- 2G Network: GSM 850 I 900 I 1800 I 1900
- 3G Network: HSDPA 850 I 900 I 1900 I 21 00
- 4G Network : LTE
- Dimensions: 5.95 x 3.12 x 033 inches
- Weight: 168 g
- Size: 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.7 inches (~386 ppi pixel density)
- Memory: microSD, up to 64GB
- Internal: 32/64 GB storage, 3GB RAM
- Bluetooth: Yes, v4.0 with A2DP, LE, EDR
- CAMERA: Primary: 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
- Video: 2160p@30fps, 1 080p@60fps (LTE model)/1080p (3G model)
- Secondary: 2 MP, 1 080p@30fps
- Battery: Li-lon 3200 mAh battery
- Great S Pen integration
- Huge, gorgeous screen
- Great battery life
- Slim profile
- Iffy back case design
- Still has a bit of bloatware
- Despite its size, it’s one of the handiest devices you could ever own.
I could say everything everyone has said about the state of the Android ecosystem at the moment. I could beat that same dead horse and tell you again how crowded it is, and how many devices are vying for top honors in that space. I could tell you how boring everything is starting to get, and I sort of did, but once in a while, something sufficiently remarkable comes along to change how you feel about things.
It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but the Note 3 rolled around and made things seem just a little bit fresher again. Sure, I get the irony of that statement stemming from the third iteration of a device, but it’s true. The Galaxy Note 3 is a great device that lets you do a little more than the average smartphone, but I get ahead of myself.
The third iteration of Samsung’s phablet line packs a larger screen with a greater pixel count in a slimmer, thinner body with more brains to boot. It is also a fair bit lighter, and carries a design that is a cut above the previous generation. It is big-of that there is no question-but it is slim enough to still drop in your pocket and forget.
The Note 3 is more square-ish, and looks a lot more like an actual notebook than before. This feel is helped along by the removable back plate that has been given a faux-leather finish, complete with stitching. While it may make it feel a lot better for some, it is one of those things that looks just a little less impressive the more you look at it. It isn’t that big a deal, though, as most can just opt to plop the device into an actual leather case and be done with it.
The device faster than the note has ever been, and makes short work of all the tasks you would expect from a smartphone. The Note 3 is of special mention in this regard, as it takes the extremely useful multitasking feature on the newer Samsung devices and gives it even better functionality. Instead of being limited to the split-screen multitasking interface, you can now take the S Pen, draw a box of whatever size you want, and fill it with any one of several supported apps. You can do this again and again and again for as many apps as you need, or can fit in the 5.8-inch display; the 2.3GHz Quad-core Krait Processor handles it just fine.
Even with multiple apps open on the home screen, music in the background and whatever else the phone does behind the scenes, the Note 3 still managed buttery-smooth performance. It is testament to just how much power smartphones have on tap in this day and age. Staying true to its nature as a device you pick up and scribble on, the Note 3 gives you Action Note. This allows you to pull out the stylus, scratch something onto the notepad in whatever handwriting you can manage, and send it to the appropriate app. If it’s a contact, you can send it, properly formatted and segregated, to the phonebook or dialer. Did you write down an email address? You can tap the email icon and start composing your message right away. It’s not just a handy feature. It really focuses the device from, broadly “smartphone” to “digital notebook.”
The new Note also has a few fun features that aren’t absolutely necessary, but are great fun to have nonetheless. One of the nice new networking features is an upgraded group share function that allows several Note 3s to play a single video file while working in tandem as a huge panoramic screen. You can also share photos and collectively doodle on them, which may seem a little frivolous at first, but could see quite a bit of use in meetings or presentations, assuming, that is, that you are all on Note3s.
With all the functions, a massive screen, LTE connectivity and multitasking, you may expect it to peter out faster than a birthday candle, but Samsung has managed to squeeze even more out of the device than its immediate predecessor. The 40% more life they claim sounds about right, as I managed to go from 7:00am to just shy of my 10:00 pm bedtime without having to charge in-between. I might not have been using the phablet to stream videos or keeping the screen on for longer than checking Facebook, emails or messages, but that’s a whole lot more than I get from my Galaxy S4.
The Note 3 runs Android 4.3 with a Samsung overlay on top. Android users won’t get lost In the Ul, though there is the usual bit of bloatware you may need to swim through on occasion. Those who intend to transition to the Note from a regular smartphone might find themselves skipping the stylus altogether, and while that would be fine, given that all the stylus-related functions are extras, they would be missing the great integration of the feature on the device. It isn’t just a gimmick anymore (if ever it was). It will still be more natural to scribble a quick note down than tap it out on a virtual keyboard. This natural integration is where the device shines.
Despite a few niggles here and there regarding bloatware or the back plate, overall the Note 3 is a solid winner. Samsung might be known for throwing some hard curveballs in the past, but we think this one is a winner.
First published in Gadgets Magazine, October 2013
Words by Ren Alcantara