Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Smarter, longer, faster, something else-er... this is an evolution and a half

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 rocks up with the latest version of Google's mobile operating system on board - Android 4.3 Jelly Bean - and of course the Korean firm has slapped its TouchWiz overlay over the top.

Samung Galaxy Note 3 review

Only a handful of smartphones are actually running Android 4.3 at the moment, with the latest instalment of Jelly Bean limited mainly to Nexus devices for now - so it's pleasing to see it make its way onto a non-Google branded handset.

With a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 3GB of RAM under the hood the Galaxy Note 3 is giving our laptop a run for its money in terms of power, and unsurprisingly Android is one smooth operator thanks to this.

This means skipping through homescreens, scrolling through the app list and generally dicking around with the notifications bar, settings menu and myriad of widgets is seamless.

If we're picky the transition of returning to the homescreen after pressing the physical button below the display is a touch slower than the other movements, but it's certainly not an issue.

While general operation is noticeably quicker than its predecessor (the Galaxy Note 2) there's no obvious step up in performance when you compare the Note 3 to the likes of the Galaxy S4 or HTC One.

Samung Galaxy Note 3 review

We've pretty much hit the top speed for navigating operating systems now and even though the Galaxy Note 3 has a massive processor squashed inside its plastic and metal frame, there isn't really any way for it to show off in the everyday interface.

Applications open promptly, holding down the home button furnishes you with the multi-tasking menu in next to no time and we could happily have over ten applications all fizzing around in here with no effect on performance.

There's a few options surrounding the lockscreen and these can be found in the 'Device' section of the Settings menu.

From there you can choose whether or not you want the time, date and weather displayed along with a personal message and app shortcuts when you hit the power/lock key on the right of the Note 3.

You can have five shortcuts on the lockscreen and these can be customised to any applications installed on the Galaxy Note 3.

Samsung appears to have merged its water-ripple unlock effect from the Galaxy S3 and the shard of light from the Galaxy S4 to provide what it's calling a 'watercolour' effect when you drag your finger across the lockscreen.

Samung Galaxy Note 3 review

It may not be anything special, but it's an attractive animation which we spent time just playing with, partly because the Note 3 can detect your finger even when it's not touching the screen.

This allowed us to hover our digit over the handset and still create the effect on screen, without unlocking the Note 3. Sometimes it's the simple pleasures in life which are the best.

Get past the lockscreen and you're greeted with several widget-heavy homescreens as standard. We deleted a lot of the widgets as they simply got in the way and we had no need for them - although with the vast selection on board you'll probably find a couple of things you'll want.

As with many Android handsets these days you can edit the number of homescreens you have, with a maximum of seven on offer, by simply pinching the display.

The 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display itself is as bright and colourful as you'd expect from a Samsung device, yet the quality isn't quite as good as the One, S4 or LG G2.

It may be full HD, but due to the Galaxy Note 3's larger screen the pixel density isn't as high and on comparison with other flagship handsets it's lack of clarity is noticeable.

Samung Galaxy Note 3 review

If you don't have another top of the range smartphone nearby though you probably won't have any complaints with the screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Pull down the notification bar from the top of the Note 3 and you'll see Samsung's usual quick settings bar persists here - allowing you to toggle features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC without having to visit the main settings menu.

We're big fans of quick settings and we've even seen Apple adopt a similar setup in iOS 7 with the inclusion of Control Center - but Android is where is happened first.

Hit the button in the top right of the notification panel and you'll be able to see all the quick settings available. There's a massive choice, with 22 options provided on the Galaxy Note 3.

You can edit which ones display in the bar on the main notification page by clicking the pencil icon at the top of the screen and then dragging and dropping the settings you want instant access to.

Samung Galaxy Note 3 review

Thanks to those impressive innards multitasking is no problem for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. To see which applications you currently have running hold down the home button and the familiar column of thumbnails will appear.

You can swipe across any particular thumbnail to close the application, and there's a close all button in the bottom toolbar along with a link to Google Now and the Task Manager.

From multitasking to multi-window, hold down the back key below the screen and you'll notice a little tab appears half way up the left side of the display.

