Introduction


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:


Design


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.


Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Dimensions

5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches

151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Sony Xperia Z1

Sony Xperia Z1

Dimensions

5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches

144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm

Weight

6.00 oz (170 g)

LG G2

LG G2

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches

138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

HTC One

HTC One

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Dimensions

5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches

151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Sony Xperia Z1

Sony Xperia Z1

Dimensions

5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches

144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm

Weight

6.00 oz (170 g)

LG G2

LG G2

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches

138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

HTC One

HTC One

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

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.


Display


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



FEATURED VIDEO

233 Comments

1. jodeci888

Posts: 79; Member since: May 14, 2009

I can't wait. ..... getting mine next week AND keeping my unlimited data due to the glitch.

13. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Btw, I read that Verizon fixed the glitch if that's your carrier.

15. msa1988

Posts: 418; Member since: Mar 30, 2010

They did, but the benefactors get to keep the unlimited data. Good for VZW for staying true. I was shocked as well to see this only get a 9. It's entirely too big for my liking, but this thing truly is a beast.

52. bubbadoes

Posts: 1225; Member since: May 03, 2012

goood luck on your unlimited...they fixed it...i had it to, but it's goneeeee...i had to buy 10gigs based off of my previous usage, but being the fact that I am not unlimited anymore, my daily surfings on LTE will go down

56. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

That sucks. If you really want unlimited LTE and live in a major city, get T-Mo. Speeds of 40+ is nice.

210. Truddy90

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 05, 2013

I have a way for people to get unlimited data with Verizon. Let me know if you are interested. Truddy90@gmail.com

74. MobileKicker

Posts: 212; Member since: Sep 19, 2013

And the iphone 5c got 9 It is not justified

193. AnTuTu

Posts: 1613; Member since: Oct 14, 2012

Hi guys Johnnnnnnnnnnnnnn VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV from iPhonearena here that's why I am giving this beast 9. Hey John let Nick do these reviews.

225. chocolaking

Posts: 495; Member since: May 22, 2012

PA rated this phone as no CONs.. wtf is zero CONs brilliant review! totally brilliant pa

2. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Lol ! it scored same as iPhone 5C. Unbelievable !

6. MrKoles

Posts: 368; Member since: Jan 20, 2013

So, iPhonearena thinks a last year iPhone5 in a new, colourful and REVOLUTIONARY coating is just on the same level as the Note3... Congrats guys! *applause*

17. buccob

Posts: 2968; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

thats the problem when there is more than 1 guy writting the reviews.

31. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Nick or Ray would differ on this score I know that for a fact.

35. PhoneArena Team

Posts: 258; Member since: Jun 27, 2006

Please read this page:http://www.phonearena.com/howdowerate (you can find a link to it next to the review rating).

37. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

My biggest complaint is the expensive con. Where's that con on all iPhone models?

50. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

iPhone 5s 32G cost more than a note 3 32G but only for note 3 it become a Con. wow!

109. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2386; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I have to agree with you and the fellow users on this one. Either the iPhone 5C score should be updated or this score should be improved. What's more is that when you look back at PA's review of the Note 2 (which was the same price then as the new Note 3 is now, $300 on contract) it NEVER mentioned the price as being a con. I'm sorry PA but this is inconsistent. It would make sense if the Note 3 increased in price over the last generation, but it didn't. Also, has anyone else noticed that most of PA's reviews of new devices seem to fall in the 8.5 and above range? Either PA is not being critical enough of devices or they are afraid to offend the viewers by being critical of a product they like. I want to see more devices fall in the 8.0 range or the 7.0 range. By being more critical, you are helping the consumer more and you gain recognition by fellow blogs and consumer review sites for having thorough critiques (phone manufacturers may even ask to partner with you in the future similarly to how car manufacturers partner with Consumer Reports to improve their vehicles).

199. miket247

Posts: 81; Member since: Apr 16, 2013

+1 on that DrPhil! The best reviews are done at GSMARENA. 12 page indepth reveiw with no needless comments, and a last paragraph opinion by a PRO! Whats wrong with a 8 of 10 - which is above great, but not exceptional (9 of 10) or almost perfect (9.5)!

181. c.hack

Posts: 614; Member since: Dec 09, 2009

Of course the Note only has 16 GB usable because of all the Samsung bloatware.

80. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

In the link you provided a sentence mentions: 'As the technology evolves, it is logical that the new models should meet higher expectations' Where is that logic when testing 5C ? 5C has same specs as the last year's model not to mention the cheaper material, thick and heavy body. Still a depreciation of only 0.3 percent...smh

142. Kal-el

Posts: 96; Member since: Dec 14, 2012

OHHHH THX for the link PA....yes we can read....but it doesn't mean ur reviewer has a print out besides them and actually follow this word for word hence the inaccuracy in rating between phones ....and complaints from everyone on here -_____- Thanks for link thou...i'll be sure to send it to john v

44. jdoee100

Posts: 334; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

Not just iphone, PA has rated Z1 and G2 better than the Note 3. Congrats PA. Note 3 is only faster, bigger, and more capable than those phablet wannabes.

89. bodzio1809

Posts: 407; Member since: Aug 28, 2013

Note 3 is better that Z1 and G2? LOL. It depends on what you like and what u need. I prefer LG G2. And it's not faster. They all got S800 that is faster than Samsung Exynos Octa. Don't forget also about LagWizz which is one of the worst optimized launchers. I saw lags on Note 3 presentation. Also I got S3 so I know about it.

92. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

95. bodzio1809

Posts: 407; Member since: Aug 28, 2013

As u can see in your link S800 is better than Samsung Exynos. Have u ever got or use iPhone? I got 4S before S3 and that's why I noticed lag. Now I installed Nova and device run much better. TW and plastic body are two most cons of Samsung, but I like Amoled screens. I see a lot of Samsung fanboys here :)

101. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

1) Running a benchmark once isn't the beat indicator on how it performs. Getting an average is more accurate. 2) Phones score equally, so there's no this chip is better than this one (Adreno 330 vs Mali T628 is a different story) 3) There's an iPhone 4 in my household, so yes. 4) When I ran stock, my phone didn't lag like at all. Rarely had hiccups but every phone does once in awhile. 5) Plastic = removable battery, which is a deciding factor of me getting a phone or not. 6) Not a Samsung fanboy, just a lover of phones in general.

105. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

best*

117. bodzio1809

Posts: 407; Member since: Aug 28, 2013

1,2) I agree, but Exynos take much more RAM in idle(1.6-1.8 GB to 1.1-1.2 GB on S800). Also u can't shoot 4k videos on Exynos and it don't has LTE. So that's why version with S800 is better. Also older version of Exynos Octa got a lot of problems with heating etc. 3) So u know what i mean, still iPhone 4 is bad example, because it got not enough power to the screen with such a high resolution. 4) Not every phone, just Androids, Symbian etc. 5) Samsung Wave got full metalic body with removable battery 6) Me too :)

207. andrewkpopboy

Posts: 8; Member since: Oct 04, 2013

Obviously, Were Going To Argue About This Ridiculious Rating Which Needs A 9.5-10

188. timaustin2000

Posts: 42; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

I've used an S4 at length on numerous occasions and it lags like a dog, despite packing an s600. An updated-firmware Xperia Z with the S4Pro lags less. Yes, really. Touchwiz is a bloated, ugly, messy and un-intuitive loss. It's the one and only reason that I don't buy Samsung's.

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

Galaxy Note 3
  • Display 5.7" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 3200 mAh(21h 3G talk time)

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