Goophone Note 3 review: the clone wars

December 18, 2013

    goophone n3 - in hand 2Following my time with the Goophone 5C I knew that Goophone’s aren’t just devices that look similar to their real counterparts, they are replicas and the Goophone N3 is no exception. Built as a clone of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the N3 is the same size and shape as the Note 3 and it even has its own faux leather back panel, complete with Samsung logo. Unlike the Goophone 5C which tries to turn Android into iOS, the N3 is Goophone’s customized Android mimicking Samsung’s customized Android and it does a much better job.

    Spec sheet

    • Colors: White or black
    • Processor: MTK6589, Cortex A7 quad core, 1.2GHz
    • GPU: PowerVR SGX 544MP
    • RAM: 1GB
    • Dimensions: 5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches
    • OS: Android 4.2.1
    • Cameras: 13MP rear with LED flash / 5MP front facing
    • Display: 5.7 inch IPS, 1280 x 720
    • Storage: 8GB expandable by microSD
    • Connectivity:  Bluetooth, microUSB v3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
    • Networks: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900; HSDPA 850 / 2100
    • Battery: 2800mAh Li-ion, removable
    Design and build quality

    There isn’t much that can be said about the design of this device other than it faithfully copies the Galaxy Note 3. If you like the size and feel of the Note 3 you will like the N3. The back cover on the real Note 3 has been described as “thin and bendy” and made of a “textured material that mimics leather,”  and the same is true for the N3. The back cover is easy enough to remove, but every time I did so I always checked the tabs to see if I had managed to rip one off. Once the back cover is off you gain access to the removable battery, two SIM card slots and the microSD card slot.

    goophone n3 - back 2

    The N3 continues to copy the Note 3 with regards to button layout with the volume rocker on the left and the power button the right. At the bottom of the phone there is a speaker grill, the fake S Pen, and the microUSB 3.0 charging port. What looks like a microUSB 3.0 cable is included with the phone but I have no way to tell it is a genuine (pin for pin) cable. However you can also use an original microUSB cable to charge the N3 and that works without any problems.

    Turning to the front, the N3 has a 5.7 inch IPS display with a 1280 x 720 resolution. The resolution and quality aren’t the same as the Note 3, but in terms of appearance it certainly does looks like the Note 3. On the bottom bezel is the home button flanked by the two soft buttons, menu and back.

    The device is very light in the hand and if I have one complaint is that it feels too light. Although it is physically big and it isn’t going to slip out of your hand easily, somehow its lightness makes it feel vulnerable.

    Display

    goophone n3 - display

    The screen size is definitely one of the N3’s highlights and if you like the large screen format, which the original Note series made so popular, you will like the N3. For an IPS display the screen is good, the resolution is high enough for daily usage and only those who have grown accustomed to full HD displays will find the N3 lacking. Having said that, the display is no match for the genuine Super AMOLED Pentile display of the Note 3 and like many smartphones it is likely to be hard to read in direct bright sunlight.

    As with many large screen smartphones, the 5.7-inch screen format isn’t for one handed usage. The N3 is absolutely designed for use with two hands, especially when using the pen. However I did find that when typing the device can be used with just one hand by using my thumb to peck away at the letters, but it is slow.

    goophone n3 and note 3 - which is which

    Hardware

    The N3 isn’t going to muscle its way into the top rankings in terms of performance, however the device is fitted with a very reasonable processor package. The MediaTek MTK6589 has a quad-core CPU, based on the Cortex-A7 design, and a PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU. Together they provide enough power to make the user interface on the N3 fluid and smooth, while for gaming the device is able to handle games like Asphalt 8: Airborne.

    goophone N3 - hardware graphic

    In terms of benchmarks the N3 scored 13,737 on AnTuTu which is less than half of what the Note 3 scores. On Epic Citadel the device managed a respectable 46.5 frames per second (fps) in High Performance mode and 45.6 on High Quality mode.

