Early this month, on 4 September 2013, Samsung Electronics launched a whole list of stuff from LFD (Large Format Displays) TVs and Monitors, Motion Sync Vacuum Cleaners, Refrigerators but most importantly, their Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2013 event with Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and companion smartwatch, Samsung Galaxy Gear as well as the updated Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition.
Less than a month since, last Friday on 20 September 2013, Samsung Malaysia Electronics held the local event to launch the much anticipated phablet to the Malaysian market.
The Launch event was held last Friday, at Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre with a big setup of a large hall, along with the Experiential Zone by the side.
Emceed by Will Quah, Samsung executives walked us through the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the companion Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. They also took the opportunity to introduce Samsung KNOX - the mobile security solution for managing one device for work and play.
Samsung also took the launch opportunity to showcase their latest ad for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear. Check out the video below:-
There were a lot of media friends in attendance, somewhere along 200 – 300 people in the room, I would guess. So, it was a big launch event, indeed. After the launch, we all adjourned to the Experiential Zone where we can see all the devices on display in demo stations to touch and feel it for ourselves.
Closer Look : Samsung Galaxy Note 3
First up, let’s talk about the high level specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 :-
- 5.7″ Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080)
- 2.3 GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
- 32 GB internal memory (expandable microSD slot up to 64 GB) + 3 GB RAM
- Powered by Android 4.3 Jelly Bean OS (with TouchWiz UI)
- Build material : Textured leather back with stitching details
- 13 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front facing camera (Full HD video recording)
- 8.3 mm thin, weighing only 168 grams
- 3,200 mAh removable battery
- Connectivity : 4G LTE/HSPA+, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC, Infrared (IR)
- Available in 2 colours : Jet Black & Classic White (no mention of Blush Pink for Malaysian market yet)
There are several “killer features” for the Note 3 highlighted by Samsung, which includes:-
- Multi Vision - connect several Note 3′s and place them together for a big screen video viewing experience (like their Group Play function, but with video)
- My Magazine – partnered with Flipboard for a magazine like news reading experience
- New Multi Window - simultaneously have 2 windows open at the same time on screen, side by side
- Drag and Drop - Easily drag one content to another app. Copy and paste without opening and closing separate apps
- New S Note - write, organise, edit and browse notes that are also synced with Evernote and Samsung account
- New Easy Clip - cut images or any shapes and form by just drawing around it to crop the image
This is, of course, on top of other features already found on the flagship Samsung Galaxy S4 like Group Play (connect to multiple devices to play the same music for a loud speaker music listening), Story Album (automatically create a magazine style video of your pictures), S Translator (translate any written or spoken words to another language), enhanced S Voice (voice command for hands free use) and many more.
See Also : Samsung Galaxy S4 User Review
The S Pen stylus has been updated and improved with a series of really cool stylus uses. Air Command is a feature where you hover over the screen while pressing the S Pen button to activate 5 functions:-
- Action Memo - write a command with the S Pen and it translates it to an action like making ` call, add contacts, search the maps for an address, search the web, save a To-Do list and more.
- Scrapbook - collect sources of materials or URL to a digital “Scrapbook” for reference, ala Evernote’s Web Clipper.
- Screen Write - take a screenshot and write comments, annotate or add a note to the screenshot.
- S Finder - search for anything on your phone like documents, events, messages, Help pages and even other handwritten notes.
- Pen Window - draw a shape anywhere on the screen to open a mini window of small apps for multi-tasking (eg, mini window for YouTube, calculator, browser etc)
See Also : Samsung Galaxy Note II User Review
For more information on the hardware specs and key features of the phone, you can check out Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Malaysian Product Page HERE or the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear microsite at http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxynote3+gear/
Hands On with Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Apparently, Samsung took your words seriously about the plastic and cheap build quality of their phones. From a build quality and design point of view, every smartphone released from them looks almost identical with each other, with only difference in screen sizes.
This time round, with the Note 3, Samsung made the necessary adjustments. The front of the phone looks like their previous phones at first glance. But when you look closer, you’ll see that they’ve included some patterns on the front of the phone, visible at the top and bottom.
The bezel is skinnier, meaning you’ll have a bigger 5.7″ screen than its predecessor (Note 2 has a 5.5″ screen) but the phone remained about the same size. To be specific, the dimensions of the new Note 3 is 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3mm versus the Note II at 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm. As you see, the difference is so minute that you barely feel the difference with the device in your hands.
