Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo Review
Interface and Functionality
TouchWiz Nature UX features and S Pen apps galore
No Samsung phone comes without the TouchWiz user interface, so that's what you get with the Galaxy Note 3 Neo. It's pretty much the same software that's also found on the Note 3, so no compromises have been made in the functionality department. That's a good thing.
In terms of basic usage, Samsung's TouchWiz UI doesn't differ that much from the stock Android interface. Once you get past the lock screen using a random swipe, the home screen is your typical affair – you can have up to seven pages for widgets and app shortcuts, while accessing the homescreen settings are accessible via a long-press on an empty part of the screen. The app launcher is fairly standard, with apps being in a completely separate tab from widgets. There's also a third tab showing you just your downloaded applications.
In terms of extra functionality, you can expect all the bells and whistles that come with Samsung's homemade interface overlay, like Smart Stay, which keeps the screen on while you are looking at it, and the multi-window mode that can run two different apps on a split screen.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo's display size is very conducive to multitasking, and when you add the S Pen apps to the mix, the handset becomes in a league of its own. It offers the excellent S Note application, various drawing and annotating functions in the Gallery or Calendar, as well as the Air View and Air Gestures that let you hover above the display with the stylus or a finger, marking links and evoking pop up info.
Typing on the largish display with one hand is still a chore when you have to reach for the upper left or right corner of the keyboard, depending on which hand you use for the task. The landscape layout has a decent size, but we still aren't sold on TouchWiz's virtual QWERTY keyboard, which is undoubtedly versatile, but the size of the letter keys is just too small considering the available screen space. Other than that, fans of the Swype-like input methods will be glad to know they can enable similar functionality that traces your finger from a letter to a letter, and inputs the word for you, instead of pecking at each individual key.
Samsung also offers its Assistant menu in the Accessibility settings, that floats a small square on top of the screen, which contains large back, notifications, menu and so on buttons. This way you don't have to stretch all the way down to the capacitive buttons, for example, just to hit the back key, while juggling the large handset on your index finger – a helpful feat with plus-size phones.
Processor and Memory
The first hexacore Exynos has a moderate, 1.3 GHz clock speed that delivers flawless performance at 720p resolution
We have a new kid on the Exynos block, and it's the hexacore CPU found in the Galaxy Note 3 Neo. It has two Cortex-A15 cores, clocked at 1.7 GHz maximum, and four Cortex-A9, clocked at 1.3 GHz. The new Exynos is paired with a decent graphics processor - the ARM Mali-T624, so it's unlikely you'll experience interface or app lag. As a matter of fact, the Galaxy Note 3 Neo runs very fluidly, and it's really hard to make the handset stutter for a moment.
Still, the hexacore Exynos here is clocked lower than the 2.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 or the 1.9 GHz Exynos 5 Octa versions of the Note 3, so the difference in benchmarks is poised to be significant. Same goes for the GPU, which is likely to be faster than Mali-400 in the Note II, but weaker than the Adreno 330 or Mali-T628 graphics processors that can be found in the Note 3.
Samsung has put 2 GB of RAM in the phablet, so you can line up many apps open at the same time without slowing it down. There are 16 GB of internal memory, plus a microSD slot for storage expansion on the handset.
Internet and Connectivity
Samsung's TouchWiz browser has proven to be one of the faster renderers out there, but with the recent updates made to the Chrome browser, it's safe to say that Google's offering is to be preferred, especially if you're also using Chrome on your desktop. In terms of performance, we can't find any issues with the Note 3 Neo and its browsing experience. Web page navigation and zooming are smooth and fast, while text is fine enough to be read easily.
The Galaxy Note 3 Neo offers plenty of connectivity radios and features, such as Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS, DLNA and FM. More importantly, it has built-in LTE support for downlink speeds of up to 150 Mbit/s and uplink of up to 50 Mbit/s. That said, the Note 3 Neo also has HSPA+ support, should you end up lacking 4G coverage.