Even though the Samsung Galaxy S4 is approaching and the new flagship smartphone of the South Korean phone maker will be in the spotlight, we din't forget about the next-gen phablet of the company. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 release date is still a mystery, but this won't stop us from taking an educated guess on what will happen. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 specs are also unknown, but we will take a look back at the company's previous launches in an attempt to see what the new phablet will bring.
When Samsung launched the first-gen Galaxy Note back in September 2011 few have though that a smartphone with a 5.3-inch display will become popular in a moment when the market was dominated by smartphones that barely hit the 4.5-inch threshold. But the Galaxy Note proved everybody they were wrong and it quickly became a popular terminal, and in 2011 it was Samsung second best-selling smartphone after the Galaxy S2 flagship.
The Galaxy Note 2 was also an important product in Samsung's portfolio and because the new phablet was released around the time Apple was launching it's latest smartphone, and, according to the reports, the 5.5-incher managed to steal some of iPhone 5's sales, even though the two smartphones weren't even competing on the same market segment.
Some say that just like it happened last year, Samsung may hold a special Unpacked event sometime ahead of the IFA Berlin 2013 which is held between September 6 - 11. This means that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 release date will be set sometime late August, hitting the market soon after the Berlin-based tech fair closes its gates.
In my opinion this won't bet the best move from Samsung, as the iPhone 5S will have 2 months time to cannibalize the Galaxy S4 sales without having any response from the Asian manufacturer.
Since the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is expected to be the South Korean company's ace up the sleeve in the battle against the Cupertino-based giant, my guess is that we all should wait the next-gen Samsung phablet to drop a couple of weeks after Apple's next-gen iPhone. A launch in early August would be, in my opinion, the best for the Galaxy Note 3: five months after the debut of the Galaxy S4 and a couple of weeks after the iPhone 5S launch.
Even though the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 would be launched less than a year after its predecessor was released on the market, an early debut of the Galaxy Note 3 would not affect Galaxy Note 2 as much as an iPhone 5S with no fresh rival to compete with on the market.
There are a lot of speculations regarding the technical specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, as well. Because there's no official word from Samsung, yet, there's a lot of mystery surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 specs.
I will try not to look like a child into the candy shop and tell you what I would wish from the Galaxy Note 3, but to make some educated guesses based on Samsung's previous product launches and on what are the current trends in the smartphone business.
In my opinion the display is one of the most important components of a smartphone, because you are looking at it each time you grab your phone, and this is why one must love it's smartphone's display.
Since all the smartphones are growing lately, we are also expecting the phablets to get even bigger. Some rumors that surfaced late 2012 were saying that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will come with a 6.3-inch display. Wait, what? This means it would be even bigger than Huawei's gigantic Asecend Mate and it's 6.1-inch display. We've seen it at CES 2013 and trust me, you don't know what a big smartphone is until you get a look at the Asecnd Mate.
Moreover, with a 6.3-inch display, the Samsung Galaxy Note would almost step on the territory of the 7-inch tablets with phone function, and I am sure that Samsung wouldn't want this from one of its popular products.
In my opinion, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will follow the slow and steady upgrade model of its predecessor, and it will come with a display between 5.7 and 5.9 inches. The first Galaxy Note had a 5.3-inch display, followed by the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 with its 5.5-inch display, so I see no reason why the Note 3 should come with a 6.3-inch touch panel. Furthermore, the latest rumors coming from Korea Times are saying that Samsung is reportedly working on a 5.9-inch smartphone, which might be the Note 3.
The display of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will definitely come with full HD resolution, and just like its predecessors, did we are expecting it to be underpinned by Super AMOLED technology. The Super AMOLED displays are one of the best currently on the market coming with unrivalled contrast, almost 180 degree viewing angles and "real black", but they also have their flows: the color reproduction is not what you'd call accurate on the Super AMOLED, plus it's performance under direct sun light is less than decent.
The general perception is that the Super AMOLED displays are more battery friendly than the LCD displays, which is just partially true. The Super AMOLED screens are capable of saving battery because when it has to display "black" it will simply turn off the pixels in that area, but little do they know that it consumes twice as much battery in order to create "white." Indeed, the smartphones with Super AMOLED displays can be more battery friendly than the LCD ones, but for that the users will have to set black homescreen backgrounds and read white text on black.
There are also a lot of question marks raised about the processor that will underpin the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. While certain sources are saying that it will come with an Exynos 5 Octa processor, while other say that it will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU.
Let me tell you what's my opinion on the mater. There were some reports saying that Samsung will ditch the Exynos 5 Octa chipset from the Galaxy S4 because it is not compatible with the LTE networks in the United States, but my guess is that the South Koreans are in the same situation like they were with the Galaxy S3.
As you probably know the North American Galaxy S3 variant came with a dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor instead of the Exynos 4 Quad processor of the international variant, because the latter one was had some troubles connecting with the 4G LTE networks in the United States and Canada.
Therefore, we might see the international Samsung Galaxy S4 powered by an Exynos 5 Octa chipset, while the customers in US and Canada will receive a quad-core Snapdragon 600 SoC.
