The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is now available for customers to pre-order. The reviews are in and the reception has been mixed. Interested in buying one of these devices? These are the top ten reviews you need to read.
I like the Note 3 as much as I did my Note II and appreciate the S Pen improvements. My Note II was sold because I found I wasn’t using the S Pen as much as I had hoped. I think with the improvements, specifically with Air Command and S Note, I will be using the S Pen more often and will try to replace all of the paper notebooks I have around my office.
It’s a snappy, lag-free experience, with great battery life and fast charging, but it’s just not big enough to be a proper 7in tablet replacement.
It’s also likely be too big for most users looking for a smartphone, who will struggle to fit it in their pockets and will find it near-on impossible to use one-handed. Samsung’s TouchWiz customisations to Android are often gimmicky and confusing, but they can be turned off to save frustration and battery life.
Let’s get one thing straight before we dive into this review though, the Galaxy Note 3 is only going to appeal to a narrow segment of users, it’s certainly not going to have the broad appeal of the Galaxy S4, nor catch the eye of the fashion-conscious iPhone 5S purchaser. The Note 3 isn’t pretending to be anything it’s not. It knows it’s a big, some may say huge, smartphone and Samsung understands that form factor won’t be for everyone.
The Note has always been one of the fastest Android phones on the market, and the Note 3 is even faster than before. The T-Mobile version I reviewed has Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line S800 processor and 3GB of RAM (different global versions swap the S800 for a Samsung Exynos chip, but all of the US models will have the Qualcomm), which gives the Note 3 speedy performance with no hiccups. I never really had to wait for the phone to do anything (apart from the Gallery app, which was uncharacteristically slow at times), and Samsung’s customizations don’t noticeably hold the phone back from being as fast as it could be. You won’t notice many of the speed increases unless you compare the Note 3 side-by-side with other devices, and raw power isn’t everything, but there’s plenty of raw power here.
Do you like really big phones? Then yes! This is the best big phone out there. Do you hate big phones? Then no, of course you shouldn’t get it because you will drop it on the ground and cry. That’s pretty much the long and short of it, at least for now. Oh, except for the price.
Depending on the carrier, this puppy will run you $300 to $350 on contract. That’s pretty damn steep. But if you’ve got the coin, you like this size, and you can get over the software annoyances, this is probably the phone you want. Ignore the gravitational pull of the Galaxy Mega. Size aside, this is three times the phone that is.
What makes the Note series unique isn’t just the form factor; it’s the inclusion of the S Pen. Accordingly, the Note 3 also gets some new software features to make use of that pen accessory. While we’re definitely looking at Android (Jelly Bean 4.3), it’s still hidden under TouchWiz, a UI that Samsung has a habit of peppering with its own software. The most well-known examples of this are all the “S” apps — S Voice, S Planner and the like. These, as you might expect, are all present and correct, with no noticeable core differences from previous iterations. Other familiar faces include S Health, Samsung Hub, Samsung Link and ChatON. There’s also a new addition called “My Magazine.” There are a couple of updates to the S Pen-specific apps, too, which we’ll cover later.
The front of the Note 3 is home to a gigantic 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display that is so bright it could light up an arena. The full HD 1080p resolution brings the panel’s pixel density to 386 ppi and images on the screen are crystal clear as a result. Samsung is known for its amazing mobile displays and the Note 3 certainly does not disappoint. An oblong home button sits beneath the screen flanked by capacitive menu and back keys, and the ear speaker, sensors and front-facing camera rest above the display along with Samsung’s logo.
All the stylus power is great, but there’s an annoying catch: the rear camera. While the 9-megapixel camera is fine (sample pic below), it protrudes from the back a couple of millimeters. That leads to an unfortunate wobble if you ever put the phone down to write on it — you know, like a real notebook. I saw this same problem in the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet, and it’s a shame Samsung didn’t learn from the mistake.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launches this week for the major wireless carriers in the United States, and that means we get another big helping of a large-screen device that’s meant to bridge the gap between smartphones and tablets. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 features a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED 1080p HD display, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3GHz, 3GB of RAM, and comes in either a 32GB or 64GB variant. It also packs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz. Is this the phablet for you? Part 1 of 2.
This machine doesn’t feel any more massive than the previous generation – in fact it feels a lot better filled-out due to the slightly larger display real-estate up front vs the amount of space not taken up by screen. Like previous generations, you’re really going to need to know what you’re getting into with this Galaxy Note – this is a massive device for a normal user’s pocket, no matter how you spin it.