Even though Samsung Note 3 is already two years old and other Note cell phones (Samsung Note 4 and Samsung Note 5) have been put in the market since then, it can be said of Samsung Note 3 that it still has a place among mid-range smartphones.
When it was released it was considered to be the smartphone with the biggest screen; nowadays, however, it’s nothing but another smartphone with a big screen, usually called phablet, and equipped with an incredible S-pen, designed specially to be used with it. Soon we’ll explain why.
Released before the beginning of the Samsung’s metal “age”, this smartphone has a plastic body with a leather-like back, which gives it a premium appearance. On the other hand, this feature is not so appealing as the new full metallic models.
Even though it’s an old cell when we compare it to to what it’s available in the market, all technical features prove it to have been a high-end smartphone when it was first designed, and that it’s still able to compete with the cell phones released recently, mainly mid and low range smartphones.
With a 5.7 inches AMOLED full HD (1080 x 1920) screen, this cell phone aims a very specific market, and as it was stress by the company itself, it was designed to support and facilitate the life of businessman or businesswoman. This phone has the advantage of allowing access to the battery, making it possible to the user to replace it in case it get damaged without having to get in contact with the support.
Recently we heard that unfortunately this Note model won’t get an Android 6.0 Marshmallow update. It was updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop, and thanks to this update Samsung give the user some of the new Note 4 functionalities.
Let’s take a closer look at them.
Thanks to the new functionalities Samsung add to the Note 3, it’s possible to handle it with just one hand since you can shrink the screen or turn the keyboard and buttons to be closer to your fingers (being the side where the keyboard will be placed chosen with the help of a gyroscope). But it’s much easier to use both hands to write emails and send messages. For the users with small hands, this may not be the best option. Oddly enough, it was the first smartphone that can be handled with gloves, which is a great advantage during winter.
The Note 3 is smaller than its predecessor despite the fact its screen is 0,2’’ bigger. It is 151.2 mm in length, 79.2 mm in width, and 8.3 mm thick. It weights 168g as many other cell devices released in 2015 with the same size. It was built to be a big cell, and so it is; so you’re going to need deep pockets (pun intended) to have this phone. Around note 3’ borders, it was applied a plastic rim to make it look like metal. The on/off buttons and the volume buttons are respectively on the right and on the left side, but you can easily reach them and still handle the phone with just one hand. Despite this, after using it with only one hand it is necessary to turn it off manually in order to have a more stable phone when using it again. The physical button meant to access many of the cell’s functionalities, that Samsung still insists in providing its cells with, is a great asset which has been left aside after new Android functionalities implementations. However, it’s a very suitable feature for this phone.
Interface and Performance
Is Note 3 fast and fluid enough after two years? Let’s take a look at the specifications.
This phablet has a Snapdragon 800 Quad-core processor, which is composed of 4 cores working at 2.3 GHs. This guarantees a wonderful performance even when Note 3 is compared to smartphones released in 2015. The 3Gb RAM memory allows Note 3 to function well, even though the area close to the processor (near to the back camera) overheats sometimes. But when we used apps which required a lot of RAM memory, it responded reasonably well.
The GPU Adreno 330 is responsible for the graphic processing. You can play full HD Games on it, and both full HD games and videos run well and smoothly.
The phone has a LTE 3° Generation moden, meaning you can have access to 4G, HSPA+, EDGE, and GPRS systems. You also have at your disposal a 3.0 and 2.0 USB ports. However, having a USB port on your cell phone is not an advantage anymore, since we crave increasingly for wireless technology, even though we concede that the USB 3.0 being of great help to transfer large amount of data to exterior memories.
As mentioned before, Note 3 has a full HD screen (1080×1920), and the AMOLED technology the cell bears makes the user experience even more vivid and conspicuous. It has a 4.0 Bluetooth technology and a 802.11ª/b/g/n/ac wifi. Note 3 has two versions when it comes to storage capabilities: there are the 32 and 64 gigabytes versions, and the user can also expand the memory with microSD, which is capable of memory increase of 64 gigabytes.
It is also equipped with NFC, 13-megapixels back camera with flash LED, and a 12-megapixels front camera. The back camera records videos in 4k—which even after 2 years hasn’t proved to be a useful feature.
Despite the fact the speaker is not good, it still does the job. The sound coming out of it is not powerful, but it is audible, clear, and non-distorted. On the other hand, we can say the opposite of the mic—it has a precise recording capability and the background noise functionality works well. Environment where the test was cared out: during a concert.
It is possible to use Note 3 with just one hand thanks to the functionalities that makes it possible to reduce the size of things displayed on the screen (such as changing the keyboard dimensions to the screen side which you feel more comfortable to type). However, you’ll notice it’s much simpler to use both hands to text or write emails. The latter will not be the option of small hand users. Oddly enough, it was the first smartphone that can be handle with gloves, which is a great advantage during winter. Note 3 is smaller than its predecessor despite the fact its screen is 0,2’’ bigger. It is 151.2 mm in length, 79.2 mm in width, and 8.3 mm thick. It weights 168g as many other cell devices released in 2015 with the same size. It was built to be a big phone, and so it is; so you’re going to need deep pockets (pun intended) to have this cell. Around note 3’ borders, it was applied a plastic rim to make it look like metal. The on/off buttons and the volume buttons are respectively on the right and on the left side, but you can easily reach them and still handle the phone with just one hand. Despite this, after using it with only one hand it is necessary to turn it off manually so, when using it again, you have some stability. The physical button meant to access many of the cell’s functionalities, that Samsung still insists in providing its cells with, is a great asset which has been left aside after new Android functionalities implementations. However, it’s a very suitable feature for this phone.
