Samsung steps it up with Galaxy Note 3

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a phablet worth owning, if you're into that sort of thing.
BY RICHARD HALL rhall@opubco.com Modified: December 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm •  Published: December 16, 2013
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The Galaxy Note series mashes up the best of two worlds: smartphones and tablets. Samsung essentially invented the phablet we all know today, and the company's latest Note is big, bold and beautiful, but not for everyone.

I guess that line of thinking is predictable, because what piece of tech is for everyone? Samsung knows what the Note 3 is and what it isn't, and they leave it up to consumers to decide for themselves.

Have small hands? Wear skinny jeans with small pockets? Think the stylus is so 2005? Then you likely won't give the Note 3 a second glance — even though its specs are admirable, comfort is king.

Compared to the Note 2, the 3 has grown up a bit. It has a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display in full 1080p HD, 2.3GHz quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, up to 64GB of internal storage (plus a microSD slot), and Android 4.3. In short: This is one of the most — if not the most — powerful phones available.

Specs aside, the best thing about the Note 3 is its stylus, dubbed the S Pen.

I'm not a big stylus fan, but I found myself using the S Pen quite a bit. And I loved every second of it.

There's a great feature called Air Command that Samsung has added to the Note 3.

The device recognizes when the S Pen is in use and automatically gives users a small on-screen menu that offers quick access to certain actions that open up a whole new world of coolness.

There's an action called screen write, which I found useful when I had to share driving directions with a friend. Screen write takes a screenshot then allows you to write a memo on the captured image. In my case, I wrote an X on the location I wanted to share with my friend, then I texted him the image.

Using the S Pen is easy and convenient. It also helps that the S Pen feels good, and doesn't have that cheap plastic feeling typically associated with the stylus.

The extra gig of RAM makes a world of difference when I compared the Note 3 to my Galaxy S4, which has 2GB of RAM. Apps loaded noticeably faster, and the Note 3 just felt smoother in its operation.

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