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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview

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Our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review is now published - click here to read it.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview

Samsung isn't the first company that tried to come up with a device blending the functionality of a smartphone and a tablet into one. However, it deserves credit for delivering the first large-screened handset that was actually good, thus kickstarting a whole new category of devices. Of course, we're referring to the very first Samsung Galaxy Note – announced a little over two years ago. Thanks to the trend that Samsung built up with its innovative, globally successful product, we've arrived to a point in time where most smartphone manufacturers now have a phablet in the fight, or are in the process of developing one.

The latest phone in the company's series is the recently announced Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Picking up where its predecessor left off, it comes with an S Pen stylus that is now more functional than ever. But that's far from all. In fact, Samsung's newest Note handset lands right into the high-end smartphone department, packing hardware that will easily get any tech geek excited. That includes a massive, 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, a last-generation quad- or octa-core processor, and a 13MP camera, all of that complemented by software features and stylus functionality found on no other handset.

So yeah, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is shaping up as a beast of a smartphone, ranking among the best that have been announced so far. And now is the time to find out whether it has what it takes to become as successful as its predecessors.

Note: The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 unit used for this preview is running an early software build. Therefore, the appearance, performance, and operation of certain features might differ from what we may see on a retail Note 3 unit.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview
In the box:

  • In-ear stereo headphones
  • Extra earphone tips of various sizes
  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • Replacement S Pen tips
  • Quick start guide


Design


Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview
Samsung did mostly what was expected of it with the design of the Note 3, and it did it well, making the phone thinner and lighter than its predecessor. Even though the new model comes with a 5.7-inch screen – 0.2 inches larger in diagonal size than the display on last year's Note II – the newer model is tangibly more compact. The difference isn't vast, but we can definitely feel it when holding the two side by side.

And speaking of holding the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, we can confirm that operating it with a single hand is a chore compared to a regular-sized phone. But that's pretty much a given with handsets of this size so we wouldn't mind accepting Samsung's phablet as it is. Holding the Note 3 in one hand while navigating through its interface with the other, or using the S Pen, is the typical usage scenario for this device. There is an option, however, to shrink the keyboard or dialer right or left, so you can type a quick text reply or call a number with one hand only.

We were genuinely surprised to see Samsung taking a different approach to designing the exterior of the phone. The company has picked a faux leather back with stitching elements, meant to prompt the impression of a venerable notebook. Although the back of the Galaxy Note 3 is actually made of plastic, it looks fancy and sophisticated, while the soft touch finish does remind us of real leather as we run our fingers across its surface. As usual, Samsung has opted for a removable back cover, underneath which we find the user-replaceable battery, as well as the SIM and microSD card slots.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes in white or black, and there is a pink exterior available as well for those who prefer a color that is less conservative. In addition, a bunch of colorful S View cover cases are to be launched alongside the device, meant to protect and augment its looks to your heart's desire.

The buttons present on the Note 3 are all easy to feel and press, with very good tactile feedback, and that goes for the trademark physical Home key underneath the display as well. The Menu and Back keys, placed alongside the Home key are of the capacitive kind.


S Pen


Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview
For those who aren't familiar with the matter, the S Pen is an advanced digital stylus and one of the prime stand-out features of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. By “advanced” we mean that it is much more precise than regular capacitive styli and capable of detecting minute variations of pressure, creating strokes of variable width as you write. Furthermore, the tip of the stylus can be picked up even if it is just hovering above the phone's screen, which results in more precise drawings and selections. By pressing a button located on the S Pen's side, the user is given access to extra features, which we are about to tell you more about in the next chapter. A clever addition is the option to have the phone sound an alert in case the S Pen isn't nearby. You know, just in case the accessory is misplaced.

The S Pen fits firmly in its dedicated slot. It is easier to take out and slide back in than before, but it doesn't blend seamlessly with the phone's design anymore as a little bit of it protrudes out of the housing. The accessory is light and long enough to be held and used comfortably, although lefties might find its placement on the right rather annoying.



Display


Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Preview
As we stated above, the display on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has grown a bit from what the second-gen Note had to offer. The front of the new model is graced by a gorgeous, 5.7-inch display, and it's a Full HD affair now. Punching the 1080x1920 pixels of resolution into a DPI calculator results in a pixel density of about 386ppi, which explains why everything shown on the display looks nice, smooth, and detailed. And besides, you'll likely be holding the gargantuan handset even further from your eyes than smaller phones, so you can rest assured no icon jaggies or letter edges will be visible, even when fully zoomed in during browsing, for instance.