Samsung Note 3 also introduced a different leather textured back, compared to the previous flimsy plastic backplate. It really does feel much better in your hands, which also negates the use of a separate case. It looks and feel a lot more premium and certainly, leather feels good in your hands.
Up close, the stitching around the corners of the back also looks very nice and adds more texture and high end design to the smartphone.
Initially, I played with the Classic White version and liked the white leather and white stitching. Then, I moved over to the Jet Black version and love it even more. The Samsung logo at the back is a nice metal logo, which just adds to the whole premium design. I like this!!!
Introducing Samsung KNOX
For the working professional, on the Enterprise level, Samsung also took the opportunity to announce a new service, Samsung KNOX, which is introduced firstly available with the Note 3.
Samsung KNOX is basically a solution that enables you to maintain one smartphone for work and play, with added security feature for confidential work data, while you maintain your private personal data.
- Work – maintain a “container” of apps and data for work, that your IT department can manage, runs enterprise apps and is in a secured environment
- Includes “Find My Phone” feature to disable your phone when it’s lost or stolen
- Play – uses a separate interface for your personal and private data. For eg, same Gallery app of your personal pictures, or Calendar appointments, separate from work
For more information on Samsung KNOX, check out the website at http://www.samsung.com/global/business/mobile/solution/security/samsung-knox
Accessories – Flip Cases for the Note 3
No doubt, Samsung introduced several additional accessories for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I came across several S View Cover cases in different colours on display. It maintains the same leather material, along with stitching details at the corners. There’s a window for you to view basic information with the cover closed.
If you’re not a fan of that “window” on your phone cover, you can still opt for their classic Flip Wallet case which is also available in a slew of delicious colours in the same leather and stitching detail.
Official Product Images of Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Closer Look : Samsung Galaxy Gear
Samsung Galaxy Gear is known as the smart companion to your Note 3. It’s Samsung’s smartwatch that is in constant pairing and connection to your Note 3 smartphone, giving you notifications and previews of your messages, as well as runs its own features and apps.
Here’s a specification overview of the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch :-
- 1.63″ Super AMOLED display (320 X 320)
- 800 MHz Exynos processor
- 4 GB internal memory + 512 MB RAM
- 1.9 megapixel autofocus camera (720p video recording)
- 111.1 mm thin, weighing only 73.8 grams
- 315 mAh non-removable battery (up to 25 hours)
- Connectivity : 2 microphones, 1 speaker, Bluetooth 4.0, Accelerometer, Gyroscope
- Build material : Textured leather back with stitching details
- Available in 6 colours : Jet Black, Oatmeal Beige, Wild Orange, Rose Gold, Lime Green, Mocha Gray
Here are some key features of the Samsung Galaxy Gear :-
- Enhanced Communication
- Notification alerts – view alerts on incoming calls, SMS, emails and alerts
- Smart Relay – check your messages on your Galaxy Gear, pick up your Note 3 and continue reading the same message
- Hands Free Call – a microphone on the buckle enables you take a phone call on yoru smartwatch, with your phone in your pocket/bag
- S Voice – use voice activated command to draft messages, create new appointment, set alarms, check weather and more
- Music control – using the smartwatch to browse, play and pause music playing on your Note 3
- Classy Design
- Simple design – rounded corners with aluminium finishing
- Customise your watch face – pre-loaded with 10 clock options, with ability to download more
- Colour options – available in 6 colours to suit your style and personality
- Live in the Moment
- Memographer – A 1.9 megapixel camera on your wrist to record photo / video and share them on social network
- Voice Memo – Save voice recordings as audio or text notes
- Pedometer – track your physical activities with the built in sensor, like running, calories counter, etc
- Safe and Secure
- Auto Lock – locks the pairing of your Note 3 and Galaxy Gear, up to 1.5 metres apart
- Find My Device – when you lose or misplace either device, it beeps, illuminates and vibrates
The Samsung Galaxy Gear comes with over 70 available apps that you can download and use on the smartwatch alone. In the IFA 2013 announcement, some of the highlighted apps include Evernote, Glympse, Path, eBay, Line messenger, Pocket, RunKeeper, TripIt, MyFitnessPal and more.
