The Good The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a gorgeous and massive screen, screaming quad-core processor, and refined S Pen skills. It also has long battery life, makes clear calls, and takes great pictures.
The Bad Note 3 is expensive, large, and its imitation leather is made of cheap plastic.
The Bottom Line Although its plastic skin does not cope with the high price fairness, Samsung’s Samsung Note 3 makes the most compelling case for a large phone.
The new Galaxy Note 3 for $ 299.99 is an excursion into mobile phone design. Not only is it large, bold and extremely fast, the imposing device has an incredibly sharp 5.7-inch display and battery life. More importantly, the Note 3 has a more sophisticated design than its predecessor – Note 2 , the streamlined S Pen interface, and the coolest camera you’ll find on the Galaxy S4 .
The third-generation Note, however, is the most significant upgrade so far and the first Note device, thanks to the more sophisticated S Pen interface that customers who want to buy want to buy. Frankly, it has the ability to learn on any flagship device on the market, and is the only device, starting with the old Palm Treos, to get me to think seriously about using a pen phone.
Prices and availability
Shipping now and hitting US carriers in force in October 2013, the Note 3 costs $299.99 on Verizon (in stores 10/10), AT&T (in stores 10/4) and Sprint (in stores 10/4). T-Mobile (available now) sells the device for a lower $199.99 up front, but you’re on the hook for 24 monthly payments of $21. U.S. Cellular have also said it expects to scoop up the Note 3 soon.
What’s New in Note 3
Note 3 is a large-scale upgrade over previous Note counterparts. In short, the Note 3 has a larger 5.7-inch Full HD screen; updated S Pen features and S Note app; thinner, lighter chassis; huge processor speed rejection; and a built-in Flipboard technology news app.
Samsung’s sharper Note 3 (pictures)
Design and build
The overall theme of Samsung’s improvement is clearly evident from the look of the Note 3. In my opinion, it is much more sophisticated and sophisticated than the two notes that came before it. Measuring 6 inches wide by 3.1 inches wide and only 0.33 inches thick, the Note 3 only has hair taller and wider than its predecessor. Even so, this Note note is thinner, though it boasts a larger screen (5.7 inches versus 5.5 inches).
In addition to shaving a few inches apart, Samsung also lightened the five-tenth-ounce device, putting the Note 3 at 5.9 ounces. But even as the most complicated note yet, it is still midget flagship phones such as the HTC One, Galaxy S4 and Motorola Droid Maxx , they were all big boys. On the other hand, Samsung Galaxy Mega Thanks to its 6.3-inch screen with a horn, even the Note 3 seems reasonable.
Structurally, the Note 3 also takes huge deviations from the sleek, plastic and oval frame of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Notes in front of it. The Note 3 has a rectangular chassis topped with flashy faux chrome edges, which are embossed, and the phone’s backing is designed to mimic the skin. This leather along with the Note 3 silver backdrops evoke the Samsonite portfolio of the 1960s. A further transmission of this retro vibration accessory is the false seams that run along the back edge of the handset.
These design modifications are also not just for display. The textured back surface of the Note conveniently resists fingerprints and provides a secure grip. Now I’m sure many people out there will find this new look for the Note 3, and at the top even clear – the back of the phone is, after all, plastic and only imitates the skin. However, all of this gives the Note 3 a very nice and crisp look, especially when compared to the slim and cheap plastic Note 2 chassis and the original Note.
The back panel houses a 13MP Note 3 camera lens and LED flash. Removing the back cover reveals other greetings, including a high capacity (and removable) 3200 mAh battery plus a microSD card slot. Interestingly, to save space, the device’s SD card slot is located directly on its micro-SIM slot. This means that you will need to remove the battery to add more memory.
The Pen Pen Note stylus is located in the socket on the bottom lip of the phone. However, the device has only three physical buttons: a tiny power key on the right edge, a thin volume bar on the left side, and a large oval home button under the screen. On both sides are two volume keys for Menu and Back.
Above the display you’ll find a 2MP front camera for self portraits, video chat or just for kids’ entertainment. The top edge of the Note 3 has a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired audio.