Color representation is on the overly saturated side by default – something typical for Super AMOLED panels. And that's okay as some users do dig exaggerated colors on their smartphone's screen. We, however, find the so-called “Professional Photo” screen mode much more pleasing to the eye, with its much truer color reproduction. There are several of these modes to choose from, in addition to the Adapt Display regime, which automatically tweaks the screen's settings depending on what's being displayed.

The display is pretty bright for a Super AMOLED panel, though still far from the best LCD units in that respect. Nevertheless, outdoor visibility is aided by the very low reflectance ratio under direct sunlight, and the deep black levels make elements more distinct when plenty of diffused lighting is present outside. Even on a bright sunny day, we could use the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 without much effort, as long as the sunlight wasn't reflected straight at our eyes.

As usual, we have impressive viewing angles thanks to the OLED technology, with little color shifting and sufficient brightness retained even when the handset is tilted to the extremes.

Samsung has not forgotten to add some extra sensitivity to the touchscreen on the Note 3, thus making it usable even while the user is wearing gloves. Interestingly, the panel's sensitivity is adjusted automatically, meaning that there's no need for the user to set it manually.

82 Comments
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posted on 17 Sep 2013, 11:40 32

1. emadshiny (Posts: 1131; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


Waiting for YOU impatiently...

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:13 12

14. PapaSmurf (limited) (Posts: 8300; Member since: 14 May 2012)


October 2nd can't happen any sooner. I'll skip my college classes and wait an hour before T-Mobile opens to get that phone if I have to.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 14:18 3

26. LordDavon (Posts: 107; Member since: 19 Sep 2011)


I'm still not sure. I've got to get it in my hand to decide. I've no upgrade, so I'd be paying full price, and then selling my Note II. Still on the fence. If I had the upgrade, I would probably jump at it without hesitation.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 04:11

68. rizevnarastek (Posts: 330; Member since: 06 Sep 2012)


Watch out for that camera protrusion. It's really a downer.

posted on 21 Sep 2013, 11:31

67. mbail18 (Posts: 3; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


Not, to be rude, but, I say so, too Q?!

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 15:39 8

29. AnTuTu (limited) (Posts: 804; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)


Simply a Beast can't wait to get one :)

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 18:45

38. doejon (Posts: 347; Member since: 31 Jul 2012)


you mean YOUM

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 22:00 3

41. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3541; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


Waiting for the 1520 patiently... The 1520 has much better specs, and way better hardware overall... WP is such a joy to use❗❗

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 23:47 13

43. DukeX (Posts: 327; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)


You seriously need mental help. I won't even continue man

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 07:48 6

47. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 642; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


LOL, u need help....

posted on 19 Sep 2013, 00:11 1

54. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4018; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


Much better specs? First, we don't even know what specs it will have officially. Second, even if we go based on rumors, the 1520 actually has the same chipset, same 1080p display (though bigger), and actually 1 GB less of RAM. It will have a better camera, but something that most Nokia fans I've talked to can't seem to understand that the camera isn't the only thing about the phone, and isn't a deciding factor, especially when the camera on the Note 3 is great by itself.

Lastly, the 1520 will be running WP8, which we ALL know is less functional than Android, especially Android with Samsung's added features. Just because you might not use those features, doesn't mean it's just as functional.

posted on 19 Sep 2013, 22:06

61. almostdone (Posts: 113; Member since: 25 Sep 2012)


Just to add most phablet competitors produce tablet sized phones which nobody wants. A tablet does not fit comfortably fit into pockets.

Samsung produce phablets which are about the perfect size. Sony Z1 Ultra and Nokia 1520 are too big. Samsung could fit a 7" screen into those monster footprints.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 15:09

69. Android4Ever (Posts: 86; Member since: 12 Aug 2013)


Are you remedial?

posted on 24 Sep 2013, 04:32

70. mobilespecs.pk (banned) (Posts: 45; Member since: 15 Dec 2012)


hahahaha

posted on 29 Sep 2013, 21:40

83. werthedroids (Posts: 60; Member since: 15 Sep 2013)


I can recommend a good phycologist

posted on 21 Sep 2013, 11:28

66. mbail18 (Posts: 3; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 4 is WORTH THE WAIT.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 11:48 31

2. McJobs (Posts: 106; Member since: 08 Jul 2012)


i love faux leather back with stitching elements

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:02 24

5. LetsBeHonest (Posts: 792; Member since: 04 Jun 2013)


Mee toooooo..... It's kinda stylish and different....

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:21 5

16. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5478; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


I don't.

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 21:00 3

49. Long1 (banned) (Posts: 399; Member since: 18 May 2013)


I think it's most beautiful smartphone today. Looks classy. And this "leather" is not only leather pattern over the plastic , but also soft touch coating.

posted on 28 Sep 2013, 06:23

80. Jillxz (Posts: 147; Member since: 04 Jun 2012)


I don't like that leather look either. It's a deal breaker for me.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 15:01 9

28. WHoyton1 (Posts: 1619; Member since: 21 Feb 2013)


better than shiny plastic so stop complaining!

