• Da Best: Our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review



    Iíll admit, when the Note II came out I wondered if we hit a point where phones would keep getting better but at a slower pace. While the Galaxy S4 was a good phone when it was released it wasnít a huge jump forward from the Note 2. However, when Samsung unveiled the Note 3, it began to look like they were about to release a monster on the market. Letís check it out.

    If you want a second opinion on the Note 3 please check out our other review of the Note 3 here.
    vs Note II:



    Let me get one thing out of the way: the Note 2 is still a great device. Even a year after it came out, I donít have anything bad to say about it - well now I do. In terms of hardware, the Note 3 is a huge step forward. First off, the Note 3 has the best SuperAMOLED screen ever. It looks better and is brighter, it has better viewing angles, the colour looks nicer and it works better outdoors. The screen alone makes it worth the upgrade.



    If thatís not enough the Note 3 has an extremely fast SoC. The graphics portion alone is so much faster and more than makes up for the increase in resolution.

    The camera has been upgraded plus it can now record 4K video which goes well with the extra built-in storage (32GB vs 16GB).

    You now get support for more LTE and HSPA bands. The Note 3 is also a LTE Cat 4 device so it supports download speeds of up to 150Mbps (75Mbps on the Note 2).

    In terms of software, the Note 3 has a few more tricks. Thereís a S-Pen scrapbook, search and a useful feature which lets you open up certain programs in a hovering window.



    The Note 2 is still a great device and if youíre happy with it, keep it. But if you decide to upgrade, the Note 3 is a substantial upgrade and worth the money if you can swing it.

    vs Galaxy S4



    If youíre deciding between the Galaxy S4 and the Note 3 you have to ask yourself whether youíre okay with the Note 3ís extra size. While neither phone is exactly small, the Note 3 is a full size bigger than the GS4.

    Next you have to ask yourself if youíll use the S-Pen. The S-Pen isnít simply a stylus, if thatís all youíre looking for you might want to consider the GS4 and picking up a stylus. The S-Pen, has a magnetic tip so the Note 3 is more like a Wacom drawing tablet. You can do stuff like hover over the screen plus itís much better if you want to use it like a pen.



    In terms of hardware, the Note 3 does have more horsepower under the hood. It has a powerful processor with better graphics performance, 3GB RAM vs 2GB, 32GB vs 16GB of storage, USB 3.0 plus the Note 3 is a Cat 4 LTE device (faster LTE download speeds).

    Are these specs noticeable in real life? The faster processor probably isnít noticeable because the GS4 is already a very fast phone. 2GB of RAM is plenty and I doubt that outside of some really huge games the extra GB of RAM makes any difference.

    However, the extra storage is - if you buy movies from Google Play those files canít be stored on a memory card, so the extra 16GB will make a difference.

    As for the software theyíre quite similar but the Note 3 is running Android 4.3. I expect that the GS4 will be updated eventually but as of right now, itís still on 4.2.

    One reason to use the Note over the GS4 is because the GS4 has some serious usability issues. The menu buttons on the bottom of the phone are located too close to the corners so itís very easy to press them by accident.

    Anyways, if youíre leaning towards the GS4 you should look at the LG G2 instead.

    vs LG G2:



    I reviewed the LG G2 recently and I think itís a better choice if youíre considering the GS4. So, if youíre thinking of a 5Ē phone or a the Note 3, the LG G2 is the phone you should be considering (Iíll get my hands on a Sony Xperia Z1 soon - weíll see if that changes my mind).

    In terms of hardware, the G2 and Note 3 are more similar. They have the same fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC though the Note 3 has 3GB vs 2GB of RAM. In terms of benchmarks the Note 3 is a bit faster on some tests but again, I doubt you notice unless you run benchmarks.

    Here are some reasons why you should get the Note 3 over the G2.

    • Bigger screen
    • S-Pen
    • Memory card slot
    • Able to record 4K video
    • Android 4.3 (vs 4.2)


    Hereís why you should get the LG G2 instead of the Note 3:

    • Smaller
    • Easier to use
    • Better lens stabilization
    • Slightly better outdoor performance


    So again it boils down to a size and whether you care for the S-Pen.

    vs Galaxy Mega:



    When the original Note came out, everyone couldnít get over just how huge it was. Since then screen sizes have been creeping up and now there are actually a couple of 6.xĒ phones like the Sony Xperia Ultra Z (high end phone), Galaxy Mega (mid-range) and Huawei Mate (lower-midrage). While I havenít tried the Ultra Z yet I have reviewed the Mega and Iíll have a Mate review up soon.



    Letís just compare the Mega with the Note 3. If your motivation for picking up a Note 3 is because you want the biggest screen possible, you might want to check out the Mega. The difference between 6.3Ē vs 5.7Ē is pretty dramatic plus the Mega is a bit cheaper.

