Bigger, sharper screen
At 5.7 inches wide, the Galaxy Note 3's SuperAMOLED display is 0.2 inches wider than that of the Note II. Yet in the hand, it feels no bigger than the Note II. More important, resolution has been upped from 720p to 1080p, providing a home for every pixel of an HD video on its gorgeous SuperAMOLED screen.
The Note 3 has a faster quad-core processor (2.3GHz per core), the Snapdragon 800, which should let it better handle multiple apps simultaneously and consume less power. The processor also enables the phone to record 4K video, a feature that can be fully appreciated only on a 4K HDTV.
One performance-enhancing feature anyone can appreciate is the 3 gigabytes of RAM, the most we've seen yet on a smart phone. That extra one or two gigabytes of memory should help apps, including video, run smoother. Another Note 3 video advantage: The camcorder supports 60-frame-per-second video, which should reduce image jitter as you pan the camcorder left or right.
Longer battery life, faster charging
The Note 3's 3200mAh battery offers 100mAh more juice than the one on the Note II and, Samsung says, should provide noticeably longer battery life. As a point of reference, the Galaxy Note II received an Excellent score for battery life in our tests, so the Note 3 could be long-lived indeed if it meets that claim.
The Note 3 supports USB 3.0, which not only provides speedier file transfers between compatible devices but also facilitates lightning-fast charging via a wall outlet or any computer with a USB 3.0 port.
The Multi Window feature, which lets you view two apps on one screen, has been updated to let you use them simultaneously. For example, you can simply drag a photo from an open album into a text message to send it as an attachment. Or you can open two browsers at the same time so you can check Ratings on ConsumerReports.org and simultaneously shop online.
This view of social-network activity, message alerts, and news feeds can be summoned by sliding your finger upwards from the Note 3's Home button. Similar to HTC's BlinkFeed, it's an attractive, flowing grid of captioned, tilelike photos and other graphic elements that you can easily tailor to your preferences. Best of all, unlike with BlinkFeed, you can turn it on and off with just a swipe of your finger.
Pulling the S-Pen stylus out of its holder in the Note 3 calls up the Air Command, a semi-circle-shaped menu that provides quick access to a number of cool features with just a peck, including:
- Pen Window. This feature lets you draw a window of any size on the phone's desktop, into which one of several key apps can appear, such as the phone dial pad, the calculator, or a Google Chat. The app can be resized, even reduced to a tiny circle (think Facebook Chat Head) you can drag to the side until you need it again.
- Action Memo. This app lets you scribble notes and phone numbers with the S-Pen. The phone will scan that information and store it as editable, actionable text. For example, pecking a phone number will launch the phone dialer. But in our informal trials, typing more than one phone number on a page confused the app.
- Screen Write. This feature lets you use the S-Pen to carve out all or part of an image on your screen and add comments in just one or two steps.