Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview
The Note II had a very capable main camera and we're expecting its successor to follow suit. On the back of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 we see a 13MP shooter with a BSI sensor and digital image stabilization, backed by a high CRI (Color Rendering Index) LED flash. The latter is touted as capable of producing highly-accurate colors when used. But before we get to the actual photo samples, let's say a few words about the camera's features and UI.
We find the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 relatively easy to take photos with as its shape makes it suitable for being held horizontally. The camera app loads quickly and exhibits little to no shutter lag, which is great for capturing events as they happen. All in all, the camera UI looks as it does on other recent Samsungs. It is well laid out, with easy-to-reach settings menus, and instantly accessible shutter keys. Naturally, the experience is enhanced with a number of shooting modes that have been thrown in, including HDR, Panorama, Burst Shot, and more.
Since the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 unit we're handling is running an early software build, we'd like to restrain ourselves from commenting on its photos in detail. Yet they did turn out pretty good, although we're hoping that a retail unit will capture images with less noise in them, especially indoors. The flash appears to be working fine as we don't see the typical for Samsung devices cold colors when taking photos in low light.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 can record video in 4K resolution. That's 3840 x 2160 pixels, meant to match the native pixel count of those new, fancy 4K TVs. And the footage does look pristine – smooth and with tons of detail.
The gallery application lists image-containing folders on the left side of the screen, while thumbnails of the photos contained in the highlighted folder are displayed vertically on the right. New folders can be made, allowing one to make their own album. By hovering the S Pen over a given folder, one may get a preview of the images it contains, which is neat.
To be honest, we weren't expecting to see anything new upon launching the audio player loaded onto the Note 3. And our assumption turned out to be correct. Basically, the handset comes with the same Music app we know from the Galaxy S4 and its variations. But that isn't a bad thing, of course. The application is packed with a dozen of useful features, including lock screen controls, a home screen widget, an equalizer with tons of presets, and even voice commands for switching back and forth through the playlist. Furthermore, Samsung has not forgotten to include AdaptSound for fine-tuning the sound reproduction so that it would best match the user's earphones and hearing. Alternatively, Google's Play Music application is also present, for those who prefer that instead.
While we're at it, we must mention that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has been given support for 24bit/192kHz digital recordings, making it one of the very few smartphones capable of reproducing audio of such high resolution. Folks who are really into high-end audio will surely appreciate having this advantage, but we seriously doubt that the average Joe would be affected by it in any way.
As the case is with the Music player, the Video Player application we have on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the same one we've seen numerous times on previous Samsung devices. And we're okay with that. The app works just fine, after all, and can play back any popular video file format we can think of. Watching videos on the handset's 5.7-inch 1080p screen is a pleasure, as you might expect. High-resolution videos are played back flawlessly, with no skipped frames or lags when fast-forwarding.
The built-in mono loudspeaker on the Note 3 it produces clear tones at a sufficient volume level, and we like that it is positioned on the bottom side of the device, not the back.
There is a 3200mAh battery tucked inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – a decent capacity for a smartphone of this caliber. It is removable and can be replaced with a fresh one if exhausted. Official numbers regarding its longevity are yet to be announced.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is better than last year's model in every way imaginable, which makes it an ideal successor to a popular, easily recognizable device. And it is an awesome smartphone as a whole, as our examination goes to show, combining powerful hardware with tons of software features to attract buyers' attention with. We see great potential in it and we won't be surprised if the handset sells by the boatloads once it is released.
However, while the Galaxy Note 3 easily gets our thumbs-up, it leaves us craving for more. What we mean is that perhaps Samsung should have innovated further with the Note 3; it should have given it a more resounding “Wow!” factor instead of just treating us to the mandatory upgrades in the hardware department sprinkled with a handful of new S Pen features on top. After all, the time when the Galaxy Note stood in a league of its own is now gone. Sure, the Note 3 does seem to be one of the better large-screened smartphones to date, but the competition, aiming to grab a bite of the phablet segment, is steadily picking up pace.
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra, for example, is a well-made alternative to the Galaxy Note 3, with resistance to dust and water damage. Huawei, on the other hand, has the Ascend Mate, which is definitely cheaper than what the Note 3 will retail for. And then of course come the high-end handsets of slightly smaller caliber. The LG G2, to name one, comes with a screen that is nearly as large as the Note 3's and is just as capable in the hardware department as Samsung's offering.
Samsung has announced the Galaxy Note 3 release date already – that is set for September 25. Expect our complete Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review soon!