As recently as 2011, the idea of a device that was a usable mobile phone, yet also provided all the functionality of a tablet, seemed thoroughly fanciful. But then Samsung unleashed its GALAXY Note on an unsuspecting world, thereby proving that the very best of both devices could be combined in a single package.
And now, the GALAXY Note 3 has arrived, taking the same concept of fusing the best aspects of phones and tablets but moving it up to an altogether higher plane. Here, then, are 10 reasons why you would be doing yourself a favour by upgrading to a Samsung GALAXY Note 3.
1. The best screen yet
Given that the Samsung GALAXY Note 3 functions as a full, multi-tasking Android tablet, the quality and size of its screen is of paramount importance.
And the GALAXY Note 3 delivers in spades: its 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen is impressively bigger than that of its predecessors. Plus, it's the highest-quality screen ever fitted to a GALAXY Note device, using the unsurpassed Super AMOLED technology, and can run Full HD for startlingly crisp and clear video playback.
You'll also see a notable jump in clarity when using the GALAXY Note 3 for reading text, generating artworks and editing photos.
2. Top-quality physical design
While the GALAXY Note 3 preserves its predecessors' general outward appearance, it does so with an extra dash of classiness and tactile quality.
One of the first things you notice when you get your hands on a Note 3 for the first time is the soft-touch, textured back cover, with its delicate stitching.
There's a slight serration on the side, which puts you in mind of physical notebooks – deliberately, since one of the GALAXY Note 3's many abilities is to operate beautifully as a notebook with which to document your life.
There are also new colour options – Jet Black, Classic White and Blush Pink, to be precise – and there will be loads of interchangeable back covers available for it.
3. S Pen grows up
The S Pen has also been uprated hugely for the new model. For example, by clicking its button when you hover it over the screen, you can now launch the Note 3's Air Command, which gives you instant access to five key functions: Action Memo, Scrapbooker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window.
Those contain countless innovations, including the ability to open up new windows on screen by simply drawing boxes, or searching for something across all the types of content.
4. Fort Knox-like security
Samsung has paid particular attention to the thorny – and topical – issue of security with the GALAXY Note 3, via a feature called Samsung KNOX.
Samsung KNOX is based upon an intriguing idea: it allows you to run and store security-sensitive apps and data inside a protected environment called Container.
Container works by providing protection against malware and phishing attacks at a system level – you can think of it as an extra-fortified space within your GALAXY Note 3, into which you can place, for example, your most precious photos or videos.
And Samsung KNOX can even be hooked up to secure office systems, which is a boon for those who regularly work remotely.
5. Multi-task like never before
One of the biggest features which elevates the GALAXY Note 3 above mere mobile phones is the ability to multi-task – a function made practical, of course, by the extra screen real estate.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that Samsung has improved the GALAXY Note 3's multi-tasking abilities. Multi Window lets you toggle between apps without closing windows or having to open new pages.
Now you can also use two of the same apps at the same time, so you might want to have two chats on the go, with two ChatON windows open simultaneously, or have two Internet windows open allowing you to view two seperate websites on the one screen.
Plus, a Drag and Drop mode lets you pull content such as text or images from one window to another. In other words, the GALAXY Note 3 boasts full multi-tasking, on a par with what you would expect from a PC or laptop.
6. Beefed-up technical specifications
With a 2.3GHz Quad-Core processor and a whopping 3GB of RAM – an industry-leading amount of memory – the GALAXY Note 3 is noticeably faster and more responsive than its predecessors.
Naturally, it can run on 4G, as well as 3G networks. When you buy, you can choose between two versions, with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage; both of which are of course supplemented by a microSD card slot.
The new model has a longer-lasting 3,200mAh battery, too. And amazingly all that cutting-edge technology hasn't resulted in any physical bloating. On the contrary, the GALAXY Note 3 is slimmer than its predecessors at just 8.3mm and lighter too, tipping the scales at a pocket-friendly 168g.
7. Anti-theft protection
On top of Samsung KNOX, the GALAXY Note 3 comes with a new security feature called Find My Mobile, which lets you disable the device in the event of it being stolen or lost.
Samsung KNOX itself makes it much more difficult to hack a stolen GALAXY Note 3, and Samsung has beefed up the user authentication too, which makes it very difficult for any stolen GALAXY Note 3 to be reset to its factory settings.
And of course, as the name suggests, Find My Mobile lets you track the whereabouts of your GALAXY Note 3, should it fall into the wrong hands.
8. GALAXY Gear, a new companion
Unless you live in a cave, you're almost certain to be aware of the Samsung GALAXY Gear; the wristwatch-shaped device has certainly garnered a lot of attention since it was announced.
And it is, of course, designed to be a companion device, synchronising superbly with the Samsung GALAXY Note 3, with more GALAXY devices to be added to the compatibility list soon.
With a GALAXY Gear, for example, you'll be able to conduct hands-free calls without taking your Note 3 out of your pocket, plus pick up texts and emails and more on your Note 3, via a feature called Smart Relay.
The ability to get to everything on a screen on your wrist is mind-blowing and the GALAXY Note 3 and GALAXY Gear have specifically been designed to complement each other perfectly.
9. Countless new software bells and whistles
Whenever Samsung releases a new mobile device, it always pays particular attention to that device's built-in software – and that is especially true of the GALAXY Note 3, which has the grunt and the larger-than-average screen required to run some very sophisticated software indeed.
There's an awful lot of new software for GALAXY Note 3 users to get their teeth into. Such as My Magazine: a personalised news, social media and in-the-moment-content experience, which essentially creates your own personalised magazine, with particular relevance to your everyday life.
Group Play has also been upgraded. So on the GALAXY Note 3, it allows groups to play the same videos, as well as music. S Note, the super-sophisticated note-taking app, has also been expanded – it can, for instance, now be synched with an Evernote or your Samsung account, so you can view your S Note creations on other devices.
10. Classier, faster, slimmer, more sophisticated
The Samsung GALAXY Note 3 represents yet another major evolution in the sophistication of smart mobile devices.
More powerful, and positively bristling with sophisticated software designed to smooth and enhance our everyday lives. Plus, when you team your new device up with a Samsung GALAXY Gear, you can access all of its power and functionality from a device that lives on your wrist.
It might well be the ultimate mobile device.