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Two years after its first phablette, then seen as a UFO in a world dominated by “big” 4.3-inch smartphones, Samsung presents its brand new large device, the Galaxy Note 3. Still decked out with an interactive pen , in an XXL format, it offers features capable of salivating the most demanding (Full HD screen, Snapdragon 800 processor …) … but for an initial price flirting with the inaccessible: 699 euros. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is it worth saying goodbye to your piggy bank

The latest IFA was the scene of a fierce battle led by Sony and Samsung, both simultaneously presenting their latest flagship, the Xperia Z1 for one, and the Galaxy Note 3 for the other. Two giants leaving their competitors aside, but not playing quite in the same yard: Nippon has indeed opted for a 5-inch format rather reserved for smartphones, while the Korean has set foot on the floor to propose what is better in a phablet. Only competitor on identical material and able to offer 4K video recording on a phablet, Acer has formalized at the same time its Liquid S2, however intended for a commercially more modest future.

CHARACTERISTICS
Let’s take the story from the beginning: the Galaxy Note 3 is nothing but a Note 2 on the larger screen … but in a body smaller than a few millimeters, slightly less thick, and especially lighter, with 168 grams on the scale. Under the hood of this device with a screen of 5.7 inches for a definition Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), there is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3 GHz and coupled to 3 GB of RAM. Power on the program, but also a good autonomy promised by a 3200 mAh battery, options do you want, here (infrared, temperature and humidity sensors, Bluetoots 4.0 LE compatible with the Galaxy Gear) and software improvements in shambles. Samsung also counts for improved photo performance with its 13 megapixel sensor, against 8 million points on the Galaxy Note 2, and especially on exemplary videos, since the bestiau is still capable of filming in 4K. You do not have a screen to enjoy? No matter, the Korean anticipates on your future equipment, and offers performance able to adapt to your home of tomorrow. Below is a table summary:

One thing is certain, the Galaxy S4 does not hide its relationship to the S3 (and colleagues). Indeed, if Samsung had chosen to mark each year with a new design for its flagship Galaxy S , it must be admitted that in 2013 the manufacturer seems to have chosen the ease. Is this a problem? It all depends on the point of view, as a geek , you may have the desire to see things evolve constantly, which may have been disappointing when Apple unveiled its iPhone 4S, for example. On the other hand, as a more casual user you will appreciate this evolution, which remains ultra positive despite everything.

Samsung has put aside the slightly curved aspect of the screen, visible on the S3 and Note 2, in favor of a completely flat surface with slight chrome edges. These go very little but induce a different experience of handling the screen, the finger does not slip to the ends. It’s different but not necessarily worse. The bright chrome side is quite marked which is also a bit surprising at first glance because it is more like lower end terminals like the Ace.

On the S3 Samsung we proposed a brushed aluminum effect on plastic, this time the idea is still there but concretized in another way, it is about small dots, very visible in the light and which give a small original brilliant appearance in “classic” lighting conditions (no front light).

The set chrome and plastic decorated offers a strange but really atypical hair.

At the top of the screen you will find some sensors, and Samsung did not skimp on that, and the front camera and the audio output. As on the S3, a notification LED is present, at the top left. Note, important, that the borders of the screen are very thin, half less than on the S3.

Under the screenis the home button, mechanical, and the sensitive keys Back and Menu. This is the classic Samsung scheme under Android. When the screen is reached the sensitive keys are almost invisible. These keys answer correctly. As for the physical key, it is slightly less prominent than that of the S3 (and Note 2), probably to minimize involuntary activations, and also high but with a different shape that gives it more surface. If I think this key works well, I feel that the S3 is easier to use because easily localizable finger. In any case, after a short period of manipulation, this kind of detail disappears. If above the screen the space is more or less the same as on the S3,

Under the device , the micro USB port and the microphone, we can see here the edge of the S4. Samsung claims that it is made of metal, without going into details. We are not sure, but it must be aluminum (no magnetism, light, fine). To be honest, we thought at first that it was plastic with a simple effect “metal”, obviously no and all the better. [EDIT: our first idea was good, the S4 has many plastic slices with metal effect , all our excuses for this misunderstanding

On the left , the volume key, which comes out very little. This is quite different from that on the S3, longer, less high and placed higher on the portion which, in my (right), is not very ergonomic. Indeed, when the volume key is on the left, for the right-handed ones, the habit is that the index is at the level of Volume + and the major on Volume -, here it is the index that must all manage. On the other hand for left-handers it’s better because the thumb is found in the right place.

The back shell of the S4 is reminiscent of what is found on the S3, especially in its white edition. In black / gray, the differences are more obvious, especially on the motif side . On the S3 we were entitled to a brushed aluminum effect on plastic, here (especially obvious in black) Samsung has made a kind of mixture and retains this effect (but more discreet) while adding a species of glossy / glittery side that is in makes a series of black / gray lines on a chrome base (plastic). These closely spaced lines give the impression that they are bright points. The rendering is more or less marked according to the light (but more visible, in all cases, than the “brushed aluminum” of the S3) and to distinguish the brushed appearance it will be necessary to look at the hull of face. Is Samsung’s “bling-bling” side going out of this S4 (or has it ever been hidden?)? In any case the result is original and rather pleasing to the eye.

