The Samsung Galaxy Note 3….. Now

by: Joshua VergaraFebruary 8, 2014

When the Galaxy Note line was first released, people didn’t know what to make of it – after all, phones were still quite small, and the very idea of the smartphone was not as ubiquitous as it is today. The second iteration showed a growing fan base for not just the line itself, but for large smartphones in general. Samsung has grown to enormous proportions since then, and its powerful reach made the latest iteration of the Note series one of the most anticipated smartphones of 2013. Upon release, it seemed the Galaxy Note 3 signified for many, the pinnacle of Samsung’s mobile presence.

But that was then. And this is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3…… Now.

The Release

Galaxy Note 3

Back at IFA in Berlin, our first look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 brought both expected and rather surprising elements. While we expected S-Pen enhancements, introduced were a slew of new functions that made the best feature of the Galaxy Note series even better. More power was expected, and Samsung certainly delivered, but it was still a little disheartening and disappointing to see it power an aging software suite.

By that point, the large size device had become a powerful trope. After starting the phablet trend with the first Galaxy Note, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was one of the “smallest” phablets to release in 2013.That being said, the large 5.7-inch display with 1080p resolution of the Note 3 definitely excited us.

samsung galaxy note 3 aa 47

What really struck us, however, was the new material choice. The textured plastic that replaced the tired glossy plastic was nothing short of an incredibly welcome change. Granted, it wasn’t that huge of a development, but its staying power as a welcome addition is something we can’t ignore. As cliche as it might be, it really was one of the “small things” we appreciated more than anything else.


samsung galaxy note 3 black aa (27)

By now, my eyes are open to why large devices are so fun to use, mostly because of the added real estate. I might not use such a large device all the time, but the Galaxy Note 3 is definitely the one I reach for when the time comes. To this day, the Note 3 is still one of the best performing and most capable devices in the repertoire.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 jet black aa 27

My love for the new material choice still continues, but what struck me after using the phone for a while is that this size eventually starts to feel normal. You might wrestle with the size of the Note 3 as you take it out of a jean pocket, or if you’re trying one-handed usage, but until those moments, you probably didn’t even think about how big the Note 3 is.

samsung galaxy note 3 black aa (26)

The screen remains one of my favorites, not just because of its larger size that is perfect for media, but because it’s just well executed. Colors look great, and the high pixel count makes for wonderful video experiences. Speaking of imaging, the camera might not be the easiest to use, given the size of the device, but it’s still one of the better 13 MP shooters out there.

Let’s talk about some of the gripes I have with what is otherwise a fantastic smartphone – they are in regards to the software experience. TouchWiz is old, especially aesthetically, and even if it is being used on a larger screen. its elements are still rather bloated, and have slowly become unattractive.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 jet black aa 24

Samsung’s general plan of just loading feature upon feature into the software doesn’t do it much justice either. While stock Android is leaning towards growing simplicity, Samsung is simply over-saturating their feature lists in the Galaxy smartphone series. Of course, it was exciting to see a lot of the Galaxy S4 features make it to the Note 3. But even while using the Galaxy S4, and now with the Galaxy Note 3, this impressive list of features has mostly been unused.

samsung galaxy note 3 black aa (41)

The consolidation, and admittedly elegant grouping of S-Pen functions in the Pen Command window helped it continue to be the premiere stylus experience, but like many Note 3 users out there, I don’t use the S-Pen much at all. While some features of Touchwiz do remain rather invaluable, like Multiwindow, the rest of them eventually fade away in obscurity – a phenomenon I had with the Galaxy S4 and now with the Note 3, that I will call “Galaxy Syndrome.”

Final Thoughts

samsung galaxy note 3 aa 24

With all this mind, what is it that makes the Galaxy Note 3 so popular? Simply put, it’s because this device handles the basic and main smartphone experience with flying colors. As a smartphone, the Galaxy Note 3 is one of the best. If its gaming you’re looking for, the high-end specs of the Note 3 speak for itself, multi-tasking is easily accomplished, and with many ways to do so, and if you’re looking for a great stylus experience, Samsung’s hold on that niche market, with its Note series of smartphones and tablets, is undeniable. And since this is Android, if TouchWiz and its elements isn’t too your liking, there’s always a way to replace it. While there are a few caveats, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is still the premiere large smartphone to use.

And so, there you have it. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3, now. It’s still a powerhouse of a phone and its popularity isn’t only warranted, but should last for a while. I haven’t come across too many people who are unhappy with their Note 3 experience, and that’s because it has a quality pretty much any smartphone should have – adaptability. The main takeaway for me, in the cycle of Galaxy devices, is that even if I am excited to see what comes next, I’m now a little accustomed to the fact that some time after the release, “Galaxy Syndrome” might rear its ugly head again.

If you want to know more, than be sure to check out our full review of the Galaxy Note 3 here. And, as always, we love to hear what you think. Let us know down below!

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  • Jayfeather787

    Top of the spec world right now. For a gigabye of RAM less but for half the price I would take the Nexus 5. Thanks Josh for the textured back on the S4!

    • timekiller

      Nexus 5 cant be Note 3 though. talking about features it have.

      • Jayfeather787

        Well I don’t need those features. I prefer AOSP. We all have different needs.

        • Stojan Savic

          Build quality is also better on Note. I would take Samsung over LG everyday

          • AndroidBoss

            If you tap the Note 3 on the back, you will hear this vibrating sound, mostly because of the camera. Also, the build of that phone is not all that good, the trim around the phone looks like metal; but is actually plastic. Note 3 is great phone, but still the build is not all that. It feels kinda cheap in my hands sometimes.

          • Jayfeather787

            I love the Nexus 5.

          • AndroidBoss

            Yeah me too :P.

          • Stojan Savic

            At least there are no ratling buttons, faulty vibration motor and dead pixels

          • AndroidBoss

            Yo, I used to be a big Samsung fan, and I still kinda am. However, you have to admit some things. I’ve had a Galaxy Nexus and I have an S4. The galaxy Nexus is filled with dead pixels and the screen is just burned with horizontal lines on the display. Many Galaxy Nexus owners have this problem. Also, on the S4 you can see faded horizontal lines (not as bad as on the Galaxy Nexus), especially when on the Multitasking menu. I’ve had a Note 3 (I returned it), and I didn’t notice the problem. The display is indeed better than the S4. In conclusion, don’t get me wrong, I really like my S4, but Samsung seriously has to stop it with these shitty AMOLED display problems and dead pixels. (And I say LG LCD displays are better I get a lot of dislikes). Yes I would rather LCD than AMOLED, at least it’s better in the sun and it delivers sharper images and the displays are just… awesome. I mean compare the HTC One’s display with the S4; HTC One’s is awesome, also the LG G2. I used to hate LG but it really has been making some real good phones for the past 2 years. LG is like another Samsung for me, since most of the things Samsung does, LG copycats but with different touches. I still like Samsung, but I really like to stick to the Nexus Lineup.

          • Jayfeather787

            LG LCD displays are much better. Better colors. LG screens in general are pretty good.

          • AndroidBoss

            You know, there is newer version of the Nexus 5 with better buttons and (hopefully) speakers. I have the older versions and the buttons are not that ratling, the speakers are the main problem. Again, Note 3 is an awesome phone. I’m just really looking forward to the new Touchwiz UI, hopefully less lag and faster app launch. One more thing, many devices have dead pixels, not just a specific phone, and I have not seen a Nexus 5 with a dead pixel and wouldn’t be surprised because this is just how it is with phones these days…

          • Stojan Savic

            I have s4 and i dont have issues with screen. Outdoors visibility is also good, i don’t know why people complain for it(do you live on Sun??). Conclusion is, if you build a touchscreen phone with dead pixels, light shining through the screen, then it is pathetic. Because, first thing you see is the screen itself

          • TheBeeNet

            Hmmm….I have a Note 3 and it does not vibrate when I tap the back. Where specifically are you referring?

          • AndroidBoss

            Sorry, tap on like the screen (especially on the top) you will hear this vibrating sound mainly because of the camera. I’ve noticed this with Samsung devices that have a big camera sticking out from the back of the device, like the S2, Galaxy Nexus, and Note 3. Just sometimes annoying, like the rattling buttons on the old edition Nexus 5.

          • TheBeeNet

            I have the Verizon version in black. I am trying reproduce this vibration and I am unable to mimmic it. What version or carrier did you have? I had my device for a few months and it works flawlessly. I even dropped it twice on hard surfaces and no dents or cracks to the body or screen. Thank God. Samsung has come along way and with the newer version to their Touchwiz UX I am looking forward to seeing what they will do next. As for build they do go low end in comparison to HTC but being an individual who needs productivity feature in my day to day life, Samsung fits the bill but I wish they would work on the build as pertaining to getting away from plastic.

          • Micro Shaquer

            I replaced the battery of my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to a more bigger 10000mah Zerolemon battery plus it’s sturdy case. ……man my mobile is really TOUGH and BEAST of the best.

            Though the weight increase significantly but it doesn’t matter because I look after more power to power the beast Note 3.

  • mixedboi85

    Still a big ass phone!!!

    • Memphis May [S]unjay

      Don’t you like big ass?

  • dogulas

    If the Galaxy Note 4 is released as a Google Play Edition, I won’t hesitate to buy it.

    • Amine Elouakil

      I doubt it will because it doesn’t make sense (what differentiate the Note 3 from the rest of Samsung range is the extra features) a GPE won’t have those…. and by the time having a Note 4 vs a Nexus 6 I don’t know if it will make much sense to buy it

      • dogulas

        I just want a big, powerful phone. And I doubt the Nexus phone will get any bigger than the 5.

        • greeninja

          Sony Ultra has GPE, or is that too big?

        • Amine Elouakil

          It will, not in terms of overall size but in terms of screen size at least, not by much but slightly, but at 5.25″+ we’ve already reached a point where the devices are becoming huge…

  • Groud Frank

    Then and now? The thing came out a few months ago… This article sounds like it should be written for the HTC One or S4. I bought a Note 3 a few days ago and I have no complaints. I was (still am) a huge critic of Samsung but any rational, unbiased individual will admit that Samsung is ahead of the Android pack. I prefer Touchwiz over a lot of the rubbish OEM customizations out there. “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing; moderation is for pu**ies.” I’d rather have the option than not. If you don’t like the features then you can turn it off. I like to tinker with all kinds of settings and Touchwiz is best at allowing me to do that. It took the combined awesomeness of the hardware and software offerings of the Note 3 to open my eyes and cut through some of the blind Samsung hate I had. And while Samsung does a lot of questionable crap at times I’ll be giving Jack his jacket. HTC, Sony, Oppo , Nexus Phones aren’t even putting a dent in iPhone sales. Like it or not, for the moment, Samsung is your best shot at dealing with the real clan villain, Apple.

    • filaos

      Vilain…. LOL

      • riannonqas321

        My Uncle Jacob got a year 2013 Audi TT RS Coupe by working
        part time online. imp source J­u­m­p­9­9­9­.­ℂ­o­m

        • I thought your uncle’s name was Aiden.

          How many uncles you got, Spammerella?

        • dungtakdung2x

          is there any ppl still fall for this?

        • Flip Jumpman

          Your uncles a sissy for driving a TT girly car. Haven’t I seen you before on Uporn…

          Go spam elsewhere with all you uncles and aunts!

        • Jesus

          You’re hot.

    • Amine Elouakil

      While I respect your opinion, I disagree with Touchwiz being anything close to the best customisation out there and it feels like you didn’t get a chance to do direct comparaison and use other phones for a long periode of time.And just for reference Samsung outsources Touchwiz and all the functionalities it has you can find them on other devices such as LGs or even products that are 60% cheaper than a Note 3 like ZTE Boost Max, As for my opinion, I dislike having useless features that reduce the performance of the phone (not benchmark but dailly usage), what you are saying is that it’s like wearing a drysuite under your clothes, carying an umbrella, having a huge backpack filled with stuffed with cooking tools…. anytime you go outside to do your dailly stuff, while the drysuite might came in use (if it ever come) once or twice you are bound to live it and all the issues it brings to mobility, confort …. it doesn’t make any sense at all. For me the Note 3 is an ideal product for people that are going to use the feature, if you are not going to use those extra feature you are wasting your time and money.

  • jack

    I love my galaxy Note 3 w/ 4.4.2 stock ROM and I had no major problems at all these past four months with this phone. Can’t wait for the Note 4 to come out because I have another upgrade.

    • dogulas

      So do you not miss using the s pen? I think I just want a big phone, and wouldn’t really care about all that extra touchwiz stuff, including the s pen features. I use CM 11 on my GS3 and it’s perfect.

      • jack

        I never really cared for touchwiz and preferred stock android because its more smooth and elegant plus it does everything I need. I can see why people love touchwiz and the spen because of the extra goodies that won’t make them bored, but I only really like Samsung’s hardware and not software IMO. I loved the Note series since day one because of the size and specs so I say go for it and put your own ROM on or keep touchwiz you’ll be happy.

  • hoggleboggle

    There isn’t a phone on the market I would consider switching my note 3 for. Not one comes close to what this beast can do for me. Of all the phones I have owned over the years this is the first one that does not have me longing for something more.

  • jack

    This is neither a decent phone nor a decent tablet

    • hoggleboggle

      You are correct. It is actually an outstanding phone and tablet not just a decent one.

  • El Platanero

    I’m on the fence with TouchWiz. I love all the features regarding the s pen but I’m not a fan of flip board, I prefer Google now than Samsung search, Chrome over s browser and a few I can’t think of. TouchWiz is not all bad but I wish they’d give us more control. Why not be able to delete the ones I don’t use? I mean if I bought the phone they already have my money. Why force me to use the parts I don’t like?

    • THatch

      Side load the nexus launcher, you’ll have google now with all of the touchwiz features.

  • Shubham Singh

    I admire samsung only for note series back in the time it was launched Note one it was the most desirable phone at that time huge battery nice screen and everything else and still exepct note there is no samsung phone out there in the market that i would consider buying or recommend anyone.

  • diesel

    I have the mine 3 and I love that phone

  • Ian Huntly

    I have a Note 3 upgrading from the original Note. While the performance is now much better than the dismal Note, battery life is still 3- 4 hours, unless I leave it off, and it still feels cheap and plasticky. I would have taken the HTC, if the service in the country was what it was 4 years ago when I bought my HD2. Unfortunately, it isnt, so the Note 3 became pretty much the only choice. The Sony and the LG didn’t cut it for me.

    • hoggleboggle

      “battery life is still 3- 4 hours” You may want to take it back and get a replacement as it is clearly faulty. Even under intense use you should be getting a good 12 hrs out of it. And if you still manage to drain a note 3 in about 4 hours you would finish off an HTC One in about 2hrs.

      • iFaitPlay

        Ignore him.
        This is just bashing troll

      • Ian Huntly

        I will take it back, speaking to Samsung, seems there were a bad batch of batteries.

        • Ian Huntly

          No-one else I speak to seems to have this problem. Today I got 1 hour from 100% to 3% with only 1 programme and only Wifi on.

    • Micro Shaquer

      I recommend you to take the 10000mah Zerolemon battery. That solves your problem.

      It’s really frustrating not to unleash the true power of Note 3 if your battery died early.

      I’ve been using now the 10000mah battery and I feel comfortable and not worry anymore of my phone’s juice because it lasts more than a day.

  • WestFiasco

    The only thing I find interesting about the note 3 is the battery.

  • smokebomb

    The most disappointing thing to me about this phone is that they didn’t create a way to use air command without the pen, someone else did. I’ve watched probably 30 reviews on the Note 3 and will definitely be getting it. There are four reasons: the battery life has been reported as being fantastic, the battery is replaceable, expandable storage, and multi window feature. I watch YouTube a lot and hate closing my video to answer a text message. Most of the time the message is someone just saying “ok.” I hope to have a Note 3 by the end of the month since my nexus 4 is literally breaking down, one component at a time. My Bluetooth is beginning to not work and the GPS has been very unreliable the last few days.

    • iFaitPlay

      Not all the pen commands can be duplicated with fingers, even if it’s possible to be applied , because it will become confusion for the device.
      For example- if you just browse and scroll with fingers could open some pop-up apps.
      Different inputs like finger and pen are solving that.
      Some commands can be duplicated with fingers, and on Note 3 you have them.

  • philippe v d g

    Why does everyone hate touchwiz so much ? ! :o

    • iFaitPlay

      Not every one!

      Only the tech media guys (that bashed Note from the very beginning), and the other ifans, pretending to be android “lovers”.

      They will never stop to attack Samsung, because is kicking the Apple’s a$$.

      Do not be fooled by some “android….” stickers on the names of the media sites.

      Only few real android users don’t like touchwiz today. And they are just victims of the former.

      Millions of ppl love touchwiz and will NEVER buy Note or Galaxy without touchwiz

  • iFaitPlay

    “I might not use such a large device all the time”
    “I don’t use the S-Pen much at all”
    “TouchWiz is old, especially aesthetically”
    ” if TouchWiz and its elements isn’t too your liking, there’s always a way to replace it.”
    “Galaxy Syndrome.”
    …………………………………and so on.
    Guess who write th reviews and articles in sites with names “android…..”

  • android guy

    How is the battery life of note 3? I am interested to buy it or wait for S5. Can somebody give me a suggestion?

  • I could write a lot of good stuff about this phone.. But i wont waste tiem ont hat – this jsut superb phone with just OMFG good screen (size/colors/pixels).

    And about function overpacking – there just is people that liek ahveing shit loads of functions even if they dont use them, cause they like the feeling ”I have the ebst phone, with ebst funcions” … AND camon, that aint bad thing if you are that way!!! Iam like that more or less…

  • Flip Jumpman

    Everyone that complains about all the bloat there’s a simple solution “Turn it Off”.

    Note 3 is an awesome phone!

    • CommentatusMaximus

      How did you do that? Somehow I had managed to turn off S Health but don’t know how to do that with all the other junk apps.

      • Flip Jumpman

        In the same settings (application manager) go to “All” tab and you can choose from the list of apps to turn off/disable.

    • toboev

      Agreed it can be disabled/turned off. Which I have done (on my Note 1, and it’s a SIM free phone, so I’m just talking about Sammy’s own junk). But that is a fair few MB of your paid-up memory taken up there to no benefit to them or to you. If nothing else, it is a crime against the environment, wasted resources, etc.

      What I don’t get, is what advantage Samsung/Carriers see in forcing this on the unwilling. You’re just going to turn it off, and harbour that little grudge against them. Where is the gain (for them?). Why do they not just load up all this stuff, on on the basis that some of it might chime with some customers, but make it removeable? Where is the downside in people who don’t want it and even begrudge it, removing it? If you ever want it back I’m sure it can be available via Samsung’s App store.

  • Flip Jumpman

    Oh and also the carrier stuff too… Turn it Off.

    Now what do the haters have to say…

  • CommentatusMaximus

    I don’t use the stylus either! Still trying to find any good use cases. But it’s there in case I ever need to sign a PDF agreement. That’s about it.

    I do kind of prefer the S4 size more though.

    • toboev

      I use it for some websites that don’t have a decent mobile version or are just better in desktop. The ability to mouse hover, point and click is an integral assumption in some websites (typically their navigation menus) , and whilst it is not ideal, at least it is possible with the s-pen, whereas near impossible without.

  • toboev

    People moan about Touch-Wiz bloat. I’ve only got the Note 1, and it is my first and only smartphone, so I didn’t know any different. Until the other half got a Moto G, also a great phone, and also her first and only smartphone.
    Now, as I try to coach her in the use of her wonderful new gadget, I keep stumbling across things which are so simple on my two year old phone which I now discover can’t so easily be done on a shiny new Kit-Kat phone. So I’m guessing all these things I love are part if that Touch-Wiz ‘bloat’? Such as:

    Screen rotation lock control from the notification panel (only ever one swipe away)
    Mobile data toggle from long-press power button (only ever one button press away)
    Customizable number of homescreens (neither of us wants or needs 5, she is stuck with them)
    Warning over SMS becoming MMS (SMS is free, MMS = 40 pence)
    Confirmation that an SMS is sending/has sent (never take for granted in our coverage area!)
    More separations of volume control
    Play BBC podcasts directly via streaming without having to download first.

    Maybe I just haven’t discovered the quick way to do or see these things on vanilla Kit-Kat (should that be ‘plain chocolate’ Kit-Kat?), but they seem so easy in Touch-Wiz and yet so relatively laboured in Kit-Kat

    As to Apps bloat, true, I hate that I can not actually get rid of “Crayon Physics” and the rest of the rubbish Sammy burnt into MY device. But at least I can forget about them. I have yet to find a way to remove and recover the screen space usurped by the “Google” search banner plastered onto the prime location on the homescreen of the Moto G. I’ve got rid of the damn thing, but its untouchable empty space is a constant jarring reminder.

    I’m sure some of you will be able to help me with some of these points – all solutions welcomed.

    • Jesus

      Crayon Physics is the coolest thing ever!

      But getting serious, you can disable apps you don’t want to see. Go to Settings -> Apps / Application manager -> find the app you want to disable and click -> ‘Disable’. Done.

      Also you can just get a different Launcher.

      But yes I agree. TOuchwiz brings many many conveniences that will help users… e.g. in Dialer, swype left to call; right to sms – should be an android standard!

      But also crap like Crayon Physics.

      • toboev

        Thanks. I know you can disable unwanted bloat. I was moaning that you can’t actually uninstall them. Where is the advantage to Samsung or the customer in that?