02
Oct
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Last Updated: October 31st, 2013

You've been warned: the Galaxy Note II was probably my favorite smartphone of 2012, and it looks like its successor, the Note 3, is stealing my heart all over again. With big hardware improvements across the board, as well as substantial additions to software, the Note 3 feels like a true next-generation sort of phone. Samsung has rather effectively ruined every other large-screen device for me, and frankly, probably every other phone released this year.

The thing I've come to like about the Note phones is their no-compromise approach to the big phone concept. Some large devices will sacrifice on the camera, the quality of the display, the processor, or practical ergonomics (*cough* Z Ultra *cough*) in order to meet a price or size target. Samsung, however, seems dead set on making the Note 3 the very best phone it can possibly be, period. And it's not just about specifications - anyone can have those. It's about putting them to good use.

While I will be among the first in line to call out some of Samsung's superfluous software gimmicks, there's little denying they've developed features that have legitimate uses, and that their phones have a degree of functional versatility that remains unmatched by any of their competitors. With the Note 3, Samsung does add a little to the pile of toggles and overflow menus, but it has also refined and honed many parts of TouchWiz NatureUX 2.0 (yep, that's the name), including some Note-specific features that may be worth a second look. And while NUX still won't be winning any beauty contests, it still does focus on providing in-built functionality stock Android lacks.

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The Note 3 is, to me, is Samsung's way of saying "here's what we can do." It's the phone that, in my opinion, every other OEM wants to build. They just haven't managed to do it. It's a marriage of hardware and software in a way that compels people to come back a year later and buy another Galaxy Note, not because of loyalty to a brand, but because it sets a precedent in terms of expectations. The Note 3 is a phone addict's phone.

Note: This review is based on the Qualcomm-powered LTE variant of the Note 3, not the Exynos version.

Galaxy Note 3: Specifications
  • Processor: 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974)
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • Network compatibility: Varies by model (all US models support LTE)
  • Operating system: Android 4.3 with TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0
  • Display: 5.7" Super AMOLED 1920x1080 (386 DPI)
  • Memory: 3GB RAM / 32GB storage (26GB usable)
  • Cameras: 13MP rear / 2MP front
  • Battery: 3200mAh, removable
  • NFC: Yes
  • Infrared: Yes
  • Wi-Fi: Dual-band, A/B/G/N/AC
  • Bluetooth: 4.0 with BT Smart (LE) support
  • Ports / expandable storage: microUSB 3.0 (type B) / microSD
  • Thickness: 8.3mm
  • Weight: 168g

The Good
  • Speed: The Note 3 is incredibly, stupidly fast. The new Adreno 330 GPU ensures excellent 3D performance, and the phone opens and runs apps incredibly quickly.
  • Build quality: Is improved, I think. We'll see. But so far the Note 3 feels much sturdier than the Note II, and the faux leather, while horribly tacky, feels so much better than the slimy plastic of the S III / S4 / Note II.
  • S Pen works with capacitive buttons: This was such an oversight on the Note II, it had to be addressed. Unfortunately, you still have to press the physical home button for that to work, but back and menu work with the S Pen just fine.
  • Camera: This is the same camera from the Galaxy S4, and while it doesn't seem to do as well in dark conditions, it's still an excellent daytime shooter that yields tons of detail.
  • Much better display: The Note II's display was too dim, and at 720p, wasn't exactly the optimal viewing experience given the size of the panel. The Note 3's is much brighter, and at 1080p it looks incredibly crisp.

The Not So Good
  • Camera night performance: Compared to the Galaxy S4, it's just not very good. It's the same sensor, so I'm not sure what happened here.
  • Gimmicks: Samsung has added some legitimately useful features to the Note 3. It also hasn't really removed any of the stupider ones.
  • Down firing speaker offers no real improvement: It's not any louder, and it doesn't sound any better. Even with the S4's rear-firing speaker right next to it on a hard, flat surface. This seems like an entirely superficial design change.
  • TouchWiz aesthetics: Remember how cargo pants were super cool and super functional... in 1999? TouchWiz is that guy still wearing cargo pants. Samsung just hasn't sent them to Goodwill yet.
  • Faux. Leather. Come on. Really? You couldn't just give it a bumpy texture, or a rubberized matte coating? You had to go the whole "we're literally making it look like a notebook" route? Groan.

Hardware

Design and build quality

The Galaxy Note II was not particularly pretty. It was also quite flimsy, its slimy rear cover easily accumulated scratches and scuffs, and the phone simply didn't feel particularly premium. Samsung is trying very hard to change that perception with the Galaxy Note 3.

You know where this is going: Faux. Leather. Well, it's not even faux leather - it's just plastic textured sort of like leather with some fake stitching around the edges. Does it look better than it did before? Sure. Is this going to age well aesthetically, or go down as one of Samsung's better design moves? Ha. Ha. If it makes into the Note 4, I'll be genuinely surprised. Samsung had the right idea here (make the back feel less like a slimy plastic suckfest), but then someone started getting clever and decided 'polyurethane cowhide' was The Next Big Thing, and through what I can only imagine was a series of escalating dares about how long they could get away with it, the Note 3's design was born.

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The plasti-chrome border going around the entire phone now has little lined accents that, according to Samsung, evoke the feeling of a journal or book. And thus goes the reasoning for the faux-leather, as well. I'm not making this up, I swear. Even the S Pen has a bunch of ridges and lines all along the shiny end, though it still feels too light for a stylus, not to mention incredibly cheap.

I will say that the Note 3 as a whole feels like a substantial move up from the Note II, though. The frame seems more rigid (this may fade with time, we'll see), and the textured rear cover has none of the 'gross' factor that the old glossy plastic did. Even the camera module looks fancier - I quite like the body color-matching accents they went for. It certainly looks better than it does on the Galaxy S4.

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Come around to the front, and the Note 3 is all classic Samsung. The visible display area has tiny little triangular cutouts on each corner, the sensors are arranged just as they are on the Galaxy S4 (seemingly sans RGB light sensor), and the earpiece speaker grille is the same one you'll find on the S4, too. There are a few minor differences, however. The inlaid texture on the glossy white plastic around the display is a series of interlocking triangles and diamond shapes. The home button is no longer vaguely trapezoidal, but a perfect pill shape. The shape of the Note 3 itself is also more rectangular, with the curved corners of the phone being substantially smaller and more squared-off in appearance than those of the Galaxy S4.

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Along the bottom you'll find a couple of interesting things, too - the first-on-a-smartphone type B microUSB 3.0 port and the bottom-firing speaker many have been clamoring for since the original Note. The S Pen slot rounds out this area. The power and volume buttons are the same metallic ones found on the Galaxy S4, and are positioned similarly.

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Pop open the rear cover (which is still incredibly thin and flimsy) and you'll find the SIM and microSD slots are stacked, the long-lasting 12.16Wh (3200mAh) battery, and the external speaker module, which where there would normally be a grille is simply a solid piece of metal, so that the audible noise is pushed down through to the bottom of the phone where it can escape. From an acoustic perspective, this doesn't strike me as a particularly optimal design, but I guess whatever works.

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The ergonomics of the Note 3 are quite similar to the Note II. In fact, Samsung's managed to shave 12g of mass off the newest Note, despite increased display and battery size. That's a commendable feat, to be sure. For me, the Note II was about as big as I was willing to go with a phone I'd be carrying around every day in my pocket. The Note 3 is actually slightly narrower than the Note II (79.2mm vs 80.5mm), but only 0.1mm taller. It's also a full millimeter thinner. As such, it's actually a bit easier to hold.

All things considered, this is the best effort Samsung's given to making a phone feel like a "premium" device to date, I just wish they would have stayed away from that fake stitching.

S Pen

First off, the S Pen now works on the menu and back capacitive keys. Just tap them with the pen and they'll register the input. Hooray! This was very badly needed. The home button, unfortunately, does not work with S Pen. You still have to physically press it, which is much more frustrating than it needs to be. That seems like a pretty big oversight.

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The pen itself seems a little nicer than the one that shipped with the Note II, and now the pen button is a bit higher up, which Samsung claims makes it easier to reach (they suggest using your index finger, which I found incredibly awkward). In my opinion, it's still a pain in the butt to click. Otherwise, the pen hasn't changed much. Oh - you can slide it back into the Note with the button facing up or down now, so it's easier to do without looking (the pen is wider than it is thick, so that much is easier to feel out). Good call, Samsung.

Display

The 5.7" display on the Galaxy Note 3 is largely reminiscent of the one you'll find on the Galaxy S4 - in all but two respects: size and brightness. The Note 3's full HD AMOLED panel is exceptionally crisp (though it still uses a weird subpixel layout that is not as dense as true striped RGB), and when set to movie mode in the screen mode menu, reproduces colors with decent accuracy. It still has the same yellow cast issue as any AMOLED display, though (compare an S4 to an HTC One on a blank page in Chrome to see what I'm saying), and some colors (greens, blues) still end up a little too hot even when in the most accurate display mode. That said, the screen mode menu is one of my favorite additions to Samsung phones in the last year, and I couldn't live without it now. If that's not your thing, set it to dynamic mode and you'll have your Crayola acid trip effect going on in no time, especially with some of the Note 3's colorful built-in wallpapers. And let's not forget - AMOLED displays are still the best at low black levels, which means the Note 3 is great for videos and games.

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Getting back to the brightness issue, the Note 3 gets substantially brighter than the Galaxy S4, even in direct sunlight. Brightness was arguably the biggest drawback of the Galaxy S4's display, and while the Note 3 still doesn't really touch the HTC One for raw retina-searing power, it is respectably luminous at its maximum setting. It also appears that, like the Galaxy S4, setting the Note 3 to automatic brightness will actually allow it to get even higher than the maximum setting in particularly bright scenarios (eg, outside on a sunny day).

Automatic brightness, by the way, does seem to work a bit better on the Note 3 than it did on the S4. It still takes a while to adjust to changes in lighting, but the brightness it settles on is generally usable, unlike the Galaxy S4, which appears to have an ambient light sensor with bipolar disorder.

As for the glass itself, the Note 3 is equipped with Gorilla Glass 3, same as the S4.

