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Old September 17th, 2013, 02:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Talking So I had half a weekend to play with the Note 3, what did I think? [Z1/808/S4 cam comparison too]

Hi everyone,

I got a good few hours with the Galaxy Note 3 over the weekend, so I thought I might drop a line about my experiences with the phone

This was the S800 version, and it had the AB binning of that SoC

Firstly, while its very subjective I really loved the faux-leather back. I like that there is now no 'correct' orientation for inserting the S-Pen, and that the S-Pen works with the capacitive buttons. The screen was set to the Film mode and was very good, no complaints whatsoever about pixel density, seemed a fair amount brighter than my S4 when out taking shots with it. It flew with the S800 of course, hardly surprising given it wasn't loaded with apps and has that much power at its disposal. Finally going to the widgets section didn't lag like crazy as per previous versions of TW. Although there were only a handful of contacts loaded, which may have made a difference, I did revel in seeing no lag whatsoever launching the contacts app (finally!). Running PPSSPP as a graphics stress test it managed ~23fps on Tekken Dark Resurrection, which is starting to get up into the playable realm (my Octa S4 for reference manages only ~11fps). On less demanding games results even better - Disgaia Afternoon of Darkness was basically perfect running full speed with sound and with frameskipping turned off (which makes me extremely happy). The S800 still isn't up to playing 1080p 10-bit video, which was to be expected. It did manage it slightly better than older SoCs though, so perhaps in the next 1-2 generations of SoCs we'll see this become doable. My time with it was too short to make any sensible comment about battery life, sorry.


Here is the RAM situation, seems the Exynos version has about 300Mb more free RAM going off Sammobiles, but here is a screen from the S800 version:




Free storage ~25Gb, a pleasant surprise as I expected less:




I was really surprised (and pleased) to find rapidly accessible defaults management is available:




It let's you choose the colour of the screen visible in the S-View cover:




The have further expanded one-handed use settings, in this slightly strange one you can run everything in a little window with onscreen buttons if you wanted (!):




I made a camera comparison and the shots are up at Flickr here. Included with the Note 3 are the Xperia Z1 I also had and an S4 and Pureview 808. Methods: All shots on auto, all shots taken at same time in same position, lens cloth used to wipe lens covers clean prior to every shot, several shots captured on each phone and best selected for the comparison (if you take one shot only and get one with a completely aberrant focus/white balance etc, in other words a poor outlier not reflecting the cams usual quality, then that isn't especially useful for a comparison like this). Caveats: In all likelihood neither the Z1 or Note 3 on release firmwares, the light in the outdoors scene a bit variable due to moving cloud cover. I have my own thoughts on the photos, but if you haven't seen those on Twitter already better to let you draw your own conclusions before I say a word.

I took a 31s 4K video and was quite impressed at how smoothly it handled fairly quick panning, that 31s cost 177Mb in storage and was recorded at 48Mbps (see mediainfo screen below). The Note 3 was having quite a bit of trouble playing this video back it is worth noting, probably also worth noting that my laptop would not play it AT ALL!



The following information I put in a dedicated thread in the accessories forum, but probably of interest to folks here too:

A few findings of mine from the weekend:
  • External drives work, but unfortunately NTFS formatted drives still don't work on stock ROMs. It had the power to spin up a 1TB Seagate drive! Unfortunately the drive was NTFS formatted so couldn't do more to see how well it was working, but definitely was powered with a solid indicator light. Promising.
  • The Smart Dock works with the Note 3
  • The S3/Note 2 MHL adapters definitely work
  • The Samsung MHL 2.0 adapter works without needing a charging input plugged in and IS outputting at 60Hz
  • USB audio working, I tried several DACs. The ones that worked were the HiFimeDIY, Tiny-M, HeadAmp Pico. Unfortunately Apex Glacier did not work (did not work on the S4 either).
  • USB keyboards/mice working as they did with the older Samsungs
  • PS3 controller working over USB OTG
  • Ditto for the Xbox 360 for Microsoft controller (which required an app on older Samsungs in order to work)
  • Logitech F310 controller works too
  • Ditto the Logitech F710
  • It also worked with a cheapie gamepad from Ebay (like $6), although button mappings seemed limited and did not have time to try it in emulators etc to see whether all could be mapped.
  • BT keyboard and mouse working, as expected
  • IR blaster via the inbuilt app works great with my LG TV
  • MHL and USB OTG do not work together using the Samsung MHL 2.0 adapter
  • Moga Pro gamepad working well
  • Tried several ethernet adapters, none work.

Unfortunately the one I had did not have the USB 3.0 cable/charger, so could not benchmark read/write speeds or charging speeds using that connectivity.

The Z1 seemed quite large in comparison given the disparity in display sizes:


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Old September 17th, 2013, 03:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Very nice to read your comments this morning.

I am upgrading from the Note 2 to the Note 3.

My big concern was over the Samsung Media Dock which is being used for the Galaxy S3, S4 and Note 2 (all compatible).

You don't mention that dock specifically here (you had the more expensive dock) but I am hoping that the Note 3 will fit into that media device even with the S-VIEW cover attached.

I don't use Twitter, so I couldn't see your photo comparisons. I will wait for you to speak more about the photo compares that you did.
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Old September 17th, 2013, 04:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJRonbo View Post
Very nice to read your comments this morning.

I am upgrading from the Note 2 to the Note 3.

My big concern was over the Samsung Media Dock which is being used for the Galaxy S3, S4 and Note 2 (all compatible).

You don't mention that dock specifically here (you had the more expensive dock) but I am hoping that the Note 3 will fit into that media device even with the S-VIEW cover attached.
If they designed it to fit the Note 2 and a slim case (as they did the Smart Dock), I think you should be fine.

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I don't use Twitter, so I couldn't see your photo comparisons. I will wait for you to speak more about the photo compares that you did.
There is a link to the photos in the post, unfortunately the blue colour indicating the link was a little indistinct, I have underlined it for you. The commentary on Twitter is just some of my own take on it, best see the pictures before reading anything I had to say was the point I was making.
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Old September 17th, 2013, 05:20 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I am not one who really knows photography -- what looks perfect and what doesn't -- but the overall impression I get from your shootout photos on Flickr is that the Note 3 tends to add more warmth to the photo. Where other cameras show white walls, the Note 3 makes them more amber tone.
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Old September 17th, 2013, 05:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The best photo is the one taken with the camera you have with you. That's why I always carry a camera. (Whereas sometimes, I leave the phone behind.)
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Old September 17th, 2013, 05:31 AM   #6 (permalink)
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NZtechfreak,

Thanks for your exemplary report. I found it both educational and a compelling read.

Cheers
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Old September 17th, 2013, 05:35 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Simon_Gardner View Post
The best photo is the one taken with the camera you have with you. That's why I always carry a camera. (Whereas sometimes, I leave the phone behind.)
Well said, I too always carry a camera. Even if only a compact point & shoot, it's my preference over the camera that is a part of my phone.

As far as Photograhpy goes, I find great joy in a planned session where I can break out my Nikon gear, and challenge myself to continue to improve my skills.
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Old September 17th, 2013, 09:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Well said, I too always carry a camera. Even if only a compact point & shoot, it's my preference over the camera that is a part of my phone.
I'm a fan of wifi cards for zipping a picture from pocket camera to phone for emailing or whatever. If I'm going to do that I'll take the pictures in simultaneous RAW + JPG. (And more and more recent cameras are coming with wifi built in.) I can also wifi from the SLR if I need to.
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Old September 17th, 2013, 10:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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NZtechfreak

