Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Pros and Cons

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3?

Samsung Galaxy Note 3Samsung is now on the third iteration of its Galaxy Note range, whereas other manufacturers such as Sony and HTC have this year released their first large screened devices. Since the release of the first Galaxy Note, Samsung has had a form factor that it knows to be successful. It’s since had the chance to refine and improve – no need to experiment with concepts that are too different – and this advantage is embodied in the Galaxy Note 3, which is undoubtedly the best in its class.

Best in class does not mean perfect, though; no device is without its foibles. In this post we’ll have a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Note 3 to help you decide if it’s the right device for you. Some of these points are discussed in more detail in other posts on the Clove Blog, such as our Galaxy Note 3 review, which are linked to where appropriate. If  you’ve got any questions or your own experience to add, please let us know in the comments.

Before we get started in detail, here’s a bulleted overview of the good and bad:

Note 3 Pros

  • Large, Full HD Display
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Fast charging and file transfer speeds
  • Very powerful
  • Great camera and 4K video recording
  • Evernote integration and free Evernote Premium
  • Samsung Knox is good for security
  • TouchWiz has some very nice features
  • New S Pen Stylus features
  • 32GB internal storage and 64GB microSD expansion
  • Not that heavy despite its size
  • Very slim

Note 3 Cons

  • SIM limitations
  • Overall size may be too big for some
  • Number of features can be overwhelming at times
  • S Notes from the Note 2 are not compatible
  • Home button is a bit wonky
  • Price tag

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Pros

Battery Life

Battery life is undoubtedly one of the biggest advantages of the Note 3. Its large size means there’s plenty of space for a nice big battery, which brings it to a level whereby you can use it solidly without having to keep an eye on how much power you have left.

A single charge, which takes only about 90 minutes thanks to USB 3.0 compatibility, can easily provide 48 hours of normal usage. For heavy users, you would really need to hammer the device for it to run out of battery inside of 16 hours, so in the majority cases it’ll be getting you through the day with power to spare. Without the concern of your battery dying half way through the day, the way in which you use your device really can be transformed.

Another great thing about the Note 3 is that it has a removable battery. This means that you can always carry a spare battery should you have a schedule that prevents you from charging the handset every day. Samsung offers a spare battery kit, which also doubles up as a desk stand. We have it available to order here on the Clove website. Galxy Note3_014_front left perspective landscape_Jet Black

Display

The 5.7″ display of the Note 3 is stunning. It uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED Full HD technology with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Due to its larger display, it has a lower pixel density than the Samsung Galaxy S4 (386 PPI compared to 440 PPI), but in reality this makes little difference; both displays are extremely sharp.

All the usual luxuries of a larger display – watching movies, playing games, reviewing photos – are very much enhanced by Samsung’s superb display technology.  It removes the tedium from the aforementioned activities that one may experience with a smaller screened device, making it the perfect companion for a long commute or extended period of travel.

Another USP of the Note 3 compared to the majority of other devices is the advanced Wacom Digitizer that it utilises. Its extra sensitivity enables it to better recognize varying levels of pressure – perfect for use with the S Pen stylus – and also means that the display can be used with gloves on.

S Pen Stylus

Galxy Note3_019_pen dynamic_Jet BlackThe S Pen Stylus is another big selling point of the Note range and Samsung has once again improved its design and feature set for the release of the Note 3. Removing the stylus from its housing brings up the Air Command menu, which is a set of five functions: S Finder, Action Memo, Screen Write, Scrapbooker and Pen Window. We found S Finder and Screen Write to be our favourites, but naturally each user will have their own work flow and may prefer some of the others as a result.

As mentioned the new Wacom digitizer in the Note 3 means that the display is more sensitive than ever and this makes it great for activities such as digital art and handwriting input. The handwriting recognition is very good and the Note 3 will be able to pick up on many styles of handwriting.

Another feature of the S Pen that must be mentioned is Air Preview, which enables you to preview the content of files and folders by hovering over their shortcuts with the stylus.

Processing Power

With 3GB RAM and a 2.3GHz quad-core processor, the Note 3 is a powerhouse of a device. There is also an octa-core version of the Note 3, but it’s not as readily available as the quad-core. Regardless of which one you purchase, the Note 3 has one of the strongest specifications on the market.

This amount of power translates to a smooth, lag-free user experience. In the past Samsung’s custom skin, TouchWiz, has perhaps been more of a pain point for users due to the occasional slow down that it could cause, but with so much power in the Note 3 it’s not a problem this time around.