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Battery life

So here's the thing about reviewing a Sprint phone: Sprint really sucks in, I don't know, 95% of the country. And as such, I was constantly flipping between 3G and LTE where I live, which pretty much wrecks the battery. Inside my house, I get spotty Sprint 3G, which also, you guessed it, wrecks the battery. Though apparently the Note 3 does have a nifty new Qualcomm radio power management tech, so perhaps the wreckage is less severe than it might have otherwise been. Anyway, thanks to Sprint, I've been on Wi-Fi most of the time. Here's what I've found.

With all of my various crap synced (2 Google accounts with all the trimmings, Twitter, FB / Messenger, Foursquare, Amazon / MP3, Play Music, Dropbox, Mint.com, RunKeeper, Yelp), I still felt very comfortable making it through an entire day on the Note 3. Not "there's no way I could possibly run down this battery" comfortable, mind you - if you go out on mobile data with the display cranked to max brightness (or on auto on a sunny day outside) and start taking a bunch of photos, holy moly does the battery drain fast. I was taking test shots with the screen at maximum brightness for about the last 30 minutes (20 photos, plus 2 surround shots), and the battery went from 61% to 42% in that time. Photo processing is a very CPU-intensive task (especially night photos and panoramas), and the display is the biggest potential source of battery drain on any device. Put them together, and the Note 3's strengths (brighter display, quicker processor) combine to chow down on the battery big time.

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However, for generic tasks like checking email and social networks or web browsing not using Wi-Fi, I think with a decent LTE connection (so, not Sprint) I could probably get about 3-3.5 hours of screen-on time with the brightness on 85% or so. That means it's still a pretty big step away from, in my experience, the DROID MAXX, which consistently hit 4 hours on mobile data with the display cranked to 100% (granted, it's a dim screen). That puts the Note 3, for me, in the company of the LG G2, which in my opinion gets excellent battery life. The Note 3 has 0.5" more display, but also 200mAh more battery capacity than the G2, so it makes sense that they're comparable in this regard.

And yes, the Note 3's battery is removable.

Storage, mUSB 3.0, wireless, and call quality

The Note 3, finally, ships with 32GB of onboard storage as standard. There is also a 64GB model, but there's no sign that this variant will see the light of day in the United States. Of that 32GB, 26GB is available at the user level, which should be enough for most people. If you want more space for media, the microSD slot is at your disposal.

Allegedly, this storage will also be faster to access thanks to a microUSB 3.0 connection interface. The Note 3 is the first smartphone to use this port, which should aid in faster file transfers. The Note 3 is still using the same old 2A charging interface, though, so it doesn't seem like the new port provides it any more power, apart from when charging on a PC. More than likely, this is just Samsung getting ready to introduce a new standard connector, and the Note 3 is the first consumer trial, while also getting the benefit of future-proofing. The connector works fine with standard microUSB cables for both data and charging.

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Wireless performance on the Note 3 has been difficult to judge on Sprint's network. Considering my data connection regularly drops or hangs, the experience, for me, has been really awful. Every time I review a Sprint device, though, the experience is awful, so I really can't blame it on the phone. The few times I did have LTE coverage on Sprint didn't yield outstanding speeds, though latency was much better than on CDMA. Wi-Fi AC is supported on the Note 3, as is Bluetooth 4.0 LE - the standard by which the Note 3 communicates with the Galaxy Gear.

Call quality on the Note 3 has seemed to be quite good. I've made about a dozen calls on it in the last week and never once did someone have an issue hearing me, even on Sprint's lame-o network. The Note 3 does appear to have 3 microphones, though, so I'm sure that's helping out.

Audio and speaker

Audio from the Note 3's headphone jack is outstanding. I've written the same thing about every recent Snapdragon-powered device, and that's because they all use the same line of audio hubs, designed by Qualcomm. The result is an extremely consistent earphone listening experience across all Snapdragon devices, and the experience is a very good one.

The new external speaker really only has one advantage: it doesn't get muffled when the phone is lying on a flat surface. That's it. As far as I can tell, it's actually a bit quieter than the one on the Galaxy S4, and sounds no better. And oddly enough, even with the S4 lying on a hard flat surface, the S4's speaker still sounds louder than the Note 3's. I'm guessing it's the same exact speaker in both phones, with the Note 3's just set up to fire downward instead out of the back.

Camera

The Galaxy Note 3 uses the same camera as the Galaxy S4, and like the S4, is configured to take 9.6MP photos - not 13MP - out of the box, in order to reduce capture times. As such, you'd expect comparable results from each in all situations. Not so much, though. The Note 3 does take truly fantastic photos in good lighting. For example, have a look at these creepy-crawlies I captured at the LA Museum of Natural History's spider exhibit.

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100% crop

Then, there's the low light performance. The Note 3, for whatever reason, really appears to struggle compared to the Galaxy S4 here. I took sample shots using both phones, and then compared them. The Note 3 fared disappointingly compared to its smaller sibling in each low light test. On the left, you'll see a photo from the Note 3, on the right will be a matching photo from the Galaxy S4.

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Note the amount of detail lost on the Note 3 photos, which are underexposed (perhaps this is to reduce the amount of blur - which is generally more evident on the S4 samples). The colors also appear more reddened / yellow, making the photos from the Note 3 look rather unnatural. Maybe this is because of change to processing night shots on the Note 3 - Samsung did switch the name of automatic night detection to "smart stabilization" on the Note 3, though it appears to work the same way in practice. Or maybe they just got a crap batch of sensors.

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As for video, the Note 3 has the ability to actually record 4K video (at 30FPS), as well as 1080p 60FPS video, and even 720p 120FPS video. Yay high frame rates! It can also shoot video in slow motion (1/2, 1/4, or 1/8 time).

Surround Shot

One last bit for the camera section: surround shot. This is Samsung's take on photo spheres. It works just like a photo sphere (a dot guides you to the next photo, arrows tells you whether you have remaining frames up, down, left, or right), too, and it even works on Google+ and shows up as a photo sphere there. It just doesn't seem quite as good as a photo sphere. You can check out the sample I posted on G+ here.

Processing a surround shot takes around 15-20 seconds if you choose to capture every frame for the sphere, though like regular photo spheres, this isn't required.

Software

Performance and stability

The Galaxy Note 3 is really, really fast. You're not going to find a faster phone on the market at this point, though pretty much any device with a quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip is going to feel quite quick moving around the OS. Perhaps the biggest boost provided by the new chipset is in the graphics department, with the new Adreno 330 GPU. Qualcomm claims up to 50% improved performance over the outgoing Adreno 320, which was already a very robust chip.

3GB of RAM can't hurt the Note 3's performance, either, with around 2.4GB of that available at the user level. I think it also gives Samsung something of an excuse to eat up more of these available bytes with various persistent processes. For example, pairing a Galaxy Gear (review coming soon!) with your Note 3 results in 14 new persistent processes being spawned consuming a total of 75MB of memory. That said, I highly doubt any added service bloat outweighs the advantage of the extra gigabyte of capacity.

In terms of general smoothness, I'd rank the Note 3 right alongside the G2 - another very, very fast phone.

Stability on the Note 3 has been rock solid for me thus far - I haven't run into any app compatibility issues or crashes. Well, apart from one, lone app: the gallery. Samsung's gallery app has struggled under the weight of cloud-synced albums since the Galaxy S III, and it still seems Samsung hasn't resolved the issue. I have thousands of photos in my Dropbox account, and this sends the gallery app into full-on panic mode. It freezes, it crashes, and sometimes, it even works normally. If you want to see just how bad it is, check out Ron Amadeo's video demonstrating it.

I did notice that doing things like taking photos while outdoors caused the phone to get really, really hot. Not even necessarily in direct sunlight. When I was taking the surround shots (photo spheres), it felt like the processor - which must be directly to the right of the camera module - was about to burn a hole in my finger. Same thing happened running benchmarks or when doing turn-by-turn in the car. At least that means it's dissipating well?

Other than that, though, it' been pretty smooth sailing.

UI and features

There are two ways I could go about doing this section. The first is pretending I've never used a TouchWiz phone before and agonizing over every single feature. The other, which I would much prefer, is a detailed look at what is specifically new in this latest iteration of Samsung's UI layer, and features that are unique to the Note (largely owing to the stylus and large display size). So, if you know there's a feature on the Note 3, but I don't describe it here, please check out my Galaxy S4 review, which more than likely does describe that feature. I have a Galaxy S4 side by side with the Note 3, so I will do my best to spot even the little differences.

Homescreen, app drawer, multitasking, and notification bar

The homescreen layout of the Note 3 is exactly the same as the Galaxy S4. The only difference you'll note is that if you tap the menu button, a new option is on the Note 3 ("Help"), and another has vanished ("Search" - we'll get to that later). Otherwise, you'll be hard pressed to find anything new here. What about homescreen customization, though?

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Long-pressing on a blank region will bring up the same customization UI, although it's styled differently - the font is larger, and Samsung has switched to all-blue theme for the various UI elements, eschewing the rather ugly gray accents on the Android 4.2 incarnation of TouchWiz. Samsung constantly does this, and I'm not sure why. If you're going to pay attention to such details, why not just go ahead with a full-on restyle? It's wasted man hours messing around with this kind of stuff.

The app drawer has also had minor stylistic alterations, now using white highlights instead of gray along the tabs at the top, and the pagination indicators at the bottom are elongated rounded rectangles, instead of rounded squares. Exciting. Tap on the menu button in the app drawer, and holy bloat reduction, Batman - half of the options are gone! Here are the items Samsung removed from this hilariously overstuffed overflow menu.

  • Play Store (what? why was that EVEN IN THERE?)
  • Downloaded applications (there is and has been a button for it literally several inches away at the top right)
  • Share apps (because seriously who is ever going to click that)
  • Hide applications (replaced with disable applications, which is now combined with uninstall applications as an option)

Another addition has been in the form of new actions when you long press an app in the drawer. Previously, this gave you two options - put it on the homescreen, or create a folder for it. Now, you have two new tabs up top alongside create folder: disable and app info. Neat. How about uninstall? I can't understand why that wouldn't be there as opposed to disable, which most people don't really understand in the first place.

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Left: new, right: old

Anyway, that covers the app drawer.

The multitasking UI (not to be confused with multi-window, that comes later) has not changed at all from what I can tell. Same colors, same layout (memory manager, Google Now, clear recent tasks).