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 01:54 2

45. DONUT (Posts: 307; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)


its actually plastic made to look like leather. you tried it

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 19:29 1

48. maccess (Posts: 601; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)


off course he knows it's plastic.. he just said it's better than the shinny one like the note 2..

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 16:52 1

63. anglosaxonengland (Posts: 17; Member since: 11 Sep 2013)


They should use HTC One X plastic

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 22:01

42. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3541; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


I love that 1020 in your profile picture❗❗

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 11:56 15

3. greathero1 (Posts: 476; Member since: 13 Jun 2008)


I can't wait to hold it in my hand. It seems too large but I love the faux leather back and the stitching.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:00 14

4. MrKoles (Posts: 318; Member since: 20 Jan 2013)


Amazing phone! I can´t wait to hold it in my hands!

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:04 19

6. PapaSmurf (limited) (Posts: 8300; Member since: 14 May 2012)


I'm throwing my debut card at the screen but nothing is happening. :(

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:11 5

11. PapaSmurf (limited) (Posts: 8300; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Debit*

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 13:04 1

19. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1195; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


He is doing it the right way. Most people use credit cards and never pay them off every month incurring tons of interest. I’ve been credit card free for almost 3 years.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 14:10

25. PapaSmurf (limited) (Posts: 8300; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Debit cards and credit cards are two completely different things...

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 16:08

32. TrevorX3 (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Sep 2013)


I've been using credit cards for the last 3 years and I have incurred no interest while reaping many benefits.

I have over $200 cash back from using only credit cards over debit cards (and that's as a poor college student working like 5 hours a week).

Using Credit Cards online is safer than Debit Cards and it helps to build credit history. I currently have a better credit score than my parents and almost undoubtedly you.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:12 7

13. LetsBeHonest (Posts: 792; Member since: 04 Jun 2013)


Throw a stone instead then something will happen...lol (just kidding)

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:04

7. danwatson (Posts: 102; Member since: 03 Jan 2012)


Can't wait although I'm waiting to make sure it supports triband for Sprint before I order. The G2 does.

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 21:07

50. Long1 (banned) (Posts: 399; Member since: 18 May 2013)


You mention G2, so you need just big phone, not Note (S-Pen).
Note 3 is productivity device. (with SD support and swappable battery)

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 09:32

62. danwatson (Posts: 102; Member since: 03 Jan 2012)


I love everything about the note but I do wish it was a tad smaller. Everything smaller doesn't have SD, removable battery, pen, and all the other goodies that the note does. However, I'll take the larger size if that's what I need to get the features I want. I wish they had kept the 5.5" screen from the note 2 and instead shrunk the device though. But, it needs triband

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:05 4

8. twens (Posts: 621; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)


oh boy! this phone looks good now that i see it very well. i can't wait to get this beauty. love the pictures and video also.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:05 1

9. shamataa (Posts: 202; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)


please do vs between this and the note 2 and see if its an worthy upgrade or wait for the next version.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:12 3

12. danwatson (Posts: 102; Member since: 03 Jan 2012)


From a phone standpoint, it is worthy. I think Samsung still has work to do to show the need for the S pen but from a phone standpoint, this will shatter everything on the market for a long time to come. The only thing that was not revolutionary was the photo camera which is still great but not earth shattering.

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 21:12

51. Long1 (banned) (Posts: 399; Member since: 18 May 2013)


I use S-Pen every day , draw plans , sketches and notes. Even on this small screen it works fine.
Some can write even music notes and print them.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 13:13 3

21. Android4Ever (Posts: 86; Member since: 12 Aug 2013)


I would think that upgrading to a full HD phone would be reason enough.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:08 2

10. _PHug_ (Posts: 380; Member since: 11 Oct 2011)


SOLD!

I want to see what the Nexus 5 will offer but I bet it will lack SD expansion and be sub par in comparison to the Galaxy S4.

Only way I'm getting pulled from the Note 3 is if the Nexus 5 comes in at a price so low I can't resist. Full price that is I don't do contracts

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:21 5

15. McLTE (Posts: 695; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


I've been pretty critical of PAs writing ability lately and fanboyism.. but I have to say, nice job on this preview!

