When Samsung launched their first Galaxy note ‘phablet’, it seemed a bit of weird due to its overwhelming size. The whole idea is to bridge the gap between a phone and tablet and to have best of the both worlds. However, this idea worked well for Samsung and Galaxy Note series became a hot cake for the entire market. Not only the size, but bringing up a stylus which is quite functional made the note stand out in the crowd. Today we have the Galaxy Note 3, which has great specs and definitive upgrades over its predecessor. Let us see how well the device performs and where it stands in the segment.
Design & Display:
These days, Samsung doesn’t seem to bother about the design of the phones. Samsung has been criticised for bringing up similar designs for most of their phones. Same goes for Note 3. It’s nothing special nothing new except for the faux stitching and plasticky leather at the back. The phone looks similar to the first Note and seems like a more refined Note 2 or S4 with a bit of square design. But one thing to appreciate is, the dimensions are almost similar to Note 2, but the screen size is bigger at 5.7 inches with trimmed down bezels. However, the build quality is quite improved than the earlier ones. The backpanel is something of a special here, it feels like leather and there is also faux stitching. But this is not the real leather, Samsung has managed to mould plastic into a leather-like surface with a fake stitching. However, this gimmick makes the phone look better and also gives a good grip when held in hand. Overall, though there is nothing to boast about the design, the build is quite well improved and the phone is lighter and thinner than the earlier note.
The phone comes with a 5.7inch 1080p Full HD Super AMOLED display with 386 ppi. The display is one of the best we have seen so far. The viewing angles are very wide, the contrast is very high and the colors look so natural and stand out. There is a good amount of brightness level and viewing in the sunlight doesn’t pose much of a problem.
The device comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz on top of it. You can also upgrade to 4.4.2 KitKat with software update. Samsung has put a lot of effort in improving TouchWiz and we can see the same in Note 3. There are a bunch of Samsung’s features, tweaks and customizations. The lockscreen itself includes ripple effects along with watercolour effects which feels so cool when you start swiping on it. The notification panel has plenty of options and you can customise its sorting order. There is a multi window feature, where you can open two apps at the same time such that each occupies half of the screen at the top and bottom. The interesting part is, for some apps, you can open the same app twice and work on both of them. The multi window option supports not all the apps, but most necessary ones. There is also a feature called one handed operation where you can shrink or resize the whole UI in such a way that you can operate the phone with one hand. There are other features which we will talk about them in features section. Overall TouchWiz is well improved and it runs smoother in this device.
The device comes with a 13MP Auto Focus with LED flash at the back and a 2MP cam at the front. The camera UI is clean but Samsung has loaded a bunch of tweaks, camera modes including HDR, panorama, dual shot etc. and various options for tweaking. Focusing is very good and it takes pictures quickly. The image quality is very good and the device managed to take decent pics even in the low light. Detailing is almost accurate and color reproduction is quite impressive. Both the front and back cameras can also shoot videos upto 1080p. Coming to the loudspeaker part, the loudness levels are good, though not so loud as of HTC One series, but loud enough to do the job. The clarity of the audio output is very clean and even with the headphones attached, the experience is a top notch.
Connectivity & Additional features:
The phone supports only one sim, the micro sim. Network reception is very good and call clarity is also impressive and we didn’t face any call drops. The microphone, speakerphone and loudspeaker produce ample output enough to have a good call experience. The phone also supports Wi-Fi 802.11, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G, NFC and A-GPS. The phone also has an IR blaster which is a welcome feature to control TV, AC, and other devices. Internal memory is of 32GB out of which you get around 26GB for storage. The phone also supports microSD cards of upto 64 GB. Almost all the apps are movable to SD card. So you won’t find any issues with storage space. One more interesting part is, this is one of the first phones to support usb 3.0. The charger provided is of usb 3.0 and it charges quickly when compared to the traditional chargers. The charging pin on the device is compatible with both usb 3.0 and usb 2.0 chargers.
Coming to the features, it’s the Note – meaning you get the S Pen. Samsung has improved the S Pen much better in this device. While writing the text, even if you write in cursive, the phone is able to convert it almost accurately to normal text. We also get S Pen apps, like S Note, Action Memo, Sketchbook, Scratch booker etc. Using the S Pen on the device is buttery smooth and you can even try painting or drawing some pictures. There is something called Air command feature like when you detach the S Pen, you get a menu showing 5 options like action memo, scratch booker, screen write, S Finder and Pen window.