The notification bar is basically identical to the old one. The only difference is the way you can configure which power / feature toggles are in the primary notification pane versus the secondary through the settings menu. There's now an indicator separating which icons will appear where. A victory for usability, I suppose.

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Lockscreen

The lockscreen is a complicated beast on Samsung phones since Android 4.2, and they've not really lessened the confusion in Android 4.3. They have, however, provided you some new options in terms of configuring it, and removed a few others.

The owner information and "personal message" options now live in the top level of the lockscreen settings area, and both are turned off by default (no more "Life companion"). The new default lockscreen animation is watercolor, which looks like some paint misting across the screen. I actually think it's pretty cool. The ripple effect is still there, too, and if you use the S Pen for the unlock gesture, you can see a bunch of liquid ink welling out from the center of the ripples (you can choose the color, too), with the intensity varying by the amount of pressure you put on the screen. Is this in any way useful? No. Is it fun just to mess with for the heck of it? Absolutely. This is the sort of thing I think a lot of people really enjoy, because it makes the experience of using your phone more immersive and, dare I say it, delightful. It's the little things.

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There's also a new weather widget for the lockscreen, if you enable multiple widgets, that is. Yes, that whole part of the interface is just as confusing as ever. I don't even want to talk about it.

Another new feature is Action Memos from the lockscreen, which are an S Pen-specific addition. We'll talk about them later.

New options for secure lockscreen modes are limited, but one in particular is pretty nice. Pressing the power button versus letting the screen time out are now two separate behavior settings - you can set the lock up such that it engages immediately when you turn off the display with the power button, whereas if the display simply times out, you can set a time before the lock becomes active. I'm not sure why the power button doesn't have similar time-based options (so you could set two different times), but it's nice to have the behaviors separated, regardless.

Multi-window mode

Multi-window has received a significant update since the Galaxy S4 was released, in the form of a new feature: shortcuts. Simply arrange the two apps you'd like to create a launch shortcut for, and then hit the overflow button at the bottom of the multi-window bar and select "Create." A shortcut that will launch those two apps will then be created. You can't transfer this shortcut to a homescreen, sadly, but I think it's the most compelling addition Samsung's made to multi-window thus far. I still doubt I'll use it, but the feature's value is clear.

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There's a Play Store button in the edit interface. I have no idea why.

Otherwise, multi-window functions just as it always has. The shape of the little tab to bring up the sidebar is slightly different, the sidebar no longer has rounded edges, and the overflow arrow has replaced the "Edit" button. And yes, the multitasking menu still shows multi-windowed apps as two apps, not one.

Air view, air gestures, smart screen, palm motion, and motions

I'm cramming these all into one section because very little has changed with these features.

Air view has a new option, though it only works in pen mode, to scroll through lists by hovering the S Pen over the edge of the screen. There's also an option to auto-detect if you're using your finger or the pen to hover.

In air gestures, we've actually lost an option: air move has been removed, probably because it was insanely unintuitive to use (it allowed you to swipe across the edge of the screen to move an app shortcut or calendar event to another page). Otherwise, nothing has changed here.

Smart screen, palm motion, and motion are all unchanged.

Air command

Air command is a new Note-specific feature utilizing the S Pen. Hover the S Pen over the screen of the device, press the pen button (an act I still find very awkward and difficult), and a semi-circular floating app will appear with 5 options to choose from.

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The Note 3 is also configured to launch air command by default when you remove the S Pen from its holster, though this behavior can be changed. The air command options are as follows: Action Memo, Scrapbooker, Screen Writer, S Finder, and Pen window. Here are a few other things air command can do.

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These are for stock Samsung apps only, so they're pretty niche.

Action Memo is a way to jot down a quick note. We'll cover it in more detail soon.

Scrapbooker is a separate app, which we'll also get into in more detail shortly.

Screen write is a simple, useful feature - the system takes a screenshot (sans air command UI), and then you can draw on and save it. Easy.

S Finder is, again, a separate app I'll get into soon.

Pen Window is an interesting, albeit in general useless, feature that allows you to draw a window of a given size (just make a rough rectangle), and then launch a floating app in that window. There are 7 apps by default that support the feature: calculator, clock, YouTube, phone, contacts, Hangouts, and Samsung's stock browser app. Why not just make this a way to launch floating apps you can then resize without the trouble of drawing the box? Seems a bit silly to go through all that trouble.

So that's air command.

S Pen options

The S Pen has continued to evolve with the release of the Note 3, though some of the features found here actually debuted with the Note 8.0. I'm doing this from a standpoint more in line with the Note II in terms of "what's new," though, so excuse me if any of this is rehash.

There's a feature called S Pen keeper that will cause your phone to alert you if it thinks you're walking away without the S Pen. That's definitely pretty cool. I tested it, it works.

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You can configure the S Pen to auto-launch the air command UI or an action memo as soon as you take it out, or to do nothing at all. The sound the phone makes when the pen is removed can also be altered, with three options available (plus an option for no sound). You can also set the Note 3 to turn off pen detection when the pen is attached to the phone, which apparently can reduce battery consumption.

Finally, there's direct pen input, which is a replacement for the old handwriting entry box system that's part of the stock Samsung keyboard (which oddly, is still there, though totally nonfunctional). Turn on direct pen input, and every time you hover over a text box with the pen, a small icon will appear. Tap it, and a pop-up window emerges with space for you to handwrite your text. It works very similarly to the old system on the keyboard, but seems a little quicker. It works well, if you have a desire to use such a feature.

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That about covers the S Pen configuration options.

Action Memo

Action Memo is a new app that really doesn't need to be a new app (it does one special thing that could easily be integrated into S Note). Regardless, Samsung has decided to package it as such. The purpose of Action Memos is to link a note you've jotted down to, wait for it, an action of some sort! The feature is actually pretty cool, I must admit. It's definitely interesting enough that it has me considering using the S Pen more. Here's how it works.

While holding the button on the S Pen (annoying!), double tap anywhere on the screen with the pen. This will work in just about any app, too, as by holding down the S Pen button you're telling the system not to register the taps as normal touch input. Anyway, you'll then see a notepad pop up, on which you can write things.

Let's say someone's giving you a phone number or an email address, and you don't want to go through the hassle of creating a new contact card for them right now, and you just decide to jot down the info on a piece of paper. Well, with Action Memo, you can smarten up this process quite a lot - in theory.

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Open up an action memo (easily done), and start writing the information like you would on the paper (name, email / phone number), with each field getting a line. Then, hit the lasso button up at the top-left. It should auto-select what you've written, though you can custom select if you want only certain information to be recognized. Then, you get a little pop-up list of options: phone, contact, message, email, web, map, and task. So if we have Bob Robertson, his phone number and email, as pictured below, and hit contact, it will start the process of creating a new contact for Bob with the name, phone, and email pre-entered as written.

Unfortunately, Action Memo has some rather frustrating limitations at the moment. For sending a text message, for example, all you can get it to do is recognize and pre-fill the recipient, and it has to be formatted as a phone number. It does not recognize contact names. So that's pretty useless.

The handwriting recognition is also very unforgiving with spaces - give your words a wide berth between one another. Action Memo will not recognize text written in landscape (how hard could that really be to do?), and the app is portrait mode only, making long names or email addresses rather difficult to enter on a single line.

I will say this is an ambitious feature, and it's Samsung's first stab at it, so it probably needs a little more time to get fully baked just yet. But I do like where it's going.

S Finder

Yes, they called it a finder. S Finder is a local and cloud search service synced to your Samsung account, and the app itself is actually quite beautifully organized. There are three basic filter layers you can apply to any search: timeframe, content type, and tags (you have to have tagged content previously for this to work). You can launch S Finder instantly by long-pressing on the menu key at any time or through the air command interface.

The content filter gives you an idea of what you can expect to find in results: handwriting (Action Memos, S Notes), notes (includes typed notes), communication (call logs, SMS, probably ChatON), help (help with your phone), images, music, videos, personal information (calendar events, contacts), or just do a web search. In this sense, you can probably see why Samsung has gone about creating S Finder - it can do quite a bit more than your average search app. At present, there are also quite a few 3rd party apps that can integrated with S Finder. Here are the ones I've noticed (read: installed) on my device:

  • Google Chrome
  • Google Drive
  • eBay
  • Foursquare
  • PayPal
  • TripAdvisor
  • Amazon Mobile
  • Amazon MP3
  • IMDB
  • Yelp
  • Google Translate
  • Zillow

Unfortunately, the integration is really hit or miss. Mostly miss, actually. If I enable all these apps to be included as potential results in S Finder searches, the output gets heavily polluted with irrelevant information. For example, if I search "Robert Redord," I get suggestions from eBay, Amazon, and web search, but not IMDB. If I do a search for "Rob," I get results from eBay (suggestion: rob), Amazon (suggestion: robin thicke blurrred lines), IMDB (suggestion: RoboCop, Emma Roberts), Yelp (suggestion: roberts restaurant, robek), and web search, along with a few other local results. It really doesn't make sense, so you're probably best off just turning all this stuff off if you even want to use S Finder in this first place.

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All that aside, the S Finder app is absolutely gorgeous, in my opinion, and it's good to see Samsung focusing in on design and aesthetics more with its software products. I can imagine TouchWiz is due for a pretty major visual overhaul sometime in the next year, and apps like this are probably teasing what that experience will look like, to an extent.

One of the other cool features in S Finder is the ability to share certain content (generally, only from Samsung apps) directly from your search results. So if you search for images taken in the last 7 days tagged #vacation, you can hit menu, then share, and then select the images you want to use the share intent on. That's handy.

S Finder is clearly, like Action Memo, a work in progress. It has some interesting features, but it's not something I'd see myself using regularly at this point. But it does make me genuinely believe Samsung wants to develop a powerful, "grown-up" software suite for its devices, rather than simply adorn Android with a theme and a few customization options.

My Magazine

Samsung's My Magazine feature is a completely shameless response to BlinkFeed - there is no way around that fact. Seeing the generally widespread praise BlinkFeed achieved, Samsung set out to deepen its partnership with Flipboard, and My Magazine is the result.

The thing is, though, Samsung's ended up with something that is arguably better than BlinkFeed in many respects. For starters, My Magazine does not eat up one of your homescreens. Instead, it's launched by pressing the home button while you're already on your main homescreen, or by pulling up from the bottom of any homescreen. As far as I can tell, these are actually the only ways to get to it, suggesting it actually lives inside the launcher process.

