Samsung-Galaxy-Note-3-front-back.jpg-640x488

The Galaxy Note 3 has been around for a while now and we were lucky enough to get one pretty early. While other websites rush to give reviews on handsets that they have hardly used just to be the first (like we did with the S4) I have opted to from now on in only review handsets after we have had real life experience with them so lets see what we thought of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3.

The Galaxy Note 3 is without a doubt one of the most hotly anticipated devices of the year and no wonder. The Galaxy Note 3 is without a doubt what a successor to the Galaxy Note 2 should be with it’s huge 5.7-inch 1080p HD AMOLED display, larger battery, thinner body and the latest top of the range processor. As always tho the main question remains, does all this really make it the next big thing?

I will start this review off with saying that I owned the Note 2 for a very brief time as it just was’t for me, I now have the HTC One, Galaxy S4 and Nexus 4 so I was hoping the Note 3 could get me excited enough to understand why this line is so popular amd why there was so much hype surrounding it. So lets dive in and have a look and see what I thought.

Spec Sheet
  • Colors: White, black, pink
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (N9005) / Exynos 5 Octa 5420 (N9000)
  • CPU: Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 (N9005) / Quad-core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7 (N9000)
  • GPU: Adreno 330 (N9005) / Mali-T628 MP6 (N9000)
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Dimensions: 5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches
  • Weight: 168g
  • OS: TouchWiz based on Android 4.3
  • Cameras: 13MP rear, LED flash with digital Smart Stabilization with BSI sensor / 2MP front facing, BSI sensor
  • Display: 5.7 inch Super AMOLED PenTile
  • Storage: 32/64GB expandable by microSD
  • Connectivity: GPRS, Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP, NFC, Infrared port, MHL in microUSB v3.0,     Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Networks: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900; HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100; LTE 800 / 850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600
  • Battery: 3200mAh Li-ion, removeable

Design And Build Quality

Samsung has made a big issue of responding to the critics who hated the usual shiny glossy plastic material and replaced it with a new textured material. I was not one of these critics and fing my Galaxy S4 to be pleasing on the eye but this new approach is certainly welcome.

Having a look at the front of the Note 3 you will notice the new slimmed down bezels making the Note 3 very attractive and compliment that huge 5.7-inch screen (0.2-inches larger than the Note 2) but when you flip it over and see that rear you will be pleasantly surprised. Although still removable for access to the battery, SIM slot and microSD slot, the new material used mimics leather very well especially on the black version we have,  I had felt both versions and the black certainly feels that bit more premium in the hand. It is worth noting that the rear battery door is still as bendy as ever and still plastic at the end of the day but it certainly looks great.

On to the side of the device Samsung again have pulled out all the stops, sure there’s the usual button layout but the edge of the device features a nice line design aimed to mimic the edges of a notebook. The new design looks great and really pays homage to it’s namesake. The new flatter design on the sides makes the Note 3 a pleasure to hold in the hand and rests nicely in the palm of your hand.

On the bottom of the device you will find the S Pen, microUSB 3.0 charging port and the speaker grill. Don’t panic to much about the new charging port as it is backwards compatible meaning you can still use that standard microUSB cable.

The only word that describes the Note 3’s design is “executive”. The Note 3 looks great, feels great in the hand and is bound to attract a lot of attention and not only from that new rear as the Note 3 looks great from all angles and has to be the best looking Samsung device yet.

Display

The display on the Note 3 is probably it’s strongest point. Usually the Note series is aimed at those who need a larger screen but it would be hard for anyone to see this display and not instantly fall in love.

This Super AMOLED Pentile display could originally be found on the S4 but Samsung has made it bigger and better. Everything you do on the Note 3’s 1080p 386ppi panel from gaming to watching movies is very pleasing on the eye albeit sometimes the colours may be a little oversaturated but it looks great. Viewing websites is an absolute pleasure text looks crisp and websites load to the perfect read size automatically and if it’s not perfect just quickly zoom in.

It must be said that this 5.7-inch screen is certainly a two handed job but you would expect that considering it comes with the S Pen. Credit must be giving to Samsung tho as they have introduced one hand mode which allows the keyboards and other elements to shrink down allowing one handed typing if you wish. That said most people wouldn’t buy the Note 3 to use it with hand.