Great info as usual, It was your fantastic review of the Note 1, which gave me all the info to buy it
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Old September 17th, 2013, 12:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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so is it worth updating to the n3 for current n2 users?
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Old September 17th, 2013, 04:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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so is it worth updating to the n3 for current n2 users?
I think so, but I could easily see some people sticking with the Note 2, which is still a great handset after all.
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Old September 17th, 2013, 04:47 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Awesome! The one thing that was most important for me to see was the amount of usable internal storage of the 32gb and seeing 25gb was a pleasant surprise! Just by comparison, the 16gb Note 2 had around 62% of usable vs. the 32gb Note 3 that has 78% usable...that's enough for me to know that I can just purchase directly through Best Buy and won't have to worry if Sprint ends up getting a 64gb and only offers it directly online or through telesales.
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Old September 17th, 2013, 04:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Awesome! The one thing that was most important for me to see was the amount of usable internal storage of the 32gb and seeing 25gb was a pleasant surprise!
Yes, I was really happy to see that. Given the S4 consumes about 7Gb before the user gets a shot I was expecting the Note 3 to consume even more, was genuinely expecting to see ~21-22Gb free for the user.

I have the Exynos S4 at the moment and I am really over the limited storage space, even with having all media on a 64Gb card and moving whatever apps and data I can to the SD I still find myself having to delete cache data/uninstall apps for app updates and new installations. Utterly galling situation, but 25Gb that I will use exclusively for app installation and data is sufficient.
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Old September 17th, 2013, 05:40 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Yes, I was really happy to see that. Given the S4 consumes about 7Gb before the user gets a shot I was expecting the Note 3 to consume even more, was genuinely expecting to see ~21-22Gb free for the user.

I have the Exynos S4 at the moment and I am really over the limited storage space, even with having all media on a 64Gb card and moving whatever apps and data I can to the SD I still find myself having to delete cache data/uninstall apps for app updates and new installations. Utterly galling situation, but 25Gb that I will use exclusively for app installation and data is sufficient.
Great minds think alike. That's actually the same amount I was expecting. As much as I've been clamoring for 64gb, I definitely won't have as much of an issue with the 25gb available, as I originally thought I would.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 09:29 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Thanks for the post - and double thanks for the info on 10-bit video!

When you say it isn't up to playing it, how bad was playback - occasional frame jags/color weirdnesses then resyncing the playback for a bit, was it slow, etc.? My Nexus 7 could play the file and have some occasional visual weirdness, but my current phone (Galaxy S Relay 4G starts off for a second of normal play and then goes down to about 2fps... heh).

Any chance it was OK with 720p 10-bit video?

A special thanks to the fansubbers who made this question a thing, because they want everyone to watch their anime on a computer only.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 11:39 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonerp View Post
so is it worth updating to the n3 for current n2 users?
I'm trading my Note 2 into Best Buy this weekend, so I can get max value back. I absolutely love my Note 2 and still want to upgrade to the G-Note 3. The extra internal storage alone, is enough for me to do so. Beyond that, the additional 1gb of RAM will help a lot.

Is it worth it? I think that is a really subjective question because everybody has their different needs.

Just to give you my example, when the Note 2 was announced, I was hoping for 32gb minimum (really wanted 64) of internal storage on Sprint and settled for the 16 that was offered (on launch), but it was one extremely big factor for me. The other most important factors, when getting the Note 2 were the capability to hold with one hand (much easier to hold than the original Note, which I had confirmed when Samsung had an "experience" boutique set up at a nearby mall) and the microSD slot. Last year, I got everything I wanted, with exception to the internal storage (which was only 10gb of usable).

So, while I'm still holding out hope for a 64gb version coming to Sprint, the 25gb of usable internal storage is A LOT more than my current Note 2...and, for the same price that the 16 sold last year (I would've paid $349 for a 32 last year or even 400 for a 64). If it turns out the 64 is not available through Sprint, I'll likely consider upgrading to the Note 4 next year, should they decided to add a 64gb version.