Screenshot_2013-10-01-16-26-30 Screenshot_2013-10-01-16-27-18 Screenshot_2013-10-01-16-27-03

My Magazine has, at the moment, 4 tabs: News, Personal, Here & Now, and Social. News is what it sounds like - a dumbed-down version of Flipboard that allows you to select generic topics (there are 18 topics) to put into the news feed. Obviously, Samsung isn't targeting existing Flipboard users here - this is a very casual sort of feature. This does make it slightly less powerful than BlinkFeed, which has the option to select specific "featured" publications, something My Magazine lacks.

My Magazine makes up for this, though, with those 4 tabs. I don't use any of BlinkFeed's social / content integration because it pollutes the quality of the news feed - you only get one feed in BlinkFeed, and if it's full of random calendar events and photos I took a month ago, it becomes pretty useless. Samsung had the foresight to separate this all out. Social houses your social accounts, with a wide variety supported (Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Flickr, Tumblr, 500px, SINA Weibo, Renren, YouTube), though oddly missing Facebook. Personal pulls from a number of Samsung apps, including calendar, email, gallery, SMS, music, phone logs, S Health, S Note, Scrapbook, Story Album, and videos. Any of these can be deselected. Finally, Here & Now pulls "local" (I use it loosely, because the results are often pretty far from me) results for movies, sports, and places. This could include things like highly rated restaurants on Yelp or TripAdvisor, local movie showtimes, or Groupon deals at locations relatively near you.

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Are there purpose-built apps that could do any of these one tasks better than My Magazine? Sure. Is My Magazine a quick and easy way to browse this kind of information while you're waiting in line somewhere or killing time on your phone? Definitely. This feature isn't aimed at power users, but I think for a lot of people it's a sensible, easy tool to work with. And it doesn't get in the way of using your phone - if you don't want it, just disable the home key shortcut and don't pull up from the bottom of a home screen (that also launches it, and cannot be disabled).

The one thing I will say is that the app's performance isn't fantastic. Scrolling through the feed produced noticeable choppiness pretty regularly, though reading actual articles was fine - the paginated animation is also very cool.

S Note

S Note is the replacement app for S Memo, and provides a major update to the aging app. S Note relies on an organization system using notebooks (similar to the folders of S Note), each of which can then house pages of notes you've created. You can customize the covers, names, and even create homescreen shortcuts for your notebooks. Notes can be synced via Evernote or your Samsung account, and you can even now export whole notebooks to Google Drive as SPD files.

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Notes themselves have a variety of improvements over those in the old S Memo app. You can add videos, a greatly expanded selection of clipart and shapes, charts (which you create in the app), scrapbook items, and something called "idea sketches," which are basically black and white clipart that you can also create yourself and save for later.

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There's a brand-new way to create new pages, as well, with templates - there are 13 to choose from, and you can see some of the options below. You can also mark pages as indexes, with a small stripe and a 10 character title to make them stand out from the rest of the pages in a notebook. S Note also ditches the tacky faux leather theme of the old S Memo app, and has a design more in line with that of S Finder - clean and elegant.

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The ability to create charts is probably the most exciting addition to S Note, and they're actually pretty cool once you get the hang of them. You can create tables, bar charts, pie charts, and line graphs. On the bar, line, and pie charts, you actually draw the proportions or values of the variables directly onto the graph. Selecting a particular value will also let you hold and drag to adjust it. The final way to adjust values is direct pen input - just tap on the value, hit the edit icon, and write the number. It's difficult to convey exactly how all this works in text, but suffice it to say, it's pretty dang cool. S Note will cache up to 10 charts you've created for easy insertion in new notes, as well.

I won't get much further into S Note, but as you can see, this is quickly becoming a very powerful app. Samsung is slowly building a case against competitors like Evernote. I will say S Note is rather laggy, though, and that's probably my biggest gripe about the entire app - some tasks are just hideously slow, like opening and closing pages in notebooks.

Scrapbook

Scrapbook is definitely a flyover feature - this new app has grand ambitions, but as far as I'm concerned, is pretty hard to find a use for in practice. The premise of Scrapbook is saving the content you want to remember, look at later, or share with friends. Be it a web page, a funny picture, or a video on YouTube. After scrapbooking something, you can add a note or tags to it for easy reference at a later time.

To actually engage in the scrapbooking action, bring up air command, select scrapbooker, and then draw a circle or rectangle around the content you want to save. If it's a webpage, the URL will be preserved at the top of the scrapbook item. If it's a video, a screenshot of the current frame will be taken.

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Samsung makes it sound like clipping YouTube videos does more than it actually will - if it's a web YouTube clip, it'll save the URL of the page / video and a screen capture. If it's the YouTube app, it'll just save an image of the screen and any text it can recognize (aka useless). Samsung itself seems to have trouble deciding what this app is good for, and I can't really help them out here - it seems like someone wanted to make a high-concept, user-friendly sharing and saving solution but then decided they actually had no idea how to make it into a compelling experience and gave up.

Keyboard

The keyboard on the Note 3 is a substantial upgrade over the abysmal solution that shipped on the Galaxy S4, though only for two reasons. Accuracy seems much improved and automatic word replacement is now supported (yes, it really wasn't until now), though there is no way to adjust the aggressiveness - and it can be very picky, and it occasionally doesn't recognize words that are very obviously words (like "were", which it constantly corrected to "we're" unless I added were to the device dictionary). It is still apparently powered by SwiftKey at some level, as SwiftKey Flow is still an input option.

Screenshot_2013-10-01-16-41-46

Settings

With a new phone comes new things to mess with. Here's what I found, in brief.

  • Settings menu now has new tab categories - connections, device, controls, and general. It makes moderately more sense than the old layout (connections, my device, accounts, more).
  • There's a search bar in all the settings tabs. That's useful I suppose.
  • Location services are now under the connections tab.
  • Kies via Wi-Fi connectivity appears to be gone.
  • Keyboard sound / haptic feedback are now in the sound settings area.
  • You can choose whether or not emergency alerts will cause your phone to emit a tone, vibrate, or do nothing.
  • Hearing aid mode has been added in call settings.
  • S View cover has new options - change background color, display weather info, and walking mate stats.
Other stuff

Here's where the little apps that got random changes go.

  • Calendar: Dropped the faux leather skeuomorphism and brown tones, now themed green.
  • Calculator: Re-themed from raised, circular buttons with faux display to non-skeuomorphic flat square design.
  • Camera: There's a new golf swing shot mode (yes, really), a 360 sphere photo mode (see Camera section), tap to take photo mode, audio zoom on video, and shutter sound is now always on unless your phone is silenced.
  • Gallery: Recolored the navigation bar black.
  • Group Play: Rethemed to a flatter, cleaner design. Can now share video.
  • Browser: Now has a fancy 3D tab management interface, syncs with Samsung account.
  • Messaging: Now has a tabbed settings interface.
  • My Files: Brand-new tile-based interface that shows storage usage based on content type (also shows Dopbox usage), ability to search directly from navigation bar.
  • S Health: Bolder, brighter UI. Removed blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring, presumably because the accessories never panned out. Remember the Samsung scale, activity band, and heart monitor? Yeah, those didn't actually happen.
KNOX

The Galaxy Note 3 is the first Samsung phone to launch with KNOX, Samsung's enterprise-grade security and device management solution. I have literally no idea what kind of administrative capabilities IT departments will have over KNOX, or really a strong understanding of just what makes KNOX so secure. So, those questions are ones I can't answer. Sorry.

I can tell you installing KNOX is super duper easy. Just download the 190MB package, set a password and backup PIN, and you're set to go. KNOX will only run certified apps, making it ideal for enterprises looking to keep their employees' data secure, even on their personal phones. As such, there is no Play Store - just the KNOX app store. The preinstalled apps number just 12, all of them Samsung-developed. The KNOX app store currently houses about a hundred apps from what I can tell, and most of them are indeed quite businessy.

KNOX cannot communicate with your regular profile instance, so as to keep anything you do in KNOX secure. KNOX settings include the ability to set the timeout (the default is 10 minutes before locking, at which point your password is needed to start KNOX again), change the KNOX password, and a notification bar toggle for quick switching in and out of KNOX (switching locks KNOX, as well).

The idea behind KNOX is to be able to empower enterprise employees to have one phone for both work and personal use, with the KNOX profile shielding sensitive information in the event a device is lost or stolen (all information associated with the KNOX profile is encrypted). If you want to learn more about KNOX, check out Samsung's website.

Oh, and I can't get you any screenshots of KNOX - screenshots are disabled when you're using it.

Conclusion

Compared to the Galaxy Note II, the Note 3 is a very substantial leap forward in both hardware and software. It has a much better screen, a much better camera, a much quicker processor, more RAM and storage (as standard), and a more refined design from both an engineering and build quality standpoint. It is anything but incremental in this sense. Samsung's suite of software has also continued to evolve impressively, and while there are still a bunch of rather useless gimmicks packed into this and other Samsung phones, they're easily enough ignored (though they can make the legitimately useful features hard to find sometimes).

The Note's real problem is more aesthetic than functional - TouchWiz looks more dated by the month, and the leather textured back complete with tacky stitching make this anything but a fashionista's phone. That said, Samsung has never really tried to appeal to customers by being chic or "cool" - it's all about the features.

I would be more than happy to call the Note 3 my own. I loved the Note II, and the Note 3 builds and improves on that device in many very real ways. And with Samsung, you have the surety that, at some point, this thing is getting at least a couple of Android version upgrades.

The Note 3 is not for the person desiring the very best camera phone, the biggest or best display, or things like ruggedness and superb build quality. And those are perfectly legitimate desires. To put a bow on it, the Note 3 just feels incredibly well-rounded - a phone with something for everyone, and with advantages anyone can appreciate. It has its flaws, but it more than makes up for them by excelling in a wide variety of areas, rather than just a select few. And that's what I think makes the Note 3 a great phone - it's focused on the big picture.

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David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Edward Smith

    Leather is a great idea, more people like it, but on the other hand more people in the tech industry prefer matte or metal to everything. Depends on who you are and what you like.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Key word there is *fake* leather. If it was real leather, I'd be more puzzled and surprised than disgusted. Though I have no idea how leather would work out for heat dissipation. I just have a problem with products that try to emulate materials as a way to look "premium" rather than just using the material.

      • Mastermind26

        The car companies have been implementing faux leather for years!
        Just putting that out there. :P

        • Freak4Dell

          That's true, but even the fake leather they put out is actually of pretty good quality. You can't even tell the difference in a lot of the modern cars. They use stuff that feels like leather, looks like leather, and is pliable like leather. What Samsung has done is more like how car manufacturers like to use plastic that's painted to look like brushed aluminum (actually, Samsung has been doing that for some time, too). Admittedly, I'll take the fake aluminum in cars over the glossy wood crap, but I still wish they would just use the real thing.

          • spydie

            He was talking about the fake leather plastic in cars, not the soft faux leather. Let's compare apples to apples (or android to android?). The fake leather plastic has been in cars for many, many years and nobody complains about the texture. There's a reason for it, and that reason will show up on your phone too, just wait and see!

          • Mastermind26

            Yes! Thank you for the clarification to my point. :)

          • Freak4Dell

            What fake leather plastic? You mean the stuff on the dashboard? I didn't realize anybody was trying to pass that off as leather.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Faux leather != plastic, which is the case here.

          • Mastermind26

            Artem, see spydie's reply. :)

          • Amer Khaznadar

            Pun intended?

      • spydie

        A lot of people actually like the NEW look. I'm one of them. Can't wait to get mine on Oct 10 (Verizon is always last, but with the best LTE)

  • Bleakvision

    Nice fight Club reference!

  • Mike Reid

    Very hard for me to support any company putting SIM locks on "unlocked" phones, then not accurately describing such locks, and with the promise of locks coming on my "unlocked" GS3 in a future update.

    And yes, there are still major unresolved issues, despite what Sammy and some people have been saying about simple workarounds.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      As I understand it, if you buy the phone in its home region, then activate a SIM from that region in the phone, the lock is permanently disabled, and the phone can be used anywhere in the world.

      Those who would be affected are ones who bought a phone online that was originally sold in another region to a reseller who then imported it into another country. That phone would be locked if it's not in its home region.

      • mrjayviper

        wouldn't affect those getting their phones from local telco but still a shit move

        • Mike Reid

          Apparently it CAN affect SOME such people, when they go to a foreign country and try to use a cheap local SIM instead of paying stupid expensive roaming fees.

          It's a shittier move when it may affect we who bought an unlocked GS3 16 months ago, when updates are released.

          • João Deiró

            I thought that, once activated, the phone could be used with any SIM card, no?

            The guy on the video should have inserted the UAE SIM again, after inserting the UK one to test that.

          • NonAppleholic

            Get off the FUD..... buddy. Your Tin Foil Hat is showing!

            There is no update coming from Samsung to enable it anywhere on used phones. This is a smart move to kill the grey market industry's scalping people in other regions. Buying them cheaper in USA or Asia and selling them in more expensive markets, where like in the UK or India you pay the taxes as part of the price. So it's just cheap con artists that really care anyway.... who are losing their grey market customers!

            If you're in the USA..... you have no real reason to be so freaked out over this. Because in reality only around 15% of Americans ever leave their New York City cracker box flats or redneck hillbilly shack in the woods. Especially since we pay less than anyone else in the World, so why even consider buying an import?

      • Freak4Dell

        Some reports seem to indicate this is not actually the case.

        http://androidfannetwork.com/2013/10/02/the-lies-of-samsunggalaxy-note-3-is-infact-region-locked/

        Wonder what lies Samsung is going to come up with in response to this.

      • ProductFRED
    • Aruno

      I just wonder about the grey market people buying cheap prepaid SIMs to activate the phones locally before exporting to the more expensive markets? How are they going to prevent that?

  • Shadab

    "there's little denying they've developed features that have legitimate uses, and that their phones have a degree of functional versatility that remains unmatched by any of their competitors" - I have now got bored using stock android. I want OEMs now fight for software instead for hardware specs.

  • batterylife

    Since the reviewer openly admitted a bit of difficulty getting a true sense for battery life thanks to the Sprint issues, other reviews I've seen are actually not putting the Note 3 in the same class as the battery life of the G2, with the Note 3 actually getting around 4 hours less during a screen-on & web browsing stress test. While the Note 3 has the ability to switch to a spare battery, just wanted to mention this. Was expecting the 3200mah in the Note 3 to be the best of the best, but not so.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Brian Klug's review at Anandtech with various battery drain benchmarks put it in a dead heat against the G2. If you're referring to the Exynos Note 3, that's a completely different chipset, and may have very different battery life characteristics.

  • spydie

    Just barely started reading it and already I'm tired of it being compared to the S4. For God's sake, compare it to the Note 2. That's where your audience is. Note 2 people are moving up to the Note 3. The S4 people probably aren't and couldn't care less!

    • ProductFRED

      I actually went Note 2 -> S4 (specwhore) -> and now going to Note 3. We do care :)

      • spydie

        You're the exception, I'd say. Most people that love the S-pen can't give it up for any new specs

        • ProductFRED

          I did/do love the S-Pen. I also like the fact that the S4's screen isn't tinted blue, and that it's generally a smoother experience. However, I agree it's an entirely different line of device.

        • yankeesusa

          Agreed, I really like the s4 but I like the htc one better but over both of those I like my note 2 better and part of that reason is the bigger screen and the spen. I use that thing all the time. I love being able to just pull out the spen and taking a quick note.

    • r1fo

      +1 for saying "couldn't care less" rather than "could care less". Pet Peeve

      • Ivan Myring

        Have you seen the David Mitchell's soapbox about it. He rages a lot

      • mikeydillon5

        Mine is the improper use of their, there and they're. Drives me nuts for some reason because it is not that hard people! Lmao

  • Ivan

    I really don't see need for upgrade from Note 2 to 3... :-)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Really? I do. The extra RAM and speed is what my Note II is suffering from now. A better camera and finally Android 4.3 are very nice additions as well. I'll be splurging come Friday (AT&T).

      • j¤n Gårrëtt [5,000+]

        Im holding onto my Note 1 for the same reasons Ivan stated. neither the II or III impress me. in some ways, they've gotten worse.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          In what ways did they get worse, especially Note 1 -> 2?

          • EH101

            Umm, let me think... Oh yeah, none. Lol.

          • xxx

            Note 1 -> 2:
            - worse aspect ratio (16:10 => 16:9), decreased resolution (although Note 2 has RGB)
            - Note 2 is ugly (same as S3). Note 1&3 are much nicer. Back cover is slimy.

          • yankeesusa

            Don't know how it is worse. It is just a matter of getting used to it. Plus the quality of pictures and video on note 2 is way better than note 1. As far as being ugly, that's an opinion. Plus most people put a case on their phones. It cracks me up seeing all these iphone people putting cases on their iphones and having to get a case that always shows the apple even if it opens the phone up to damage. Always amazes me.

        • yankeesusa

          Can you explain how they have gotten worse? The features are the same. The phone is just as fast even with a bunch of apps and I used to have a custom rom that was a beast but now I'm just rooted with stock and the difference isn't too much. My phone is as fast as ever. What exactly has gotten worse for you?

      • ProductFRED

        I'd buy the T-Mobile version even if you intend on using it on AT&T. For one, it's fully compatible with all bands and features on AT&T. For another, it doesn't contain a modem-level RAT Lock to prevent you from switching network modes (turning off LTE, for example). It also doesn't have a locked bootloader, doesn't have a removed "Network Mode" menu, and has Wifi-Calling in case you decide to switch to T-Mobile down the road.

        • EH101

          I'm in CDMA/LTE world, but this is very good information for those on the GSM/LTE side of things. Appreciate it.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          See, I was thinking of using up my upgrade this time since I'm planning on staying with AT&T for a while. If I ever decide to leave, I'll pay the ETF. Don't see the downside, might as well save some money now and pay full price on the next upgrade instead of full price twice. Is there any flaw in this approach?

          • yankeesusa

            Have you tried T-Mobile? I just gave them a shot and my wife loves them. In my area we get 2g once in a while when we travel to the outskirts of the city but over 90% of the time I have 4g even inside buildings. Plus the data speed never goes below 5mbps. I actually just got 14mbps on hspa+.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            I have, and in my tests, though that was before LTE, it was much worse than AT&T in the SF area.

          • Brandon Fletcher

            I switched to T-Mobile after a decade of dial-up data on Sprint. The HSPA+ 4G (about 12Mbps around here) is consistently faster than Sprint's LTE (it's a joke in this city), and sometimes faster than AT&T's LTE here. T-Mobile is ahead of the game on their LTE rollout in my city, as I've already seen it pop a few times. When I do tests in official LTE cities around the state, I get a pretty solid 25-30 Mbps, which is good enough for my money any time of the day.

          • NonAppleholic

            Maybe in your city, but they don't have the wide spread coverage of any of their top competition. But I will admit.... that their LTE plans are way ahead of all the competition. By using their full spectrum for everything from 2G to HSPA+ to LTE!

            They also have great plans for greater populated city areas. But if you live in the boonies, T-mobile is still your worst option! ......because apparently they didn't sign on for AT&T shared tower use here!

          • ProductFRED

            Use the upgrade, sell the AT&T version as BNIB (Brand New In Box) or LNIB (Like New) if you keep it spotless. Then buy a T-Mobile version with the money. There's really no reason whatsoever to use an AT&T version over a T-Mobile version, even if you're on AT&T.

        • Tony Sarju

          Great information!

      • squiddy20

        "The extra RAM and speed is what my Note II is suffering from now."
        Because Touchwiz/Nature UI/whatever-they're-calling-it-these-days is entirely too bloated.

        • ari_free

          More likely they just never really put in the effort to optimize Touchwiz. Lots of features don't make things slow.

        • yankeesusa

          My note 2 is still hanging on and fast as ever. I hope the update to 4.3 will make it even smoother till I can upgrade to Note 3. To me the only phone that can take my Note 2's place is another note. The Note 3 looks amazing. I was thinking of selling it and getting the htc one in the meantime but for the last 3 days Ive been using the stylus a lot and I love using it. For now the note 2 will continue to be my main phone. I just can't give up the screen and capabilities.

      • mrjayviper

        I often check the RAM usage on my note2 and it's often at 800MB unused. More is better of course just not sure what to do with the extra GB.