In addition, the camera is thinner than its predecessor and this despite a larger battery and a more powerful camera component (on paper). More importantly, it has a 5 “screen (against 4.8” on the S3) but displays the same dimensions. The manufacturer has optimized the space used, with finer borders and the result is really very good. More space on the screen with, finally, a smaller footprint than the S3 (thinner, lighter). On this we can only salute the work done.

The buttons are placed in a classic way, with perhaps a touch of volume a little high on the edge for right-handed (and again, nothing blocking). On the S3 I found that the Home key was too thin, on this one, the manufacturer has increased (slightly) the surface of use what makes it easier to use.

Note that as for all devices with screens over 4.5 / 4.6 “, it is still quite complicated to use one hand because the thumb can not” make ends meet “. This is normal, and if you are considering the purchase of such a device you must be aware (not to have gone under the 4.6 “for 2 years I can tell you that we get used to

SCREEN
Samsung has equipped its flagship device from early 2013 with a 5 “1080p (1080 × 1920) display, which offers a pixel density of 441 ppi. If you place a Note 2 (or even an S3) beside it, the difference is glaring. Can not distinguish the pixels, just like the Xperia Z (same ratio) or the One (same resolution for 4.7 “, or 469ppi, but at this level there is more difference

Not surprisingly, the Korean manufacturer uses the Super AMOLED on the S4, as on most of its high-end terminals in recent years. Love it or not, this technology offers very deep blacks and bright whites. The colors are, as always, very bright, sometimes too much, but Samsung offers options to adjust the display mode, with, novelty, an option “Adobe RGB” that should please, on paper, followers of the colors “realistic On mobile. We have tested it and if it is certain that there is better , the screen remains too saturated for the purists. The average user will appreciate the quality of the screen overall, do not forget

To finish here, Samsung has implemented a system that allows to use the screen with gloves, in the manner of Sensitive Touch at Nokia. The option is to activate in the settings and the result is quite good.

AUTONOMY
The Galaxy S4 is equipped with a 2600mAh battery, more consistent than the one on its predecessor. But it also has a more powerful processor and a higher resolution (more pixels to manage), how is the autonomy on the new flagship device of Samsung

As usual, we realized our classic test of autonomy (1 hour of music, 1 hour of video, 1 hour of web surfing, some photos, video capture of 5 minutes and 1 hour of play, preferably greedy). The S4 finished the event at 35%, after a difficult hour of play that made him lose 35% (game used: Dungeon Hunter 4). The curve of the S4 makes us think of the Xperia Z, which was doing well on the light tests and had not really enjoyed the passage game in 3D. For the rest, a minimal loss in music (classic), only 10% in video playback, ditto for the web and 5% for the photo / video capture test. The S4 has completed these 4 steps at 70% autonomy, which is correct, in the average of the current high-end devices, without more. Finally, only the Optimus G (among recent devices) found itself at less than 60% at this stage, the One displayed 71%, ditto for the Z.

With these results, you’ll be entitled to a day in use “smartphone” (as defined in our test), potentially a day and a half if you do not use GPS, do not play and set aside video playback. By cons, logically, if you have a more “heavy” use, expect to end the evening with a device off.

ANDROID JELLY BEAN WITH TOUCHWIZ
The Galaxy S4 is available right out of the box in Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean TouchWiz overlay in its latest version. The device takes some options present on the S3 as well as the Note 2 and contains new, more or less useful. Some flagship applications have undergone major changes, such as the camera for example. One thing is certain, Samsung is trying to implement as many features as possible, sometimes, to offer some gadgets. Then you choose what you want to use.

Easy mode : remember, on the S3 / Note 2 you had an “easy mode” for the home screen, with widgets easier to use. On the S4, Samsung has changed this mode, which covers much more than hospitality and turns your complex terminal into a much more accessible device, especially for seniors (especially thought for this target by the way). Note that the option was discovered after performing the video test, hence the lack of presentation of it, we thought it remained as is, well no! Over the test we will quickly introduce the interface of the app in question in this mode.

Let’s take a complete tour of the features of the Galaxy S4

UNLOCKING
With the arrival of Jelly Bean, we had seen a new unlock screen on Nexus devices, with widgets. S3 and Note 2 run under this version of the OS but do not integrate this system, but this is the case on the S4. You will also find some new features such as the customization of a screen or the definition of an automatic unlock zone.
Clear view case with stand functioThis translucent modular case transforms into a support: the viewing angle is then optimal to comfortably watch videos in landscape format. It also protects the screen, and allows you to view your notifications, manage calls or even music without opening the case.

LED case View
The LEDs allow you to view and manage your notifications without opening the case. In a swipe, turn off your alarms or answer a call. And with 54 customizable icons, you’ll know what to do at a glance.

Shell in Alcantara
Protect your phone while giving it a refined style. Genuine Alcantara is pleasantly soft to the touch and stain resistant.

Silicone hull
The silicone shell is close to the curves of the Galaxy S8 and S8 + and its soft finish offers a particularly pleasant grip. Its microfiber interior will rock your phone while protecting it sustainably.

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