    Of course, the Mega sports mid-range specs - it has a dual core processor, half the amount of RAM, approximately half the resolution and a lower-spec camera. If youíre not a demanding user you probably wonít notice the Note 3ís superior specs but if you can swing it and donít need the bigger screen, Iíd recommend the Note 3 over the Mega.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Da Best: Our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review started by howard View original post
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. sabesh's Avatar
      sabesh -
      The Note 3 is THE BOSS! Thx for this excellent review. I know that you'll be replacing your iPhone with THE BOSS.
    1. Mr Mystery's Avatar
      Mr Mystery -
      Quote Originally Posted by sabesh View Post
      The Note 3 THE BOSS! Thx for this excellent review. I know that you'll be replacing your iPhone with the THE BOSS.
      Lol, no! Howard runs double duty. Guaranteed he'll keep an Apple in his pocket.
    1. WorldIRC's Avatar
      WorldIRC -
      The Godfather Phone
    1. HC - NO "i"'s Avatar
      HC - NO "i" -
      Fellow HC,

      As much as I like the Galaxy Note 3, it appears Samsung has also messed around with certain benchmarks similar to they did for the Galaxy S4...

      http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/...s-by-up-to-20/

      Quote Originally Posted by Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica View Post
      The file we ended up with is called "DVFSHelper.java," and it contains a hard-coded list of every package that is affected by the special CPU boosting mode. According to this file, the function is used exclusively for benchmarks, and it seems to cover all the popular ones. There's Geekbench, Quadrant, Antutu, Linpack, GFXBench, and even some of Samsung's own benchmarks. The two functions applied to this list seem to be "PACKAGES_FOR_BOOST_ALL_ADJUSTMENT," which is no doubt the CPU booster, and "PACKAGES_FOR_LCD_FRAME_RATE_ADJUSTMENT," which makes it sound like the phone is also altering the display frame rate.

      The inclusion of GFXBench is surprising given that it shows no unusual idling behavior in System Monitor. Between the inclusion of that and the suspicious "frame rate adjustment" string, it's clear that Samsung is doing something to the GPU as well, though those clock speeds are more difficult to access than the CPU speeds (a method used by AnandTech on the international S 4 no longer works on the Note 3).
    1. T&M's Avatar
      T&M -
      I saw the Samsung tablet in Best Buy about a month ago and it had some great features. However, the price tag was not what I wanted to spend on my child. My cousin purchased a tablet for around $80 not sure what type of tablet he purchased. (He said google/android type) the Samsung was around $350. Do you have any suggestions on lower priced tablets that have great features? I would like the voice recognition feature on the tablet that I need to purchase and great to use for games and on the road movies.
    1. crazybear168's Avatar
      crazybear168 -
      What's the model # for Rogers Note3 SGH??? N900??
    1. Groot's Avatar
      Groot -
      Quote Originally Posted by crazybear168 View Post
      what's the model # for rogers note3 sgh??? N900??
      ...............n900w
    1. WorldIRC's Avatar
      WorldIRC -
      N900W8 is actually the model
    1. sabesh's Avatar
      sabesh -
      Quote Originally Posted by HC - NO "i" View Post
      Fellow HC,

      As much as I like the Galaxy Note 3, it appears Samsung has also messed around with certain benchmarks similar to they did for the Galaxy S4...

      http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/...s-by-up-to-20/
      They are all cheats:

      http://www.anandtech.com/show/7384/s...oid-benchmarks
    1. HC - NO "i"'s Avatar
      HC - NO "i" -
      Quote Originally Posted by sabesh View Post
      And including Apple way back then...

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/06...cheating_over/
    1. fruvous's Avatar
      fruvous -
      Is this model in the group of Samsungs that fake benchmark results?
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Quote Originally Posted by fruvous View Post
      Is this model in the group of Samsungs that fake benchmark results?
      I think so - it smoked the benchmarks.

      Then again, who buys a phone based solely on benchmarks? That's like buying a car solely because it has the most horsepower.
    1. lastdon00's Avatar
      lastdon00 -
      Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
      I think so - it smoked the benchmarks.

      Then again, who buys a phone based solely on benchmarks? That's like buying a car solely because it has the most horsepower.

      hey Howard, do you know if the phone has LTE 1700? or 700LTE?

      The bell site states that it does.. but the rogers site doesn't state that.
    1. gsmm4n's Avatar
      gsmm4n -
      How does that region lock that they are putting on their phones work? Is it the same as a carrier lock?


      Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    1. SheGadgets's Avatar
      SheGadgets -
      Love the way they improved the Note. Still stuck between that and the S4.
    1. BigBrosMo's Avatar
      BigBrosMo -
      Quote Originally Posted by fruvous View Post
      Is this model in the group of Samsungs that fake benchmark results?
      Yup, and it's still the fastest when the cheats are disabled according to the arstechnica article... so makes no difference then.
    1. Sokin's Avatar
      Sokin -
      Galaxy Note 3 compared to Note 2 has better Display, Camera, Battery, Processor, Memory, Design, and Operating System. It’s lighter and thinner than the Note 2, has a full HD display, more RAM, faster CPU, and (IMO) it looks way better. Samsung did great work with Note 3, and it definitely worth the upgrade from Note 2 to Note 3.

      Great review by the way!
    1. sabesh's Avatar
      sabesh -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sokin View Post
      Galaxy Note 3 compared to Note 2 has better Display, Camera, Battery, Processor, Memory, Design, and Operating System. It’s lighter and thinner than the Note 2, has a full HD display, more RAM, faster CPU, and (IMO) it looks way better. Samsung did great work with Note 3, and it definitely worth the upgrade from Note 2 to Note 3.

      Great review by the way!
      Agreed. I've lost all interest in other phones in the market after getting used to the Note series.
    1. TelecomZombie's Avatar
      TelecomZombie -
      Sabesh may I suggest you invest in a Truss sooner then later.
    1. jaybkird's Avatar
      jaybkird -
      By FAR the best Samsung product I have personally used!!!!