3 reasons why the Note 3 is Samsung's best smartphone

BERLIN, Germany - While the hype from Samsung’s Unpacked 2013 event in Berlin has focused mainly on the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, the latest iteration of its phablet line the Note 3 is a gem.

Sure the watch deserves the limelight, even if it is meant to be just an accessory, but the Korean manufacturer’s latest smartphone deserves a bit more attention than it is being given. In fact I’m going on a limb here to say that the Note 3 could very well be Samsung’s best smartphone yet. Here are 3 reasons why:

1. MOST POWERFUL

Take a look at the spec sheet. The device is fast. Faster than any other Galaxy smartphone today, possibly faster than any other smartphone today in fact. The Note 3 is the first smartphone ever to run on 3GB of RAM. That’s unprecedented. 

The phone is also powered by one of the fastest processors out there a 2.3GHz quad core Snapdragon. Compare that to the Galaxy S4 which runs on 1.9GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. Even the Sony Xperia Z1 unveiled at IFA 2013 runs on just a 2.2GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM.

2. FORM FACTOR

LEATHER BACK. The plastic snap off back case is still there, but it is covered by a faux leather that is stitched on its sides. Photo by Rappler / Michael Josh Villanueva

LEATHER BACK. The plastic snap off back case is still there, but it is covered by a faux leather that is stitched on its sides.

Photo by Rappler / Michael Josh Villanueva

I was probably the biggest critic of Samsung’s “plasticky” build. I’ve said it in all my reviews thus far. While great in terms of fall damage (it just usually snaps off after a major fall), the plastic back of devices like the S4 left much to be desired. I once told a Samsung rep that I wish Samsung would bring back the rubberized back of the original Note - similar to the glorious back of the Nexus 7. That day has come. 

While the phone’s back case is thankfully still removable, the new Note 3 comes with a faux leather back with stitching on its sides. This not only makes the device a pleasure to grip, it also gives it a premium feel. Good news is that it looks like Samsung will be carrying this design decision across its line of Galaxy devices. The recently released Galaxy Tab 10.1 2014 edition reflects this. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this come to the Samsung Galaxy S5 due in May. 

3. BEST CAMERA

FULL HD. The Note 3 like the Galaxy S4 before it received a display upgrade, a 386ppi Full HD AMOLED display. Photo by Rappler / Michael Josh Villanueva

FULL HD. The Note 3 like the Galaxy S4 before it received a display upgrade, a 386ppi Full HD AMOLED display.

Photo by Rappler / Michael Josh Villanueva

While there were camera-related rumors that didn’t come true (i.e. optical image stabilization and 3x optical zoom) the Note 3 borrows the 13 megapixel camera of the flagship Galaxy S4. This is a good thing in my book. In two separate TechRap smartphone camera shootouts the S4 outshot the HTC One, Apple’s iPhone 5 and the Nokia Lumia 925. The Note 3’s camera should theoretically shoot even better photos after Samsung made improvements to its low light performance, upgraded its flash and threw in the ability to shoot 4K videos. In layman terms 4K video is even more high quality than full HD. 

There are other minor reasons worth noting (pun intended). Samsung made improvements to its S-Pen making it central to the navigational experience. Tap on the screen and press the button on the S-Pen to bring up the Air Command a rota-dialer menu system. One option, called Pen Window, allows you to drop a square of any size, anywhere on the screen, and fill that screen real estate with a frequently used tool like a calculator or even Google Hangouts.

The Note 3 also gives you plenty of customization options. If you don’t like the Black, White and  Pink faux-leather backs on default models, there are more than 15 optional back covers to choose from including some by designer Nicholas Kirkwood. 

INSIDES. A 3200mAh battery, micro SIM card slot, and a micro SD card slot for expandable memory. Photo by Rappler / Michael Josh Villanueva

INSIDES. A 3200mAh battery, micro SIM card slot, and a micro SD card slot for expandable memory.

Photo by Rappler / Michael Josh Villanueva

Previous Note users will be happy to know the phone now sports a Full HD display and has a slightly improved 3200mAH battery. Available in 32 and 64GB models the Samsun Galaxy Note 3 is set to launch in 140 countries around the world, including the Philippines, starting September 25. In the US it will be available later this year for all 4 major carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. - Rappler.com