Again, all subjective, but I'd just evaluate what is most important for your needs and go from there because the Note 2 is still an amazing phone.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 12:10 PM   #17 (permalink)
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If there's one thing I've learned, it's that their is no perfect smartphone. Yet after my incredibly great experience with my Galaxy S4, it's very close to ideal for my wants and needs.

A larger display is a top priority, thus I've pre-ordered a Note 3. I tried the Mega 6.3, but it's resolution is just too low. Not to mention the overall configuration.

Ideally I would be thrilled if Samsung would have chosen a full 6.0" display for the Note 3, but alas you can't have everything.

I eagerly await my upcoming Note 3
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Old September 18th, 2013, 02:48 PM   #18 (permalink)
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[*]External drives work, but unfortunately NTFS formatted drives still don't work on stock ROMs. It had the power to spin up a 1TB Seagate drive! Unfortunately the drive was NTFS formatted so couldn't do more to see how well it was working, but definitely was powered with a solid indicator light. Promising.
Using an OTG USB adapter for this one?
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Old September 19th, 2013, 03:15 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Using an OTG USB adapter for this one?
Yep, that's right
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Old September 19th, 2013, 03:16 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MohnJadden View Post
Thanks for the post - and double thanks for the info on 10-bit video!

When you say it isn't up to playing it, how bad was playback - occasional frame jags/color weirdnesses then resyncing the playback for a bit, was it slow, etc.? My Nexus 7 could play the file and have some occasional visual weirdness, but my current phone (Galaxy S Relay 4G starts off for a second of normal play and then goes down to about 2fps... heh).

Any chance it was OK with 720p 10-bit video?

A special thanks to the fansubbers who made this question a thing, because they want everyone to watch their anime on a computer only.
1080p 10-bit playback was choppy, but a little less than previous devices I've used.

720p playback on the couple of test files I had was fine (even S600 devices were handling 720p pretty well).
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Old September 19th, 2013, 11:07 AM   #21 (permalink)
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@NZtechfreak thank you. Your post, as always, was highly informative and much appreciated.
I want the (stealing from DrEx) G-Note 3 even though my 2 is highly capable of another year or 2.
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Old September 19th, 2013, 11:21 AM   #22 (permalink)
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@NZtechfreak thank you. Your post, as always, was highly informative and much appreciated.
I want the (stealing from DrEx) G-Note 3 even though my 2 is highly capable of another year or 2.
You decided to bite the bullet also? I'm using another line's upgrade, which I'm so hesitant to do since Sprint's NV upgrades are as slow as I expected them to be and service/4g LTE signal (while better than Wimax) has still been spotty (at best).

Best part is no money out of pocket for me, due to Best Buy trade-in value and trade in plus. Just need to know Sprint's release date and I'll be set. Next weekend, will be re-acquainting myself with our old friend, the Photon (until release date).
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Old September 19th, 2013, 02:02 PM   #23 (permalink)
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You decided to bite the bullet also? I'm using another line's upgrade, which I'm so hesitant to do since Sprint's NV upgrades are as slow as I expected them to be and service/4g LTE signal (while better than Wimax) has still been spotty (at best).

Best part is no money out of pocket for me, due to Best Buy trade-in value and trade in plus. Just need to know Sprint's release date and I'll be set. Next weekend, will be re-acquainting myself with our old friend, the Photon (until release date).
I haven't completely bitten yet. There's something else I want to buy and would have to make a choice of which purchase gets priority.
A lot depends on when it's going to launch.
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Old September 19th, 2013, 02:31 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NZtechfreak View Post
[*]External drives work, but unfortunately NTFS formatted drives still don't work on stock ROMs. It had the power to spin up a 1TB Seagate drive! Unfortunately the drive was NTFS formatted so couldn't do more to see how well it was working, but definitely was powered with a solid indicator light. Promising.
Quote:
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Using an OTG USB adapter for this one?
Quote:
Originally Posted by NZtechfreak View Post
Yep, that's right
Wanted to add to this, just in case you didn't have time to test, NZtechfreak.

