Samsung Galaxy Note 3

It's time to kick off our Note 3 coverage with an in-depth look at the phone's hardware and software

We've got the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in-house and we're putting the phone through its paces as we prepare our full review. But first we've got a full video walkthrough of Samsung's latest half-phone, half-tablet 5.7-incher. Join us after the break for the lowdown on the Galaxy Note 3's redesigned externals, upgraded hardware and new software tricks. We've also got a hands-on gallery with the "jet black" version of the phone.


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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 video walkthrough


The self confessed phone whore in me has to have this bad boy.

I do feel it's gonna be like holding a ham sandwich up to our ear when you wanna make a call. LOL. I also wonder how easy (or hard) it will be to get used to using the pen.

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As a note 2 owner, I think unless you actually use the features specifically tailored for the s pen, you won't end up using it that much. I didn't find any of the functions of the pen to be very useful to me, so I only used it to just play with it for a couple minutes until it got boring. So if you think the features will be useful, then you will probably use it quite often. Even if you don't use it, it'll still be a damn good phone, though.

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I felt the same way so I didn't feel bad nuking the whole thing and installing Cyanongen.

I do love the form factor and the pen works well enough for drawing in photoshop without all the Samsung crud.

Can you clear something up for me that I have yet to definitively find out?
Are there no custom ROMs for Note devices that include SPen functionnality, i.e. is it not possible to make a ROM based on the TouchWhiz ROM as opposed to AOSP?

I expect that, if you instal CM, things like multi window and the Air Command dot (or whatever it's called) are gone, but is the SPen completely unusable? Or does it still work, maybe just like touch input, or as a pen in 3rd party apps that support wacom digitizers?


I am on Paranoid Android, and use Gnote to take notes. It has Halo which is a type of multi window. I am really liking the change. When the Note 2 comes out with Android 4.3, I might go back, but I hate being on an older version of Android. I would love to get a Note 3 but just got my 2 about 5 months ago :(

Oh dear lord! I use the SPen all the time. It's very useful and handy! I am trying to convince myself NOT to buy this phone now in October. I'm trying to tell myself to wait wait wait xD I have the Note 2 and it's an awesome device. But I, too, am a phone whore... xD. Note 3 is the best speced phone in 2013 without a doubt.

A stylus device is for artists and/or creative (right brained) thinkers. I had a Note (1) and not only was it a superb device (camera blew away any other phone or compact camera I owned) but the stylus made it a delight to use and 'think' with.

I now have Note 8 which shows off Samsung's latest software - a great improvement, and am going to get the Note 3 so both my devices are stylus operated. I keep prodding my current phone screen with the Note 8 stylus to operate it! ;)

I intend to buy the Note 10.1 2014 for studying, i.e. taking notes in class and reading. I'm an engineer, so very much a 'left brained' person. So I think stylus devices are also for left brained thinkers. At least I hope that's the case. I guess I'll find out the hard/expensive way.

I bought a note 10.1 when it first came out for my step daughter in college. She took a bit of time to get it in line with her needs but uses it daily in class. She is a Grad Student so it gets good use. In fact as a non-techie she has influenced others to pick up Notes as well. I bought it but I have only seen the thing once. As with all these devices they improve year to year. I own a Nexus 10 and the new Nexus 7. Fantastic devices.

I have a Note II and the first week it was a ham sandwich but now .. never go back.. my Note III is a week away, can't wait.

you really get used to it in your hand. It feels very normal after a short time. I use the pen every day, and my only gripe is that the Samsung keyboard has AMAZING handwriting recognition, and it's a good keyboard, but it isn't as good for typing as swiftkey.

Seriously, give it a shot as a phone... It feels so normal.

Being a 1st and 2nd generation note user, I was intrigued by the first note and the use of the SPen, picked up drawing and used sketchbook pro and it was the greatest thing ever. Picked up the note 2 for the well needed processor screen size and smaller form factor (in terms of width) and it hasn't failed me yet. I mostly use the SPen when practicing my penmanship and doodling, also if I'm on a call I pull the SPen out to quickly write a note down from my phone conversation. Many of the features added like the list of all things copied from your scrap book and universal search, is a great functionality add in. You wrong be steered wrong at all with the purchase of the device, and the size, many people look at it as huge, but it's not as big as the phones of the late 90's. It's the best of both worlds, the might phablet! I use mine proudly

After my Galaxy Note 2 experience from October 2012 till right at this moment nothing exist on the current market today that tops the overall productivity/multitasking abilities of the Galaxy Note 2.

The Galaxy Note 2 held us down very well now the torch has been passed to the Galaxy Note 3. I will be picking my Note 3 up on launch day for Tmobile October 2nd.

Plain and simple nothing beats Samsung or the Galaxy Note products on the market today. If you value business/multitasking/productivity/entertainment nothing is better.
We won't even get into battery life, software solutions or feature enhancements/implementations.

The Galaxy Note 3 trumps any device period.

Posted from my Galaxy Note 2 via Android Central App.

Ditto!! I had trouble with pre-order on TMo/EIP so will need to buy this baby on day one of release. Can't wait!! (Should I get black or white?)

The first week it feels huge, then it feels normal. I have 3 friends that have this phone and they all say the same thing. After coming from the S3 to the Note 2 I felt like I was using my S3 until I actually picked an S3 up and it felt as small as an iPhone. It's weird how you adjust to it so well.

I need need need this phone!! For the battery. The screen. The features. Everything!! Oct 10th needs to hurry the hell up.

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This phone looks awesome. I hope the next update to note 2 brings a lot of these features.

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It takes time to load bloatware on a phone. :\ I wish I was kidding. The amount of crap that Verizon loads is massive. I don't care about their accessories app, My Verizon Mobile App, Verizon Tones, their voicemail app (I use GVoice.), VZ Navigator, etc. And then you have them locking down the bootloader as well. That takes time too.

Seriously if Verizon didn't have one of the best networks in Minneapolis, MN I would drop them like a smoking habit. OK...rant done. I feel batter now. =D

Want to preorder but afraid vzw will put out the 64gb a month later. Would rather have that one. If iI knew it def wasn't coming out I'd just order now.

You won't be seeing 64gb version anytime soon that's for sure. All carriers will launch the 32gb version.

Posted from my Galaxy Note 2 via Android Central App.

Or an Active version. Or a GPE version. Or nicer colors. Or more memory.

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What a great video preview. That looks like way more features than I would need but I love the beast mode battery life. The switch to full HD screen on newer pho es has me feeling the itch but I really want to get out of my contract with at&t

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Nice review love those photos, that back looks better than previews versions but is not there yet anyway i think for that particular model in white looks better than black

I have the Note2. Yes I have to say I was worried I wouldn't like it because it being so big, but now I Love it! Waiting for the Note3!

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I have the Galaxy Note 2, so getting the Galaxy Note 3 would only be considered if the Note 2 did not get a software update or the hardware was a significant improvement over the Note 2?, But that choice needs to be weighed by each individual who has the same circumstances. The camera is better but not enough for going up to a SGN3, if I was to justify it just on the camera I would just buy a Sony Cyber-shot QX10, as it would bring in better Zoom and optics to name just a few!, so what about the S-Pen?, it seems the new pen brings software improvements that would work just fine on a SGN2. Screen on the SGN3 is fantastic but still not enough to make me upgrade to it from where I am now with the SGN2???, if you are from a lesser device than the SGN2 then by all means jump to a Galaxy Note 3!!!, but if you are on the Galaxy Note 2?, then it will by personal choice to upgrade....For me I will probably wait for the Galaxy Note IV or 4!, as that will have enough hardware candy on it for me and my sweet tooth not to deny....

You know what the biggest thing im looking forward to about the Note 3 over the Note 2 is???? The ability to use the S-Pen to touch the capacitive back and menu buttons!!!! It irked me so much when I was using the S-Pen. I would either have to use the pen gestures or touch the capacitive buttons with my finger. This is a HUGE improvement that has been overlooked in every review I have watched.

Try LMT launcher. It is available on the play store and is configurable for any touch or pen action. It is not an actual launcher but an overlay that will allow back, home, and menu action with the spen.

Yeah I used LMT as well but prefer to not have to download an app to do what the phone "should" already do. LMT works like a charm tho.

Am I the only one who wants a GPE edition of this phone ?

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Won't integrate at all is more like it.

Just from the look of them they are tightly wound into Touchwiz. Everything that makes this phone a WANT from the software side will be lost.

A boomsound driver is one thing, this is an entire other thing.

GPe will be a huge step backwards. You would be better off with an N5

CM had S-Pen functions for the Note 2. They werent as feature rich as stock TWiz but it was possible. Also any TWiz based rom has the functions like NoWiz AOSP which has the stock android look but all the TWiz functions.

Yup. Definitely possible to add SPen features to a GPE. Hoping it happens too.

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Nice video. Makes me want one of these phones. Is it me or does the black note 3 look nicer than the white one? I'm a sucker for white phones and the black one looms 10x better.

Posted from the surface of the Moon; yes we did go there.

Funny, I was just thinking the same thing, and I always go with the white versions. The black back looks awesome.

In the same boat. I've always got white phones including the Note 2. But there is something about the Jet Black Back with the stitching that really looks like... well a classy notebook. Look at the "glamour" shots in the video walkthrough. Cant wait to get mine from the late to the dance carrier Verizon.

I agree I love white phones but after seeing many pics of the note 3, the black one simply looks better which is what I'm about to order.

I look forward to the full review. In general I get on OK with Samsung. Their firmware has been reliable and the hardware is robust. I passed on the Note 1 and Note 2, but Note 3 may be the one. Please comment on the speakers for navigation and podcasts.

How about the 10.1 tablet? That size may make the pen more useful, for some.

This is without a doubt IMO the best Android phone of 2013-2014. This is a freaken beast. Not sure of the color, like white. I might get the white phone and buy a after market real leather battery door in white. That will give the phone some great quality and feel good in the hand. Love this phone, that screen is just sick.

That leather back is so bad ass just saying! Can't wait ,good bye note 2 and hello note 3.

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Great unbiased review. I just hate when people even say the word tablet when speaking of these great decices. (Implies negativity) my note 2 is my only internet decice so it makes sense to have a screen this big. And ive never put anything in the same pocket as my phone anyway so it still fits just fine. (Unless your an emo kid with skinny jeans). Touch wiz is yes very ugly, but people are always saying they want innovation and new tech, well, Sammy brings it baby. But then those same people turn around and say "tw crap". I guess the grass is always greener. (Remember when people used to scoff at cameras in phones?) I love ALWAYS having a pen handy. (Especially when I can make it sound like a light saber when I pull it out:) ) I think as the world makes bigger moves towards being mobile these are the devices people are going to look towards. And for all the things you dont want you could always throw a custom rom that looks like aosp but uses all the best tw samsung has some amazing security (encryption) features . wow I sound like the biggest samsung fanboy and I just realized....maybe I am. Oh well. This is the future people. Dont turn your nose at it. Embrace it

Can't wait for mine to arrive. Preordered it the day Verizon started taking orders. I love my Galaxy S3 but the cramped keyboard is killing me.

CNET china or whatnot said the camera was disappointing. I was also hoping for the step counter thingie. Anyway, I need to figure out how to get rid of my Xperia Z so I can get this. I would do nexus 5, but for some reason I have to have the SD card and I know the Nexus 5 won't have one.

@Alex Dobie - I'm glad you mentioned the improved visibility in sunlight. I have the Galaxy S3 and it's basically unusable in direct sunlight. It would be great if you guys could do a "visibility in sunlight" comparison between the various Galaxy phones and maybe throw an HTC ONE and an iPhone in for comparison. :-)

I had no interest in the phone until I watched this video walk through. Nice job Alex. Still think it's too big for my liking, but some great features. Faux leather better than shiny plastic, but still kind of an odd look. Snapdragon 800 and 3GB of Ram with 4.3 can make you overlook it.

Very nice! I think that black does the textured back more justice than the other colors. Also, I hope Samsung's version of BlinkFeed doesn't catch as much grief as HTC's version.

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Once you go phablet you can never go back... proud note 2 owner. ..waiting for the note 3s price to drop before I get it. That is a beast right there!!!!

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I really hope the sphere camera feature comes over to the S4 on the 4.3 update. I would be elated if I could use that!

I have the GALAXY S2, S3, NOTE 2, & S4. Out of all of them, hands down, the note2 was my favorite. I am very excited about getting the note3! Anybody getting Galaxy Gear?

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Great review, thank you!

Android Central phone reviews generally provide an excellent hands on experience, and this one was one of the best.

I have (and really enjoy) the S4, but some of those features you demo'd, and the way they are packaged on the Note make it very tempting. . . Interesting how the size thing seems to fade as an issue with use!

Thanks again for another excellent video overview!

In general, on the Note 2 (or even the s4) how are Samsung's radios? Their GPS? I ask because my wife has a Nexus S with poor radios & GPS. I think I want the Note 3 as long as it can pull down a strong signal.

I currently use a Galaxy Note 2 and I just love it. I do like its big screen and powerful hardware, but if there is one thing that I always disliked - that would be the plastic construction. After reading some rumors that the new Note might have better materials I was all excited about the prospect of having a phone which for me would have no cons at all. But after seeing the Note 3, I was terribly disappointed. The fake leather and stitching, the awfully horrific grooved plastic bezel with unevenly-edged holes for ports and protruding S-pen makes it look nothing but ugly and low-end. A metal bezel is all that was lacking in Note 2 (I am not against the removable plastic back door since it actually makes a phone more serviceable and functional). If this is the best of what Samsung can do design-wise (after all it is the biggest, fastest and most expensive phone they offer), I am seriously thinking of switching to other manufacturers. I mean why can HTC, Sony (the latest phones) and even Blackberry (which is on the verge of disappearing altogether) and Nokia (Lumia line) can make a quality looking product but Samsung can not?

I was a phone whore a couple years ago, now admittedly I am just a phone junky!!! Already pre-order the device on Verizon, but feeling a little guilty about replacing my beautiful HTC ONE, which has served me well. I hope I pray that I don't get intrigued by that up and coming lumia 1520

Pre-ordered on Verizon. For my needs, this is the best overall Android phone available right now.

If the pleather back isn't pretty enough, get one of the million cover's available in any material you want.

If you want a phone as a status symbol, you should probably buy a gold iPhone.

If the the screen is too large for your small hands and tight pants, that's unfortunate for you.

If Touchwiz ruins your Android experience, there are ways to fix that.

Otherwise, stop nitpicking about a device you aren't going to buy and remember, nobody's ever gotten lucky because of the type of phone they own.

I'm looking forward to the Note 3 but it would have to be KitKat or have some software which won't come to my Note 2 in a year. I'm looking forward to the 64-bit 8-core processor of the Note 4 and am on the fence for an incremental upgrade. If I had anything BUT the Note 2 right now I'd definitely jump in with both feet... but the fact is the incremental updates probably aren't worth paying to get locked in for another 2 years for me.

I've preordered the Note 3 - does anyone know how apps view this phone? As a phone or tablet - do apps like Gmail split the screen like a tablet or do they treat it like a phone. I've currently got the Nexus 4 and HTC One - and find that I'm needing more screen. And I'm continually turning to the Nexus 7 - which is not convenient to always carry around. I'm hoping that the Note 3 will the answer!

I have Note 2. The screen works like an enlarged phone, not tablet. Yes, a big phone like the Notes will eliminate the need to carry a tablet around.

Note 2 screen is 5.5", Note 3 is 5.7". I kinda wish it would be closer to 6.

It's no longer a question of "If".

Now it's just "When".

When will my hands caress the Samsungness of the Note 3.

When will it be My Precious? My Precious.

I used the note 2 for a yr and about a week ago, finally purchased the note 3. Before My purchase, i didnt think theres going to be much difference and i might not be happy with my decision. However, as soon as i opened the box and turn on the device, i was instantly happy. Samsung really did a great job. I will take note 3 over any device at this time.

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I loved my G Note II but in the end, had to admit it was too large to use for me.

The G Note 3 chassis is, to my understanding, no larger than the Note 2, but I felt that the LG G2 was right-sized for me, was $100 or $150 cheaper than the Note III, and so i got it.