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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Posted: , posted by John V.




Samsung seemingly defined the phablet category when it launched the original Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone a couple years ago, a time span that seems oh so long ago thinking back on it. And then last, year, the Korean based company continued the momentum with its successor, Samsung Galaxy Note II. Apparently people love gigantic smartphones, which seemed preposterous many years ago when smaller phones were the trend at one point, but people continue to be amazed in awe by these behemoths in the space.

Unlike the other rival phabelt/tabphones, Samsung’s Galaxy Note series smartphones brought on an additional element that made them unique amongst the masses – the pressure sensitive S Pen stylus. Again, the stylus is nothing new, but with Samsung’s take on the timeless piece, they managed to implement it in a way that actually improves the overall interaction with a smartphone. So, that leads us to its most recent offering in the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Call it Sammy’s other flagship smartphone, the Note 3 is of course the successor to last year’s Note II, and it’s planning to take the upcoming holiday season by surprise. No doubt, it’s sporting all the customary upgrades in the specs department, but Sammy doesn’t neglect to enhance the experience too. Also, there are other several subtle changes with the design that makes it different from previous Notes – albeit, at heart, it’s still a big fella that’s not ashamed of letting people know. However, the question that remains is if the Galaxy Note 3 has enough allure to tantalize consumers over other recent prized smartphones that are revving up for this busy holiday season.

The package contains:


Following in typical fashion, the Note 3 goes the same route as its predecessors by following the design of Sammy’s original flagship smartphone series. Distinctively a more spaced out and larger sized version of the Galaxy S4, the Note 3 doesn’t necessarily have a unique design of its own, aside from its massive size of course. Yes, it manages to one-up its predecessor by being thinner in profile – while still packing on a larger display at the same time. As a whole, though, the look doesn’t deviate from what we expect.

Interestingly enough, there’s a subtle change with the choice of material it’s rocking this time around. Underneath it all, the Note 3 is still a plastic constructed smartphone, which enables it to trot around a relatively easy weight of 5.93 oz – it’s lighter than the Note II before it. Needless to say, it adds an element of sophistication to the smartphone, which is complemented by the stitching around its border too, but overall, the design doesn’t make it drastically different.

Nowadays, we’ve grown so accustomed to large phones that we deem their size as “normal.” Indeed, the Note 3 is one of those obvious devices, but it’s still capable of being tucked away in our pockets – thought, it occupies a huge chunk of space while it’s in there. Furthermore, it continues to be an unwieldy thing to hold with a single hand, due to its wide figure. In fact, it’s a device that’s best operated with two hands.

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.

Taking its cues from the Galaxy S4, the Note 3 happily tucks along a useful LED notification light in close proximity its earpiece and front-facing 2-megapixel camera. In addition, there’s a built-in IR blaster too, that should please hardcore couch potatoes by giving them the power to control their home entertainment goodies.

Around the rear, the Note 3 is armed with a beefier sized 13-megapixel auto-focus camera, up from the previous 8-megapixel snapper in the Note II. Naturally, it features all of the goodies we’d expect from a high-end smartphone – like a backside illuminated sensor, LED flash, 1080p video recording, and slow motion video capture. Peeling off the faux leather back casing, we gain access to its equally ginormous 3200 mAh battery. Something we tend to rarely see amongst high-end devices, Samsung continues to make us happy by providing us with that microSD card slot.

At first glance, it’s not something that stands out at us, but upon closer inspection, we’re finding ourselves doing a double take at its microUSB port. Wider than usual, the Note 3 actually features a microUSB port 3.0, which comes packaged with the appropriate new cable. Now, there’s no cause for alarm, seeing that the phone is still compatible with any normal microUSB port. With microUSB 3.0, it enables the Note 3 to simply be faster with charging and data transfers – and that’s about it.

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.

S Pen

We wouldn’t say that it’s our prime choice for interacting with the Galaxy Note 3, but the updated and advanced S Pen will continue to be an unique feature of the Note series. Appearing more pencil like with its shape, we’re able to sufficiently grasp onto it thanks to its lengthiness, and when it’s not in use, it happily gets tucked away discretely inside the slot on the Galaxy Note 3.

Just like before, the S Pen here with the Galaxy Note 3 is pressure sensitive – enabling it to precisely know how much pressure is being applied. Therefore, strokes will have either more/less emphasis depending on how much pressure is applied. Additionally, the S Pen works in conjunction with the smartphone’s various Air View functions – something that comes in handy with the web browser. Although it doesn’t entirely replicate the pen/pencil & paper experience to the teeth, it’s as close as we can get with a smartphone at the moment.

As we’ve mentioned, there are some “advanced” functions with this update S Pen. First, the Note 3 recognizes when it’s removed/inserted from its slot. Secondly, there’s a new feature with the S Pen called “Air Command,” which then allows us to gain access to some additional new functions we’ll expand upon later in the review. And lastly, for those who somehow have a knack for losing stuff inexplicably, there’s also an alert that notifies us when we’re too far away from the S Pen – reminding us that the S Pen isn’t in its slot.


Wowzers! Obviously, 1080 x 1920 pixel displays are nothing new on smartphones, but heck, we’re constantly impressed by them nevertheless. Adding another 0.2-inches to its size over its predecessor, this latest Note 3 smartphone wields an even larger 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display. And it simply looks marvelous over last year’s model! With so much real estate to work with, details don’t get compromised thanks to its 1080p resolution, which makes even miniscule text in the web browser pop with plenty of clarity. Additionally, it exudes all the qualities that make our eyes glisten with joy – like its rich & saturated color reproduction and wide viewing angles. Despite all of its niceties, it continues to wash out when it’s used outdoors where the sun is present.

Utilizing the same technology seen with the Galaxy S4, the Note 3’s Air View functionality extends to our fingers as well – something that isn’t exclusive to the S Pen. Specifically, the display is able to recognize when our finger is hovering over it. However, the handset seems to do a better job of tracking the S Pen more than our finger, but nevertheless, we’re glad to know that we have the option to use our finger too.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 360-Degrees View


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PhoneArena rating:
Display5.7 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (386 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera13 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2300 MHz, Krait 400 processor
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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