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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.”
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!