Also living on the bottom edge of the Note 3 is what I initially thought was its own port. Instead, it’s a combination Micro-USB connector with one of the new USB 3.0 connectors. USB 3.0 offers faster charging times and data rates (up to 10x faster) than the old USB 2.0 standard, but you’ll need a compatible PC.
A stunning screen
Believe me when I say that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 screen is just gorgeous. Measuring a whopping 5.7 inches, the AMOLED display has an ultra-crystalline full HD resolution (1,920×1,080 pixels) that translates into an astonishingly sharp 385 pillars. This is the level of detail that makes the smaller screens of the iPhone 5S (4-inch, 326 pillars) and the Galaxy S4 (5-inch, 441 pillars) shy.
This is usually superior to the Note 2 viewing experience (5.5-inch, 267 pixels per inch, 1,280×720 pixels). Note 2 produces text that is noticeably less clear than Note 3. Moreover, although the HTC One (4.7-inch, 468 pylons) technically has a clearer screen, its viewing area is insignificant when it sits against the Note 3.
Note’s latest contrast display also notes well-saturated colors, with deep blacks and very wide viewing angles. As with Note 2, you have five screen modes (Adapted Display, Dynamic, Standard, Professional Photo, and Movie) that offer custom color settings. I prefer the movie mode because its colors are the most realistic. Samsung has obviously honed this mode even more, as its colors look even more natural than the same Note 2 choice.
And because its screen is brighter and clearer than its predecessor, watching all kinds of visual content on the Note 3 is fascinating. The characters in the movie trailers almost pop out of the screen and on their knees, and the detail in the photos and videos is incredibly clear. Browsing versions of websites for desktops, an activity I do not recommend on devices with small displays, was also a pleasant sight.
It’s all about S Pen
I doubt even the most zealous Galaxy Note fans often use their S pens, at least those who don’t mainly speak complex languages based on characters or icons. Samsung hopes that this third iteration of the Note franchise will turn more users into S Pen loyalty. To that end, the company says it has updated its S Pen experience with the Note 3 (and new) Note 10.1 tablet ) to refine existing features without overflowing with a confusing list of features and tools.
I think Samsung has made great strides to its goal as it is the first S Pen implementation that I have actually been tempted to use. Here’s how it works.
When you pull the S Pen out of its shell, a small fan-shaped graphic called Air Command appears. You can also activate it from any screen or program by holding the knob close to the display and pressing the S Pen button. By itself, one change, the addition of Air Command, does its best to make the S Pen an important tool for ordinary people than ever before.
Unlike the old Notes, which diluted S Pen capabilities across the OS (where they were lost or forgotten), Air Command puts them all in one place. In addition, there are five basic options: Action Memo, Booklet Writing, Screen Writing, S Finder, and Feather Window. Just click on the option to launch the feature.
An action memo lets you create a handwritten note and then provides several options for manipulating the information you just wrote down. For example, you can write your name, number, and other details, and then be able to send data by mail, save it in your contacts, use it in text, or search on the map. You can also convert notes to to-do lists and even send them to Evernote for safe storage.
Of course, the practice does not work perfectly. The phone was having problems with the exact transcription of my, apparently, horrible handwriting into the text. I often had to write words several times to properly record what I wanted to write.
The Bookmark Scrap Booker contains images and content you see, be it a website, photos or YouTube videos that can be stored in a virtual scrapbook. You can create and name as many volumes as you want and then access them through a scrapbook program.
Samsung’s revamped S Note app mostly gets it write (pictures)
In practice, the function worked quite well and I was able to capture images and other content and then save directly to personal notes. However, personally, I am not someone who writes books in real life, or even does this by virtually using sites such as Pinterest. However, if you are researching projects that need to sift through a lot of visual information (home improvement, buying new wardrobe, etc.), I can see how convenient it is.
Think of S Finder as a universal search. This feature will sift the phone’s memory into keywords, including handwritten notes, and present a list of documents containing relevant information.
Clicking on the handle window allows you to draw a field on the screen and then select the program that will fill that space. For example, you can open an email or a web browser and then pull out a small window for a calculator, phone or contacts that will float above everything. This is an interesting idea and I find it useful in certain situations.
For example, imagine reading an email, then knocking out people’s phone numbers, making calls, and then executing web links and office reminders. Of course, creating an application window takes just three steps compared to simply switching between applications.
I think Advanced Multi Window is very useful, especially for power users who switch data from multiple applications at the same time. This feature allows you to open two application windows at once and then drag content between them. I actually find it quite useful, especially for getting location details directly from email and using them to create appointments on my calendar – a task I keep doing. You can also create paired windows for later use.
Samsung Software, Interface and Applications
It may not be KitKat , but the Galaxy Note 3 launches the latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system, which is the latest available. Android KitKat will be out soon and I hope the Note 3 gets this update in time.
On top of this is Samsung’s own interface, once known as TouchWiz. In addition to all the improvements to the S Pen, it’s actually the same skin you see on the Galaxy S4.
Although it is very functional and overflowing with features and ways of customizing them, I think Samsung’s user interface is more confusing than those of other phone makers. Just browsing through the shortcut menu only in the notification shade gives me a headache. The HTC Sense software on the HTC One is easier to understand, such as the Android UI for Motorola Moto X.
One of the aspects that is new to the Note 3 is how Samsung previously grouped certain applications in the application tray into special folders. Front and center are the Samsung folder, which stores shortcuts to many of the company’s software and services. Highlights include S Health Pedometer, Action Memo, S Voice for Voice Commands, Play Group that shares videos and photos with other Galaxy devices, and utilities such as “My Files” and “Voice Recorder.”
Interestingly, all installed Google applications are also hidden in their own virtual home. Honestly, my eyes kept sliding past him, as stock Android never does such Google apps. This folder contains Gmail, Google Search, Google+ social networks, as well as icons for branded digital content stores such as Play Books, Games, Movies, and Music.
Samsung also took a hint from HTC and its news aggregator BlinkFeed, which first appeared on HTC One. Swiping up from the Home screen in Note 3 launches the My Magazine viewer. Using the technology of the popular Flipboard application, My Magazine publishes articles and news from various sites.
Like the HTC solution, however, there is no way to delete My Magazine, as it is obviously baked straight to Note 3. In addition, you have no control over which media and websites the reader receives information from. The most detailed choices you can make are to choose what My Magazine topics are right for you.
Flip through Samsung’s Flipboard for phones and tablets (pictures)
If you like the Galaxy S4 digital camera, you will have no complaints about the Note 3 shooter. The device comes with the same sharp 13-megapixel sensor with an accompanying LED flash.
The Note 3 camera app comes with a huge bucket of shooting modes, unlike, for example, Motorola phones that have menu options and settings. In fact, the camera settings in the Note 3 are identical to those found on the Galaxy S4. They range from very useful ones such as HDR, Burst, Panorama, to awesome ones like Beauty Face, Golf (captures your scope for exploration) and Eraser, which removes people and moving objects in the background. You can also talk to almost all aspects of image capture, such as photo and video size, ISO settings, white balance, and light measurement.
The Note 3 has breathtakingly clean still-life images with bright colors and crystal-clear details. The photos inside were also properly exposed and the white balance was correctly selected automatically.
Note 3 also won photos of flowers in very bright colors, even in cloudy skies. The details were also sharp, especially at the highest image size (4,128×3096 pixels).
Similar to the performance of other flagship mobile phones, such as the HTC One and Galaxy S4, the Note 3’s photos are almost instantaneous. This makes it clever enough to shoot naughty objects such as toddlers and junk pets.
One of the areas I was not impressed with is the Note 3’s low-light shooting. Although flash memory did a pretty good job of drawing objects in dark places evenly, without blowing them like less capable phone cameras, without a flash, the sensor just couldn’t capture enough light to work.
Massive mobile power
Inside the Galaxy Note 3 is an advanced quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor at 2.3 GHz. It supports not 2GB but 3GB of RAM, as well as 32GB of internal storage.
