If you have been waiting to find out when they’ll be available and how much they’ll cost, today’s Australian launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Samsung Galaxy Gear should keep you satisfied.
Tyler McGee, VP Telco at Samsung Electronics, took us through the “innovative”, “amazing” “cutting edge” world of the brand new devices from Samsung. As the specs for both the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear have already been published widely, I’ll focus much more on the look and feel of the devices and my first impressions.
Galaxy Note 3
Starting with the Galaxy Note 3, it is joining a range of products that have already done quite well for Samsung. We were told that to date, 45 million “Note” devices have been sold, and of course as this is the latest device from Samsung, it is the “evolution of the product category”. With pre-sales starting today at 2pm, and the device available at the Samsung Experience Stores from Thursday the 3rd of October for $999 RRP, it will be interesting to see how this product performs specifically at this price point.
Under the “pros” category, the Galaxy Note 3 felt good in the hand and was very responsive. While personally not a massive fan of TouchWiz, I can see how this iteration would be beneficial to some. Especially with the new “Air Command” features, the additional functionality may tempt people to stay with TouchWiz. I was particularly impressed with the handwriting text recognition feature that was even able to read my scrawl. From the “Action Command” note taking option, you are then able to link that text in with other apps and features of the phone. It made this format of input seem rather seamless.
The stylus was also improved greatly from Samsung’s first effort, now with a much improved feel in the hand. You can now also slide the stylus back in 2 different positions.
In hand, the faux-leather back felt nice enough, but as someone who always seems to throw a protective case on, I think this “feature” would be lost on me. Still, it is a significant departure from the normal shiny plastic back we have come to expect from Samsung.
As for the split screen feature, I am sure that somebody uses it, but personally I have never really found the need. Perhaps with the new options menu, enabling the easy copying of text and photos from one section of the screen to another, I would find something to do with it, but I kind of doubt it.
As for the “cons”, I did notice that with the pink version, while it would naturally not be my first colour choice, the pink led action buttons are basically invisible in direct sunlight. This may not be an problem for those who only wish to use their phones at night… Other than that, the Galaxy Note 3 had the feel of another great Samsung device. I could easily see myself using one when it comes out, though may find it difficult to justify the price point.
Now onto the Galaxy Gear, which is Samsung’s first attempt to place themselves in the watch category of wearable devices. Aesthetically, it felt like a nice solid watch. It wasn’t too heavy, the plastic strap felt comfortable, and it looked pretty good. Available at the same time as the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Gear will pre-sale from 2pm today for $369, and be available at the Samsung Experience Stores from the Thursday the 3rd of October.
Having now played with the watch, it does feel like a great first attempt by Samsung to make their mark in this new category. The touch interface is quite adjustable, offering you the option of changing everything from the order of apps to the styling of the display. It is not excessively bulky, and for the right person I could see it providing a practical purpose.
As for the “cons”, sliding my finger across the screen did feel a little sluggish. It was also disappointing (and not surprising) to hear that in terms of app support for the 3rd party apps that was not something they were planning to open up for the foreseeable future.
When it came to design, while the general feel of the watch was nice, however I was surprised to see that Samsung had not thought of providing protection for the camera lens via a small protective lip. Instead the lens was flush with the band on an area of the wrist that I can assume will take some damage.
When it comes to fitting it on your wrist, if you had large hands, then I can imagine a nice snug fit. However, if you do not have large wrists, the length of the top section of the watch will see quite a bit of air between the watch and your wrist. If the rumoured curved display makes a showing in the next version of the watch, this would soon be rectified.
As for the biggest worry most people have regarding the Galaxy Gear, battery life, we have been assured (repeatedly) that you will be able to comfortably get a full days use out of it. If someone was really concerned with battery life, they are welcome to go the the effort of disabling the Bluetooth, the pedometer and reduce both the brightness and/or the sound, but seriously, if you were going to do those things you might as well just buy a regular watch.
So, would I get one? For $369 I think I will be more likely to wait for the next version. The lack of any major sensors other than the pedometer kind of turn me off a little, but if you want to get in on the brand new thing, go for it.
One more thing – Samsung Note 10.1
And one more thing? Sure, why not. As the presentation was drawing to a close we were also given a brief glimpse of the new Samsung Note 10.1, which will apparently be available in November (with price yet to be announced). Just think larger, better, and dare I say “more innovative”.
This post was written for Ausdroid by James Fridley, who attended the Samsung launch this morning as Ausdroid and Samsung’s guest.