Camera

Galxy Note3_023_front dynamic2_Classic White

With its 13MP camera the Note 3 can take stunning photos. Samsung now has a huge range of features built into its interface and while some are a bit gimmicky, there ar

e others that enhance your photos nicely, such as drama and HDR. The video camera can now record in 4K, which does look great but also takes up a fair bit of storage space.

Storage

While Samsung has advertised larger memory variants for previous handset releases, it’s been the 16GB variant that has been most readily available. This time the lowest available memory variant of the Note 3 is 32GB, which has around 26GB accessible to the user. Combine this with the 64GB microSD slot (card sold separately) and overall you have 90GB. While there are some that would prefer more – particularly for internal storage – this will be ample storage for many.

Software

Samsung’s custom Android skin, TouchWiz, has been (and still is amongst some) a cause of discontent from users. Samsung has now had several handset releases to improve it though and thanks to some great features, it really shows its worth on the Note 3; the user experience wouldn’t be the same without it.

There are now so many features built into TouchWiz that Samsung has included the means to search for them with keywords. This is useful as it can be tricky to remember where certain settings appear under the various menus. You’ll probably need to watch a few demo videos a few times over before you remember what all the features are, and it’s unlikely that you’ll use all of them on a regular basis, but there will undoubtedly be a few that streamline the way in which you use your smartphone.

The Galaxy Note 3 is also Samsung’s first device to ship with Android 4.3, which at the time of writing is the latest version of Android available. This will soon be outdated by the release of 4.4 KitKat, but as the Note range is one of Samsung’s best sellers, the Note 3 will likely be one of the first devices that it updates.

MicroUSB 3.0

Not only does USB 3.0 make for super quick charging of the Note 3 battery, but it also means that files transfer to the device in seconds (provided that you use a microUSB 3.0 enabled port). In practice, this means that a large movie file takes under a minute to transfer and music tracks take seconds. The one disadvantage about MicroUSB 3.0 is that it uses a different connector to the previous specification of the standard, so you will not be able to use your Note 3 charger with devices that have a microUSB 2.0 port. The Note 3 is backwards compatible though, so you could use a microUSB 2.0  cable with it, it’ll just take longer to charge and transfer files. Galxy Note3_011_back landscape_Jet Black

Evernote Integration

The Note 3 comes with Evernote integration and users receive a free subscription of between 3 and 12 months to use with Evernote Premium. The integration means that S Notes can be saved directly to an Evernote account, which seeing as S Notes from the Note 2 are not compatible with the Note 3, is better than the alternative of saving to a Samsung account.

Samsung Knox

Knox is a new security feature that Samsung is including with its handsets. We explain it in more detail here, but it essentially a password protected app that securely stores sensitive data and separates it from personal data. Knox is a good solution if you need to store important work data on your device or if you would like to keep your personal and professional lives separate. It’s easy to install and configure, and can be uninstalled if you don’t need it.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Cons

Size

Galaxy Note3 S-view Cover_001_Front_Jet BlackThere’s no getting away from the fact that the Note 3 is a big device. That being said, it’s smaller than its predecessor and despite having a much larger battery and a bigger display than the original Note, it’s 10g lighter. It doesn’t feel as heavy in the hand as you would expect for a device of its size and is also very thin. Nonetheless, it will still be too big for some and whether or not you find it cumbersome will really come down to how you transport your device most of the time. For shallow or tight pockets it’s not great, but if you’re carrying it in jeans, suit pockets or a bag it’s not such a problem.

SIM Limitations

The SIM lock is an unfortunate frustration created by Samsung and as yet it is not clear how the situation will progress. We discuss the problem in more detail in this post, but in a nutshell the Note 3 is region locked which means that it may be difficult for you to use it outside of the continent from which you purchase it. In the case of the units that we sell at Clove, they are locked for use within Europe. That being said, there are both official an unofficial ways to successfully remove the lock. The former is the simplest, but the implications (if any) that it has on the warranty are unknown at this stage.

TouchWiz

While TouchWiz does have some great features to offer, it can feel a little over the top at times. Visually you can remove its presence fairly easily by using a launcher (Nova probably gives the closest experience to stock) and renaming apps (e.g S Planner to Calendar). If you’re using a Note device for the first time it will take a while to get used to the way the settings are laid out and to discover all the features that are on offer, but by the time you’ve got the Note 3 to use this is a nice problem to have!