Hardware

Now let’s talk about the stuff you can’t see the parts that make the Note 3 a monster. The Galaxy Note 3 was the first Android device to ship with the new Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3GHz. To put it simple this is a crazy amount of power for a smartphone. Of course to make things awkward the Note 3 arrived in two variants the other hosting the Exynos octa-core processor, this happened with the S4 as well but availability seemed scarce but Samsung assures us that this won’t be the case with the Note 3. Either way most of us in the UK and US will have the Snapdragon 800 monster.

Teaming up with the Snapdragon 800 is the Adreno 330 and 3GB of RAM which just raises the bar to a whole new level. As we are BeginnersTech and we like to keep things as simple as possible you are looking at a device that could handle anything you throw at it. These new bar setting specifications will be a dream come true to those who live to have the best spec device but it’s not all for show as they are put to great use.

For day to day use the Note 3 never stutters and loads apps almost instantly. Scrolling through home screens was very smooth and multitasking was no trouble at all. I was really pleased with the overall performance and happy to see that Samsung had managed to take some of the lag away from its TouchWiz overlay.

Continuing on we get that 3200mAh removable battery and the options of 32GB/64GB of onboard storage. One thing worth noting is that it seems hard to find a carrier offering the 64GB but with the mass amounts of cloud storage available 32GB with the microSD slot available on the Note 3 you should have plenty of room.

Call quality seems to be included in everyone’s reviews today and considering that’s the main purpose of a phone I guess it would be sensible to discuss it. Call quality on the Note 3 is what I would call adequate, the reason I say that is I feel the call volume could be a little better but I’m just nitpicking at best but best to be honest I have heard better.

Now let’s talk about all those sensors that we first saw introduced on the awesome Galaxy S4. There are the same sensors on the Note 3 that are needed for all those cool Air Gesture, Air View and Smart Scroll features but the Note 3 gets one up on the S4 as it features the S Pen. In all honesty you could use the Note 3 without ever touching the S Pen if you really wished as these features listed give you a great experience when using the device.

So what about that S Pen? If you ever used the previous generation Note then you will be pleased to know the whole S Pen experience has been enhanced significantly. Even the pen itself has been redesigned and it does a great job of complimenting the Note 3’s design. Those with larger hands may have to play around with it for a while to get used to its slim form factor but it wont take you long to get used to holding it. We will discuss all the new features of the S Pen is the software section which as you would expect is a huge section.

Battery

Also worth mentioning is the new 3200mAh removable battery, yeah it’s huge and it certainly wont let you down. I would consider myself a heavy user and I have seen me coming home after work with 65% battery left and I watch a lot of YouTube clips, search the web, post articles and access social media constantly so the average user would be very happy. As it is removable you could always buy a spare if you want and carry it with you as an emergency and that is a great option to be given.

Software

The Galaxy Note 3 as you would expect runs Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay on top of the latest version of Android 4.3. TouchWiz may have not been the greatest experience on the S4 but big improvements have been made with the Note 3 to ensure a more enjoyable experience. Samsung have packed so many features into the Note 3 that can be toggled on and off as you wish, some of them useful and some of them a little out there like “Air Gesture”. I say that as I find it hard to believe anyone wants to wave at there mobile device but if you do let us know and I’ll be sure to update this. As we covered all those features in our Galaxy S4 review I think it makes sense to focus on the new stuff here.

Screenshot_2013-11-25-13-11-20

One of the first new features is “MyMagazine” that can be easily accessed by swiping upwards on the homescreen. It’s similar to HTC’s BlinkFeed and Flipboard and consolidates all your news and social media in a tidy fashion. One downside is you cant select your news sources but maybe that will arrive in a future update.

