Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone review
Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 3 is loaded with enhanced functionality and the S Pen that will appeal to a wide range of people including power users and creative customers.
With the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung has managed to fit in a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screen into virtually the same dimensions as the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II – give or take a fraction of a millimetre or two.
As you’ll seen in this Galaxy Note 3 review, Samsung has also upped the ante under the hood with an impressive list of specifications and above it with a list of impressive and useful features.
Another string to the product’s bow is the fact it can pair seamlessly with a companion device – Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
The Android-powered Galaxy Note 3 is almost the same size as the Galaxy Note II but has a less rounded look.
The frame around the screen is noticeably narrower than before and the screen is longer as well which forces the home button closer to the bottom of the device.
The exact size of the device is 151.2mm long, 79.2mm wide and 8.3mm thick. And it weighs in at 168g which is lighter than the Galaxy Note II (182.5g).
Despite being larger than a regular smartphone, the Galaxy Note 3 is still quite comfortable to hold in one hand.
The silver edging around the device has a serrated surface that also offers better grip while the back panel has a faux leather texture to eliminate the “plasticy” feel and replace it with a slightly more premium look.
The back also has a 13-megapixel camera with LED flash. On the front is a 2-megapixel camera.
Along the top edge is the 3.5mm headphone jack, the left has the volume up and down rocker key while the right has the on/off/lock key.
The bottom edge has the USB 3.0 charge/sync port beside a small speaker and the S Pen holster.
Speaking of the S Pen – it slips out of its storage bay quite easily with the Galaxy Note 3 instantly detecting when it has been removed and immediately displaying options for the user – bit more about that later.
The port looks wider than normal but the included USB 3.0 cable takes advantage of that and offers a slightly faster charge as a result.
But the right side of the port still takes a regular microUSB cable for charging as well so you’re not stranded if you forget to pack your USB 3.0 cable.
Onboard memory stands at 32GB with a microSD card slot allowing users to expand that even further.
The device has been bolstered with a number of new features that build on the power of the S Pen as we discovered in our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review
Now when you remove the S Pen from the device an on-screen Air Command wheel appears to give users a short cut to the functions available to the user.
These include Action Memo, Scrap Booker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window.
The Air Command wheel is accessible from anywhere on the device by hovering the S Pen just above the screen until the small AirView dot appears and pressing the button on the side of the S Pen at the same time.
Action Memo is a memo that lets you take action – hence the obvious name.
It lets you take your handwritten notes and turn them into actionable links.
For example, you may write down a phone number with the S Pen and then call that number directly from that screen.
Other actions include linking to web addresses, creating new contacts, to-do lists, emails, web searches and tasks.
Scrap Booker is a tool that makes it easy to gather material and organise information.
And because you’re using the S Pen it is as easy as circling articles, links and other content as you see it to organise them into a folder which is easy to access and refer to when you want to look back at what you’ve gathered.
Screen Write is another apt title because it is exactly what it allows users to do.
When you choose this option the Note 3 automatically takes a snapshot of the screen and presents it in note mode so you can write on the image as if it’s a blank sheet of paper.
We found this feature particularly useful if we wanted to write on a photo, draw directions on a map, write instructions or annotate any other document.
Pen Window is another powerful and impressive feature that can easily allow users to run a secondary application in a window of their choosing.
For example if you’re viewing a document and need to add up a series of numbers, you can activate Pen Window, draw a square in an area of the screen you’re not using, and up comes an app selection panel which includes a calculator.
Other apps which can run in your drawn window include the clock, YouTube, phone, contacts and the browser.
You can even move this window around the screen and keep on working on your original app or document.
As with the Note II, the Galaxy Note 3 also allows users to work in split-screen mode as well for true multitasking.
The S Pen’s other abilities include S Finder to locate anything from handwritten notes to web links on your device.
Of course writing notes directly on the Note 3’s screen is still as easy as ever.
In fact it is even more responsive when you’re writing in the screen – like a real pen writing on real paper.
Creative users will also appreciate this responsiveness for drawing, clipping, cropping and colouring.
The Note 3 also has surprisingly accurate handwriting recognition that can take your writing and transcribe it to a message, the settings or a phone function.
While there are so many features at your fingertips with the Note 3 it is assuring to know it is backed up with some impressive hardware.
And it all starts with the fast 2.3Ghz quad-core processor that keeps things humming along nicely. The speed and responsiveness is clearly evident no matter what task you are performing with the device.
Of course the 5.7-inch Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080 resolution high definition is the star of the show. It is sharp and colourful and dazzles from the second you turn the Note 3 on.
It is a good-sized area for writing, browsing, using apps, email, taking and viewing pictures and watching movies.
The 13-megapixel camera on board is a handy shooter with image stabilisation which takes above average images and video.
Pictures are well balanced with natural colours and plenty of detail.
On the video side users can capture full high definition as well as use features like slow motion, which shoots 120 frames per second, and smooth motion at 60fps.
The Note 3 is a 4G/LTE device so it will connect to the faster networks in Australia to offer a speedy connection when accessing the internet on the go.
The one advantage of having a bigger than average size is also having a bigger than average battery and that’s exactly what you get with the Galaxy Note 3.
Battery life was a noticeable improvement over the Note II thanks to the more power efficient processor and larger battery size.
But you have to remember the battery also has to power a faster 4G network connection and a larger and brighter screen but it offers longer usage between charges.
We found the Galaxy Note 3 hard to fault. It is Samsung’s most powerful handset to date with a powerful combination of features and hardware.
The device is a handy companion for power users who want the latest features along with the tactile interaction with the S Pen.
With a large 5.7-inch screen, the Galaxy Note 3’s size won’t suit all users but those who choose to take on the larger experience will find it rewarding in many ways.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is available from this week.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3