application (e.g. two browser windows displaying different things). Samsung also added a new group play mode that lets you wirelessly connect up to five devices and play video across all of the devices acting as a single large display.

The Galaxy Note 3 ships with Android 4.3 and KNOX. Devices will be available starting on September 25th in 140 countries around the world. Availability on US carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon & US Cellular) will come later this year.

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  • phonehater - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    Check out Xiaomi Mi3 just released 3hrs ago
  • stacey94 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    They have a bias towards quality products. Remember their coverage of the HTC One? It's not an Apple product but AT covered it thoroughly. Samsung does not make quality portable electronics right now (with the exception of its Ultrabook line), so it does not receive enthusiastic AT coverage.
  • rd_nest - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    Strange. So they decided which is quality before even using them for some decent amount of time.
    And what about Sony? Sony has decent "cover material to ooze quality".

  • nerd1 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    Take a look at INSIDE of HTC One, which is a crappy mess. (2 large circuit board, battery sandwiched between, lots of jumper cable)
  • NSAfreezone - Sunday, September 8, 2013 - link

    Theres quite a few Apple fanboy/biased websites out there one had one against N* and something else they took slowest browser and lowest cam etc etc then tried to steam roller with apple is ooops cum me lot! when then N8 cam trounced apple and to cover lack of storage said hum can use cloud! where as N8 has 3 lots phone/big on board/plus Msd 64gb in fat32.
    It was so blatantly biased
  • mmarafie - Friday, September 6, 2013 - link

    I definitely notice the bias too. If it's an Android (especially Samsung) product there won't be much enthusiasm, and any good points the hardware has Anand comments that they are "following Apple's steps". Also there has to be always a mention about how Samsung products don't have the "premium metal" feel. Or that it's a "slippery mess". Check the Galaxy Note 3 article by Anand, same bias again, no interest or enthusiasm.

    Everyone I know that owns a Galaxy phone, GS3/GS4/Note/Note etc has a case for the phone in case it drops. So I don't see the big deal about the phone being plastic or not. Also I'd rather have a lighter phone that a heavirr metal phone that will be covered in a case anyway.
  • NSAfreezone - Sunday, September 8, 2013 - link

    Metal case's =water damage (apple v finland/not fit for purpose) plastic don't plus plastic absorbs/deforms/deflects damage where as metal don't so insides damaged.
    And as been said most have a case for phone anyway as i got a note 2 but had to have white but with black flip case looks ok
  • mike55 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    How does Samsung do 3 GB of RAM in regards to how the memory channels are set up?
  • blueboy11 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    The fact that it has an updated 1080p screen, more RAM (2.5GB with OS though) and a removable battery is more than enough to wet my taste for the phone. Probably get this one with tax refund, but who knows, with phones popping up like popcorn, something even better will show up!
  • cap1980 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    I heard in India 3G version of Samsung Note 3 will be available with exynos octa core processor. Can anyone please answer my following questions.
    1. If I purchase LTE Qualcomm 800 version from US will it work smoothly in India, if and when 4g is available?
    2. Does processor make a lot of difference?
    3. Is it true that 4K video recording is not possible with exynos version?
    4. What other major differences will be there in two versions?
    5. Lastly why two versions at all?

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