It’s the middle of November, and Samsung is getting everyone excited over two new devices, with Australia’s biggest smartphone and an internet-friendly camera making their way to store shelves in the next couple of weeks.
Launched to a packed house last night in Sydney, Samsung has finally made its 5.5 inch Galaxy Note II handset available in Australia, with the big screened smartphone scheduled to hit stores next week on all three of the majors: Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone.
The newest in the Samsung Galaxy line-up of phones echoes the design made famous with the Samsung Galaxy S3, but increases the size substantially, jumping from a 4.8 inch screen to a 5.5. In fact, it’s even bigger than the last model, which was released earlier this year and came with a 5.3 inch display.
Tech-wise, Samsung has thrown in many of the features made famous on its S3, with Near-Field Communication, an 8 megapixel rear camera, 1.9 megapixel front camera, the pop-up video playback software, and a quad-core processor, though this one is 200MHz faster.
With the Galaxy Note 2’s big screen, however, you also get the digital S-Pen that Samsung equipped with the first Note, now upgraded for the second-generation and featuring some nifty interaction, such as better handwriting recognition, an extra home screen made for the pen that opens up when you pull the pen out from under the phone, band the ability to take notes anywhere on the screen regardless of what you’re doing.
More than that, the new Note will feel in some ways more like a computer than a phone, managing proper multi-tasking with split-screen window action, allowing you to do things at once, such as surfing the web and tweeting, or watching a video and reading an email.
Oh, and there’s one thing else that we’ve not yet commented on: 4G.
Yes, the second generation of Samsung’s Galaxy Note will arrive in Australia with compatibility for the 4G LTE networks currently operated by Telstra and Optus, with a 3100mAh battery, hopefully keeping it alive for over a day.
“With the Galaxy Note, Samsung created a different category and we continue to define it with the launch of the Galaxy Note II,” said Samsung Australia’s Tyler McGee. “We have slightly reconfigured the size and we have combined all the intelligent features of the original Note with an additional series of specifications that make the Galaxy Note II one of the most impressive and powerful smartphones in the marketplace.”
We’ll let you know how it goes shortly, but for now, you’ll be able to find the Galaxy Note II at mobile stores and the Samsung Experience Store from next week in two colours – marble white and titanium grey – from $899.
A new phone wasn’t all Samsung talked about, however, with Samsung Australia’s Craig Gillespie taking to the stage to launch the first camera with 3G and Android.
We’ve seen Android in a camera before – twice, in fact – but Samsung’s Galaxy Camera allows you to tweet, Facebook, Instagram, and send emails of your photos from where ever you are, provided there’s a 3G SIM inside the camera.
“The collaboration between the mobile and digital imaging divisions has resulted in the Galaxy Camera, a product that Samsung is extremely proud of,” said Mr. Gillespie.
“A connected camera must give users the total freedom to take vivid high quality pictures and videos wherever and whenever they wish, sharing them almost instantly through their favourite social networking sites or with family and friends.”
Playing with the camera briefly, you get the feeling that the Galaxy Camera is literally a compact camera merged with a Samsung Galaxy S3, with very similar innards – 1.4GHz quad-core processor, Android 4.1, 8GB storage, microSD memory slot, 3G microSIM, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and a 4.8 inch LCD – sitting inside the frame of a 16 megapixel compact camera.
Wireless networking isn’t a new thing in a camera, but 3G is, affording eager photographers the opportunity to share their pictures and video with the world before they get back to a place with wireless.
In the hands, there’s a good feel to the device, and because Android is fast becoming an interface we’re all familiar with, it’s easy to pick up and get shooting. As with normal Android, there are widgets, an application menu, and access to the Android Play Store. In fact, it’s about as clear an Android experience as you get normally on Samsung’s other devices.
All it needs is a phone.
But while 3G is included, it’s interesting to note that you can’t make phone calls. You can send messages, emails, and do all the things an Android smartphone would normally do, but not talk to your friends over the phone.
Given the fact that there’s Bluetooth inside, it’s probably only a matter of time before someone hacks it back in, but until then, you’ll have to live without it.
Regardless, the Galaxy Camera will hit stores in Australia in late-November – we’d say somewhere between November 27 and December 1 – for $599 RRP.