      • le10017

        mine is sluggish too, but doing a factory reset really helps getting it back to speed. regardless, i'm all over the note3 too....already ordered a case before getting the phone :)

      • Herman

        But is it worth the extra money?

        That's where I'd be at (if I had the Note II).
        No matter how much I love smartphones, I just can't buy 'em all or upgrade every year.

      • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

        Ah you lucky bastard. I had JUST gotten my note 2 six months ago, and now I'm drooling over the 3 with no way to pay for one.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Usually, you can sell back your current device for a decent chunk of change and then kick in maybe $200 for the difference. It kind of works out if you like to upgrade early.

          • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

            Well, I bought my note 2 from a BestBuy mobile so I'm not sure how that'd work, unless you're talking third party resale.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Yeah, sell it on Swappa, eBay, or Craigslist. You'll get much more money than a trade-in. Trade-ins are rip-offs.

          • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

            Thanks for the tip, I'll be sure to look into it. College has really taken a toll on my splurging abilities lately.

      • cdlq456

        The Note 2 suffering for having "only" 2Gb of RAM and "only" an quad core processor? Wow, what do you do with your phone? Mine is full of apps yet it runs like a charm. There must be something wrong with you as an user or with your phone.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          How many apps do you have installed?

          • EH101

            This.

            After you get over 200 apps, TW really bogs down. I just switched to an AOSP rom (Pacman) and it isn't slowing in the least.

            Also, I'm still waiting for a home launcher that sorts apps into different tabs using the 'category' tag in the AndroidManifest.xml. Not sure if possible, but it would be awesome.

          • cdlq456

            I have nearly 180 apps, I haven't noticed any lag at all, and I consider myself very very picky in terms of smoothness.

            I tried AOSP ROMS, CM, PacMan, and didn't notice any performance improvement in comparison with stock (both ran perfectly smoothly), but there were a lot of annoying graphical glitches on AOSP, so I end coming back to TouchWiz.

            I mean, yes, of course there will be an improvement, that's for sure, the S800 is faster than the Exynos 4, and 3GB of RAM is always better than 2GB. But I really don't think you will notice any difference right now, maybe in the future the Note 2 will start lagging before the Note 3, but right now both of them offer the same experience (obviously, in terms of performance).

          • cscharenberg

            How do things change on the Note using CM or other ROM? Does the S-Pen still have the same utility? Do you lose the Samsung apps like S-Note that seem to take good advantage of the pen?

            I've though about going to the Note but I love playing with ROMs to customize my phone. Knowing I can get the S-Pen features no matter what ROM I'm running might push me into buying.

            thanks in advance!

          • cdlq456

            If you use a custom rom based on TouchWiz, you will have all the Samsung apps like in stock roms, including all the S-Pen features. There are plenty of them on the Android Development section on XDA (not "Original").

            However, if you go with custom roms based on AOSP, like CyanogenMod, ParanoidAndroid, AOKP, you will loose all the Samsung apps. The S-Pen will work, but just as a regular stylus (for example, you will not have the "point" cursor on the screen)

            In my opinion, AOSP based roms have the advantage of how they look, TouchWiz is not as pretty as stock Android. But those are not very stable, there are some graphical glitches due to the lack of proper drivers for the Exynos 4. They are usable, but not perfect, and also you will loose the special features of the S-Pen.

            Try them by yourself, you can always go back to stock if you don't like something.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Yup, I got over 200 and the responsiveness is gone. The Note 3 is pretty great with the same number so far.

    • Brandon Fletcher

      Having spent a couple days with my Note 3, my Note 2 feels really dated, especially in the screen/brightness category. The Note 2 no longer feels like a premium phone, but a mid-range budget handset. The difference is pretty large once you spend time with the Note 3.

    • FairySac

      I didn't see a need to upgrade from the Note to Note 2, so I didn't. It is definitely worth making a jump to the Note 3 for me, except on price. I'm going to wait a few weeks to see if the price drops. It's a cool phone, but not worth $299.

  • Gnex

    Wow, that's one big ass spider.

  • http://www.linuxdistroreview.com/ Bo

    Thanks for the review. I don't understand how come Samsung doesn't realize that if they made TouchWiz look good, this phone (and other Galaxy phones) would be IDEAL.

  • GraveUypo

    might want to take another look at that usb 3.0 thing.

    from anadtech:

    "Update: USB 3.0 does work on the Note 3, but only when connected to a Windows PC with USB 3.0. Doing so brings up a new option in the "USB Computer Connection" picker with USB 3.0 as an option. Ticking this alerts you that using USB 3.0 might interfere with calls and data, but then switches over. Connection transfer speed is indeed faster in this mode as well, like you'd expect."

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Ah, noted. I will correct that, indeed. I wrote that on my laptop, which doesn't have USB3.

  • senor_heisenberg

    Nice review. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending how one looks at it), a Samsung device will never be right for me. I do wish more phones came with a stylus / digitizer pen, though. If the Xperia Z Ultra wasn't so damn huge, I think it would be a good alternative to the Note. You can use a real pen or pencil with it, so it seems to have a very accurate screen for writing and drawing.

    • JBS

      I've been using the ZU for a week now. It took a while to get used to.. but it feels practical to use, and even pockatable.

  • Matthew Merrick

    But, but, I LOVE cargo pants… ._.

    • j¤n Gårrëtt [5,000+]

      I still wear them. much more comfortable than those metrosexual skinny jeans everybody's wearing.

      • blast0id

        "rocking gay apparel, them jeans'll make you sterile" - Apathy [Stop what ya doin] - http://rapgenius.com/Apathy-stop-what-ya-doin-lyrics#note-452609

        • John Paul Wile

          Demigodz FTW

          • David

            Yeah man screw the haters. We're dudes. If you wanna wear cargo paints I'm not gonna talk fashion.

        • NonAppleholic

          Looks like that dude's already been castrated! lol.... I'd still wear cargo pants over those any day. At least you can pack your lunch, phone, tablet pc, beers and drugs with you where ever you went! ;-P ......and still have room for an extra set of balls if you got 'em!!!

      • Sean Royce

        Mate, I love me skinny jeans, fuck off.

        • Spinkick

          Put on some tights, nancy

          • Sean Royce

            No, thanks.

        • RockstarAgent

          I wear skinny jeans under my cargo pants. More to love.

        • George Millhouse

          skinny jeans ? really?
          Metrosexual much? or.......

          • Sean Royce

            Plenty of straight men wear them.

          • George Millhouse

            like i said ....Metrosexual men
            did that word not compute? lol

          • Sean Royce

            Wearing skinny jeans doesn't make you metrosexual at all.

          • Spinkick

            Actually metrosexual means you care about how you look to a high degree, so you are technically correct. Shouldnt you be reading "the verge"

          • Sean Royce

            The verge is shit. And I generally care about how I look, but I don't go shopping all the time if that's what you mean.

      • PamelaLibrarian

        My eyes thank you for that.

    • commancheninja

      http://youtu.be/S1aLqMJPQC4

      AND here is a Note 3 user destroying an Iphone user with no cargo pants

  • John O’Connor

    This -> "If that's not your thing, set it to dynamic mode and you'll have your Crayola acid trip effect going on in no time"

    "So here's the thing about reviewing a Sprint phone: Sprint really sucks in, I don't know, 95% of the country. And as such, I was constantly flipping between 3G and LTE where I live, which pretty muchwrecks the battery."

    ~~~ Samsung opted not to put in Multiband Sprint LTE support (lacks 800mhz LTE support), so if you are a Sprint customer hoping to take advantages of the lower band coverage for LTE, bypass this device for now.

    "The Note 3, finally, ships with 32GB of onboard storage as standard." ~~ IT'S ABOUT TIME!

    • Freak4Dell

      I don't understand why companies keep sending him Sprint phones to review when he clearly always states that Sprint sucks in his reviews.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        Probably because Sprint most desperately wants the publicity, and is willing to sign off on the most units.

        • Freak4Dell

          I don't know...seems like this is one of those cases where "any publicity is good publicity" doesn't really apply. But then again, I wouldn't expect the idiots at Sprint to know that.

        • Joshua

          It's doing less and less to make me want to be a Sprint customer. I'm using Verizon and I love having solid coverage anywhere I step. I don't think I could give that up for ANY amount of publicity.

  • angel_spain

    One of the best things in the Note 2 was that the sreen was much bigger than the competitors'. But now with so many 5" and 5.2" screens....I'm not so sure if I would go for a Note 3.

  • smeddy

    David: I sense you're an Arrested Development fan

  • spydie

    those s-pen functions are pretty much all on the Note 2, like the pen detect when you walk away from your pen and the rest. Nothing new there except the popup box for the handwriting.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Whoops. Didn't have a Note II to compare to directly.

  • j¤n Gårrëtt [5,000+]

    I played around with one today at my local AT&T store but I was not impressed. I'm still holding onto the Note I but the Note II & now III have not given me a reason to upgrade it.

    What's with the ugly UI for the dialer !! like how did they go from the beauty and elegance of the S3's dialer to the crap they've put on the S4 and Note III?

    Also the calendar has gotten progressively worse. the absolute best is the calendar on the Note 1.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Does AT&T already have them in stock and up for sale?

      • charles anderson

        Not around me they did not i got a tmobile one myself and though i hate samsung i will admit that im am in love ....goodbye HTC ONE you were a great friend but its time to retire you :-) ,:-(

    • smeddy

      Coming from the Note 1, I wasn't going to get one either - or at least, not for six months or so until prices came down.

      Then my phone was nicked two days ago. I am gutted - it was my baby. But its forcing me to take the plunge in four hours, so... Yay! I guess :)

      • FairySac

        I'm holding onto my Note I until the price of the Note 3 drops down to $199. I think it will happen in a couple weeks when they see sales aren't that great. Just what happened with the iPhone 5c. It's a far superior phone then the Note 1, but it isn't worth $299.

    • simp1istic

      Beauty and elegance.... Of anything on the s3?

  • Chris.

    "Gimmicks: Samsung has added some legitimately useful features to the Note 3. It also hasn't really removed any of the stupider ones." LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
    Your Opinions don't count. It's facts that do.

  • Stiggy

    Damnit David. Taking close up shots of spiders. Fuck you too.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Well, they stay still and have lots of detail to capture.

      • George Millhouse

        so do dead bodies!

  • Nick Tsiotinos

    Gonna have to get cargo pants to carry this sucker around....

  • stubbs

    That last pic shows an all black Note 3 - even the trim on the side is black. Where'd you get that?

    • John Paul Wile

      Yeah I noticed that too, murda'd out.

      • MrMLK

        It looks like a skinny little case. I wonder what it is.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      It's just an underexposed photo. It's the same phone.

      • JaizukeD

        I want to believe this is a real phone ): so sexy.

    • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

      Probably taken at IFA when the Note 3 was announced.

  • Mystery Man

    Once Nexus 5 announcement is made and 2300mah battery is confirmed I'll be getting this -_-

  • lee

    The smart stabilisation option improves camera low light performance.

  • David Dudovitz

    Pro Samsung and anti cargo pants... you've lost me before I've even begun.

  • Safwan Chowdhury

    does it still suffer from the wake up lag that is commonly found on samsung phones (eg sgs2/3, note 1/2)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      A bit, I guess. I don't notice it anymore.

  • Benny Lee Mun Ngor

    The SPEN works very well too with the HOME button !! Maybe your unit home button is problematic

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      What do you mean? It doesn't respond to capacitive touch, only pressing.

  • Stuart Anderson

    Still seems like a bunch of extra crap.

  • jesuguru

    "The 5.7" display on the Galaxy Note 3 is largely reminiscent of the one you'll find on the Galaxy S III - in all but two respects: size and brightness."

    Pretty sure you meant S4, not S3, could be wrong.

    "And with Samsung, you have the surety that, at some point, this thing is getting at least a couple of Android version upgrades."

    I'm lacking this surety... my Note 2 is still patiently waiting for an upgrade to the 4.1.2 it's been stuck on for a while.

    • Joshua

      The official word is that the Note 2 is going to skip 4.2 and get an update straight to 4.3, which I think would qualify as a couple version updates, lol.

      Personally, I think I'm going to pass on that one, too, or at least I will at first. I demand the ability to root, and until a 4.3 root method is found, I'm gonna stick to my rooted 4.1.1.

  • Ivan Petkovic

    "Yes, they called it a finder."
    Haha. Ha.
    Unrelated, I want that phone - though that regional lock may affect me, I travel, and I only use only one phone at a time.

    • Elf of Realm

      Region lock only applies to the first Sim used. After You activate with the appropriate Sim from your region you are free to Switch. The feature targets phone distributors that buy low in one region and sell at a profit in another.

  • fonix232

    I have a few slight issues with this review, compared with the LG G2's:
    - Battery. The G2's test basically was a bashing on LG, and one major point was the battery. As it was the US model, with a 3000mAh battery built in, I don't see how it got the "crap" while Samsung's slightly larger, 3200mAh battery gets the praise. Someone please explain?
    - Camera. I don't see how this phone can be superior to the G2 either. I had the chance to try them both at a local 3 store, and I have to say, side-by-side, in good lighting, inside, the G2 can blaze off the Note 3 from the field.
    - Bottom firing speakers - now these got their heat in both reviews. I don't see a problem with them, though, as it reduces the clutter on the back, and also it helps keeping the phone clean(er) - in my experience, the speaker hole is the biggest dirt collector of all times.

    Now, there are only a few pros of the N3 over the G2:
    - Screen. Not the size, but the quality. The G2's IPS panel is nice, but the AMOLED in the Note is a lot better.
    - S Pen - every phone should have it. Though with a custom ROM, all the extra stuff disappears.
    - USB3

    Why I wouldn't (and will not) choose it over the G2:
    - Giant screen
    - Availability
    - Hardware buttons - seriously, Samsung, stop it!
    - Faux leather back, faux aluminum side. If you want quality feel, go with the real stuff. Nobody wants a fake phone today.
    - Samsung.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I'm not sure what G2 review you're referring to, because it's certainly not mine.

      "Excellent battery life."
      "The camera is very good, and is the first phone I've used that compares well to the Galaxy S4 in terms of fine detail."

      http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/09/19/lg-g2-review-a-pretty-good-phone-held-back-by-some-pretty-not-good-software/

      In addition, the G2's speaker is objectively inferior to the S4 / HTC One in both volume and quality. It's not even in the same league. The Note 3's, at least, matches the S4's for quality and is only a bit quieter.

      • fonix232

        Ah, sorry, my fault. Mixed up with another review (been reading all the G2 stuff lately, at least 15 reviews so far).

        I agree on the speaker part - it is not loud, not at all. But I'm not talking about the volume or speaker quality, but its direction. Directing the speaker on the bottom, as I wrote, saves a lot of hassle from keeping it clean(er). As I don't use the external speaker too much (that's why we have docks and BT speakers, dammit!), I don't really care about the quality and volume - they are mostly used in speakerphone mode, or in Hangouts, and neither requires high volume or excellent listening quality as long as I can hear the other party.

        Also reading your review again, yours is the one I tagged as the "most objective, most reliable" one. And now I think I again know for sure why I always visit AndroidPolice first.

  • Jonathan Cammisuli

    I thought Samsung used some sort of Swype, rather than SwiftKey?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      No.

      • Jonathan Cammisuli

        Yea, that's my bad. They used to use it. :p

  • BFS

    To get the "Night Mode" back, in some Note3 variants, you must enable Smart Stabilization in the camera’s settings menu.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Those shots are in night mode. Smart stabilization auto-enables in the dark. I'm not sure why that's confusing people.

  • ack

    Ummm... David, FYI, the Note 3 was rated as having the best display of any phone.
    http://bgr.com/2013/10/01/samsung-galaxy-note-3-display-analysis/
    http://www.displaymate.com/Galaxy_Note3_ShootOut_1.htm

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      No, they didn't. They said it's better than the Galaxy S4's and Note II's. BGR is wrong. I also find DisplayMate's definition of "best" to be based on factors they have concluded are important, just as arbitrary as anyone else's definition, they just do it with numbers.

      If the "best" display is determined by the sharpness, brightness white balance, and color accuracy, the Note 3 is still a long way from the top.

  • Chris

    This is a great review. I'm still completely happy with my Note 2 and don't think I'll be upgrading. It's crazy because before the Note 2, I'd have a new phone every 3-8 months...now I've finally found a phone I'm happy with, does everything I need, powers through tasks, takes great pictures, and even keeps me happy when it's predecessor is released.

    I'm excited for the next Note. I'm really hoping Touch Wiz is thrown out/redone...but I probably would've said the same thing when seeing the GS3 hoping the GS4 would have a software redesign...

  • commancheninja

    Would this review have been different if Sprint had a TRI BAND Note 3?

  • Jack

    Its nice to see a review which calls this a phone, because thats what it is, a smartphone. Im sick of the reviews still asking is this a phone or a tablet. Yes its much bigger than an iphone, but its still a fucking phone! Compare this to The Guardian review to see the difference between good and bad journalism.

  • Jack

    This should really be a sticky. Already relegated to page 2.

  • UniBroW

    I pulled the plug yesterday and ordered myself a note 3, I have 30 days to decide if i want to keep it or not. Ditched sprint in the process and went T-mobile. not happy about losing Google wallet functionality but the wifi calling and sprint's lack luster service here were driving forces.

    thought for sure i was going nexus 5 this time around, and still may i suppose, but no concrete information and this review made me a believer. t-mobile's 0 down 0% financing certainly helped too.

  • Faye B. Yandell

    my dads buddy got a nearly new black Buick Encore SUV just
    by part-time work from a laptop... hop over to these guys, BIG44.­c­o­m

  • London

    A Samsung Rep allowed me to put my mitts on a Note 3 here state side a full three weeks before launch. One thing I noticed right away was the oleophobic screen on his version. Can anyone tell me if the production models have this feature?? Such a big beautiful screen it was nice to see it fingerprint free...

  • Caleb Gorman

    I disagree with the conclusion. I think the textured back looks great, and is something that will make it unique compared to other plasticy smartphones. Also, in my opinion, touchwiz is finally becoming usable. Yes, there are a ton of gimmicks to it, but the overall user interface has come a long way.

  • Nadeem Ansari

    Now download any video from any website, be it FLV MP4 MPEG MKV AVI MOV you name it. Check out the best video downloaders for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8 & 7 right here http://goo.gl/T8FlD2

  • Vetal

    I went to buy this phone today on t-mobile, played with it for about 30 min in the store. I just couldn't fathom paying $708 for this phone. I thought people where exaggerating on the hideousness of the back now i know they were not. It feels so cheep, the stitching looks very unnatural. It has tons of features and after playing with it for just a little bit I realized I wouldn't use 95% of them. So i left the store with my nexus 4 felling better than when I went in.

  • FreedomCostsPlenty

    Samsung took some nice parts out of the parts bin and puked all over them with touchwiz. That's my review. Faux stitching? Does anyone in Korea have the courage to say no?

  • Josh

    "The Note 3 is a phone addict's phone." Amen!

  • DC_Guy

    OMG picked up mine today. I am so in love with this phone! Samsung has made some great improvements over the Note 2!

  • MarthaJernigan

    My dads companion got a near extra black Buick Encore SUV solely
    By part-time bring about from a laptop... Trip ended to these guys, BIG44.­c­o­m

  • http://www.parafriv.net/ Para Friv

    The phone is very beautiful and personality, I wish I had one to use for the job.

  • Elf of Realm

    The old pen input at the bottom of the screen still works - but you have to download the Samsung Keyboard Update from the Google Play Store first.

  • Tom

    Does the virtual keyboard work in landscape? If yes, has anyone tried touch typing on it with two hands?

    • Tom

      Okay, yes it works in landscape, but can anyone touch type with two hands on it? Granted it wouldn't be with fingers directly above each home key like on an actual keyboard or on a (larger) tablet.

  • PeterBurns

    Really great review David ~ very helpful. I had the Note 2, and just picked up the 3. Even though I don't love everything about it - the display is awesome.

  • Blowntoaster

    noticed this Note 3 is darkish/black where the silver strip should be. (see last pic)
    did you use a black marker or is this the Vader/ Dark Night edition... :-P

  • J the Pond Lady

    Great review, love the in depth look at the features. I've had my Note 3 for days and have learned some things that will really help me take advantage of the features of this wonderful device. Thanks.

