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.

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 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


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


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.

FEATURED VIDEO

82 Comments

84. sssaa

Posts: 1; Member since: May 17, 2014

I have read that the gear 2 will soon be competable with note 3 and other galaxy devices. So I have read about the lte version NOTE 3 N9005.i want to know that gear works with note 3 n9000 and gear 2 soon But all these stuff can work with note 3 n9005.cmnt plz need help! Buying this in couple of days.

79. GrosseFatigue

Posts: 211; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

- S Pen I have a business and sometimes on the Road or even in the store when my credit card machine doesn't have a connection I swipe customer's cards with that PayPal Pay Here tool that I plug on my Note 2 and I find it great and reassuring for the customer to be able to sign the screen with the S Pen than I then email to them. They feel better than signing a cell phone with a finger. The Note 2 is a great phone for a business owner.

78. Jalil

Posts: 40; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

I am waiting to see a full review from Phonearena and then will decide to buy GN3 or not.

77. mbail18

Posts: 3; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Amazingly you just answered, and noted, your questionnaire. 1. The phone isn't really out in the states internet troll. 2. That is plainly simple where a three-year child can see it . 3. The Note 3 on contract is LTE and unlocked it is pretty close to HPA+ 42. 4. Keep on trolling on the World Wide Web, with my speech patterns on different websites I go to, and you will fall under IPPA, Internet Protection Privacy Act, where by law , cyperbulling includes a long 25 years to life in prison. 5. Oh, and by the way, you are highly traceable because of your cookies on the Internet.

76. seho0o

Posts: 4; Member since: Sep 24, 2013

i have 3 questions 1- i need to know loudness of speaker in db if you have labs for testing it as it differ with me in my noisy work 2-type of screen protection of note 3 ? 3 - your previous answers tested on the 2 versions of NOTE 3 3G & 4G OR which version ?

71. mobilespecs.pk

Posts: 45; Member since: Dec 15, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the first real smartphone on which one can do real multitasking. I like the way how s-pen make your work easier. I am on a website and I can't work effieciently on my website, via any other smartphone but after watching Note 3. I think this will definitely make my work easier.

65. hedinow

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 20, 2013

Does anyone know when will be released? ???????????? I Can't wait anymore! !!!

64. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

this is definitely a phone that I will upgrade to. I like the new features of this phone and is the type of phone that you can keep beyond the typical 12 month timeframe that people keep phones before buying another one.

73. mobilespecs.pk

Posts: 45; Member since: Dec 15, 2012

Good Luck with it

60. poping unregistered

about battery life... read this...http://tech2.in.com/news/smartphones/samsung-galax​y-note-3-to-use-new-chip-that-improves-battery-lif​e/914028http://www.ultrainfoz.com/mainsite/galaxy-note-3-i​s-25-power-efficient-with-envelope-tracker/

59. samsony

Posts: 3; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

This is overpriced. In my country it cost up to 900$ while G2 is only 600. I was so sure i'm going to buy Note but i might buy G2.

72. mobilespecs.pk

Posts: 45; Member since: Dec 15, 2012

LG G2 is also a great phone. But from usabilty point of view I love Note 3 is the best.

58. trevorwilson

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 18, 2013

Can anyone tell me the physical size of the battery - is it the same as the Note 2?

57. gee2012

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 19, 2013

Can`t wait for the Oppo N1 or Nexus 5, i`am through with Samsung. Too xpensive and still the same outdated TW ui.

56. Oop_s

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 19, 2013

Note 3 is indeed the ultimate package...geared up with the Galaxy Gear..its geekier than ever...

46. Gulliver

Posts: 49; Member since: Sep 18, 2013

FM Radio? Anything about it?

74. mobilespecs.pk

Posts: 45; Member since: Dec 15, 2012

Yes Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a stereo FM Radio with RDS< a href="http://www.mobilespecs.pk/phones/samsung/gal​axy-note-iii_3947.html"> Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Specifications

75. mobilespecs.pk

Posts: 45; Member since: Dec 15, 2012

Yes Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a stereo FM Radio with RDS Source:http://www.mobilespecs.pk/phones/samsung/gal​axy-note-iii_3947.html

44. note2guy11

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 15, 2013

I am waiting to see the battery test results. Will the Note3 beat LG G2?

53. Long1

Posts: 399; Member since: May 18, 2013

No need to wait. With non-swappable battery LG G2 is already beaten to the ground.

34. Blazers

Posts: 790; Member since: Dec 05, 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.

39. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 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.

33. Kreft

Posts: 84; Member since: Dec 27, 2012

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

35. Blazers

Posts: 790; Member since: Dec 05, 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.

36. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

*cough* XDA *cough*

37. maccess

Posts: 742; Member since: Jan 16, 2013

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

52. Long1

Posts: 399; Member since: May 18, 2013

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

55. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

... In your opinion.

31. alexfiran

Posts: 40; Member since: Jun 13, 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

24. Immolate

Posts: 310; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Galaxy Note 3
  • Display 5.7 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP (Single camera)
    2 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 3GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, microSDHC
  • Battery 3200 mAh
  • OS Android 5.0 Lollipop

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless