The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 phablet is only a few months old in the United States, and yet, there are already rumors about its successor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. And while many of the details regarding the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 remain scarce, we still have enough to make an early comparison to Samsung’s current large screen smartphone.
At IFA 2012 in Berlin, Samsung debuted the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 at an Unpacked event that included a large audience, a magnificent screen and some magic from the hosts. The device, which replaced the original Samsung Galaxy Note on shelves several weeks later, brought a bit of magic of its own, going on to sell over five million units around the world, a figure that helped to solidify it as a solid contender, and not just a gimmick, on the smartphone market.
This type of success was not originally seen as a given for the Samsung Galaxy Note series which pairs a massive display with an S Pen stylus that takes advantage of some unique software features. The screen size put the Galaxy Note at arms length of many tablet devices while the stylus was thought to be an outdated piece of technology and one that seemed better suited for larger slates.
However, as we have seen, Samsung has succeeded in offering a smartphone that is part phone and part tablet, and one that should be on shelves for the foreseeable future. Already, we’re hearing a bit about the future of the Samsung Galaxy Note series in the form of the rumored Samsung Galaxy Note 3, a device that will likely be taking the place of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 later on this year.
And while we are still very early on in the year, we have several pieces of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 puzzle. We can also make some logical guesses based on the features of Samsung’s latest arrival, the Samsung Galaxy S4.
So while the iron isn’t necessarily hot yet, we still think it’s worth taking a look at how the rumored Samsung Galaxy Note 3 stacks up versus the very official Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in terms of release date, hardware, software, and more.
Since the end of November, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has been available on the five largest carriers in the United States, remaining a top choice for consumers looking for a high-end smartphone. And the Galaxy Note 2 will likely remain in that position for quite sometime as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 likely won’t be out for quite awhile.
In the past, Samsung has used the IFA conference in Berlin to launch its new, yearly Samsung Galaxy Note. Both the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy Note 2 were launched there and thus far, all signs point to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launch date as taking place either during IFA 2013 or shortly before the event occurs.
Given the marketing that Samsung used for its Samsung Galaxy S4 event, which it labeled Episode 1 of 2013’s Unpacked series, we expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launch to be Episode 2 or 3. That likely means that Samsung will rent out some type of venue near the IFA conference to unveil its Galaxy Note 3.
This year, IFA 2013 is scheduled to be taking place during the first part of September with the event lasting from September 6th to September 11th. Rumors have pointed to a Galaxy Note 3 announcement in September and so that means that September 1st through September 11th stand as likely Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launch dates.
As for its release date, Samsung typically releases devices at least a month after their announcement date which means that some markets could see the Galaxy Note 3 arrive in late September, while others like the United States, might get it later in October or November, the same months as the Galaxy Note 2 release last year.
The first thing that consumers will notice about the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is that the device is an absolute monstrosity, much larger than most other smartphones on the market.
Specifically, the Galaxy Note 2 checks in with a weight of 180 grams and a form factor that is 9.4mm thick. That is thinner than the original Galaxy Note. It’s also taller, but not wider, even with the larger display.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 design closely mirrors that of the Galaxy S3 which means that it sports a home button towards the bottom of the design for navigation and also offers curves and a build made out of polycarbonate plastic. The plastic is durable and makes the device easy to hold though those with smaller hands may have a tough time using it with one hand alone.
We have yet to see anything leak out about the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 design though if the past is any indication, we expect it to resemble a larger version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 which offers a little bit of a different take on previous Galaxy S3 designs.
The device’s plastic form factor feels far less like plastic than previous models and it also has a colored, metallic looking strip that extends around the entire phone.
While not confirmed, it’s also possible that Samsung could continue to thin out the Galaxy Note 3 in an effort to make it more lightweight and thus, more pocketable.
The Samsung Galaxy Note series is known for its large display with the Galaxy Note coming in with a 5.3-inch display and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 offering a larger 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display with 720p resolution and 267 pixels-per-inch.
Text, images and video on the Galaxy Note 2 look good, but they don’t look as good as the content that appears on Samsung’s latest screen technology, employed on the Galaxy S4.
The Galaxy S4 has ushered in a new era of Samsung displays as it offers a high 441 pixel-per-inch count along with 1080p resolution. This translates into beautiful images, video and web browsing.
Rumors have not only suggested that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 display may feature 1080p resolution, but it also might come with the flexible unbreakable display technology that we saw Samsung introduce, again, at CES 2013.
At CES 2013, Samsung showed off its Samsung Youm flexible OLED technology that will almost certainly be implemented into some of Samsung’s future smartphones. Rumors suggest that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 could be the first.
As for its size, it’s unclear if it will be any larger than the Samsung Galaxy Note 2’s 5.5-inch display, despite reports suggesting that it could be 5.9-inches or 6.3-inches in size.
Samsung is now thought to be announcing two devices with 5.8-inch and 6.3-inch displays in the Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 and the Galaxy Mega 6.3, something that could limit the size of the Galaxy Note 3’s display.
Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy Note feature good, but not great 8MP cameras. They allowed users to shoot decent photos and 1080p video, but they often struggled in low-light environments, something that plagued many smartphones in 2012.
As we saw with the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 13MP camera, Samsung is taking steps to improve its rear cameras, and we expect something similar to happen with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Nothing has been rumored yet but we wouldn’t be shocked to see that 13MP sensor popped into the Galaxy Note 3’s frame. After all, Samsung kept an 8MP sensor in both the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy S2 smartphones as well.
There of course are specifications beyond the design, display and camera on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will also have other important features as well. Here, we take a look at how the Galaxy Note 2 specs could match up to the Galaxy Note 3’s.
