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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 runs on the latest available Android Jelly Bean version plus Samsung's proprietary TouchWiz user interface on top. The TouchWiz has change a lot with the Galaxy S4 flagship, but Samsung still managed to pull a few new tricks for the Galaxy Note 3 as well.
First, let's talk about the new S-Pen features. You'll find pretty much every S-Pen-enabled app that premiered with the previous Notes pre-installed on the Note 3. But once you pull the S-Pen out, you won't be greeted with the old S-Pen dedicated home tab. Instead the OS will pop up the new Air Command menu. The new menu is available everywhere throughout the UI too, you just need to press side button on the S-Pen.
The Air Command menu is a virtual ring with five shortcuts - Action Memo, Scrap Booker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window.
The Action Memo lets you write stuff and then use it to initiate an action - i.e. add a contact name and number to your phonebook, or check out an address on Google Maps. You just need to mark a part of the text and send it to one of the supporting apps. The handwriting recognition works impressively fast and accurately and will handle the rest for you.
Scrap Booker lets you add pieces of your screen to...well, a Scrapbook. You don't need to take a full screenshot - just mark the stuff you need. The Scrap Booker will automatically extract pictures and text from the selected area and will save them to one of your Scrapbook categories. You can then add an optional memo to every scrapbook entry you create.
Screen Write allows you to start writing on the screen wherever you are. You can either use a clean sheet or use a snapshot of the screen you are currently using. It's the best tool for taking quick memos.
The S-Search is a local search that'll browse through all the content on your Note 3 with preset filters. It can search in all S-Pen content you've added (including notes, scrapbook pages, etc.), messages, multimedia, settings, phonebook, even the internet. Naturally, all handwritten stuff is an easy job for the S-Search. You can even search for symbols you've drawn with the S-Pen. That last one seems to work quite slowly, however, and unless you actually use the scrapbook quite a lot you probably won't need it that often.
Finally, the last element of the Air Command menu is Pen Window. It automatically pops up once you hover with your S-Pen over a text field so you can enter handwritten text. In case something goes wrong, or the device does not activate the Pen Window for you, just use this shortcut to the handwriting service.
Here is a demo video showing how these new Air Commands work.
We noticed another cool update to the TouchWiz UI - the multi-window multitasking now allows launching two instances of the same app - i.e. you can have two Chrome windows next to each other. There is also dedicated shortcut that lets you switch the places of the two opened apps.
Copying stuff from one of the opened apps to the other is now available and is done in just three taps. It's a definite improvement and something the multi-window feature needed badly.
Finally, we noticed there is pretty decent app support for the multi-window service at launch with even more supported apps on the way. It's a feature that will be used really often and we are happy to see Samsung extending its support.
The rest of the Android OS and TouchWiz look pretty much the same as we've already seen on the Galaxy S4 and even on the Galaxy Note II. We are sure there are some other awesome features lurking underneath the UI, and are already eager to get our hands on this phablet in our office and start exploring all of its secrets.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 features a 13MP at the back that supports 4K@30 fps, 1080p@60 fps and 720p@120 fps video recording. If you choose to record a 120fps video, you'll then get to pick either to play it as a slow-motion 720p video at 30 fps or just run it as it is on 120fps.
Unfortunately the 4K video capturing will be available only to the Snapdragon 800-powered Galaxy Note 3. On a positive note, the S800 Note 3 will be most common device on the market anyways, so it's likely that model will be in your area. If you live in a developing LTE market, then the S800 model will likely be the only one selling in your region, because the Exynos 5 Octa version doesn't have built-in LTE support. Bummer!