  • Timothy Spydah Webb

    Call Issues are popping up however http://community.sprint.com/baw/message/651739

  • NonAppleholic

    Come on already.... dump your Tin Foil Hat Anti Plastic CrAppleholics Fan HATE! It's all based on CrApple's backdoor funded FUD. Mainly because they aren't capable of inventing High Quality High Impact Polycarbonate formulas in their own R&D labs. So they're just jealous of the fact Samsung has been making high quality plastics for over 60yrs. Their plastics have gone into space and it's Infino Brand Polycarbonate is what Bugatti used to make the Veyron's Polycarbonate removable roof out of. So in all actuality anyone that owns a Galaxy Note 3 with it's Infino Brand leather look designed back cover is in excellent company with the Veyron and it's ultra high impact resistant polycarbonate parts in it too. Which aren't exactly cheap by the way either!

    Infino Brand Polycarbonate is a whole lot more than meets the eye. Do some research on just why Samsung chooses to use Polycarbonate just like some of the Top Luxury Automotive Industry leaders do in their cars today. It's mainly because real leather or glass or wood can't take the beating, heat, cold, scratching, drops and remain durable, replaceable and removable like Infino Brand Polycarbonate Plastic.... can! ;-P

    http://www.samsungchemical.com/jsp/eng/pr_center/sm_news_list.jsp

    Just get off the iDeluded belief that Apple's recycled beer cans somehow make better, more durable cases on Apple's dumbed down cheap replicas of Aircraft Grade Aluminum (actually now pot metal die cast cases). It's simply NOT more durable than Infino Brand Polycarbonate and never will be... ever. Because in all honesty it simply can't take the beating that Infino Polycarbonate Leather Look Back Cover on the Galaxy Note 3 can. Durability being only one of it's premium qualities also found in other automotive parts made by Samsung's Cheil Industries in the Bugatti Veyron!!! .....bet you don't think the Veyron's Polycarbonate removable top is cheap looking imitation glass? lol....

    But today Top Brand Luxury Car Makers are using far more Polycarbonate in their designs than any aluminum parts for good reason, that's for sure. Durability and the ability to make them look and feel like near anything they want! :DDD

    btw... And remember this; Aluminum never went to the moon, but Polycarbonate did as the Astronaut's Polycarbonate Bubble Helmets. Plus no aluminum has ever stopped a bullet from killing somebody, like Polycarbonate has!!!

  • John Blair

    I am getting REALLY tired of hearing that "The Note 3 has 3 Microphones" especially when the reviewer is familiar with, and making comparisons to the S4, which, like the Note 3 has 3 HOLES, but only 2 microphones for noise cancellation The 3rd hole on the bottom right side of the phone is the Humidity/Temperature sensor, same as the S4. It's these reviewers JOB to tell us the physical hardware setup in these devices, and 9 out of 10 have missed this most obvious item. This particular reviewer has a BONUS mistake, stating that on the Note 3 "the sensors are arranged just as they are on the Galaxy S4 (seemingly sans RGB light sensor) - so YES they ARE arranged as on the Note 4 - The Note 3 Spec List says it all: SENSOR: Gesture, Accelerometer, Geo-magnetic, Gyroscope, RGB,
    Proximity, Barometer, Temperature & Humidity, Hall Sensor

    Not great on what's is titled a "Deep Dive Review"

  • fallacies

    Have you ever placed your note 2 on a tqble lap or couch when try to watch a movie or video? The speaker location change was absolutely needed...

  • spydie

    the speaker is louder than the note 2!

  • Samantha S

    Can I resize the icons? because I like small icons,,

  • MileHighMami

    I just figured out that u CAN watch the YouTube videos in scrapbook if u DONT update the YouTube app. If u do update the app right away then it will only give u the URL as he said in the article. If u don't update it then u can watch them as said in the 18 min YouTube video released by Samsung. If u already updated it then just simply uninstall the app and it will fix it. I hope this helps anyone who is having that problem.

  • NiagaraTim

    "Oh, and I can't get you any screenshots of KNOX - screenshots are disabled when you're using it."
    - yes you can with any 3rd party screenshot program.. i went into the site and was able to make my own screenshot by shft/cmd 4 (mac) and presto i had my screenshots..

  • debo

    i just purchased the note 3 on Verizon and noticed that it doesn't come with headphones...is that normal? the note 2 had awesome headphones and was looking forward to an upgraded pair...did someone at the store just forget to put it in the box or do they not come packaged with headphones?

    • Fifth313ment

      Sorry I just saw your post a month later while looking up headphone info. My Note 3 from T-Mobile came with a set of buds, which are quite good. According to the post I listed below Verizon is not proviidng heaphones, sorry. :( I wish I could afford Verizon but T-mobile is amazing here in South Florida! I get LTE and HSPDA+ and both are 10+Mb per second and most of the time between 10-30Mb! Even indoors it works! I'm new to having data indoors as I just came from Sprint where I got data NO WHERE I went, lol! :P

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2473677&page=3

  • smarty69

    So after reading that is my brand new note 2 which just cost me £353 still a good buy? :-)............or should I stump up the £600 for a note3? & will my note2 every get Anymore updates :-(

  • lannister

    hi With the Note 3, Samsung does add a little to the pile of toggles and overflow menus, but it has also refined and honed many parts of TouchWiz NatureUX 2.0 (yep, that’s the name) until the next iphone 5s & nouvel ipad 5

  • freedomspopular

    I'm liking the little sprinklings of flatter UI design that we've seen on the Note 3 and Gear. Hopefully the S5 will bring a complete software refresh.

  • someone755

    The leather on the back seems cool. Too bad it's all fake and just adds up to the 'all-plastic build'...
    Anything bigger than the MotoX is too big to be called a phone.
    And Sammy's TW is still no match for even AOSP design (in functionality as well as style).

  • Ash H

    Anyone have any idea how to get Dropbox photos to display in my gallery? When I go to enable the option it's all greyed out and cannot select it. Any ideas? Thx (I switched from s4 to note 3 and cannot get it to work)

  • Shiraz

    Great review David.

  • blewan

    anyone else getting your notification sounds when it finds/connects to wifi, even when you have it unchecked? it's driving me nuts, and it wont stop... any suggestions?

  • William Lige

    I really cannot get into your article. True, you stated a lot of facts, and I can appreciate that, but they always came with a bit of negativity and pessimism. Your views and outlook seem to be a bit confusing for such a fantastic phone/tablet. You began your article with such brilliance and motivating insight on why a person should make the phone their own. Then from about the second paragraph on, you seemed to downplay every well meaning decision Samsung made for its customers to get the best out of their product. It made it seem that instead of talking a person into the phone, it was almost as if your opinionated comments made a person think twice. Instead of just sticking with the facts on what sets this magnificent device apart from the others, you were posing if the Note 3 had stiff competition. THERE IS NONE. You mentioned 4k in one little paragraph as if it was some mediocre add on. I have not heard of a phone that captures video in 3840 x 2160 (UHD: Ultra High Definition). This was worth elaborating on. You didn't. Please take my advice. When you structure articles like this that can sway peoples thoughts, stick to the facts and let the users decide on if it is a Pro or a Con. I actually like the texture of the backing, the S pen functionality (size and weight), the non capacitive/resistive home button (it still can be depressed with the S pen, simply), the 4k, and the list goes on and on...I know that without knowing you personally, this will be extremely difficult for you and that probably will never happen.BTW, you seem just the type to want to take sample photos of spiders. Wow, fits your personality.

  • peter

    Is there anyway to add a photo to an already existing album? I've been looking for a while now and all I can find is to make a new album...

  • amylee

    OK!samsung is popular with so many people in the
    world,the note 3 with s pen ,someone siad when you write your life don't let
    other one touch it. how about this phone ,i saw it yesterday,they called it
    alternative note 3.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eptIIFCaCVE

  • pp
  • pp
  • pp
  • kmalbe

    I'm a new android convert with the Note3. I'm using Nova launcher with a numerical pass code. Is there any way to add an app or widget to the lock screen? I'd like to be able to quickly use the camera without going thru the unlocking process. I can add camera when there is no numerical lock code (swipe only) but can't add it when Nova Launcher and lock code are enabled. thank you to anyone who can help!

  • aeon

    "Audio from the Note 3's headphone jack is outstanding. I've written the same thing about every recent Snapdragon-powered device, and that's because they all use the same line of audio hubs, designed by Qualcomm. The result is an extremely consistent earphone listening experience across all Snapdragon devices, and the experience is a very good one."
    Well, you must be really kinda deaf. I have spent days and nights comparing audio output of either S800 based phones, LG G2 and SGN 3 with other devices, an older Samsung Galaxy Young, Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro, some noname PC sound card, and the sound output of a business-line HP notebook. And the results are tragically disappointing - for the S800 based devices! The sound is lacking dynamics, space, and tends to become harsh and aggressive when playing complex parts (eg.Diana Krall - From this moment on). The difference compared to the other devices mentioned is simply HUGE. This is a really great fail. I have already returned the LG G2 back to the reseller and I am about to do the same with SGN 3. The S800 based phones are really not intended for people demanding audio quality, sorry guys, you'd better look elsewhere...

  • Gricel Muñiz

    I just can say that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, screen is way to delicate!! I very careful with my phone and the border broke!! It didn't fall or nothing just trying to get out the pencil from the cover! To costly to be way to delicate!! Hate this $300 wasted for little quality!! ;( First and last Samsung Ill buy. My husband wanted one for January, but since we see it's to delicate change of plans, mine has only seven days bought and in a cover and look! :(

  • http://www.friv2friv3friv4.com/ friv 2 friv 3 friv 4

    Agreed, I really like the s4 but I like the htc one better but over both
    of those I like my note 2 better and part of that reason is the bigger
    screen and the spen. I use that thing all the time. I love being able to
    just pull out the spen and taking a quick note.

  • laforce

    Just upgraded my N2 to the N3. One problem.
    I installed TripAdvisor but it put the downloaded app in the side bar pull out thingy (only) and it doesn't appear in my apps section with all my other downloaded apps.
    Id like to move TripAdvisor to my HomePage but I cant "drag and drop" it from the side bar and because it isn't in the apps area I cant drag and drop it from there either.
    So Im stuck every time I want to run it to do so from the sidebar which is a pain.
    Any clues?

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