Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review
- Amazing display
- Useful S Pen
- Next-gen video recording
- Very big
- Cheap faux leather back
- Not cheap
The mobile phone-tablet hybrid category was created by the first Samsung Galaxy Note. Its latest model - the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 - has its biggest screen yet and lots of new features but does it have what it takes to make it into our list of the best smartphones to buy?
Set to go head to head with other big-screened devices such as the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, HTC One Max and Nokia Lumia 1520, as well as smaller flagship devices like the iPhone 5s, HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, this so-called 'phablet' is a gadget for the larger hand. Even when it’s slim, it’s a real palm-stretcher and it’s just too big for littler digits.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Size and build
Still, props to Samsung for creating this model with a bigger screen than the last one but in a slightly smaller case. The Note 3 measures 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm, which is about the same height, half a millimetre narrower and a full millimetre thinner than the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. More impressively still, the 168g weight is a full 15g lighter than last year’s model.
That’s partly down to the plastic casing on the back. It’s cunningly fashioned to look like leather, complete with stitching details but when you peel it off you see how slim and, er, plasticky it is.
Even so, this is a more sophisticated look than many of Samsung’s recent phones can muster (step forward, the Samsung Galaxy S4). And although it’s a thin, light back plate, it fits so perfectly there’s no creak when you flex it.
It won’t be to everyone’s taste but it’s certainly a well-built phone. What’s more, the glossy metallic edging and gloss white frame round the screen look chic and classy. The Note 3 comes in a bunch of colours. They include white, black and pink.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Features
This is a Note, so there’s a stylus built into the body, called the S Pen. It’s so you can annotate the screen, for instance. As you pull it from its snug holster the Note 3 recognises you’ve done this and launches a special menu called Air Command. The options in the menu include Action Memo.
So, for instance you can scribble a phone number down on the screen. Then the phone recognises that’s what it is and offers you menu options including a phone dial icon. Touch this and it’ll phone your scribbled number. Cool, huh?
A line of an address can lead you to a map, too. Other S Pen options include Screen Write which takes a grab of what’s on screen and lets you annotate this. The S Pen also lets you scribble on screen and the handwriting recognition does an okay job of translating it into text.
Samsung has put a lot of its trademark apps into the Note 3 including the excellent S Translate which lets you speak in one language and hear the phone speak them back in another. It’s very useful and works splendidly.
This is the first phone to work with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch. It’s a good combination. With a screen this size you may well find yourself in situations where you want to keep the Note 3 in your pocket or bag, in which case being able to read the first line of a text or email on your wrist is easier, not to mention making a call on it.