    Interestingly Epic Citadel initially refused to install and the Play Store kept giving me the “Couldn’t install on USB storage or SD card” error. To solve this I inserted a microSD card into the N3 and entered the Settings to change the phone’s default write location to be the SD card rather than the phone’s internal storage. I was then able to install the app without any problems.

    goophone n3 - antutu

    In hardware, we do get the removable battery and 8GB of onboard storage. The storage is divided into 2GB of internal storage and 5GB of phone storage. As I mentioned above once a microSD card is inserted the default write location can be changed and that did help when installing some apps.

    Call quality was OK and the calls came in clear when at full volume. The speaker at the bottom of the Note 3 is reasonable and adequate for gaming and watching YouTube clips etc.

    goophone n3 - bottom with pen

    It is worth mentioning the connectivity options for this device. The phone has all the standard connectivity options like Wi-Fi ( 802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, 2G GSM and 3G. It doesn’t have NFC nor does it support LTE, two things which are supported by the real Note 3.

    For 3G the phone only supports 850 and 2100MHz.  The latter number is the standard 3G frequency and should work in most places around the world (except the USA), however a lot of carriers also use a secondary 3G spectrum range. In Asia and South America the carriers often use 850MHz, as supported by the N3, while in Europe it tends to be 900MHz. You need to check with your carrier to ensure compatibility.

    The Wi-Fi and GPS both work sufficiently well on this device. Wi-Fi reception was average and the GPS worked as expected. However the first ever GPS lock took about 6 minutes, but after that it seemed to get a position reading quite quickly.

    goophone n3 - bottom half with pen on screen

    Battery

    goophone n3 - battery

    The length to which the cloners go is staggering. Even the battery is made to look like a Samsung battery! Obviously it isn’t and the battery claims to be a 3200mAh unit which, again, it isn’t. However according to the specs from the online store where I bought it, the N3 has a 2800mAh battery.

    I performed some battery tests and for 3D gaming the device will work for about 3.5 hours before needing a recharge. For those who listen to a lot of music (off the SD card), the N3 can probably pump up the volume for around 40 hours on one charge. If watching films is your thing then you will get about 5 hours of viewing pleasure before the battery hits zero. I also did a talk time test and using a 3G signal the phone will deliver around 7 hours of talk time.

    Camera

    The camera app looks like the standard open source Android app with features like face recognition, smile detection, HDR and panorama. The rear camera is a 13MP unit and it takes reasonable shots which, while not super sharp or particularly vibrant, are bright and have a good color range. Here are some samples shots.

    goophone n3 - camera1

     

    Software

    Finally, we get into the software. The software on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is all about the S Pen and while that isn’t quite true for the Goophone N3 its makers have certainly included some interesting pen functionality.

    At the top level the N3 tries to mimic Samsung’s Touchwiz interface and in terms of look and feel it does a fairly good job. The launcher, the settings and the various special apps (like S Note) all feel very Touchwiz-esque.

    Pull out the pen and a Air command wheel appears. From here you can launch S Note, visit the photo gallery, take a screenshot, search (via Google Now) or launch the Pen Window (which on the Note 3 allows you to draw a window and pop an app into it). Although these actions are similar to those on the Note 3 they are not exactly the same, but the first four options work as advertised. I will talk about the S Note app in a moment but first I wanted to mention the Pen Window.

    After launching the Pen Window you need to draw freehand rectangle on the screen to show where you want your new windowed app to go. After drawing the rectangle the N3 offers you a list of apps to launch: Calculator, Clock, Phone, Messaging, Calendar, Settings, ChatON and Browser . The funny thing is that only the calculator and the S Note app can run as a windowed app. You can move the calculator around, use it and close it as you wish. But it completely ignores the rectangle you drew. The S Note app starts a new note in a semi-Windowed state, but you can’t move it around. On the Note 3 the freehand rectangle has a purpose but on the N3 it is just a long process to launch a floating calculator! All the other apps listed in the Pen Window menu just launch the normal full sized app.

    S note is a fairly comprehensive note taking  app which allows you to draw with your finger (or the pen) and add text and photos to a note. You can draw with different brushes and colors and text is added in frames which can be later edited or deleted.

    Some of the other features of the Note 3 including Air Gestures, Smart Scroll and Smart Pause are also mimicked on the N3. I have tried them all and although they are present they are very hard to actually get to function. I found myself waving my hands all over the place in an attempt to get the photo gallery to swipe from one photo to the next. When it did work, I couldn’t work out why and it wasn’t very repeatable. The same can be said for the Smart Pause. If I used the front facing camera to line up my face before watching a video and then turned my head dramatically away from the screen the video did pause, but for everyday use this feature isn’t very good. However the Smart Scroll did work when tilting the device. Although the UI talks about tracking your head movements in fact the scrolling is controlled by tilting the device. The more you tilt it the more it scrolls. The only app that seemed to support the Smart Scroll was the built-in web browser. Other apps like the BBC News app or Chrome didn’t work, which is a pity as it is a genuinely useful feature.

    Price

    goophone n3 - price

    This phone isn’t available from your carrier and you can’t get it on a contract. You can however buy it from China and maybe from some online auction sites for around $199 plus delivery and any import taxes.

    Wrap up

    And there you have it, a fairly good replica of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Before closing there is one more thing worth mentioning, there seems to be several different models of the N3 available with different amounts of on-board storage. It also looks like there is an octa-core version coming that uses the new MT6592. So if you do buy one make sure you check the specs first.

    If you are after a 5.7 inch phone and you are happy getting one from China then you could do a lot worse than this device. Overall I found it a pleasure to use. Ignoring the fact that it tries to copy the Note 3, this device has something to offer based on its own merits and this is doubly true when you consider the price.

    Finally, kudos to my esteemed colleague Joshua Vergara whose Galaxy Note 3 review is well worth reading and was the inspiration for the review of this replica!

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    Comments

    • Jon Langevin

      Sure are a lot of exclamation points used in this post! In places you wouldn’t necessarily expect an exclamation!

      • Mayoo

        Snake? Snake?! Snaaaake!!!

      • Ben Edwards

        He does seem to love that exclamation mark, read a few posts now with excessive shouting.

      • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

        Guys! Please!! Stop!!!

        Seriously, I spend several days of my life testing a device, running benchmarks, doing battery tests, taking photos in the snow and writing a long review about it and all you can say is that I use too many exclamation points!

        But just to keep you all happy, I have edited the review and taken out five, yes five, exclamation points! Everyone cool now?

        • Jon Langevin

          Looks like you just migrated the exclamation points from the article to your comment :-)

        • Alan

          How about you stop giving publicity to these blatant unethical counterfeits!!!! Copying is one thing. But even using someone else’s logos is just wrong!! And here’s a few more exclaims for you!!! !!

    • Bilal Mahmood

      Wouldn’t it be more worthwhile to buy a Galaxy note 2 instead?

      • Mike Reid

        Yes.

        HATE to generalize, but pretty much every device with Mediatek SOC is of lower quality.

        They are generally NOT sold in 1st world/Western countries.

        They rarely get any custom ROMs support.

        I get semi-regular emails from people with Mediatek devices asking if my app will work for them. In almost every case I’ve never heard of the device or company before.

        And I can’t/don’t support any of them, in part because their buyers almost never buy apps, so I could never justify buying one for the reverse engineering needed OR normal testing.

        • Ridou

          The MTK6589T is pretty good, and + (90, 92..) but under 89T, yes it’s lower quality

    • MasterMuffin

      If only there was a medicine for brain cancer I could buy this :D

    • csharpner

      I’m just not going to trust a blatant ripoff, especially from China. I’m surprised it’s even allowed to be imported. It’s not just a knock-off, but a counterfeit, even using the Samsung logo.

    • Ivan Myring

      1280×720@5.7=257ppi

    • v0id

      The top picture is clearly the fake – only light rain in London, please! Nobody believes that.

      • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

        :-)

      • Christopher Vanwinkle

        I also think that Browser isn’t what Samsung calls their browser. But I can’t be sure.

    • dar thlaan

      Yes, buy the phone, help China buy bullets and missiles to shoot at YOU!!!!

      • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

        Interesting logic, since most smartphone and tablets are made in China and all the big manufacturers pay taxes to the Chinese state does that mean you boycott all electrical goods?

        • dar thlaan

          I’d rather give them $5 than $10, AND get the real deal. But you go ahead.

          • telco

            your actually helping china too if you have an iphone samsung nokia sony or any indian phones running a snap dragon processor

            • dar thlaan

              So again, I say I’d rather give them $5 than $10. We’re all “helping” them; that’s unavoidable when they make everything. The point is, by buying authentic brands, not only is all of the money NOT going directly to China (‘s government), but we’re also helping to strengthen the countries that will be helping to fight them should they decide they want to take over some nearby country.

            • telco

              why so hate china?
              my country is in dispute w/ them about spratly islands however its no bigdeal if we purchase from them… other superpowers keeps them in check. unless they get a north korean as prime minister :P

            • dar thlaan

              No one said anything about hating China. I said that by buying directly from them, you are helping them to build their military, which they are increasingly doing. Their % expenditures on the military have been increasing by a dramatic amount year after year. I don’t think they’re doing that because they feel small and helpless. At the same time, you are insuring that other countries have a harder time doing the same. If China were putting that money into raising the standard of living for all its citizens, I wouldn’t mind so much. But it has been about a month since I saw security camera footage of Chinese people walking past a dead girl in the street, a truck run over her, no on taking notice. The Chinese gov’t doesn’t care about its people, and it encourages that attitude in the people themselves, so that they don’t do something about it.

            • telco

              sympathy to the chinese people then… that could easily turn to hate my friend :)
              china is china even almighty america can’t changed that.
              lets just appreciate that china has that manufacturing power or all of the smartphones we have now won’t reach all human beings. mass production would be tough w/out ‘em

      • Mike

        Either you’re a joker, a republican or a plain moron

        • Jay Noxodas

          Bulls Eye!!!

    • http://www.gizmorev.com/ Jasper Molina

      Arguably one of the best bang-for-buck smartphone in 2013. I consider it a niche phone though.

    • mmmmmbop

      Where do people inside the US buy goophones?

      • Arturo Raygoza

        probably amazon

      • Jayfeather787

        You could try http://www.goophone.cc/. I tried amazon and found nothing.

    • Rooney-

      Why dont the companies sue them??

      • manjunath

        Because every company is not Apple.

        • Luqmaan Mathee

          Yup I’m actually surprised Apple didn’t sue for this since they claim Samsung copied them.

          • telco

            because goophone is not a real threat in the market. but if it starts taking a piece of their territory(which is the US) its a different story… look at sammy

      • Arturo Raygoza

        I was a thinking its because they don’t have enough money to make it worth it?

      • Thomas

        Suing a Chinese company is like eating peas with a one prong fork! ☺

        • bighnesh

          they have nothing similar . . . samsung logo stickers r available elsewhere . . . .

    • roiji

      someone could sell these at the real Note 3 price and pass it off as the original :(

      • Luqmaan Mathee

        Thanks for the idea ☺

        • Arturo Raygoza

          as if you really couldn’t think of that yourself?

    • fastow2012

      since everybody has to some extent copied somebody else it’ll be hard for sammy to sue anyone…:)

    • Guest

      Thanks for the review. I dropped my phone and broke the glass (even with the case on). It’s too costly to replace the glass. So until my contract is up and my cell provider can give me a new phone, I wouldn’t mind getting this knockoff in the interim. It looks pretty decent.

    • Jayfeather787

      Pretty decent for the price. Even though Mediatek processors are not the best, it is still a quadcore. Also, it uses the same GPU as the Samsung Galaxy S4 (although it may be the single core variant. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a tri-core variant of the 544 MP). A 13 megapixel is also really good. I doubt it will ever be updated or supported by devs, but if you are not interested in updates, it looks like a really good phone for the price.

    • keenmay

      Can’t believe there are so many people want a clone phone, so much so that these companies continue to make them. If I want a cheap Chinese phone, I’d get a cheap Chinese phone, but not a clone. Don’t people feel embarrassed when others find out your phone is a clone?

      • keenmay

        On a second thought…if they can clone the internal hardware also, but still keep the cheap price. It might be worth while. Nah, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

      • Thomas

        The point with this phone is to let others get the impression that you have a real Note 3 (impression and status is important, which you – unintentionally – confirms) without having to pay for it. Also for those that like the function concept of a Note 3 but can’t afford to pay for the full performance.
        It’s always the question of how much money you have and the pricr/performance ratio.

        • huppy61

          My wife wanted a large screen phone but wouldnt spend AUD $590-850 for a Sammy Note 2 or 3. She doesnt want a 3g tablet coz they are too big & pretty expensive. Its a value for money thing. If this clone had a decent battery, a slightly better speaker, I would recommend it for value alone. She has already had people asking her about it & she tells them its a cheap chinese phone. Then tells them that the she loves the big screen. We have had iphones & samsung phones. We like both. We just want things to work. We have problems with all of them. The benefit with apple is that they will just swap them over (for a payment if out of warranty) however Samsung will want you to send them away. . Ill be sending the 2 clones back maily because the specs they advertise are BS. They must be using their own Antutu app. & they dont answer their emails, & they accused me of a DHL issue which was false.

    • Frederick F.

      In the goophone’s site, and I found out in the specs of the N3, It uses the Mediatek MT6592 which is claimed to be an octacore and has and FHD display with 2GB of RAM.

      • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

        As I mention in the review, there seems to be several different models of the N3 available with different amounts of on-board storage. It also looks like there is an octa-core version coming that uses the new MT6592.

        On all the Goophone sites I looked at the octa-core version is currently “sold out”.

    • Nex

      Anyone looking to buy these China phones for the love of gawd at least get the variants with MTK6589T version, 720P screen and 12.6MP camera. If I am to choose I also won’t buy those Samsung clones, I personally find their original designs looks much better and without that nasty feeling of the phone being a cheap ripoff.

      And don’t expect good sound quality of that 3.5mm jack and speedy GPS either. Been there, done that.

      • huppy61

        the speaker in the clone we have is very average. Not very loud & gets a little blury & distorted when on full volume however the headphone output is pretty good & the bluetooth works as good as my original note 2 on our bluetooth sound system using my 53 year old ears.

    • Tessa

      I guess the reasons why people buy this copy are
      (1) they want to show off – who could really tell if its an original anyway unless you borrow it
      (2) wants samsung note 3 badly but cant afford one

      • C’est moi

        (1) So…?
        (2) And…?

      • Jay Noxodas

        (3) pretty darn good performance at a less than exorbitant price

    • huppy61

      I bought a N3+ from goophoneshop.com . It is supposed to support OTG which my wife uses a lot. It came without logos & the battery had a bee logo on it but certainly not goophones bee. Its ok however my issues are…the volume is poor. Fine if you use bluetooth devises. The ringtones that were made by my wife are almost unhearable although the on board ringtones are fine. Hers only came with one battery & after 3.5 hours of not doing much other than setting it up & playing with ringtones, music sampling, a little browsing etc as you would playing with a new device, lasted about 3.5 hours. My question is, can she upgrade her battery using an original samsung galaxy note 3 battery? If someone out there has the size of the original, it would be a great help. Other than that, it seems ok. A big difference i price & there certainly is a difference in quality. The operating system says 4.3 however it is a lot different from my original note 2′s 4.3 upgrade. I think that if you can afford it, get the original or a 2nd hand original. Time will tell if they last.PS- battery info please

      • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

        I tried some replacement Note 3 batteries in the review model and they do not work. They look physically the same but the phone won’t start which means it isn’t getting any power so the pins must be different or something. Sorry.

        • huppy61

          thats unfortunate. My wife is getting used to the phone. The large screen is a big plus for her. Im sure as the battery gets worse, her mood will change. The wifi connection is touchy…nothing in my lounge but move to the kitchen (4m away) & receive 4 bars. The original iphone & note 2 recieves throughout the house. Phone reception is similar, certainly not as good as the more expensive brands. I guess the research budget is somewhat less on a fake of a fake! I have aksed a multitude of questions without answers so they are shooting themselves in the foot. You would think that they would get the pin matched up so we could get a decent battery. The other thing of interest was setting ringtones….music for ringtones was very soft …in fact my wife was missing a lot of calls. The workaround for that was an app called mp3amplified. Worked a treat. Some issues with whatsapp & viber. Do not work as efficiently as they should. This could be due to wifi or available space issues. Thanx for your help. It was the straw that broke the camels back.

      • Nick

        when did you buy it? and when it came? because i made an order of this site..at 13 Dec. and it still has not arrive!!im from greece

        • huppy61

          3rd of January. It came on the 14th. I paid extra for EMS delivery & expected it around the 10th as per their details. They dont answer their emails & they accused me of not signing a DHL delivery because I didnt want to pay tax! Since posting last, the battery has been tested and is far less than their specs. The resolution is not as they advertise on their site, and it seems as though you cant get decent batteries for them. No sing of any logos although the battery did have a bee on it however nothing like the goophone logo. Is it now very probably that there are fakes of the fakes. Very hard to get any answers off of them & will now open a Paypal dispute.

    • Jonesy

      Hi there. Please, someone knows if this model has MHL or HDMI, so I can connect it on a HDTV and see things bigger? Thank you so much in advance!

    • benigno

      this is faked goophone n3, the original goophone n3 must don’t have samsung logo on it/

    • benigno

      won’t know where you got the phone by the editor, i buy my goophone n3 from the spain goophone official website http://goophones.es/ .it is very nice

    • amtriplea

      Hi there
      I just got an N3 octa core, nice phone, but I cant customize the lock screen image,
      any idea how to do that?

      thanks

    • Givesuhe11

      I’ve had 4 different clones over the past 6 years and I’ve been happy with them all… I buy clones because they are cheaper than the name brand and I can use them with cheaper carriers like StraightTalk, Jolt, etc… The name brands are overpriced and FULL of bloatware… A third to half the price is for the name… I don’t understand why the big companies don’t understand the concept of volume sales… if they lowered the prices to a more affordable level they would sell WAYYY more phones that would offset selling fewer at much higher prices… Note 3 costs upwards of $700… You’ll never convince me that price is the true value of that phone… Samsung (and others) is a huge company, but if they sold it (and likewise lowered prices for all it’s products) at $350 I guarantee they would triple, quadruple or even more, their sales… I know, I know, they sell at what they think the market will bear but they are thinking small, they could expand their market x10 at a price that didn’t reflect selling their name (like designer clothes)… I mean, these clones are selling and they are making a huge profit because people like me with low to very modest incomes can afford them… I don’t buy a clone to try and put samsung out of business… I buy a clone because I can afford it… and for the most part I get everything that samsung has to offer but don’t have to spend what I can’t afford… and in the world economy today, these huge companies that charge exorbitant prices need to get their heads out of their butts and out of the clouds and smell the coffee and charge what the working joes at the bottom of the ladder can spend…

      • http://www.nic.com/ KhornePony

        Original : 4k video recording, slow-motion, air view, firmwares, custom firmwares,3gb of ram, faster cpu, AMOLED screen, GPS, LTE, NFC…

    • ujir

      Gary, which online store did you purchase this phone from?

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