And as I expected, the Note 3 handles attack maneuverability by responding to scaling menus at an alarming rate and zero vibrations by popping open programs. Note 3 punched a fire hole through all the mobile landmarks that I also threw at it. It burned the Quadrant, reaching the highest rating I have ever seen (23,048). I confess, I made a double result and had to confirm that I had not accidentally added an extra zero.
This result essentially bury what was controlled by both the HTC One (12,194) and the Galaxy S4 (11,381). Even the famous LG G2 (19,050) with the same Snapdragon 800 processor couldn’t catch up with the Note 3 on the Quadrant benchmark.
I tested the T-Mobile version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and the device was able to connect to the 4G LTE carrier network in New York. I noticed a fast, if not blistering, fast download speed that averaged 8.3 Mbps. The download was not too shabby either, and averaged 6 Mbps.
This allowed Note 3 to launch the CNET mobile site in just 4 seconds and the desktop version in 8 seconds. I also managed to download 4.96 MB in 8 seconds.
Samsung also did not neglect the voice communication capabilities of the Note 3. While testing my phone on the GSM T-Mobile network in New York, I felt great call quality. Subscribers described my voice as refreshing, with little or no background distortion. This means that if they listen clearly enough, they can often detect void ligaments.
The voices came through the earpiece with great clarity and volume, forcing me to turn the volume of the phone into several speeches. The same goes for words going through the powerful Note 3 speaker. The people I spoke to were also surprised at how good I sounded by the talking hands.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (T-Mobile) call quality sampleListen now:
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Despite its thin wafer frame, the Galaxy Note 3 has heaps of mobile endurance. Its large 3,200 mAh battery capacity resulted in a staggeringly long 15 hours of CCTV Labs CCTV benchmarking. This test is to play HD video continuously until phone calls are stopped.
For comparison, the Motorola Droid Maxx, the most likely feature of which is its durability, survived a minute of shy 16 hours during the same test.
|Performance: Samsung Galaxy Note 3|
|Average LTE download speed (T-Mobile)||8.3Mbps|
|Average LTE download upload speed||6Mbps|
|CNET app download||4.96MB in 7.9 seconds|
|CNET mobile site load||4.1 seconds|
|CNET desktop site load||8.1 seconds|
|Boot time||21.5 seconds|
|Camera boot time||1.2 seconds|
Where it stands and who should buy
After Samsung commits to making a product, it plays to win. The company may not fix the case for the first time, but it patiently pushes until it creates a truly seductive apparatus. For the third time, it’s a real charm, because the Galaxy Note 3, while certainly a niche gadget, is the most compelling phone / tablet tinsel Samsung has ever created, and the best I’ve ever used. This list includes the rise of phablet monsters such as LG G2 , Motorola Droid Maxx , and LG Optimus Vu II .
I admit, some of his attributes are not pleasant to some people. Its sheer size is hard to ignore or squeeze into tight pants pockets. The stumbling block will also be textured artificial leather and retro lining. Frankly, I’m quite in love with the Note 3’s aesthetics, especially its stylish black hue (it also turns white). For me, it also goes back to the revered design of the Galaxy S2, one of my favorite phones of all time.
And if you ever take off the S Pen stylus and the much-improved stylus interface, the Note 3 itself is a remarkably sophisticated device. The Components and Fast Processor is first-rate, and its captivating screen practically functions as a portable HDTV. Of course, priced at $ 299.99 for a two-year contract, the Note 3 is one of the most expensive mobile phones on the market right there with the Droid Maxx ($ 299.99).
It’s also true that the Maxx is more pocket friendly and offers longer battery life, but the Note 3 provides a better camera and comes closer to the longer Maxx version. This latest achievement is the most heroic achievement of the Note 3, given that the device delivers a much faster processor, more RAM, Android 4.3 (compared to 4.2.2 Maxx), and a larger and clearer display. That’s why, if you consider yourself a powerful Android user who doesn’t want to spend extra money on a small tablet like the Nexus 7, or just want to get the most out of your phone, the Galaxy Note 3 is an obvious choice.