Click this and a slender column of apps will appear. You can drag and drop these onto the screen to open them. Instead of having just one open however, you can drag two apps onto the screen and they will share the space 50:50.

Not every application is available to screen share, so you may find the choice a little limited depending on what you want to do, but it's a nice feature which works well.

Samung Galaxy Note 3 review

We've already mentioned about the Note 3's unwieldy size for one handed use in the introduction, but dive into the main settings menu and under 'Controls' you'll find the 'One-handed operation' option.

Hit this and you're severed up with various ways to customise the interface on the Galaxy Note 3 to improve usage if you commonly use just the one hand to hold your phone.

The Note 3 can adjust the position of the keyboard, dialling keypad, lock pattern and even the calculator to make things easier if you've only got one hand free.

We found this was a helpful feature, although the keyboard became smaller and thus we needed to ensure we were hitting the correct keys as travel between them was greatly reduced.

There's still the issue of actually being able to hold the Note 3 in one hand and for some of you that just won't be possible, with two hands required for a steady and secure experience.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory32 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+
SAR Value0.29 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy Note 3
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 850, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution13 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time21 Hour
Product ModelSM-N9005
Screen Size14.5 cm (5.7")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)168 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.3 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density386 ppi
Front Camera Resolution2 Megapixel
SIM Size SupportedMicro
Height151.2 mm
Width79.2 mm
Depth8.3 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time420 Hour
Product NameGalaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Smartphone
Processor Speed2.30 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 800
Product LineGalaxy Note 3
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Barometer, Digital Compass, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Magnetometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Humidity Sensor, Temperature Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberSM-N9005ZWEBTU
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information **Please note this product can only be used in Europe**

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 adds delight to daily tasks and infuses innovative features that help consumers tell the story of their lives. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 delivers a larger and better screen for the best viewing experience and more powerful multitasking, as well as significant S Pen improvements that make everyday life easier and faster.

Bigger & Better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with a wider (5.7inch) full HD Super AMOLED display, yet slimmer (8.3mm) and lighter (168g) hardware design and more powerful and longer lasting (3,200mAh) battery. Equipped with a 13-megapixel rear camera with Smart Stabilisation and high CRI LED flash, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 enables users to crisply capture every visual story in their lives, even in low light and active situations. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 offers the latest LTE technologies - CAT4 Carrier Aggregation and supports the greatest number of multiple frequencies. Incorporating the industry's largest 3GB RAM, the Galaxy Note 3 also provides faster and more powerful performance.

Balancing Strength with Design
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 delivers a new premium look and feel. Expanding on the modern Samsung Galaxy design approach, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 adds a soft and textured-touch back cover and delicate stitching. It also features a serration pattern on the side of the device that evokes a connection to the timeless and enduring strengths of classic notebooks and planners.

Click S Pen to make life easier, faster and more exciting
The new S Pen reinvents and modernises the classic note-taking experience by providing the ability to accomplish everyday tasks with just one click. The advanced S Pen is designed to be fully functional as a communication driver between the phone and the user by creating essential input and control features. It plays an integral role in how users interface with the device, making all daily routines easier.

A simple click of the S Pen button while hovering over the screen introduces users to Air Command, a palette of five powerful features that truly make tasks easier and faster. With the Air Command feature, there is no need to toggle between screens, memorise commands or look up different menus. The Air Command feature provides access to the following key functions:

Action Memo allows users to handwrite a note and automatically execute a function or convert that handwritten information into formatted content. Action Memo can instantly initiate a call, add to contacts, look up an address on a map, search the web, save a task to a to-do list, and more

Scrapbook enables users to organise or track down content and information from various sources including the web, YouTube and Gallery in one place so that users can easily look back at collected content all at once. When consumers save content for future use, Scrapbook also collects source material or URLs allowing them to easily refer back to the original source

The Screen Write feature captures the full screen image of the current page on the device and allows users to write comments or additional information onto the captured image

S Finder allows users to expansively search for content on their device regardless of the type. By putting in keywords or filters such as date, location and content type, users can search related documents, events, communication threads, and even the Help page - all in one place. In addition, users can also search for hand-written content in their Notes and memo applications, as well as symbols and formulas
Limited Warranty2 Year
Standard Memory3 GB