Wednesday marks the global roll out of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, a full-featured "phablet" with a 5.7-inch AMOLED screen and the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system. The Note 3 will ship first to Asian and European markets; a US launch will follow early next month.
Stateside, the Note 3, which ships with a stylus called an S Pen – and a fancy faux-leather back with intricate stitching – will sell for $349.99 with a two-year contract. So somewhere in between the $199-with-contract standard price for a smart phone and the $500 price tag on the entry-level iPad.
But is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 any good?
Well, over at CNET Asia, Aloysius Low says the device is "the best phablet in the market," with a "vibrant" display and "snappy" performance. In fact, the only downside to the Note 3, as far as CNET was concerned, was the camera, which focused poorly and took subpar photographs.
"Other manufacturers have tried to copy the large screen size, but Samsung is the only one that I note to have a stylus that works well with the handset," Mr. Low wrote. "Samsung has managed to pack a slightly larger screen and battery while still shrinking the overall size of the handset. The new features of the stylus are obvious and usable, and the large vibrant display is easy on the eyes. I liked the phone's performance and long battery life."
The phablet market has grown exponentially in recent months, with a range of gadget makers – including HTC and Nokia – leaping into the fray. In emerging markets, in fact, the analytics group IDC reports that phablets are more popular than tablets or laptops.
"When we first introduced the Note in 2011, a lot of people made a mockery of it and some even said it was doomed to fail," Lee Young-hee, executive vice president of mobile marketing at Samsung, told Reuters. "But we noticed that people were carrying more than three devices on average such as phones, music players and gaming machines, and we thought people may want just one device that can do it all."