Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

T3 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review: If you need a tablet and a phone but don’t fancy lugging two gadgets this could be the product for you

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

    Love

    • Amazing display
    • Useful S Pen
    • Next-gen video recording

    Hate

    • 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.

  • The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 arrives with stiff competition from the likes of Sony's Xperia Z Ultra and arguably the LG G2

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

    Love

    • Amazing display
    • Useful S Pen
    • Next-gen video recording

    Hate

    • Very big
    • Cheap faux leather back
    • Not cheap

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has been officially unveiled at a Samsung Unpacked event at IFA 2013 with a new design and larger screen.

    Unveiled alongside the new Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition the Note 3 sports a few design changes.

    Whilst in the past the Galaxy Note was considered the flagship 'phablet', competition has been increasing since then and with the Xperia Z Ultra and the Alcatel One Touch Hero both fighting for their own market share, the Galaxy Note 3 has been given a serious update to keep it ahead of the game.

    The Galaxy Note 3 certainly shows a design change for Samsung, could this signal a new design for the Samsung Galaxy S5? If this new concept video is anything to go by then yes:

     

     

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Size and build

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 features a new design over its predocessor boasting a soft-touch back that Samsung is claiming has been designed to evoke the connection between the smartphone and the classic notebooks of old.

    With dimensions of 151.2x79.2x8.3mm the Note 3 is actually slimmer and thinner than the Galaxy Note 2 despite boasting a larger 5.7-inch display. Not only that, it's only 168 grams - 12 grams lighter than its predecessor.

    The back is nice to hold, soft but a bit tactile and the whole thing feels very solid. If Samsung products have had a reputation for being overly plasticky and a bit fragile in the past, the Note 3 is certainly going some ways to reversing that.

    One thing that we noticed was that you need to press relatively hard on the screen with the S-Pen to get the screen to register - something that we'll be testing out again once we have a full review sample to look at. Article continues after the video.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Camera

    The Galaxy Note 3 features a 13MP camera that, as rumoured, will be able to shoot Ultra-HD 4K video at 30fps, FHD at 60fps and even Slow Motion at 120fps.

    There's a 2MP camera on the front as well for selfies and of course Samsung's Dual Shot, Dual Recording and Dual Video Call features.

    We had a quick go on the stand and it produced some sharp, detailed images. We'll get a chance to test the full suite of modes in the full review.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Features

    The Galaxy Note 3 has been given a serious hardware boost with the 3G model featuring the much-reported 1.9GHz octa-core processor whilst the 4G/LTE version will come sporting a 2.3GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor.

    Setting a new benchmark for smartphone hardware the Note 3 also comes sporting an impressive 3GB RAM and will come with either 32 or 64GB of storage with microSD support up to 64GB as well. All in all, this makes the Note 3 the most powerful mobile device Samsung has ever made.

    You'll be needing all that power (especially the RAM) to run all the new S-Pen functionality and for multi-tasking apps.

    There's NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and an IR LED for remote control functionality, of course last but not least there's GPS and WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.

    The main additions to the Note stem from its power, and the brand new Air Command function. Hovering over the screen with your S-Pen and pressing a button on the side of the Pen brings up a new menu, with a number of new features.

    First up is Action Memo, which brings up a simple notepad interface. Scribble your note and the Note will save to your Notebook app, where you can view all your notes. Then if you go in and select the note, the app will recognise what you've scribbled (within the boundaries of bad handwriting) and give you automatic options. For example, if you'd scribbled a name and number, Action Memo will automatically recognise that, and give you the option to put that straight into your contacts.

    Screenwipe takes a screenshot, then lets you draw and edit it before sending, sharing or saving to Scrapbook. S-Finder is a powerful search engine that will find anything on your Note, from apps to photos to files and folders. It'll even divert you to Google if you want to search online.

    A quick drag inwards from the left hand side window brings up a column of apps, all of which are available in split screen. Tap on an app and it'll start up fullscreen, or you can drag it across and it'll happily take up one half of the screen. Once you're running two apps side-by-side you can drag the partition up and down to adjust the balance.

    We played with this a fair bit - every app ran smoothly, and we didn't experience any slowdown whatsoever.

    Finally, there's Pen Window - which lets you draw a window on your screen, then select from a limited range of apps to use within that window. For example, we drew a small window in the top right, selected the calculator and, that's it. There's your calculator.

    There's so many functions here, and so many shortcuts to access what you need when you need it that it's all rather overwhelming. We only had half an hour with the Note 3, but even after a month of use you'd have to pick things up very quick to really get the hang of it.

    Samsung Galxy Note 3: Screen

    The first thing many people will notice is the display, bumped up to 5.7 inches the screen is a Full HD Super AMOLED panel with a resolution of 1920x1080. Oh, and just for the record, we're talking pixel density of 386ppi. That's not quite the dizzying heights of the HTC One, but it's nothing to sniff at.

    As usual with Samsung's Super AMOLEDs, the display is incredibly vibrant with deep contrast. The viewing angles are excellent too, we struggled to find anything to take issue with in our brief hands-on with the device.

     

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Battery

    Of course with all this tech on board Samsung have unsurprisingly seen fit to up the battery to 3,200mAh over the 3,100mAh found on the Galaxy Note 2.

    We won't be able to get a full idea of how it fares in day to day usage just yet so stay tuned for a full review to find out.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Verdict

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the brand's most poweful mobile device ever and finally the first Note with a build quality that reflects the price. We were very impressed by the speed at which the Note 3 runs when multitasking and we look forward to giving it a thorough test. Stay tuned for a full review...

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 release date: September 2013

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 price: £TBC

    Hands-on review by Pete Dreyer

    • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 unboxing
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  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3

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