In late November, Verizon became the last major carrier in the United States to launch the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a phablet-style smartphone that replaced the original Samsung Galaxy Note. And while the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has only been on shelves for a few short months, there is already talk about its successor, currently dubbed the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
The original Samsung Galaxy Note, which launched back at IFA 2011 in Germany, did not arrive to the same type of fanfare that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 did. When the Galaxy Note first arrived, critics and consumers were skeptical of a smartphone with a massive 5.3-inch display and its S-Pen stylus. Given the failures of phablets like the Dell Streak and the fact that styli had not in been style for a number of years, the doubt wasn’t surprising.
So, the fact that the original Samsung Galaxy Note went on to become such a hit surprised quite a few people. Despite many predicting failure, the original Galaxy Note sold millions around the world and prompted Samsung to not only unfurl a fantastic marketing campaign to promote it for AT&T’s network in the United States but also to release a sequel in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 arrived in August of last year, less than a year after the original made its way to AT&T’s 4G LTE network and later, to T-Mobile’s network as well. Unlike the Galaxy Note launch, there was quite a bit of anticipation about the Galaxy Note 2, its features, release date and more.
Ultimately, the device wound up launching in the United States in October and November with a larger screen, speedier processor, more software features and a new S-Pen. And unlike the original Galaxy Note, which only arrived for two carriers, the Galaxy Note 2 also landed on Sprint, Verizon and U.S. Cellular.
Since launch, the Galaxy Note 2 has sold more than 10 million times around the world, smashing the sales of the original Galaxy Note. However, its popularity has also spawned another beast in the form of rumors about its successor, the Galaxy Note 3.
The popularity of the Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung’s other flagship which has sold more than 40 million times since May, drove the anticipation and rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S4 to new heights. Since December, all the way up until today, we’ve seen the Galaxy S4 appear in a relentless stream of rumors, rumors that not only sparked early anticipation but more excitement than even the Galaxy S3 launch.
We are seeing the same thing happen with the Galaxy Note. Despite only being out a few months, the Galaxy Note 2′s successor, the Galaxy Note 3, is already in the news, with excitement amongst prospective buyers already heating up.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 likely won’t arrive until much later this year but that doesn’t mean that an initial picture of the next-generation phablet can’t be painted.
Here now is everything we think we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 2 successor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Galaxy Note 3 Release Date
The past two Samsung Galaxy Note devices have both launched at Unpacked events during the month of August and aligned with the IFA conference that is held annually in Berlin, Germany.
Right now, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launch and release date have only been rumored, by The Korea Times, to be coming in the second half of this year which lines up with another possible launch at IFA.
No specifics have been mentioned but smartphone sequels typically launch about a year after their predecessors. So, if Samsung were to indeed announce the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 at IFA in August, it could mean that it will touch down on shelves anywhere between September and November in the United States.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 announcement is only the first episode.
While nothing is rumored specifically yet, this is the time frame that consumers in the U.S. should be focused on in terms of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 release date.
Samsung has stated that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Unpacked event on March 14th in New York City is Episode One of its events for 2013, and that points to a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launch coming in 2013, at the very least.
Galaxy Note 3 Design
Those who have encountered the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 know that the device is extremely large in size due to its massive display. The Galaxy Note 2 sports a large 5.5-inch display which means that it’s much bigger and heavier than most high-end smartphones.
We don’t expect the overall size of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to change drastically from the Galaxy Note 2. No specifics are known just yet but given the improvements that Samsung made to the Galaxy Note 2 from the Galaxy Note, the device should be thinner than the Note 2 and perhaps lighter as well. The Galaxy Note 2 weighs about 180 grams, much heavier than most smartphones including the iPhone 5 which is 112 grams.
Those hoping for a non-plastic design with the Galaxy Note 3 shouldn’t hold their breath either. Samsung executives, in the build up to the Galaxy S4 event, have been touting the company’s plastic designs saying that they are durable, easier to manufacture – something that is key when it comes to a device that is bought up by the millions and it also allows Samsung to offer a removable battery.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2, like the Galaxy S3, owners a plastic design and all signs are pointing to the Galaxy S4 having one as well. If that’s the case, we should see a plastic Galaxy Note 3 arrive later this year, for better or worse.
Galaxy Note 3 Display
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 rumors thus far have all be focused on the device’s display size and rumors thus far point to the Galaxy Note 3 features an even bigger display than its predecessors.
