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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Smarter, longer, faster, something else-er... this is an evolution and a half

Our Verdict

The phablet is here to stay and the Note 3 is the best out there - fast, powerful and supremely functional.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 32 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 13 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 21 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1920 x 1080
  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Fast and smooth
  • Great battery
  • Full HD display
  • 4G

Against

  • Tricky to hold
  • Expensive
  • S Pen still limited
  • Tacky plastic rear

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is looking to continue in the same vein as the original Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 2, offering you a phone which could almost be mistaken for a tablet and wants you to believe it's both.

Let's get one thing straight before we dive into this review though, the Galaxy Note 3 is only going to appeal to a narrow segment of users, it's certainly not going to have the broad appeal of the Galaxy S4, nor catch the eye of the fashion-conscious iPhone 5S purchaser.

Ratings in depth

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

The Note 3 isn't pretending to be anything it's not. It knows it's a big, some may say huge, smartphone and Samsung understands that form factor won't be for everyone.

That said, with big size comes big price, and the Galaxy Note 3 will set you back a wallet-busting £600 (around $950, AU$1,000) SIM-free.

The hefty price tag can be softened if you choose to pick the Note 3 up on a two year contract, but you'll still be paying a relatively high amount a month for the privilege - upwards of £35 per month in the UK if you want a free phone.

In terms of competition there's not a great deal which compares to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, but its closest competitor is currently the Sony Xperia Z Ultra which boasts a massive 6.4-inch which dwarfs even this handset.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

A quick glance over the Galaxy Note 3 and it does exactly what we thought it would do: takes over the mantle as the world's most powerful smartphone, although the advantage is a lot smaller this time.

First up we have to mention the display - it's grown again since the 5.5-inch offering on the Note 2 to a palm busting 5.7 inches complete with a full HD, 1080 x 1920 Super AMOLED display.

That's the same resolution as the Galaxy S4, but as the screen is larger on the Galaxy Note 3 the pixel count isn't as great at 386ppi, so it's not quite as pin sharp as its smaller brother. It still looks pretty impressive though - and so it should for the price Samsung is asking.

We're still waiting for Samsung to embrace the full metal chassis we've enjoyed on the HTC One and the iPhone 5, but it is trying something slightly different with the Note 3.

The Galaxy Note 3 has retained the metal frame from the Galaxy S4 running around the edge of the device providing a rigid body and a more premium look, but it's on the rear where Samsung has tried something new.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Lay the Note 3 face down, take a quick glance at the handset and it appears the rear is made of leather.

It isn't, of course, it's that famous plastic Samsung is so fond off. The finish is textured to give it the appearance of leather and this actually provides some much needed grip.

Those stitches running round the outside of the back cover? Well that's just a pattern formed in the plastic. It may not be everyone's cup of tea and it looks a bit tacky upon closer inspection, but the Note 3 does feel like a solid, well built device.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

On the plus side the plastic cover can be removed giving you access to the Note 3's sizable 3,200mAh battery as well as the microSD slot which is cleverly stacked on top of the microSIM port - allowing Samsung to save some space.

Somehow Samsung has managed to make the Galaxy Note 3 slightly smaller than its predecessor, measuring 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm. That's still quite a sizable device, but considering it's got a slightly larger display, beefier processor and more powerful 13MP camera it's an impressive feat.

Those of you blessed with smaller palms will still struggle to hold the Note 3 in one hand, especially when typing is involved, but thanks to its reduced weight (it's 168g, down from 183g on the Note 2) it's certainly the most manageable Note smartphone to date.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

The sheer size of the Galaxy Note 3 means you'll be constantly shuffling it up and down your palm as you try and reach the volume rocker and power/lock keys located towards the top on the left and right sides of the handset and the menu keys below the screen.

While the buttons are responsive, we found we tended to employ our second hand to help us out when moving from the power/lock key down to the home, menu and back buttons.

Under the hood of our review unit sat an insanely powerful 2.3GHz quad-core processor, although a select few markets will be treated to an octa-core option which houses two quad-core chips.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

You also get 3GB of RAM and the option of 32GB or 64GB of internal storage in the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, while the latest version of Google's operating system - Android 4.3 Jelly Bean - runs merrily on top of all this.