For more information, check out the Samsung Galaxy Gear Malaysian Product Page HERE or the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear microsite at http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxynote3+gear/
Hands On with Samsung Galaxy Gear
Everyone is talking about wearable tech these days, so obviously Samsung won’t be missing out on this action. Although the watch face might be a little too big for my tiny wrist, I think this is a good attempt from Samsung.
The smartwatch doesn’t look too bad, honestly. I got some hands on time with a Jet Black coloured version on display. Build quality is good, with Samsung executives informing us that the Galaxy Gear is IP55 certified, which doesn’t quite make it water resistant, but rather minor splash proof. “Definitely not something you can wear for swimming”, he said.
The smartwatch is a little bulky, in my opinion, and wouldn’t be too practical as a women’s watch. Maybe it’ll look better on a man’s wrist.
As highlighted in my Heads Up:TECH 19 video here, the camera on the wrist strap is odd, in my opinion. A little creepy knowing that there will now be people snapping pictures using a camera on their wrist! Dontcha think?
With so many cool features and app support, I am rather tempted to purchase the Galaxy Gear smartwatch myself. Unfortunately though, the Galaxy Gear currently only works when it’s paired with the new Note 3. In the near future, Samsung will announce its support for their existing line of Samsung Galaxy series smartphones like Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 mini and Galaxy Note 2.
In the longer future though, Samsung might even allow the Galaxy Gear to support other non-Samsung Android smartphones. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Official Product Images of Samsung Galaxy Gear
Pricing and Availability
Both devices will be available on sale starting Wednesday, 25 September 2013.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be on sale at a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 2,399; while the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch will be at an RRP of RM 999.
Both the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear will be available at all Samsung retailers and with all mobile telcos like Celcom, DiGi, Maxis and U Mobile.
As of time of writing, only Celcom and DiGi have announced their mobile plans :-
[UPDATE] Now, all telco operators have revealed their mobile plans and promotions for both the Note 3 and Galaxy Gear, going on sale starting today!!!
- Celcom plans + device from RM 1,538 HERE - where the first 100 customers to pre-order will get a FREE Galaxy Gear
- DiGi plans + device from RM 1,319 HERE - with FREE Galaxy Gear if you signup for DG SmartPlan 148, while stocks lasts
- [UPDATE] Maxis plans + device from RM 1,199 HERE - with FREE Galaxy Gear for the first 800 customers signing up for Maxis One Club members (delivered separately from 3 Oct 2013)
- [UPDATE] U Mobile plans + device from RM 999 HERE - with option to purchase Galaxy Gear at a discounted RM 888 at Berjaya Times Square flagship store only
Additionally, Samsung Malaysia also held a contest leading up to the official availability on 25 Sept with a #MyNote3 contest, giving away Samsung Galaxy Gear to the first 100 customers to pre-order the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
The contest has just ended and winners of the 100 FREE Samsung Galaxy Gear will be announced today, Monday 23 Sept 2013 at 10 am. Check out the Contest website at www.mynote3.com
Samsung Malaysia also recently announced their new Samsung Experience Store in The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur. Check out the Samsung Mobile Malaysia Facebook Page album of launch pictures here. With the launch of this flagship retail outlet, this location is also noted as the point for collection of pre-orders of the Note 3.
If you’re looking to touch and feel the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Gear, this Samsung Experience Store at The Gardens Mall is where you should be.
More reviews and stuff
In case you want more, as covered in my last Heads Up:TECH 19 here, Samsung also released an 18-minute long video review of both the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear, below:-
For more information on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear, check out the microsite at http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxynote3+gear or Samsung Malaysia’s website at www.samsung.com/my or visit Samsung Mobile Malaysia Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/samsungmobilemalaysia.
I can’t wait to (hopefully) get a review unit of both the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 as well as the companion Samsung Galaxy Gear very soon. In case you can’t wait and want to read some reviews about these devices already…
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 reviews :-
- T3 : Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review: Hands-on
- Engadget : Samsung Galaxy Note 3 preview
- CNET : Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 has new leather-and-stitching look and more multitasking
- Tech Radar : Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review
Samsung Galaxy Gear reviews :-
- T3 : Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch review: Hands-on
- Trusted Reviews : Samsung Galaxy Gear
- TechRadar : Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Gear review
- CNET : Samsung Galaxy Gear: Android-powered smartwatch arrives later this month (hands-on)
Final questions – Who’s getting the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or the Samsung Galaxy Gear???