CNET First Look
Samsung's most impressive phablet yetThe new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is extremely fast, has a bigger, better screen, plus a host of new S Pen features.
Hi, guys. This is Brian Bennett for CNET and right now we're taking a first look at Samsung's latest beast of a phone tablet hybrid. That's right my friends. I'm holding in my hands the Galaxy Note 3. Shipping now and hitting US carriers in force in October 2013. The Note 3 cost $299.99 on Verizon and AT&T. T Mobile sells the device for a lower $199.99 upfront but you're on the hook for 24 monthly payments of $21. Sprint and US Cellular have also said they expect to scoop up the Note 3 soon. Now I know that $300 is a heck of a lot of dote coughed up for smartphone on contract. The Galaxy Note 3 though has a ton of awesome features, a fresh design plus cutting edge software and components. And oh, yes. The mighty S Pen, which Samsung is so proud of. Measuring 6 inches long by 3.1 inches wide and just a 1/3 inch think the Note 3 is only a hair taller and wider than its predecessor. It's a smidge lighter to 5.9 ounces compared to the Note 2, 6.4 ounces. It's an impressive engineering feat considering the Note 3 packs a bigger screen than its predecessor and my-- what a screen it is spanning a massive 5.7 inches across. The Note breeze AMOLED display is not only big. It has an extremely sharp full HD 1080p resolution, which Samsung says provides an ultra fun 385 ppi. The high contrast display produces well-saturated colors as well with deep blacks and boost wide viewing angles. Samsung has gussy up the Note 3s designed too. The edges are molded in foam metallic silver complete with distinctive rich lines. Another controversial design choice is the back plate which flaunts a fake leather motif. It's pseudo-organic pattern surface has an almost leatherette qualities to it. There's even mock stitching running around it. The upside is it resists fingerprints and it's easy for your fingers to grip. The downside is, since it's made from thin plastic, it lacks the premium feel of real metal or expensive polycarbonate. Personally, I like the Note's new look and it [unk] of classic Samsonite briefcases from the 1960's, very cool indeed. The Note 3 runs Android 4.3 Jellybean powered by a blazing 2.3 GHz quad-core snapdragon 800 processor back in this up is not 2 but 3 gigabytes or RAM along with 32 gigabytes of internal storage. Better still is the phone's huge 3200 mAh battery, which Samsung claims will powered the device for 15 hours straight. It's removable too so you can swap in a fresh battery if you have one handy. To add more memory, the Note 3 has an SD card slot but you'll have to remove the battery to get at it. Above the screen is a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Below is a physical home button and 2 capacitive Android keys. Buttons for power and volume sit on the right and the left side while there's a 3.5 mm headphone jack up to. Around back is the Note's 13-megapixel camera with LED flash. The Note 3's camera app comes with a huge bucket of shooting modes still find on the Galaxy S4. They ranged from the very useful such as HDR, Burst, Panorama, to the strange like Beauty Face, Golf and Eraser, which removes people and moving objects in the background. On the bottom lip is what really sets a Note 3 apart from other smartphones. It's S Pen's stylus. Samsung made the tool more compact and has given the Note 3 slick new abilities. When you pulled the S Pen out of its [unk] it little pen-shaped graphic called the air-command appears. You can also activate it by holding the pen close to the screen and pressing its button. Air-command has 5 main options; Action Memo, Scrap Booker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window. Just tap a selection to launch the feature. Action Memo lets you create a hand-written note then e-mail it. Save it to your contacts. Use it in a text or look it up on a map. You can also convert notes into to-do list and even import them over to Evernote for safekeeping. Scrap Booker Lasso's images and content you see whether that'd be from a website, photos or YouTube videos to save in a virtual Scrap Book. The S Finder function will search the phone for keywords including your handwritten notes and present a list of documents with relevant information. Hitting Pen Window allows you to draw box on the screen then select an application that will fill that space. So for instance you could have your e-mail or web browser open, then pull up a little window for the calculator, phone or contacts, which will float above everything even while there is the Advanced Multi Window that allows you to open multiple application Windows at once. Then even drag and drop content between them. Samsung has also taken a cue from HTC and its blink feed news aggregator, which first appeared in the HTC One. Swiping upwards from the home screen on the Note 3 launches the My Magazine News viewer using technology from the popular flip board app. My Magazine serves up articles and news stories from a variety of websites. I'm Brian Bennett for CNET, and this has been a first look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Be sure to check out our full review.