Apart from S Pen, we get the similar features like the ones we have seen in Galaxy S4 like Air gesture, Air view, Motions, Palm motion, Smart Screen, Direct call etc.
Performance & Battery:
The device runs on Exynos 5 Octa processor at 1.9 Ghz / 1.3 GHz along with a whopping 3GB RAM and Mali T628 MP6 GPU. The phone is quite capable of running even some heavy apps and games without even any noticeable lags. The device scored well in benchmark tests with around 32K in Antutu and 20K in Quadrant. Even if you open lot many apps, you won’t see much lags. Some of the heavy games like Asphalt 8, Modern Combat 4 played very well and there is very minimal frame drop. Battery capacity is of 3200mAh, which easily lasts more than a day under normal usage. If you use the power saving mode, you can squeeze out the battery even for 2 days!!
Very good camera
Great Battery life
Little bit expensive
Faux leather is just a gimmick
So far, we did not find anything bad with the Note 3. Whatever you expect it to perform, it does the job well. We love how the S Pen is improved and the display is one of the best we have seen. Of course, some of them argue that it has an overwhelming size which makes operation difficult. But take note, it’s a phablet, and these days most of the phones come out in bigger screens and sizes. The note is a well designed phone and you will love it and feel that it is perfect in size, if you’re used to phablets or big screen mobiles. The initial price point seems too expensive and with the current reduced prices, you should be able to decide if you want it or not. Our major concern is why Samsung brought this version to India as the US version has Snapdragon processor and it can shoot 4K videos. The price point is almost same but what is the reason behind this blunder? So anyway, the Note 3 has much to offer and has the right potential to stand out the in the competition and take note, nothing beats the S Pen. We highly recommend the Note 3 if you’re onto phablets.
|Model||Galaxy Note 3 N9000|
|Release Date||2013, September|
|Operating System||Android v4.3 Jelly Bean|
|Processor||1.9 GHz Quad Core Cortex A15 Processor (1.9 GHz Quad-core Cortex-A15 Processor / 1.3 GHz Quad-core Cortex-A7 Processor)|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity, gesture|
|+ RAM & STORAGE|
|Internal Memory||32 GB|
|External Storage||64 GB|
|Cloud Storage||Dropbox Upto 50 GB|
|+ DISPLAY & TOUCH|
|Touch Screen||Yes, Capacitive|
|Screen Type||SUPER AMOLED|
|Resolution||1080 x 1920 pixels|
|Pixel Density||~386 ppi|
|User Interface||TouchWiz UI vTouchWiz UI|
|Screen Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 3|
|Rear Camera||13 MP|
|Front Camera||2 MP|
|Camera Features||4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Dual Shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, panorama, HDR|
|2G Network||CDMA 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900|
|3G Network||HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100|
|4G Network||No (Not Available in India)|
|+ SIM OPTIONS|
|Dimensions||151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm|
|Color||Grey, White, Black|
|3G||HSDPA 42 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps|
|4G||No (Not Available in India)|
|GPS||Yes, with A-GPS Support|
|Wi-Fi||Yes, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Dual Band, Wi-Fi Direct|
|TV-OUT||MHL A/V link|
|+ MUSIC & VIDEO|
|Music Player||MP3, eAAC+, WMA, WAV|
|Radio||Yes, Stereo FM Radio with RDS|
|Video Player||DivX, XviD, MP4, H.263, H.264, WMV|
|Ringtones||Vibration, MP3 ringtones|
|SMS||Yes, Threaded View|
|Email, Push Email|
|Battery Type||Standard Battery Li-ion 3200 mAh battery|
|Talktime||Upto 21 hours|
|Standy by Time||Upto 420 hours|
|Music Playback Time||90 hrs|
|+ APPS & GAMES|
|Built-in Apps||Google Search, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Google Talk, Picasa integration, Document editor (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF), Image/video editor, Calendar, Organizer|
|Java||Yes, Via Java MIDP emulator|
|+ Additional Features|
|S Pen stylus, S Note, S Planner, Email with hand-writing integration, Samsung S Suggest, Smart Stay, Direct Call, Screen Recorder, Quick Glance, Page Buddy,Tag Buddy,Word Buddy, Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic, SNS integration, Voice memo/dial/commands|