Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review – The Fun Phablet
November 26th, 2013 by Analie
The Galaxy Note 3 is easily one of the most anticipated phones out there. You already knew that.Samsung stunned the game with the original Note and then took over with the Note 2. Many didn't expect a large phone to be so popular and become somewhat mainstream. I was personally a huge fan of the Galaxy Note 2. I used it daily. It was just so convenient with the screen size and even more with the S Pen.
I didn't think it could get any better. Just like Samsung's Galaxy S III smartphone, the Galaxy Note 2 was a great mix of all extremes. A formula with just the right push of change. When the Note 3 finally announced I was thinking "Nooo, don't make the screen bigger. Don't mess with it!" At the same time I was curious about what changes Samsung was prepared to offer. I had an idea of what was to come in certain aspects due to the features of the S 4. Camera upgrades, TouchWiz features were somewhat of a given. But what about the S Pen features? How was Samsung going to upgrade those?
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 - Build
So lets do this the way it usually goes. I start off with the hardware. When you go shopping for a phone looks are so important since most phones are candybar phones. The Note 3 easily stands out due to its large size. Just like other Galaxy line phones, the Note 3 is plastic. But the back cover has a leather look to it. Samsung could have fooled me into thinking it was the real thing (until I felt it). The phone has a metal looking border (it's also plastic, not metal) to give it that premium look. Under it you will find a 3,200 mAh battery.
The layout of the buttons is no different than other Galaxy phones. Power/standby button on the right and volume rocker on the left. The front facing camera is on the top right. 3.5 mm jack and and IR blaster are on the top border. The bottom border has a USB 3.0 charging port. On the right side of the border is the S Pen, the Note 3's most important feature. If you're not syncing with the USB 3.0, you can charge with the Micro USB cable.
The rear of the phone houses the 13 megapixel camera. The overall build of the Note 3 is sturdy and tough. It won't stop me from putting a screen protector on it. But the feel is pretty solid.
Inside the Galaxy Note 3
On the inside the Galaxy Note 3 is packing 3 GB of RAM and a quad-core processor. Needless to say that the phone is ready to take on the work you throw at it. It comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (waiting for Android 4.4) and of course Samsung TouchWiz skin. With Samsung TouchWiz, Samsung has preinstalled apps that tailor to the S Pen and the Note 3 features. I think besides the big screen, the S Pen is one of the main reasons you would buy the Note 3.
I've played with the Galaxy Note 2 and the Note 10.1 tablets, so I have a good feel for Galaxy Note features.
But my favorite new feature with the Note 3 is the Air Command. When you remove the S Pen from the slot, this little menu (in the shape of a semi circle) with a few things that you can do right away with the S Pen. It allows you to do 5 things: Action Memo, Scrap Booker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window. Every time you click on one of the actions, it explains what the feature does and how to work it. Action Memo is the feature that I find most useful. You write something down and can take "action" with it. You can write down a number an dial it, save it, email it. Pretty logical feature for a phone with a pen.
Screen Write is pretty good feature as well. It takes a screen shot of whatever screen you're on and lets you add your notes to it.
The S Pen is comfortable to hold and it still has the action button on it. The S Pen is awesome because it feels the pressure. If you press on harder, you will see it in the writing. It will be bolder and thicker. Pretty cool.
I absolute love the S Pen. When I remove it from the slot, I use it for everything. It's a great accessory!
This phone looks great on paper. 3 GB of RAM, that's almost enough to sell me right there. This phone should be zooming through pages and apps. For the most part the Galaxy Note 3 performs well when surfing through screens. Apps load up rather quickly, but not as quickly as I would hope for 3 GB RAM. It's not a noticeable difference, but it feels just the same as if it had 2 GB of RAM. Maybe it's all the apps I downloaded, maybe not.
One Handed Use
While the Note 3 provides one-handed operation features, I didn't like using it as much. Others may find it more useful than me. It's helpful but I just enjoy the full keyboard. But if you're afraid of the large size of the Note 3, the keyboard might help.
I love the Note 3 camera. It has a huge viewfinder and many of the great features that the camera of the Galaxy S 4 has. It can even record in 4K quality. Not that I have a 4K display yet, but it just goes to show you the power of the device. The auto focus is pretty good on the Note 3. The phone takes decent pictures. Not great pictures like a Nokia device, but decent enough.
As usual I have no problems with AT&T service. Great speeds and loading times on the Note 3. I've been using Google Play Music All Access, and I had no problem streaming tracks.
Galaxy Gear Accessory: The big hype around the Galaxy Note 3 is that it had an accessory that only worked with the phone at the time of release. The Galaxy Gear is Samsung's first attempt at a smartwatch. While many people are against it. I think it's a good idea. It's a bluetooth accessory. And you have to expect it to work as such. Seeing as how the Note 3 is a large phone, you may not always have it in your hands as easily as another phone. The Galaxy Gear gives you a nice alternative in receiving your notifications. You can control your music from the Gear as well. There are different color combinations that you can get it in. Right now the gear retails at $299. The price is sure to drop, as most Android accessories do. But it's definitely a device for the geek who likes those types of gadgets. But Samsung did a good job with their first attempt.
Overall It might not be a necessary upgrade from the Note II to the Note 3. But if you don't have a Note device and were looking into it, now might be the time to try it. It's the third time around and Samsung has gotten it right. It might be a bit of a learning curve for some, but it's nice to try it. Don't brush it off due to its size. Even playing with it at the store won't be enough as it takes a while to get it. But once you do, it's awesome! You will witness the power and strength behind this phone, and the large size won't even be a factor anymore. Right now the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is $199 with a 2 year contract and is available for all major carriers. Find out more about the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 HERE