Samsung Note 3’s interface has compelling graphs and provides a nice interaction between user and device, which helps the user to be fully adapted to all functionalities after a week. Nevertheless all this, the interface is quite heavy when compared to other interfaces. And this raises the question: Pure Android vs. Brand customized interface.
Since many functionalities depend on the interface installed, we think that in the case of Note 3 the Samsung’s original ROM should be kept. If we installed another interface, we would lose the S-Pen, the one hand functionality, among other things which are responsible for making this cell phone so appealing and different.
Main characteristics and functionality
It slides naturally and smoothly on the screen creating such a fluid and accurate writing that you can use it to sign documents on Adobe Readers (which can be installed for free).
When the pen is uncapped, many commands to be used with S-Pen are triggered automatically.
Here are them:
Handling it with one hand
This one hand functionality makes it possible to
- Shrink the size of the screen so you can use just one hand
- Adjust buttons size so you can reach them all using only one hand (adjustment is made automatically through the accelerometer integrated to cell)
- The very same adjustment is available individually to the keyboard, to the lock screen pattern, and the calculator.
It is a very useful functionality. I have it on at all times to use during calls and to unlock the screen lock pattern. Despite the fact I use most of the times both hands, the functionality doesn’t bother me and it makes it easier to use just one hand when I need to.
Little toole, very useful that allow to search in every storaged data one or two passwords. Besides the search inside the device it also does online searches, something like what later Google developed and called Google Now.
It makes it possible to have many tasks running at the same time, i.e. multitasking. Despite the fact many cells have this kind of functionality, Samsung`s is still the one which and fully developed and functional.
One can also control their phone by moving the device or by means of movement captured in front of the sensor.
Galaxy Note 3 has an infrared responsible for controlling many devices. This is possible thanks to an app developed by Peel Technologies Inc. and which is made available by Samsung. The app has almost every code of infrared receptors.
Equipped with a 3200 mAh battery, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is well-found. If we take into consideration the fact that two years have elapsed since it was first released, we can say that Galaxy Note 3 still manages to go through a day and half or even two full days without needing to be recharged—if we consider an average day as follows: sending around 500 text messages, having ten 5-minute phone calls, surfing the web, logging on social networks and emails. The long-lasting battery is the result of the specifications designed by Qualcomm which were meant to save battery life, and also to the AMOLED screen technology.
We can’t say the camera is great, but it would be right to say it’s awful. Being a 13Mpx camera, it shoots daylight pictures reasonably well, but we can say the same when there isn’t enought light. HDR helps to minimize the camera weakness to shoot good photos in dark places. If we compared it to the cameras released two years ago, we get the conclusion that Samsung should have done a better job in releasing a cell with a good camera. Despite all downsides of the Note 3’s camera, it is possible to record 4k videos with it.
Here goes a few pictures taken with the camera:
The camera flash is not helpful, because the LED light is too bright white, turning pictures taken at night into cold and lifeless photos.
The 2 megapixels frontal camera is meant to skype and be used with other communication apps.
After two years it was first release, the first impulse would be to say that Note 3 belongs to history. But, in fact, that’s not true. The phone was first released in 2013 as cutting edge technology; nowadays it became a mid or low-range cell phone, but it’s still a good option for many users who enjoy Phablets and gaming. It runs most games adequately, even those released recently; and it shares competitive features with its successors.
Being updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop made it possible to it hang on a bit more in the market. If we compared Note 3 to Note 4, we would notice there aren’t significant differences, being only of interest to the most demanding users. Buying this equipment may be a good option for the user who look for a practical, useful device to work with, not having to pay much to have access to a more recent released phone with better performance.
The S-Pen is an asset. In the land of Utopia, the pen would handle well almost every single situation; but, in reality, it’s only useful when we have to jot down something or to sign a document. Other users would argue that S-Pen can be used in other ways (and I’m one of them), such as copying and selecting texts inside apps. Firstly, we would like to argue that S-Pen gives Note 3 at least a head of difference. Secondly, we ought to stress the battery performance, something that many users value a lot. Lastly, we have to stress the overall performance that even when running a heavy interface as Touchwiz is still able to operate with fluidity, making the whole thing into a friendly user experience.
Unfortunately, even after the release of the two younger “brothers”, a new and unlocked Note 3 costs around 520€—if bought in Portugal. However, if you buy it on the spanish Amazon the price will be cut down to 330€ since there aren’t shipment costs. The figures discourage people from buying Note 3, specially when there are more recent phones in the market with better hardware and sotware specs. If you are looking for a second hand phone, you can try OLX website. There, prices vary from 150€ to 350€.
Note: Review made by Pedro Venâncio in android-emotions.pt and translated by Anderson Antunes.