Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo Preview
Interface and functionality
Samsung Nature UX features and S Pen apps galore
Our prototype version of the Galaxy Note 3 Neo is loaded with Samsung's TouchWiz Nature UX on top of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. The retail won't come with KitKat either, but we hope it will be updated shortly thereafter. With NatureUX, however, the most apparent visual differences that KitKat brings, like a transparent status bar and full-screen wallpaper, are present stock, so there's not much of a surface difference at first look.
You can expect all the bells and whistles that come with Samsung's homemade interface overlay, like Smart Stay, which keeps the screen on while you are looking at it, and the multi-window mode that can run two different apps on a split screen.
The Note 3 Neo's display size is very conducive to multitasking, and when you add the S Pen apps to the mix, the handset becomes in a league of its own. It offers the excellent S Note application, various drawing and annotating functions in the Gallery or Calendar, as well as the Air View and Air Gestures that let you hover above the display with the stylus or a finger, marking links and evoking pop up info.
Typing on the largish display with one hand is still a chore when you have to reach for the upper left or right corner of the keyboard, depending on the side. You can enable Swype-like functionality that traces your finger from a letter to a letter, and inputs the word for you, instead of pecking at each individual key.
Samsung also offers its Assistant menu in the Accessibility settings, that floats a small square on top of the screen, which contains large back, notifications, menu and so on buttons. This way you don't have to stretch all the way down to the capacitive buttons, for example, just to hit the back key, while juggling the large handset on your index finger – a helpful feat with plus-size phones.
Processor and memory
The first hexacore Exynos has slow 1.3 GHz clock speed and may not be a benchmark monster, but comes with decent 2GB of RAM
We have a new kid on the Exynos block, and it the hexacore CPU found in the Note 3 Neo. It has two Cortex-A15 cores, clocked at 1.7 GHz maximum, and four Cortex-A7s, clocked at 1.3 GHz. The new Exynos is paired with a decent graphics processor, too, ARM's Mali-T624, so it's unlikely you'll have interface or app lag and hiccups, though for heavy 3D games it might be throttling the effects down. This one will go into the LTE version of the Note 3 Neo, while the 3G one will get a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor.
Still, the hexacore Exynos here is clocked much slower than the 2.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 or the 1.9 GHz Exynos 5 Octa versions of the Note 3, so the difference in benchmarks is poised to be very significant. Same goes for the GPU, which is likely to be faster than Mali-400 in the Note II, but weaker than the Adreno 330 or Mali-T628 graphics processors that can be found in the Note 3.
Moreover, Samsung has put 2 GB of RAM in the phablet, so you can line up many apps open at the same time without slowing it down. There are 16 GB of internal memory (11 GB user-available), plus a microSD slot for storage expansion on the handset.
Internet and connectivity
Samsung's TouchWiz browser looks a bit dated with its squarish interface elements, but it's proven to be one of the fastest renderers, plus it sports Adobe Flash support out of the box. There will be two versions of the phablet - 3G one with HSPA+ download speeds up to 21 Mbps, and one with 4G LTE.
The Galaxy Note 3 Neo offers plenty of connectivity radios, such as Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0. A-GPS, DLNA and FM. In some markets the handset will have an IR blaster for remote controlling your TV or home stereo, too.