Design

Galxy Note3_027_combination1_Jet BlackSamsung has done a good job of making the Note 3 look and feel like a more premium device than previous releases. It has disguised the use of plastic well with faux leather and metal, which adds to the ‘notebook’ style that the range portrays. One blemish on its otherwise impressive visage is the power button, which has a slight wonk to it at times, but it doesn’t cause any technical hinderance so overall it’s not something that you’ll notice too much.

Conclusion

The Note 3’s feature set is pushing for the best that’s currently available in an Android handset. If you find its size to be acceptable then you have the opportunity to take advantages of outstanding battery life and large display. The LG G2 is another device that has been praised recently for its battery life, so if you do want a smaller handset with good battery then this could be an option. It does have other compromise, though, such as no microSD slot and only 10GB user-accessible internal storage.

Overall there’s a lot to like about the Note 3 and few drawbacks. One of those drawbacks, the SIM limitation, could be a problem for some but is an issue that can be resolved.

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About Chris Ward

Better known as 'Wardy', digital media is where his interest lies. Responsible for many elements of the Clove website and external advertising activities, Wardy is our interactive media graduate.

Always chilled out, there is never a time when you see 'Wardy' stressed. A keen music follower, he knows his DJ's and how to mix a few tracks together. Always eating, he remains stick thin and is the envy of the rest of us! A very deep character, there are some suprising twists to what Wardy knows and you'll never meet a nicer bloke if you tried!

Comments

  1. Paul Mansfield says:

    it’s too small! Xperia Z Ultra is a real phablet!!

    • Chris Ward says:

      Ha ha that handset really does push the definition of ‘phablet’ to its boundaries. It’s huge.

  2. This is probably a stupid ?, but I have heard from other posts on other reviews that people couldn’t find the silent/vibration feature. Is that true? Thought every phone had that option.

    • Chris Ward says:

      Hi James, that’s not a problem that I had when using the handset. There’s a toggle for it within the notification panel, which can be adjusted to show the toggles that you use most frequently.

  3. How is the anntena strength work out in the country and need a phone with great reception

    • Grant, We haven’t noticed any signal/antenna issues outside of the norm, but it is always going to be subjective based on the network, location and what you are comparing the signal strength to.

  4. Gay Harvey says:

    I’ve read a lot about how easy the Samsung S4’s screen is to crack. Is this the case with the Note 3? I have a Razzor Maxx now and am looking for a phone with a better camera. I am a photographer and do not take all my heavy gear with me everywhere I go. I did not like the reviews of the Nokia and NEVER have been an Apple person. I need the durability of my Droid RM but a GREAT camera. PLEASE HELP.

    • Josh Bethell says:

      Hi Gay, if you’ve been put off by the Nokia reviews then there isn’t much on the Android camp to choose from for great cameras. It’s a shame, Nokia’s Pureview tech is excellent, however the WP8 operating system can be a little too different or restrictive an experience for many.
      The S4 remains one of the best all round devices, taking some great pictures once you learn the ins and outs of the software. The Note 3 / S4 camera performance are very similar although the devices themselves are clearly aimed at different markets.
      Sony’s Z1 with 20 MP had an iffy launch with buggy camera software but this has since been addressed and is now one of the best Android cameras around.
      There’s also the LG G2 which is a bit of a dark horse, arriving later in 2013 without too much fanfare, matching up to the S4 in almost every respect and surpassing it in others (the screen is gorgeous).

      If you want a top camera in your phone then any of the above 4 would suit you. Take some time to look at the features in each, especially the stylus input and editing on the Note 3, and hopefully the right choice will make itself clear to you.
      Don’t worry too much about about the screen cracking, all of the handsets I’ve listed employ some form of screen strengthening technology such as Gorilla Glass; if you’re unfortunate enough to hit one hard enough to break it then any of them would have suffered the same.

    • Paul Mansfield says:

      Why not look at the Galaxy Camera or Zoom. If you like photography and care about image quality then even the best phone camera won’t compare with even a $75/£50 compact camera.

      • Josh Bethell says:

        That’s a valid point Paul but I think you might want to up your price range a little bit there. Top end mobile cameras easily trump the throwaway £50 compacts you can buy.
        Go over a 100 or so and it’s a slightly different story, although the cameras on the phones I mentioned still put up a very good fight at this range.
        Also the Galaxy Zoom you mention is still a camera sensor designed for mobiles, Samsung just stuck one of their camera lenses on the front of it to allow for lossless optical zoom.
        The Galaxy Camera / NX is a fantastic idea although it smacks to me of Samsung throwing the kitchen sink at a problem. The ‘Galaxy’ interface feels tacked on and really ramps the price up.
        I really like Sony’s ‘lens-camera’ solution, the DSC-QX10 is a screen less camera that takes better shots than any mobile I’ve come across and can be paired up to the phone for sharing and backup

        • OK, maybe £50 means having to find a special offer, but you can buy a decent Panasonic P&S for £65 according to Google Shopper.
          Maybe Clove could do some blind tests of picture quality of various phones (strip the EXIF data, scale and crop all images to 1024×600, and throw in some pictures from a variety of digital still cameras.

          • Josh Bethell says:

            Fair enough, the price of point and shoots must have plummeted since I last took a browse then!
            Nice idea for a longer post Paul, I’ll pass the idea on to Jon and see if it’s something we can easily implement.
            We’d need to do some testing first on various cameras to discover ourselves what makes a good test, might be awhile before we can et hold of enough for a big enough scale comparison

  5. The galaxy note 3 doesn’t have the FM radio option. Also the display gets cracked very easily….

    • Paul Mansfield says:

      Not every version of the Note2 had FM radio 2, certainly the N7105 (European LTE) didn’t.

  6. heshamtecom says:

    I really love my Galaxy Note 3, reliable, battery last long, great screen and stylish look specially with Spigen Neo Hybrid case.

  7. Vikas Buttan says:

    Samsung Note3, a pathetic and a unstable piece of Smartphone. The company has been loud enough to sell the so called “Niche” product of there’s but trust me, the device is vulnerable in nature. With a in built 32GB memory & available user memory of approx. 24GB..the phone hangs regularly even with 4GB utilization. you often need to keep on tilting the phone sometimes to fix it. The battery life is a big disappointment and cause of worry in various intervals / time of the day. The phone charging slot and the connecting USB adds to the miseries quite often / regularly.
    Just in 3 months of purchase (within warranty) fixing of the issues 3 times from service center makes me feel its a big headache what i have taken & to add the agony of cost (Rs.45000/-) + accessories cost of approx. 2K.
    Even after replacing the entire LCD & motherboard….the phone behavior hasn’t changed and mind you – the phone is without third party softwares (Factory reset)….

    Plus, the after sales support is further big disappointment, – Time wastage at Samsung Service center of approx. 3 hours with no one time solution.. The C-SAT team only speaks standard English of re-assurance and now arrogance that We have checked (QC – Quality Check) the handset and everything is fine as per us. May be this time i make a video of the issues and share with company to make them believe – That Samsung Note3 is a hyped-up, over-prized & a pathetic handset….Samsung please stop fooling people with your media campaigns, positive blogs about the handset and marketing campaigns….instead invest that money in developing a SMARTPHONE….This is a REGRET-PHONE for me….

    • Josh Bethell says:

      Wow Vikas, you certainly have some strong views. Whilst I can’t deny your experience with Samsung perhaps this is a localised issue?
      Here in the UK I tend to find Samsung’s warranty support to be quite good, although their first line phone support leaves a lot to be desired. I have also seen a considerable improvement in the warranty servicing in the last year from them being, in my opinion, one of the worst.
      I think one has to balance the size of a company against their support offerings. It shouldn’t be the case, however once an organisation reaches a larger size we often see a drop in the perception of their after care quality.
      Samsung’s massive size and dominance in the Android market comes with an almost inevitable backlash against their service offerings. Proportionally this may well be the same as other manufacturers, but sheer numbers can be overwhelming.
      Yours is not the first complaint I have heard against the Note 3, however I personally have a number of very satisfied customers as well. The balance of positive to negative reviews appears, at least to me, to be pretty average compared to any other phone.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Hi

    i know people tha complain about the note 3 screen,and say that they have fallen asleep on the phone and it got spoilt.

    or that they cracked the screen a bit and the touch didnt work anymore, only the stylus.

    please give me your opinions as i have an S4 but want to upgrade to note3…. thanks.

    • Josh Bethell says:

      Hi Jennifer, the accounts you have heard do make sense.
      Of course if someone has been careless with the device and broken the screen then it would not work correctly. This is not the fault of the phone but the person.
      A cracked screen might not work with touch anymore but the stylus does – this would be because the stylus digitiser is a separate part of the screen technology.
      Personally I think the Note 3 screen is excellent, however you do need to take care of it, as you would any phone.