Why am I talking about the Samsung Galaxy S4? Because that's what happened last year with the S3 and so far, it seems like the history repeats itself. By the time the Galaxy Note 2 hit the market, Samsung has fixed the LTE problem of the Exynos 4 Quad processor and the second phablet of the company has hit all the markets boasting a the same quad-core processor as the international Galaxy S3, but overclocked with 200 MHz.
Summing up, we should see the Galaxy Note 3 hitting all the markets sporting Samsung's proprietary Exynos 5 Octa chipset, but at a higher clock speed than the one fitted on the SGS4.
If the 4G problems of the Exynos 5 Quad SoC persist, then I see no reason why Samsung would use the Snapdragon 600 and not go for the more powerful Snapdragon 800, as long as Qualcomm announced at CES 2013 in January, that the first terminals equipped with the Snapdragon 800 will hit the market this summer.
I remind you that the Exynos 5 Octa processor was officially introduced by the South Korea company earlier this year at CES 2013 event in Las Vegas. The octo-core Exynos 5 Octa SoC is based on the big.LITTLE technology developed by ARM and is based on four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz (used for the tasks that require more processing power) and four Cortex A7 cores at 1.2 GHz (for basic tasks like phone calls, internet browsing, or music playback). The set of Cortex A7 cores is supposed to make the Exynos 5 Octa more battery friendly, and according to Samsung, the new processing unit consumes 70% less energy than the Exynos 5 Dual processor.
The Exynos 5 Octa is helped by a tri-cire PowerVR SGX544MP3 GPU clocked at 533 MHz, which should give it graphics processing performance somewhere between the iPad 3 and iPad 4.
The other technical specifications of the Galaxy Note 3 might not be as impressive as the ones mentioned above. Besides 4G LTE connectivity, we should also expect 2 GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC chip, microUSB 2.1, 3.5 mm jack, and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot. To me the most impressive feature is the WiFi ac support which brings improved download speeds.
As usual, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be available in three storage options: 16, 32, 64 GB, and, hopefully, the Asian phone maker won't forget about the microSD card support.
If any of you thought about a Galaxy Note 3 with aluminium or glass body, I will have to shatter your dreams. Samsung knows there are many of you out there who want a removable battery, and the aluminium or glass unibody cases are not good friends with battery swaps (see iPhone 5, Sony Xperia Z, HTC One, or Nokia Lumia 920). Another reason is that the plastic is cheaper and easier to produce, perfect for the the Galaxy Note 3 sales volume. The plastic is also lighter than aluminium or glass, and, some say, that it's more resistant to shocks.
The camera will be another interesting part of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The last to generation of Samsung phablets have used 8 megapixel cameras and given that the competition already made the jump to more powerful sensors (Xperia Z - 13 MP with Exmor R sensor, HTC One - 4 MP Ultrapixel camera with 1/3" sensor size, and LG Optimus G Pro - 13MP with Photo Sphere) the Galaxy Note 3 should come with a 13 megapixel sensor.
Because the Galaxy Note 3 is somehow Galaxy S4's bigger brother, the phablet will definitely borrow its camera sensor and some of its camera features. Last month, we've told you exclusively that the SGS4 will come with a Photo Sphere-like camera feature called Samsung Orb, and hopefully the Note 3 will borrow it, too.
We are also expecting Galaxy Note 3's camera to come with BSI sensor, image and video stabilization.
The S Pen has become the image of the Galaxy Note brand and the Note 3 will definitely come with a stylus. It was rumored that the S Pen will also receive an upgrade, and the rumor might be accurate, especially after Samsung bought 5% in Wacom shares, a company that produces graphics tablets and related products and it's specialized in pressure-sensitive stylus or digital pen input technologies.
There were some rumors that said the Galaxy Note 3 will come with both stylus and finger hovering gestures. We don't know for sure what finger hovering is, but according to sources it might work in a similar way the Air View feature works with the S Pen of the Note 2. By hovering your finger over content in gallery, links, or video player progress bar, information about the respective items will be displayed on the screen.
The Google I/O 2013 even is scheduled to begin on May 15th, and the latest iteration of the mobile operating system developed by the Mountain View-based company, unofficially dubbed Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, is expected to debut there. If my prediction is accurate and the Galaxy Note 3 will see the light of day early August, then there's enough time for the Samsung engineers to optimize the Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie for the 5.9-incher.
Just like it happened every year, the new Notes borrowed some of the software features of the Galaxy S flagships, so the Galaxy Note 3 should receive some of Galaxy S4's features. The Smart Scroll and the Smart Pause are in the spotlight lately, and some leaked screenshots make us believe we'll see them both on the S4. The Smart Scroll will be capable of scrolling the page when the device detects that your eyes have reached the low end of the phone's display, while the Smart Pause will be detect when the user is not looking at the screen and pause the video playback.
Of course, the Nature UX 2.0 UI will reportedly land on the Galaxy S4, but since the Galaxy Note 3 might come pre-loaded with Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, which is supposed to be a major upgrade from Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Samsung might also bring a major upgrade to TouchWiz, so the phablet might receive a completely revamped UI, that will roll out as a firmware update for the Galaxy S4 soon after the Note 3 hits the market.
That all for now with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 release date and specs. I promise to return with details and rumors about the next-gen Samsung phablet as soon as they hit web, but in the meantime, please let us knowwhat are you expecting from the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, in the comments section.