Screenshot_2013-11-25-13-12-20

So lets discuss Air CommandWhen you pull that S Pen out from the Note 3’s body you will be greeted with a lovely radial popup knows as Air Command allowing you to quickly and easily select an S Pen action. The options you get are as follows Action Memo, Scrapbooker, Screen Write, S Finder or Pen Window. Before I go into to detail  ActionMemo is for taking notes, Scrapbooker loads up the Scrapbook app, Screen Write takes a screenshot and allows you to vandalise it as you wish, S Finder allows you to search anything and Pen Window allows you to open up a window anywhere on the device at any time.

Action Memo allows you to make quick notes and store them for later viewing or you can take what you have written and use it in a different app. A great example of this would be if we launch Action Memo and write BeginnersTech we can easily then do a web search and be brought here. This is a favourite tool of mine as it allows you to get tasks done nice and quick with little hassle involved.

Scrapbooker is pretty awesome as well as you can just select and image, video or article by cutting it out with the S Pen and it will save it with the original link to the content allowing you to easily view it at anytime. I dint find myself using this feature that much to be honest but it can be helpful if you spot something you want to check out when your not busy.

Screenshot_2013-11-25-13-12-43

The Screen Write is pretty much a screenshot that can be written on as you can see from the example above but theres not a lot to discuss about this feature.

S Window is another of my favourite features, it allows you to outline an area on the screen in which a small application can be put, further enhancing multitasking. It is worth noting that there aren’t  many apps you can use for this, however if you like to tinker with your device the guys over at XDA have already got a solution allowing you to use any app in this window.

S Finder works really well on the Note 3 and allows you to type or hand write exactly what it is you need to find on the device be it an app or recent Action Memo note.

Speaking of typing or handwriting you will find that whenever you hover over a search box you will see the little S Pen picture pop up, click that with the S Pen and this will allow you to complete the search using hamd writing. I can tell you that this is very accurate it even manages to read a total scribble so big credit must be given here.

It’s safe to say multi-tasking is the Note 3’s biggest plus and this is shown off with the Multi Window feature. Multi Window basically allows you to run two apps side by side. Examples of times I use this is when i want to watch a YouTube video while messaging people on Hangouts. It works perfect and the Note 3 doesn’t even so much as stutter at all, the combinations of apps you can run side by side are endless and it even lets you share stuff between the two windows as well.

Another new feature but admittedly I never use is Single handed use. Its a pretty cool feature with different modes that you can try for example the ability to shrink the keyboard down in size and placing it on either side of that awesome screen to allow you to typed with your thumb. It works well and this can be done with many parts of the device like the dialer and calculator. If you want to go all out crazy you can even shrink the whole screen down in size to allow for a total one handed experience but if you want to do this please do yourself a favour and don’t buy the Note 3.

So thats just a brief discussion of the Note 3’s newest features I tried out, I will be putting up a video shortly after this review is published demonstrating a full hands on so keep your eyes peeled if you want to see them in action.

Camera

The optics on the Galaxy Note 3 are pretty much the same as the Galaxy S4 so again you can get a more in depth look at this from our S4 review. However the Note 3 comes with the addition of  digital Smart Stabilization which will help those with shaky hands and should improve those low light photographs. The App itself is identical to that found on the S4 and if you read that review you will know I loved it and still do. The best way to show off the camera is show you guy’s a bunch of pictures iv taken, I used auto mode and took some shots both indoors and out doors and I think you will agree the pictures are nothing short of stunning.

Conclusion

So that’s the end of our written review and I must say I haven’t enjoyed reviewing a device as much as the Note 3 in a long time and I now understand why people rave about the Note lineup. The only reason I can see that people would avoid the Note 3 is it’s size but after a few days of playing with it the size no longer becomes an issue. The new S Pen is great and an awesome thing to have as I find myself using it frequently on a day to day basis to get thing’s done quickly. I don’t think anyone can deny that the Note 3 looks lovely and Samsung have certainly went all out on this device and long may it continue. If your looking for a device that can easily fit into your life as a media player, camera, phone and even a small tablet then look no further.

 

Be Sociable, Share!

The following two tabs change content below.

avatar

Ryan Oneill

Editor In Chief

BeginnersTech was an idea I had one Sunday when I was bored. It is now not only a website but a successful YouTube channel that takes me all over the world. Don’t ever let anyone discourage you. Chase those dreams.