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:29 5

17. ahhxd717 (Posts: 317; Member since: 08 Dec 2011)


If I were up for a new phone and wanted a phone that size, and didn't already have a great phone, this would definitely be my choice. This phone looks awesome. Beastly specs and I actually am fond of the design. Good job Samsung

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 12:58

18. shahrooz (Posts: 139; Member since: 17 Sep 2013)


I'm not getting this phone despite of my intrest in note 3. because samsung decided to sell the Octa core version in my country. for me S800 is a must have on my new phone. I guess I'll go for Z1. but I will wait to see the benchmarks on the Octa version first although I'm sure it wont be anywhere near the S800 version. sad move by samsung they lost a customer and I'm sure they have lost others too for the same reason.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 13:11

20. proto (Posts: 50; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)


Well.. I think the re Will not be big difference in raw power of both processors. Actually i think both processors are overkill and you really don't need that powerful CPU.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 13:18 1

22. syedej123 (banned) (Posts: 71; Member since: 08 Jan 2013)


MY DEAR, dont think Exynos Octa is China made chipset ..Exynos is the best ..but only in S4 it became bit sluggish ..but they re designed the chipset . And also a software update will make all cores works at same time.
And moreover Exynos needed only 1.9Ghz clockspees to compit with snapdragon 2.3Ghz.

It is pretty sad people like you think exynos is bad and snapdragon is gud..not only you I saw in gsmarena comment section many people telling the same ..some are ignorant and telling its cheap.. Never ... exynos is the most powerful chipset ..you will see it in real time next week after people start uses.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 16:00 1

30. McLTE (Posts: 695; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


This has to be a first.. someone complaining that they will get the Exynos processor. lol

Really though.. forget the benchmarks and go use one. I can't imagine ANY scenario that you'd be disappointed by EITHER processor. Get the Exynos version and remain a member of the Note gang! :)

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 13:19

23. ncallan (Posts: 20; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


Can it finally be confirmed or denied whether this phone has a pentil matrix or not. Quite petty but it would really make me consider passing on this phone. The galaxy s3 display was an abomination because of it. White webpages with fine text go all green tinted and grainey.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 13:29 1

24. Immolate (Posts: 283; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)


I've really been looking hard at the other offerings this year: the One Max, the Z Ultra, the 1520, and while I see a lot ot love in those other handsets, I keep going back to what I'd lose if I switched. I'm keeping my options open regarding the One Max, but the Z seems too square-ish, has a dentable front protector that you can't remove without voiding your warranty, and has slot protectors that interfere with the speaker and the microphone. The 1520 looks like a beast, and though I'm not fond of the Windows 8 design queues (to put it mildly), I'd take a chance on it. But it looks now like it will come out too late for me. I'm giving my Note 2 to my son, and November is too long to wait to give it to him.

I looked at the LG G2 at the store on Friday and wow, what a screen! But it's too small, and I can't see going down in size at this point. Here's hoping the Note 4 has the narrow bezels of the G2.

Finally, everyone really needs to get their act together and provide a stylus on thier phablet. Please.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 16:07

31. alexfiran (Posts: 40; Member since: 13 Jun 2013)


hmm the camera could've been a lot better..man they nailed it with the NX300..they have good expertise in camera dept but still the camera on the note 3 at least form what i'm seeing on these pictures doesen't seem great..bad white balance and noise..hope the retail units are better

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 16:55

33. Kreft (Posts: 84; Member since: 27 Dec 2012)


Touchwiz? Eww no thanks. Will never own a non stock android phone. Google is what makes android good not Samsung.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 17:15 2

35. Blazers (Posts: 205; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


I feel the opposite way. I feel AOSP doesn't offer enough out of the box features without using a launcher. I appreciate being able to make folders in the app drawer without a launcher.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 17:51 1

36. PapaSmurf (limited) (Posts: 8300; Member since: 14 May 2012)


*cough* XDA *cough*

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 18:19 3

37. maccess (Posts: 601; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)


sorry to hurt your butt.. but samsung is the one who makes android popular..

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 21:22 2

52. Long1 (banned) (Posts: 399; Member since: 18 May 2013)


Touchwiz, is the best "version" of Android.
Try to live with the truth.

posted on 19 Sep 2013, 00:21 1

55. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4018; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


... In your opinion.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 17:12

34. Blazers (Posts: 205; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


If AT&T sticks to their normal packaging, the only thing in the box will be the wall charger, USB cable, and quick start guide. Maybe they'll surprise us, but I doubt it.

posted on 17 Sep 2013, 19:49

39. PapaSmurf (limited) (Posts: 8300; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Lol T-Mobile gives you everything. When I first opened my box for the S3, I had two headphones with two sets of earbuds haha.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

OS: Android 4.4.4 4.4 4.3
view full specs
Display5.7 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (386 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera13 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Quad core, 2300 MHz, Krait 400 processor
3072 MB RAM
Size5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches
(151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm)
5.93 oz  (168 g)
Battery3200 mAh, 25 hours talk time

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