Samsung’s original Galaxy Note arrived with a 5.3-inch display, big by smartphone standards. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 upped the ante and delivered a larger 5.5-inch display with similar 720p resolution.
The Galaxy Note 2 in the middle next to the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini.
Rumors suggest that Samsung could be cooking up a Galaxy Note 3 with either a 6.3-inch display or 5.9-inch display which would be much bigger than the previous sizes. Reports suggest that the device will use an OLED display though it’s unclear if the display will feature 1080p resolution like the Galaxy S4 is supposed to.
Given that Galaxy Note competitors are using full HD resolution, it would be surprising to see Samsung opt not to include 1080p resolution with its Galaxy Note 3. Reports suggest that Samsung won’t use a flexible display with the Galaxy Note 3, despite showing off the technology at CES 2013 in Las Vegas back in January.
We should also get a better glimpse at the future of Samsung displays when the Galaxy S4 arrives on March 14th.
The Galaxy S4 is said to potentially have a sensor that allows for touch less screen gestures. If the Samsung Galaxy S4 indeed has this on board, the Galaxy Note 3 could as well.
Galaxy Note 3 Processor
Another Samsung Galaxy Note 3 feature that has been rumored thus far is its processor. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 made the jump to quad-core, using a version of Samsung’s Exynos 5 processor. The Galaxy Note 3 is also rumored to have a quad-core processor on board but it appears that it may use one that features a total of eight cores.
At CES 2013, along with its flexible display prototype, Samsung debuted its latest Exynos processor, the Exynos 5 Octa, which is a quad-core processor that sports eight cores.
One set of four cores are Cortex A15 chips while the others are Cortex A7. Depending on how the device is being used, one set of four cores will spring into action. High performance will be handled by the more powerful Cortex A15 cores while the low-level usage will be tackled by the Cortex A7.
Samsung has said that the Exynos 5 Octa uses 70-percent less power than a typical quad-core Cortex A15 processor while also supplying better battery life than its other Exynos 5 processors. What this means is that the Galaxy Note 3 could not only provide better performance than the Galaxy Note 2, but improved battery life as well.
No other processor has been rumored for the Galaxy Note 3, which means that a Exynos 5 Octa inside the new phablet is likely.
Galaxy Note 3 Specs
The rest of the specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 remain firmly in the shadows. We imagine that the device will, at the very least, follow suit and come in at least a 16GB model, perhaps only a 16GB model, and the S-Pen stylus figures to factor heavily into the equation as well.
Samsung redesigned the S-Pen with the Galaxy Note 2, offering a pen with a more ergonomic design, and it could be that the company makes some tweaks to the pen again to make it even better.
The Galaxy Note 3 should feature an S-Pen.
The company will also likely tack on 2GB of RAM, at least, to help with multitasking, and we imagine that it will also upgrade the camera. Samsung didn’t do much to the Galaxy Note 2′s camera and we could finally see a powerful sensor inside the Galaxy Note series with the Galaxy Note 3.
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is said to have a 13MP sensor and Samsung could opt to put something similar inside the new Note.
Galaxy Note 3 Software
The Samsung Galaxy Note series is known for its powerful hardware which includes apps that take advantage of its large display and its S-Pen stylus. With the Galaxy Note 2, we saw the arrival of Multi Window View, which lets users split the display into two halves running different apps, and we saw an improved S-Note app along with the addition of several other useful pieces of software.
Samsung is rumored to be offering powerful hardware with its Galaxy S4 and if the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 launches are any indication, many or all of those features should come to the Galaxy Note 3.
Galaxy S4 software features could arrive with the Galaxy Note 3.
Additionally, Samsung will more than likely be tweaking and adding applications for the S-Pen, which will help separate it from the rest of the large smartphone pack.
We also imagine that the Galaxy Note 3 could feature Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, should it arrive at Google I/O in May as is rumored.
Galaxy Note 3 Carriers
We also haven’t seen any carrier rumors for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, but the success of the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 will likely convince U.S. carriers to carry not only the Galaxy S4 but the Galaxy Note 3 as well.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon all carry the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 and they are prime candidates to get the Galaxy Note 3 at some point later on this year.
Expect the T-Mobile Galaxy Note 3, if there is one, to get 4G LTE data speeds out of the box.
Adam is an editor based in San Francisco, California who loves his iPhone 5, iPad third-generation and Samsung Galaxy Nexus. He's also becoming intrigued with Windows Phone. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.