When Samsung announced the first generation Note back in September 2011, every one probably ridiculed the company for launching a 5.3 inch display smartphone which was huge at that time. But today, the phablet market is huge with large number of phones being launched in the 5.0 inch and above category (both in high end and budget segment) and one phone rules this segment, the Note Series. Two years after the first Note was announced, Samsung announced the third generation phone in the Note series, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 at the IFA 2013.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a high end phone with the latest and the best hardware you can find on a smartphone and Note series has been one of the best selling phones for Samsung and Note 3 is here to repeat the success. So lets find out how it fares with respect to design, hardware, camera, performance and battery life.
Before we go into the detailed review, lets first have a look at the specs of the device.
Here is a quick look at specifications:
- 5.7 inch (144.3mm) Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080)
- 2.3 GHz Quad-Core Processor ( Snapdragon processor)
- 3GB RAM and 32/ 64 GB User memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB)
- 13 Mega-pixel BSI Sensor, Auto Focus camera with Smart Stabilization,
LED Flash(High CRI), and Zero Shutter Lag
- 2 Mega-pixel front camera with BSI sensor with Smart Stabilization, Full HD recording @30fps
- Full HD video recording, 4k video recording
- Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G, NFC
- Li-ion 3,200 mAh
- Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
Here is the video review of the device, if you want the text version, read on.
Design and Build Quality:
For quite long time Samsung has been criticized for over using plastics on phones, even on their high end smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S4. Samsung has finally decided to make some changes here with the new Note 3 and this is evident in the design and build. Samsung has really worked on making the Note 3 quality top notch and this is evident in many areas. The back cover is highlight of the device with a faux leather finish with a nice stitching making it a premium finish. While the addition of these makes the device better, it is still not up to the mark of other premium devices (like Nokia Lumia and Apple iPhone).
Even though we have the white variant which could be prone for dust and smudges, the back cover is pretty easy to clean and dust does not stick on to the faux leather finish which is pretty good. The hardware buttons are pretty similar to other Galaxy phones with power button on the right side and volume keys on the left. There is a speaker at the bottom along with USB 3.0 charging slot which is first of its kind on a smartphone. There is also the S Pen at the bottom which can be pulled out easily.
On the top, you have the 3.5mm jack and the 13MP camera with LED flash houses the back panel. There is also the Samsung branding at the back (in Chrome) along with LTE logo (for Snapdragon 800 variant).[flagallery gid=1]
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with 5.7 inch display which is Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080). The display is one of the strong points of Note 3 and it is really brilliant. The display, is as you’d expect, really bright, dense and full of colors. The viewing angles are also good and the sunlight visibility is pretty decent.
With the AMOLED screen, this is one of the best displays currently you have on a smartphone and you wouldn’t have any complaints in this aspect. While using the phone outdoors (bright sunlight), make sure that you disable the auto brightness mode and you might need to use the full brightness. The 5.7 inch display on this device is simply superb.
Samsung Galaxy phones have never been known for its great camera, be it Samsung Galaxy S4 or other high end phones. The Note 3 provides a similar camera experience like the S4. There is a 13MP rear camera with LED flash and there is a 2MP front shooter as well. The interface is very mush similar to S4 with multiple shooting modes and filters. There is HDR, Panorama, Beauty Face, Dual Shot and more. You can also add filters in real time while shooting.
One of the new features with the device is that it comes with 4K video recording, first on a smartphone (only available on Snapdragon 800 version). The video recording on Note 3 is really good.
Here is a 4k video sample from Note 3:
The camera on Note 3 is quite capable and is a decent shooter. While it does not beat the Lumia 925 or the Lumia 1020 in terms of features and also better quality images, there is lot of options to choose from while taking photos. The camera should be able to shoot great pictures in normal mode, while the low light capability isn’t that great on Note 3.
Here is a quick review of the Note 3 Camera:
Here are some camera samples from Note 3 (Click to enlarge):[flagallery gid=2]
Here is a quick comparison of video sample from Note 3 vs Lumia 1020:
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (N9005) comes with the 2.3 Ghz Quad core Snapdragon 800 processor which is currently the best processor on a smartphone and it is coupled with 3GB of RAM, which is again first on a smartphone. With such a high end hardware, performance on Note 3 is not an issue. On the connectivity front, there is micro USB 3.0 port, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, and A-GPS and all the other normal options.
With such a powerful hardware Note 3 excels in performance in all areas. Whatever tasks you throw at it, the performance is simply smooth, be it playing games, watching movies, playing with apps or listening to music.
Note 3 runs the latest version of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (although Android 4.4 Kitkat is the latest version, but available only on Nexus 5) and Samsung has the Touchwiz UI on top of it. This is almost the same UI which features on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and it also comes with features like Air gestures, voice control and other added abilities.
But the strong point of Note 3 is the S Pen which performs really well in most of the cases. Samsung has improved the software for S Pen and when you pull the pen out of the slot, the Air Command is automatically popped up. You can also get the Air Command by pressing the button on the S Pen.
Here is a quick review of S Pen on Note 3:
There are quite a lot of Samsung Apps which are included with S Pen and also few others which are included in Note 3. Most of these apps are pretty useful when you combine its use with the S Pen and we liked most of the apps included.
The call quality is good and we didn’t have any issues with dropped calls or clarity being low. The speakers on the unit is just average and there isn’t much sound when you use it for music and movies. Even when you use the speaker mode while in calls, the sound is pretty low. But this doesn’t mean it is bad.
Overall, we would say Note 3 is one of the best smartphones you have today for its sheer performance.
When it comes to smartphones, one of the main issues have been the battery life. Every Android phone has the issue with battery life. Note 3 packs a massive 3200mAh battery and this is one of the device where you wont have to bother too much on the battery life. For an avid user, you should be able to get a day of usage with the battery and for normal users, it should last more than a day. You can see the screenshot below for average usage.
With the high end hardware, a beautiful display and better quality material and a solid performance, Samsung Note 3 is one smartphone which won’t disappoint you. But the Note 3 is priced around $700 in US and in India it costs a whopping INR 49999 which is probably one of the costliest phones you can buy. The S Pen has been vastly improved with better software and responsiveness. Although you find the same Touchwiz UI, there is no lag whatsoever on the device. The camera on Note 3 is just decent and won’t beat the Lumia phones available today.
If you want a smartphone with big display and rock solid performance and good battery life, then Note 3 is for you. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the best phablet you an buy today.