Review: Samsung GALAXY Note 3, it is the software

Thanks to Samsung for loaning the Samsung GALAXY Note 3 for this review. As of this writing, I am sure many of you already have the Samsung GALAXY Note 3. So, I will spend less on talking about specs and etc. Instead, I will mention about the user experience.

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Physical Appearance

Kudos to Samsung for “upsizing” the screen to 5.7-inch without increasing the overall size. The bezel becomes thinner and the “wasted” space on top and bottom becomes lesser. Other brands will need to learn a trick or two on this.

The back is either you “love it” or “hate it”. I don’t like it actually. It is plastic (or polycarbonate) but Samsung choose to use a leather looking design. From far, it seems like leather.

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However, I must say that the color coordination of the lens is nice. As for the rest of the views, they are typical with Samsung’s phone. No major changes here (which is good for people who wanted to feel at home with it if they have upgraded from Note 2).

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Here is something different. Notice that the charging/data port is longer? It is still using Micro USB. However, it is using Micro USB 3.0 which is makes it one of the first (if not the first) Android smartphone to use it. It is backward compatible with any Micro USB cable.

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Here is the Stylus. It looks nicer and also color coordinated with the phone.

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When you open the back, you can see that the battery is taking up most of the space.

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However, it is because the battery is a massive 3,200mAh. And not surprisingly, it lasted well for my usage.

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Here are the slots for the Micro SD card and Micro SIM.

Usage

In my opinion, Samsung has done a good job to differentiate itself from competition. It has added the latest hardware and software in this Note 3. For example, the 13 MPX camera is very usable even in low light. My only gross is that it is not a wide angle. When compared to other latest phones, you will notice a big difference in terms of viewing angle. I wish Samsung can consider a wider angle lens for the next version.

As for the rest of the innovations, they are very refreshing but I do not see myself using them. It is good to have but seriously, I have not really seen many people using them (for example, S Health, Air View, Air Gestures, Eye Scrolling). I usually use them to show off the features rather than using them because I find them convenient.

However, there is one area where I think Samsung is ahead of competition. That is the apps. I love the Story Album and the new S Note. It feels that it is the Courier project that was shelved by Microsoft.

Here are some screen shots of the S Note that I created. The notes are represented like a book or folder. Once you “pull down” the book, it will show the content in thumbnail size.

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Click on the image to expand it. You can do a number of things with it (as shown on the picture below).

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I can see myself using it for projects or other daily activities. The next one is the Story Album. It lets you create an album with different themes.

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Here are many ways you can change the album.

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Here is the different themes that you can choose.

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Summary

A few years ago, when Note 1 was launched, I was invited to try out this new “big screen” phone. Many laughed the moment they saw my Note 1. Fast forward to today, Samsung has already produced the third version of the GALAXY Note. It can only means that the market are accepting it and still hungry for more.

For a user who wanted to enjoy fuss free Android, I would not want to recommend the Samsung GALAXY Note 3. It has too many bloatwares inside it. I believe only a handful of person will be using all these apps or features. Check out this folder.

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However, if you are those that do not want to meddle with the phone too much, and would rather have some apps to do the job, I guess Note 3 does serve this purpose with its TouchWiz UI (User Interface) and apps.

Samsung has managed to “convince” people to use back the stylus (that was popular and necessary many years ago with resistive screen – until the iPhone came out). And they have added innovation to the phone which other brands do not have. With each generation of Note, Samsung makes it better.

Overall, I am satisfied with Samsung GALAXY Note 3. As I mentioned before, the testing period is too short for a thorough review but these are the few takeaways from my testing:

  • Acceptable battery life
  • Innovative apps
  • Good usage of the stylus with software
  • Compact design (given that Samsung has squeezed a 5.7-inch screen into this device)
  • Too many apps and features that most will not use
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I think that is it for now. Let me know your experience with your Samsung GALAXY Note 3.

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