Samsung announces new Galaxy Note 3, smartwatch

New Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Gear smartwatch coming in late September

Samsung has announced three new products this morning at an event in Berlin: The Galaxy Note 3, the rumoured Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and the Galaxy Note 10.1 ‘2014 Edition’.

The Note 3 and Galaxy Gear will be available late September around much of the world – specific launch dates for Australia and New Zealand have yet to be announced.

A release date for the Note 10.1 2014 Edition has not been announced.

Galaxy Note 3

Samsung President and CEO JK Shin first announced the Galaxy Note 3, the latest in the company’s line of genre-straddling ‘phablet’ devices. The Note 3 is a full-featured smartphone (it makes calls) in a size almost that of a tablet, and with a pressure-sensitive pen for sketching, handwriting and other detailed or ‘creative’ work.

The latest Note has a 5.7-inch, 1920x1080-pixel Super AMOLED display, and measures 151 x 79 x 8.3mm. It weighs 168 grams. The screen size has been increased slightly from the Note 2’s 5.5 inches, though the actual width has decreased by 1.5mm and length remains the same.

In a very novel touch, the rear of the phone is covered in a stitched leather or leatherette backing, in black, white or pink.

The phone runs Android 4.3 ‘Jelly Bean’, comes with 32 or 64GB internal memory and a microSD card slot, and has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with a backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor.

Inside the Note 3 is a 2.3GHz quad-core CPU (LTE version), or a 1.9GHz octa-core CPU (3G version). Both versions include 3GB of RAM, making the Note 3 the first smartphone to do so. Samsung’s Menno van den Berg called the additional RAM “a multi-tasker's dream”, referring to the Note’s trademark split-screen multitasking ability, which has been extended in the Note 3 to include what appears to be true split-screen and ‘windowed’ multitasking of Android apps.

Galaxy Gear

Shin unveiled the Galaxy Gear smartwatch (our term, not Samsung’s - Ed.) part-way through the presentation, worn discretely on his own wrist.

The 74-gram device appears to be the size of an average digital sports watch, and is available in a range of colours. The wristband is integrated into the device – not interchangeable as with most watch bands – as it includes both the device’s 1.9-megapixel onboard camera, and a microphone used for voice commands and phone calls.

It has a 1.63-inch, 320x320-pixel Super AMOLED display, which supports touch and gestures. Inside is an 800MHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The watch runs its own apps, which will be available from a specialised Samsung Galaxy Gear app store.

The watch’s 315mAh Lithium-ion battery is advertised as lasting 25+ hours.

The Galaxy Gear pairs exclusively with the new Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1 ‘2014 Edition’, and with the Samsung Galaxy S4 via a software upgrade. Support for the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 2 is slated for October. Connectivity is via Bluetooth 4.0.

In addition to displaying call, text and email alerts, the Galaxy Gear can be used to make and answer calls. Samsung’s Pranav Mistry demonstrated a call, holding his hand to his ear ‘Secret Service’ style, thus bringing the microphone on the inside of the wristband close to his mouth. It’s unclear from the staged demonstration how audio is conveyed from the watch to the user – whether it’s highly directional, or whether anyone nearby would be able to hear the other side of the call.

Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is essentially a Galaxy Note in full tablet-size – it’s Samsung’s artistic/creativity alternative to the Galaxy Tab, due to its inclusion of the pressure-sensitive ‘S Pen’. The ‘2014 Edition’ announced today has been updated to match the technology and visual styling of the Galaxy Note 3.

The tablet is just 7.9mm thick, weighs 535g (Wi-Fi only model), and has a 8220mAh Lithium-ion battery. The 10.1-inch Super AMOLED display sports a 2560x1600-pixel resolution.

Like the Note 3, the Note 10.1 2014 has a 2.3GHz quad-core processor (LTE version), or 1.9GHz octa-core processor (3G version). The tablet has 3GB of RAM and runs Android 4.3 ‘Jelly Bean’.

Updated: See Nick Barber's hands-on with the Note 3 and Galaxy Gear via IDG News Service

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Harley Ogier

Harley Ogier

PC World New Zealand
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