Hands-on with Samsung's new Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1

Credit: Stewart Wolpin/DVICE

For those of you who didn't think the 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Note II phablet was big enough, the company yesterday showed off its 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 phablet, now with a fancy stitched textured leather rear, along with a regular-sized Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, also with a stitched leather back.

Because they're Notes, both come with a stylus which does more than let you hand write, well, notes. Both also include the company's Knox security software.

And because black and white are boring colors (and to get a jump on Apple's coming cheap colored iPhone 5C), the Galaxy Note 3 will be available in seven other pastel colors and six metallic colors.

Initially, the only extra color other than black and white will be pink when the phone goes on sale on September 25 around the world, but not in the U.S. until "later this year" from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and U.S. Cellular (T-Mobile already has a pre-register page set up).

Did I mention the rear is a luxurious textured stitched leather? Very executive boardroom-ish.

Of course, unless I've completely misconstrued the market, folks will buy the Galaxy Note 3 for its specs, not its aesthetics (other than the leather, maybe). And the Galaxy Note 3's specs are spectacular, such as:

  • The aforementioned 5.7-inch 1920 x 1080 super AMOLED screen
  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
  • Category 4 LTE (150/150 Mbps)
  • 2.3 GHz quad-core processor (not the eight-core that had been rumored; sorry geeks)
  • 13-megapixel rear camera with High CRI LED flash, 2-megapixel front camera with BSI sensor
  • Ultra High Quality 24-bit, 192 kHz audio
  • IR LED remote for TV control
  • NFC
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 32GB or 64GB of storage
  • 3,200 mAh battery, rated for 13 hours and 10 minutes of full HD video watching (really, and 10 minutes)

What Can You Do With It?

As noted, the stylus does more than let you scribble unreadable notes like previous Notes. Samsung has made enhancements to several of its multimedia functions.

For instance, hover the stylus over the screen and press its button and an S Pen menu appears from which you can conduct a universal search, including handwritten content, both words and symbols.

With Pen Window, you can draw a box on the screen, into which you can place a second app overlay (it's kind of really cool to do).

In Multi Window you can now have the same app open in two separate side-by-side windows and drag from one to the other. The example Samsung showed was two chat windows and being able to drag a text from one conversation into the other conversation.

Perhaps coolest off all, and maybe least useful, was Multi Vision. You place two or more Galaxy Note 3 smartphones side-by-side to watch a multi-screen widescreen movie.

Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)

The Galaxy Note 10.1 has most of the Galaxy Note 3's specs and features, including the stitched leather rear, but only in black and white.

It's only spec differences are an 8-megapixel rear camera instead of 13-megapixel and a 1.9-megapixel front, and its display is a Retina-like 2,560 x 1,600 pixels.

Like the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is surprisingly thin (7.9mm) and light (1.3 pounds), thinner and lighter than previous Note tabs and iPad as well.

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