First, a run down of the Galaxy Note 2 specs.
- 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display with 1280×720 resolution
- 1.6GHz Quad-core Exynos Processor
- 16GB Storage (microSD Card Slot)
- 8MP Camera/1.9MP Front-Facing
- 3,100mAh Battery (Removable)
- 2GB of RAM
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 remains firmly in the shadows, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t heard about some possibilities or that we can’t make some logical hypotheses.
First, while the Galaxy Note 2 totes a last-gen quad-core Exynos processor, rumors suggest that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will possess the new Exynos 5 Octa octo-core processor, a processor that has already been shown to be extremely powerful and likely, very battery efficient as well.
Second, while nothing is rumored, a hallmark of Samsung devices are their removable backs which offer the user the ability to install an extended battery. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has a removable back and we expect the Galaxy Note 3 to have one as well. However, as we’ve seen with the Galaxy S4, Samsung finally figured out how to offer wireless charging via a back plate and we could see the Galaxy Note 3 become the first Samsung phablet with that feature.
Third, another staple of Samsung’s designs are their microSD card slots which allow for expanded storage. As we saw with the Galaxy Note 2, carriers heavily relied on this feature as they only offered the 16GB model. The Galaxy Note 3 will likely launch in a similar manner, at least in the U.S., as users will be able to buy a 64GB microSD card to bring their total space up to 80GB.
Fourth, as we saw with the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung is constantly making upgrades to the battery size of its flagship devices. The Galaxy Note 2 boasts one of the largest batteries in any smartphone but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Samsung up the power with the battery on the Galaxy Note 3.
And finally, fifth, there is talk that Samsung might opt for a Sharp display, something that could potentially improve the experience of the device’s S Pen stylus.
At CES 2013, Sharp told us that its IGZO LCD displays will provide better looking displays, but also fantastic battery life and better touch support, something that the Galaxy Note 3 and the S Pen rely on. The rumored change did not specifically mention IGZO technology so it’s unclear if that would be on board if Samsung chooses Sharp.
As we’ve told you, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 features some of the more unique software of any smartphone on the market. While it does not feature the latest Android software update in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, it uses Android 4.1 Jelly Bean instead, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has some unique software properties in the form of its many features that take advantage of its S Pen stylus.
S-Note, one of the main apps on the Galaxy Note 2, affords users an easy way to take notes. In fact, S Note opens up automatically when the S Pen is taken out of its on board holster.
Another S Pen feature, Air View, allows users to simply use the pen to hover over calendar events and emails to get a preview before opening them. This is feature that is similar to the Galaxy S4′s Air View which allows users to do the same thing, only with their finger. The S Pen can also take advantage of another app called Easy Clip which allows users to crop photos simply by using the stylus.
The S Pen isn’t the only part of the Galaxy Note 2’s software DNA either. It also houses powerful multitasking, part of which comes in the form of Multi-Window View which allows user to run two apps on screen at the same time, something that is well suited for a large screen smartphone like the Galaxy Note 2.
So far, we haven’t heard much about the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 software. We imagine that Samsung will include all of these S Pen features, and possibly make some enhancements, and likely also add some of the Samsung Galaxy S4 software features, many of which can be seen in the video below.
The most likely candidates are the new camera app features which include Dual Camera and Sound & Shot though we imagine that Samsung might include some of the Galaxy S4’s same sensors on the Galaxy Note 3 which would allow for Galaxy Note 3 users to do things like use their device as a universal remote for their home theater.
We have heard about one specific Galaxy Note 3 feature that may arrive later this year and that feature it Samsung Orb, a feature that was rumored for the Galaxy S4 but never materialized. Rumors suggest that Samsung Orb, which is Samsung’s version of Android 4.2’s Photo Sphere, something that allows owners to take 360-degree panoramas, may come first to the Galaxy Note 3.
As for the Android OS itself, with Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie likely on the way in May at Google I/O, we’d imagine that Samsung, like the Galaxy Note 2, will outfit the most current Android OS at the time, which, will more than likely be Android 5.0.
While the original Samsung Galaxy Note only arrived on AT&T and T-Mobile, the latter only for a few weeks, its success drove other carriers to adopt the large-screen smartphone as their own. With the Galaxy Note 2, Sprint, U.S. Cellular and Verizon also joined the cause and offered it on their 4G LTE networks.
T-Mobile, at the beginning, only offered the Galaxy Note 2 on its HSPA+ 42 network, slower than LTE, but it has since issued a software update that enables 4G LTE speeds in areas where it’s available.
The only carrier mention that we’ve seen thus far in regards to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is in a report that claimed that Samsung was shopping a Galaxy Note 3 mockup to executives at AT&T. AT&T was an initial partner in the Galaxy Note series so it’s not surprising to hear that it may opt to offer the Galaxy Note 3.
In fact, it would be surprising to see any of the big name carriers pass on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 given the successes of the other two phablet devices. That said, we still have no confirmation of carriers and likely won’t until September.
We haven’t seen any rumors in regards to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 price just yet but we expect it to follow the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 pricing scheme. That means that it will likely launch across most carriers with a $299.99 starting on-contract price tag. Remember, the Galaxy Note series is more expensive than standard phones due to the bundled S Pen accessory, an accessory that is vital to the device.
T-Mobile of course, should it offer the Galaxy Note 3, will likely charge a different price. T-Mobile has shifted to off-contract pricing for its devices and no longer offers subsidized pricing. That means that we should see the carrier offer it for a minimum down payment, perhaps in the $199.99 range, with consumers making monthly payments to pay off the rest of the full price, a price that should be in the neighborhood of $650.