For those that weren't already aware, Scootmien posted up the manual for the international version of the Note 3 here:

Note III manual .pdf

The reason I'm including that in this post is because, while reading through the manual, I noticed a great 'bit of information that actually had issues with older phones using 64gb microSD cards. The quote is from page 17 of the manual:

Quote:
The device supports the FAT and the exFAT file systems for memory cards. When
inserting a card formatted in a different file system, the device asks to reformat the
memory card.
I remember an issue a year ago, where exFAT wasn't even a possibility. What's great about this is, exFAT doesn't have a file size limitation like FAT32. I wanted to be sure to point that out to people that this was an issue with a year ago.
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Old September 19th, 2013, 09:25 PM   #25 (permalink)
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A lot depends on when it's going to launch.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Release Date: Sprint Availability Pegged For Oct. 2? ..... YMMV
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Old September 20th, 2013, 04:05 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Wanted to add to this, just in case you didn't have time to test, NZtechfreak.

I remember an issue a year ago, where exFAT wasn't even a possibility. What's great about this is, exFAT doesn't have a file size limitation like FAT32. I wanted to be sure to point that out to people that this was an issue with a year ago.
No need to test, it definitely works - Samsung have supported exFat since the Galaxy S3

Thanks for posting though, I'm sure many aren't aware of that.
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Old September 20th, 2013, 12:06 PM   #27 (permalink)
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No need to test, it definitely works - Samsung have supported exFat since the Galaxy S3

Thanks for posting though, I'm sure many aren't aware of that.
Thanks so much for mentioning that. My first Samsung Android phone was the Note 2 last year, but I was an early adopter of the 64gb card on older models of Android (e.g. Used a 64gb in my Motorola Photon), so I never went to research if OEM's started to support ExFAT formatting.

I started thinking about it and just remembered that it was YOU that did the video using the Smartdock last year!...Your video convinced me to get the smart dock!

For those that didn't get the Note 2, NZtechfreak did the absolute BEST hands-on video of the Samsung Smart Dock last year. When you have time, definitely check out his video here (as it'll likely make you want the smart dock as much as it convinced me to purchase one):
Galaxy Note 2 Smart Dock review - exclusive first look! - YouTube

You know, the only thing I couldn't figure out is, I had problems transferring files over to the hard drive I connected to the dock (e.g. too slow). It wasn't a big deal for me because I found it more convenient to just transfer the data while at work or on my laptop.
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Old September 21st, 2013, 07:15 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Did it have black crush? Its a little annoying, especially when watching movies.
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Old September 21st, 2013, 09:50 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I'm actually surprised that the unit reports the FULL 32GB storage. What did Samsung do to achieve that I wonder.

I just wish it would start supporting USB to Ethernet connectivity especially now that USB 3.0 is possible. Though battery life would probably take a good hit. I'm just not very fond of wireless.

Also does it have MHL 2.0? I would assume yes as the S4 had it. This just eliminates the power needs to power the HDMI connection. Less wires to fool around with.
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 05:26 AM   #30 (permalink)
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I'm actually surprised that the unit reports the FULL 32GB storage. What did Samsung do to achieve that I wonder.

I just wish it would start supporting USB to Ethernet connectivity especially now that USB 3.0 is possible. Though battery life would probably take a good hit. I'm just not very fond of wireless.

Also does it have MHL 2.0? I would assume yes as the S4 had it. This just eliminates the power needs to power the HDMI connection. Less wires to fool around with.
Ethernet over USB OTG would be welcome for a good many people, in demand feature especially amongst travellers in Asia (free ethernet in most hotels but pay for WiFi). So far the Padfone Infinity the only phone I've found with this functionality on stock firmware.

RE: MHL 2.0 - yes, I mention that in my post in the connectivity testing bit
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RE: MHL 2.0 - yes, I mention that in my post in the connectivity testing bit
Oops. I actually missed that...

Thanks.
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