Almost certainly, Samsung will announce the Galaxy Note 3 during (before) IFA 2013. Galaxy Note was announced during IFA 2011, Note 2 was in IFA 2012.
There are some leaked images and specifications circulating around. But none of them accurate, because Samsung surely produced several prototypes for evaluation. A few additional prototypes may be just to confuse competitors.
Based on Samsung’s track record in Galaxy S series and Galaxy Note series, it is certain, that Galaxy Note 3 will be an “upgrade” to Galaxy s4, not just an upgrade to Galaxy Note 2. This is the product strategy for Samsung. When S4 was released, there is about one year time for competitors to beat S4 with newer hardware. Note series at least shorten this window to 6 months.
So, what will be seen in Note 3? Here is the top 10 list.
1. Full HD display
Galaxy Note 3 will surely have full HD (1080p) screen. And it will surely be Super AMOLED made by Samsung. Early this year, before Galaxy S4 was announced, there was a rumor that Samsung had problems with full HD on AMOLED. S4 stopped this rumor. So, Samsung definitely has no problems to produce full HD AMOLED display in a bigger screen.
Full HD on a 5″ screen like S4 may be a waste. But for a 5.7″-6″ screen, the pixel density (arounfd 370ppi) is human eyes’ limit. More pixels will be just wasted.
For Galaxy Note 2 users, it is an upgrade from HD 720p to 1080p.
2. Exynos 5 Octa 5420 processor
Exynos 5 Octa 5420 will very likely be used on Galaxy Note 3. This is an improved version of Octa 5410 found in Galaxy S4. The 1.8 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 and 1.3 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 provide 10% more CPU raw power than 5410. But the most significant improvement of 5420 is its GPU. It will pack the latest ARM Mali-T628 MP6 GPU, which provides 130 GFLOPS at 667MHz. The OCta 5 5410 only has IT PowerVR SGX544MP3, which provides 51.2 GFLOPS.
If we compare this processor with one-year-old Exynos 4 Quad 4412 in Galaxy Note 2, it is a big leap in both CPU and GPU
3. 3GB RAM
Last month, Samsung announced the mass production of 3GB low power double data rate 3 (LPDDR3) mobile DRAM. This confirmed earlier rumors that Galaxy Note 3 will feature 3GB RAM.
So far, Galaxy Note 2 works quite well with 2GB RAM. We seldom encounter RAN issues. However, with full HD display, and new version of Android, 3GB RAM can guarantee the Galaxy Note 3 will not be outdated for next 2-3 years.
For Galaxy Note users, this increased RAM can be an important factor for upgrading, A lot of users feel Galaxy Note is slower after the Jelly Bean update. The major reason is insufficient RAM due to bloatware and excessive background processes.
4. 5.7″-6″ display
Due to the unexpected success of Galaxy Note, and Note 2, very unlikely Samsung will change the phone size dramatically. If you check the the display size for S4 (5″) and Galaxy Mega 6.3 (6.3″), it is not difficult to understand 5.7″-6″ size range is reserved for Galaxy Note 2.
Although Galaxy Mega 5.8 falls in this range, its target is the middle-low market. This explains why Mega 6.3 has far better specifications than Mega 5.8. Samsung need a device in 6-7″ range for middle-high market to compete against Sony, Huaiwei, and LG. The launch of Galaxy Mega 6.3 stopped the rumor of 6.3″ Note 3.
5. Android Jelly Bean 4.3
Android 4.3 was officially announced to the public last month. All OHA members (Samsung of course is a members) has been able to access it for a few months already. So, Samsung has enough time to ship Jelly Bean 4.3 to claim the title of the first smartphone shipped (not updated to) with Android 4.3. This can be a good selling point and give buyers some good impressions.
Very likely, Galaxy Note 2 will get Jelly Bean 4.3 update (may skip Jelly Bean 4.2) as well after the launch of Galaxy Note 3. Our Galaxy Note probably stopped at Jelly Bean 4.1 and will not receive further update due to negative user experience following Jelly Bean 4.1 update.
6. All bells and whistles in Galaxy S4
In Galaxy S4, Samsung packed so many features through own skin, aka TouchWiz, and own apps. Some features are very useful, for example, dual camera mode, animated photo, air gesture, group play, WatchON, sound and shot, S Health, smart pause.
All these features will be available in Galaxy Note 3. Galaxy Note 2 will very likely get most of them.
7. New S Note
There are very few rumors on S Note app. But this does not mean this app is dying. On the contrary, Samsung is actively improving this app, not only just a few more templates, but also functionality and usability.
For creators, more pressure levels will be supported and more pixels. For note takers, the productivity tools will be expanded.
S Note is the killer feature of Galaxy Note series. The mass probably is not ready for it. But with improved S Note, it will reach broader users.
8. Improved S Pen
From Galaxy Note, to Note 2, Note 10.1 and Note 8.0, Samsung tried hard to figure out how to manufacture a fit-all S Pen. We noticed the continuous improvements in the iterations.
The S Pen in Galaxy Note is too small to hold comfortably. In Note 2, it is bigger and improved. Due to the form factor of the phone, it is hard to fit a S Pen bigger than that in Note 10.1. So, the improvement in new S Pen is on functions and ergonomics. It will probably have more than one button for some additional functions.
9. Non-plastic body
Samsung is fond of plastics, but not good at plastics (at least compared to Nokia). The flagship phones are often criticized for the low quality materials used for the phone body.
Samsung may be correct on the durability of plastics. But popular demands are something more appealing.
The latest investment in SGL group by Samsung may hint Samsung will shift from plastic to carbon fiber for some flagship smartphones. Galaxy Note 3 may have the chance (not so high though) of using carbon fiber.
10. Bigger battery
Longer battery life is one of the most wanted features for smart phone owners. Bigger screen will surely need more juice. Higher pixel density need more juice as well. So, it should not surprise you when you see a 3500-4000mAh battery in Galaxy Note 3.
Actually, if we look back, the trend is obvious: Galaxy Note (5.3″) has a 2500mAh battery; while Note 2 (5.5″) has a 3100mAh battery. The increased battery capacity are always needed for: 1). better performance and 2). longer battery life.