From the front you'll note there's a pleasingly slender bezel running down either side of that monster 5.7-inch display, while below you get the customary physical home key flanked by two touch keys - menu on the left and back on the right.

You can't see the touch keys when the Note 3 is idle, as their backlights are only displayed when you unlock the handset or tap the area they're located in.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

They are incredibly responsive though, and you don't have to worry about getting your finger right on the logo, the area of recognition is wide enough to pick up even the most misguided stabs.

Apart from the questionable leather-effect rear the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 offers up little in terms of design. Sure it looks a little more premium than the Galaxy Note 2, and it does feel well made - but at the end of the day it's a little uninspiring.

Those will petite palms or a penchant for skinny jeans will struggle with the size of the Note 3, but if you've been taken with its predecessors then you'll be happy to hear this is the best looking Note smartphone to date.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory32 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+
SAR Value0.29 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy Note 3
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 850, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution13 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourWhite
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time21 Hour
Product ModelSM-N9005
Screen Size14.5 cm (5.7")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)168 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.3 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density386 ppi
Front Camera Resolution2 Megapixel
SIM Size SupportedMicro
Height151.2 mm
Width79.2 mm
Depth8.3 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time420 Hour
ManufacturerSamsung
Product NameGalaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Smartphone
Processor Speed2.30 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 800
Product LineGalaxy Note 3
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Barometer, Digital Compass, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Magnetometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Humidity Sensor, Temperature Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberSM-N9005ZWEBTU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing Information **Please note this product can only be used in Europe**

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 adds delight to daily tasks and infuses innovative features that help consumers tell the story of their lives. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 delivers a larger and better screen for the best viewing experience and more powerful multitasking, as well as significant S Pen improvements that make everyday life easier and faster.

Bigger & Better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with a wider (5.7inch) full HD Super AMOLED display, yet slimmer (8.3mm) and lighter (168g) hardware design and more powerful and longer lasting (3,200mAh) battery. Equipped with a 13-megapixel rear camera with Smart Stabilisation and high CRI LED flash, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 enables users to crisply capture every visual story in their lives, even in low light and active situations. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 offers the latest LTE technologies - CAT4 Carrier Aggregation and supports the greatest number of multiple frequencies. Incorporating the industry's largest 3GB RAM, the Galaxy Note 3 also provides faster and more powerful performance.

Balancing Strength with Design
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 delivers a new premium look and feel. Expanding on the modern Samsung Galaxy design approach, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 adds a soft and textured-touch back cover and delicate stitching. It also features a serration pattern on the side of the device that evokes a connection to the timeless and enduring strengths of classic notebooks and planners.

Click S Pen to make life easier, faster and more exciting
The new S Pen reinvents and modernises the classic note-taking experience by providing the ability to accomplish everyday tasks with just one click. The advanced S Pen is designed to be fully functional as a communication driver between the phone and the user by creating essential input and control features. It plays an integral role in how users interface with the device, making all daily routines easier.

A simple click of the S Pen button while hovering over the screen introduces users to Air Command, a palette of five powerful features that truly make tasks easier and faster. With the Air Command feature, there is no need to toggle between screens, memorise commands or look up different menus. The Air Command feature provides access to the following key functions:

Action Memo allows users to handwrite a note and automatically execute a function or convert that handwritten information into formatted content. Action Memo can instantly initiate a call, add to contacts, look up an address on a map, search the web, save a task to a to-do list, and more

Scrapbook enables users to organise or track down content and information from various sources including the web, YouTube and Gallery in one place so that users can easily look back at collected content all at once. When consumers save content for future use, Scrapbook also collects source material or URLs allowing them to easily refer back to the original source

The Screen Write feature captures the full screen image of the current page on the device and allows users to write comments or additional information onto the captured image

S Finder allows users to expansively search for content on their device regardless of the type. By putting in keywords or filters such as date, location and content type, users can search related documents, events, communication threads, and even the Help page - all in one place. In addition, users can also search for hand-written content in their Notes and memo applications, as well as symbols and formulas
Limited Warranty2 Year
Standard Memory3 GB