There are some phone ranges that always generate buzz - every time a new iteration of the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S is released, you can expect a star-spangled unveiling, a marketing blitz and a plethora of posts springing up on every tech blog you visit. Though it may not quite have reached those levels yet, the popular 'phablet' Galaxy Note series is still guaranteed to prick people's ears up. And since the Galaxy Note III is rumoured for a release sometime in the autumn, we thought we'd collate the most popular rumours so far!
Above: A render of one possible look for the Galaxy Note III, created by designer uva7 dance.
As far as release date goes, details are still fairly hazy; if Samsung follow their usual yearly routine, we can expect the Note III to be announced sometime around the annual IFA show in Berlin, which for previous iterations has meant an August announcement and September release. This is savvy marketing, since it enables Samsung to both dominate an event and be well-positioned for the Christmas rush, increasing both visibility and sales potential.
Specifications are also murky, though the Note III is likely to be even larger than its predecessor, the Note II, which was an eyebrow-raising 5.5 inches. Preliminary reports suggested a massive 6.3 inch screen, but we think this is unlikely - the recent unveiling of the enormous, mid-range Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 suggests Samsung view that end of the market as a niche, and unlikely to yield significant sales for a top-end phone like the Note. We think something in the upper range of 5 inches is more likely; 5.7 would place it alongside the ZTE Grand Memo, while 5.9 would make it around one inch larger than the current flagship Samsung Galaxy S4.
Above: Another render of the Note III, with a metal chassis, also by uva7 dance.
As far as internal specs, we'd like it if Samsung could utilize the octa-core processor seen in the international version of the Galaxy S4. This would ensure both power and increased battery life, as the two quad-cores - one tailor-made for raw power and one designed to be power-saving - trade off depending on what's needed at the time. The chipset is likely to be either the upcoming Snapdragon 800, or possibly a refresh of the Exynos seen in the recent Galaxy S4. 2GB or more of RAM would be necessary to wring the most out of these top-end specifications. The camera is likely to retain the 13 Megapixels that are currently fashionable amongst top-end handsets - though the upcoming "S Orb" panorama feature, which was rumoured to debut on the Galaxy SIV, is now said to be making its first-time appearance on the Note 3. Battery life is expected to expand from the 3100 mAh provided by the Note II up to something in the 4000 mAh range, which would certainly be enough to power a full HD display and keep an octa-core processor in good stead. How such a large battery would impact slimness remains to be seen, though.
Above: Google Maps are created using panorama-capturing software - similar to the rumoured "S Orb".
Since Google's yearly I/O event is in May, most pundits are expecting the search giant to unveil the latest version of Android, 5.0 - long-rumoured to be named Key Lime Pie. If they do this, Samsung will be perfectly positioned to make use of it on the Note 3, which will be an excellent way of setting it apart from the competition, especially since Samsung have a good habit of getting the most recent iterations of Android onto their flagship phones as soon as possible. Since Key Lime Pie is probably not an incremental upgrade (unlike Jelly Bean), it may take Samsung software engineers a little more time to tinker with it, so we wouldn't necessarily expect Android 5.0 to be on the phone at release.
There are also some recent rumours that the Galaxy Note III is going to feature an aluminium frame: this places it in stark contrast to previous Samsung handsets, which tended to favour polycarbonate bodies. If they opt for a unibody aluminium phone, they may be alienating customers who enjoy the microSD card and removable battery of the Note 3, which have always been chief selling points for Samsung's handsets; but given the critical acclaim that the unibody HTC One has been receiving, Samsung may have decided to push the boat out and try something new with the Note series. This would be a fairly wise way of testing the waters, since a radical overhaul of the ultra-popular Galaxy S series in this late stage of the game might cause a serious dent in their sales, assuming the change does not pan out.
Above: the aluminium unibody HTC One, praised in most reviews for its sleek and attractive exterior.
Obviously, all of the above hypotheses should be taken with a pinch of salt - we'll no doubt see a gradual trickle of rumours filter down to us as we get closer and closer to the release date of the Galaxy Note III. But often, it's possible to filter out some wheat from the chaff and get a clearer picture of how a smartphone will ultimately turn out - and, hopefully, our collection of rumours has helped you do this!