September 4 has been marked as the release date for Samsung's third-generation phablet, the Galaxy Note 3, and surely millions are holding their breath for the much-awaited touchdown of the second 2013 flagship for the Galaxy maker.
Reasons abound why the phablet king is a must-buy - it is powerful, it is even gorgeous despite claims that the handset is merely a bigger clone of the Galaxy S4, meaning it is made mostly of plastic, and it is the hottest phone arrival to close out 2013, well at least next to the iPhone 5S.
Yet every gadget has its shares of compromises and the Note 3 is not an exception. It is almost a solid buy - arguably one of the best Android phones to be out there in a few more months - but the device also reflects a number of weaknesses, which for some translate into a huge turn off.
Three of them are listed below:
Too big to handle
Rumours suggest the Note 3 screen size is between 5.7-inch and 5.99-inch, any of which is in line with the so-called phablet fever. Sprawling real estate on the face of any modern smartphone is very much appreciated in this age of mobile computing - more screen size means more fun and productivity.
Yet for many, big screen poses major problems and portability is chief of them. The Note 3 is just so huge that it calls for considerable adjustments to achieve comfortable use. One needs to be re-oriented on two-hand smartphone handling with the mega-sized Note 3 - a problem thought to have been eliminated with the preferred iPhone screen sizes.
Plus moving around with the phablet requires altering the fashion sense of users. They either have to re-learn (for most men, at least) the use of a sling bag or purchase new pants and jeans with pocket reengineered to make room for bigger mobile phones.
Mediocre software support
For its high-end lineup and even for a number of its mid-range devices, Samsung provides A1 hardware specs. Unfortunately, the same is not true for the company's support efforts on the software side. To date, its 2013 flagships, the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2, remain stuck with Jelly Bean 4.1.2 and reports hinted that Jelly Bean 4.2.2 would not come for these devices at all. They'll jump right straight to Jelly Bean 4.3.
That should be good news, right? But it also highlights Samsung's inability to catch up with the update pace set by Google for its mobile platform. And being an Android-based device, it is only expected that the Note 3 will endure the process of waiting too-long for the next version of Android to arrive.
It could be that the Note 3 will slide out of the box with Jelly Bean 4.3 since that software should be out a few days from now. However, don't bet on a quick jump to Key Lime Pie this year. Even if reports proved true that KLP is out by late Q4 2013, the earliest the Note 3 should chew in the new Android sweet is Q1 2014 and Samsung's record on this respect speak volumes.
U.S. telcos picked up the Note 2 in Q4 2012 and offered the handset to subscribers for $299, which pretty reflect the steep pricing associated with the Samsung phablet. Unlocked, the device could go as high as $600 until now, which is levelled with the iPhone 5. The latter, however, is cheaper with contract - from $150 to $200.
One major thing that prevents the Note 2 from really surging high is its inaccessible price point, analysts said, adding that the same should be expected from the Note 3. It is hard to imagine that Samsung will continue holding sway on the phablet market it created when able challengers are growing in numbers. They look good - like the LG G2 and HTC One Max - and they don't break the bank the way the Galaxy Note 3 will likely do, just like its predecessor did.
To contact the editor, e-mail: