Samsung created a new category when it launched the Galaxy Note. While naysayers were initially critical of its ungainly size, it did manage to attract a large number of consumers who were looking for a device that integrated the big screen of a tablet with the portability and convenience of a smartphone. It even inspired other device makers to launch similar devices, though it’s been hard for them to offer a differentiating feature.
The Galaxy Note’s strength is the S Pen, the intelligent stylus that accompanies the device and allows users to do more than just navigate the user interface and scribble notes. With the Note 3, Samsung claims to take the experience at the next level. We try to find out if its still the best phablet in the market, in our review.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 retains the same design that gave the Note series of smartphones their own identity. When we first lay our hands on the phone, it reminded us of the original Note. The Note 3 looks much more similar to the first-generation Note than the Note II, which was more curved.
The Note 3 is essentially made of plastic but Samsung has cleverly disguised the finish of certain elements to give the smartphone a premium fit and finish. Despite its huge size, the phone doesn’t feel heavy and fits in the pocket in a better manner, if you compare it with the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Having said that, it’s still ungainly when it comes to singe-handed operation, though Samsung has tried to find a solution for it.
The Note 3 is available in three colours – Jet Black, Classic White, and Blush Pink, and we got a Jet Black phone as our review unit.
The front of the phone is dominated by its 5.7-inch Full-HD Super AMOLED display. The bezel is narrow on the left and right sides and unlike the Galaxy Note II, the Galaxy Note 3 is not beveled above and below the screen and is flatter, sporting a textured dark grey finish.
The front of the phone still features a physical Home button and two capacitive touch buttons for Menu and Back controls. The different sensors, front camera, notification light and earpiece grill sit above the Note 3’s screen.
The phone’s front panel is surrounded by a chrome frame, which gives a premium feel to the Galaxy Note 3, but the edges sport a faux-metal finish with a ribbed pattern.
The power button is on the right edge of the Note 3, volume rocker on the left, a 3.5mm headset jack and Infrared receiver on the top and a new USB 3.0 port sits at the bottom aloneg with a small speaker grill and the slot for the S-Pen stylus. It’s good that Samsung has placed the power button on the side and not on the top, in line with other large screen phones, but if you have small hands you’ll still find the location a little cumbersome.
The back of the Galaxy Note 3 is another place where Samsung has made some major changes to give the phone a refined look. It sports a leather finish, complete with the stitching, and we’ll have to say that it looks really close to the real thing and Samsung deserves some credit.
The back also features the 13-megapixel-camera lens, with the LED flash right below it. The Indian version of the Note 3 just features the Samsung branding at the back. There’s a small speaker outlet towards the bottom.
The back is removable and hides the micro-SIM card and microSD card slots that are stacked on top of each other, and the battery. Samsung has been able to please people who advocate the use of a removable battery and memory card slot, once again.
Overall, the Note 3 looks much more refined than the Note II with its leather finish back and good weight to dimensions ratio, though it still sports the same design.
As we mentioned, the Galaxy Note 3 is in a way Samsung’s other flagship device, other than the Galaxy S4. All flagship devices now tick the full-HD display checkmark, and keeping with the trend, Samsung has also upgraded the screen to full-HD. The screen’s also bigger by 0.2-inches at 5.7-inches.
The Galaxy Note 3 comes with a full-HD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080×1920 pixels packing 386 pixels per inch.
The Galaxy Note 3’s display, is among the best displays we’ve seen so far. In our use, we found that text, images and videos appear extremely sharp, with vibrant colours. Reading text and browsing the web was also a pleasant experience.
The only downside to the display is that colour reproduction is not very accurate, and as with other AMOLED displays, they appear a bit oversaturated.
Just like the Galaxy S4, Samsung offers what it calls Adapt Display, to optimise colours according to ambient light conditions. You can choose between four manual modes (Dynamic, Standard, Professional Photo and Movie) and automatic modes if you select the Adapt Display option. The phone also offers the option to adjust the screen tone automatically to conserve battery power.
The display was not very reflective and sunlight legibility was great. The viewing angles on the phone are excellent.
The Note 3’s big full-HD display enhances the user experience by leaps and bounds.