Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review: The Phablet Refined

Introduction and Specifications

Whether you’re a fan of oversized smartphones or not, it’s clear that they are here to stay. When Samsung initially released the first Galaxy Note, many of us in the industry looked at it a little sideways and wondered what the designers at Samsung were thinking. The original Galaxy Note seemed simply gargantuan next to virtually every other device available at the time and it was somewhat comical to see such a large device perched next to someone’s ear when they were making a call.

The Note had a transformative effect on the smartphone industry, however. Yes, it was large. But once you've experienced the benefits of a larger screen, it's difficult to turn back, and Samsung sold millions of them. I was originally dismissive of the Note, but after living with the second-gen Note II for a while during the lead-up to our review, I grew accustomed to its size and features and now everything else just seems too small. Since reviewing the Note 2, I’ve had access to a number of other newer devices, but I keep going back to the Note 2. Take that for what it's worth.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with White Flip Cover. Other Colors Also Available.

As much as we liked the Note 2, technology inevitably marches on, and its successor is now available. The recently released Galaxy Note 3 builds upon the success of the Note and Note II, but with significantly updated hardware, a larger screen, fresh software, and a host of additional features. Take a look at the Galaxy Note 3 in the video below and then make your way through the rest of our review for the full scoop. If you’re considering on of the latest crop of “phablets” for your next phone, you’ll be happy you stuck around...

Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Specifications & Features
OS Android 4.3, Jelly Bean
Weight 5.93 oz
Product Dimensions (inches) Height, width and depth of the phone, measured in inches (in.). 5.95" x 3.12" x 0.33"
Camera resolution (Front) 2MP
Camera resolution (Rear) Number of pixels across and down that are used to capture an image. More pixels, the sharper the photo. 13MP
Battery Type and Size 3,200 mAh
Internal Memory 3GB RAM; 32GB ROM
Frequencies and Data Type LTE
Wi-Fi Connection that allows streaming audio, video, and other computer data across wireless networks. Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (HT80), GPS/GLONASS, NFC
USB Universal Serial Bus. Common hardware interface standard for connecting peripherals to a computer. USB 3.0 & USB 2.0 compatible, IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy)
Processor Speed, Type 2.3GHz Quad-Core
Main Display Resolution 1920 x 1080
Main Display Size
5.7" Full HD Super AMOLED
Around $169 on contract

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Accessory Bundle

As you can see in the chart above, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3's main features and specifications are quite impressive in light of competing devices currently on the market. We’re going to cover many aspects of the Note 3 on the pages ahead, but we’ll quickly summarize a few of the improvements over the Galaxy Note 2 here as well. You’ll notice this new device has a 5.7” screen with a full HD 1080p resolution. The screen is also covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and features Samsung’s HD Super AMOLED technology.

U.S. variants of the Galaxy Note 3 are powered by a fast, 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core SoC. The Snapdragon 800 features Qualcomm’s updated Krait 400 CPU core architecture, which improves performance and efficiency over its predecessors. The Snapdragon 800 is also outfitted with a more powerful Adreno 330 GPU, which supports the OpenGL ES 3.0, DirectX, OpenCL, Renderscript Compute and FlexRender APIs.

The SoC is paired to 3GB of LP-DDR3 memory, the device features 4G LTE, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity (including 802.11ac), a 13MP rear camera, and everything is powered by a beefy 3200 mAh battery. The Galaxy Note 3 also sports a wider array of sensors, which include an accelerometer, and RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, Barometric, Temperature and Humidity, and Gesture sensors. The gesture sensor is carried over from the Galaxy S 4 and allows users to control a number of the phone's features without touching the screen—make sure you watch the video above to see that in action. It’s pretty cool and others are sure to copy it ASAP.

In addition to all of the updated or upgraded hardware components, Samsung has implemented plenty of new features within the software on the Galaxy Note 3 as well. We’re going to talk about some new enhancements and improvements to TouchWiz on the pages ahead, and will cover a number of camera modes and S-Apps later too.

We should also draw some attention to the Note 3’s KNOX feature. KNOX is a play off of “Fort Knox”, and is a feature that partitions the phone into personal and work-related spaces. If you’d like to carry only one device for personal and professional use, with KNOX, you can keep all of your personal data completely separate from any professional files. It’s not something general consumers are likely to take advantage of, but IT departments will appreciate KNOX’s capabilities, especially with more and more companies allowing employees to use their own devices for work.

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