Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review: World's most capable Android smartphone gets even better

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review: World's most capable Android smartphone gets even better

Summary: With the highest specs on an Android phone, one of the largest displays with S Pen support, and enhanced Samsung software we see Samsung continue to improve on a fantastic device with the size staying about the same.

SHARE:

 |  Image 18 of 50

  • Lumen toolbar option in the browser

  • Intro to S Note

  • Selecting a S Note template

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Thumbnail 7
  • Thumbnail 8
  • Thumbnail 9
  • Thumbnail 10
  • Thumbnail 11
  • Thumbnail 12
  • Thumbnail 13
  • Thumbnail 14
  • Thumbnail 15
  • Thumbnail 16
  • Thumbnail 17
  • Thumbnail 18
  • Thumbnail 19
  • Thumbnail 20
  • Thumbnail 21
  • Thumbnail 22
  • Thumbnail 23
  • Thumbnail 24
  • Thumbnail 25
  • Thumbnail 26
  • Thumbnail 27
  • Thumbnail 28
  • Thumbnail 29
  • Thumbnail 30
  • Thumbnail 31
  • Thumbnail 32
  • Thumbnail 33
  • Thumbnail 34
  • Thumbnail 35
  • Thumbnail 36
  • Thumbnail 37
  • Thumbnail 38
  • Thumbnail 39
  • Thumbnail 40
  • Thumbnail 41
  • Thumbnail 42
  • Thumbnail 43
  • Thumbnail 44
  • Thumbnail 45
  • Thumbnail 46
  • Thumbnail 47
  • Thumbnail 48
  • Thumbnail 49
  • Thumbnail 50

Topics: Reviews, Android, Google, Mobility, Samsung

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

Talkback

52 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Region lock

    Matthew,

    The most commented feature about the Note 3 on the net in recent days is the region lock. Yet not one mention of it in this review. Can you explain?
    derek h
    • I'm not going to reward Samsung...

      ...for a completely consumer hostile action like region lock. I was waiting for the Nexus 5 to be released before deciding between it and the Note 3. By region locking the Note 3, Samsung's made that decision easy.
      os2baba
      • Region lock?

        Can you explain what is this region lock? I live in Nigeria and Samsung phones get here very quickly, always SIM-free - SIM-locking GSM phones is illegal in Nigeria. But I recently bought the Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 DUOS (dual-SIM). Everywhere I read the specs of this phone, it says it has 1.5GB RAM. But mine has only 1GB RAM. Is this part of the regional discrimination?
        rsawoseyin
        • This link should help explain the region lock issue

          http://www.thestar.com.my/Tech/Tech-News/2013/10/01/Samsung-clarifies-handset-region-locking-in-face-of-consumers-fears.aspx
          tallbruva
          • Region lock is the elephant in the room

            If you want to travel to another country, the cheapest way to do it is get a local SIM from a store in that country, and then you get relatively cheap calls and data when you travel.

            Unless they block it.

            Some apologists say the Samsung region block is disabled when you first put your SIM in (which they claim means there's no block at all). I'm not convinced. There are many anecdotal reports from people across various web forums who say their Samsung phone does not work when they travel abroad.

            You don't want to buy a phone that is blocked or hobbled in any way. It doesn't matter what other features the phone may offer. The features mean nothing if the phone gets blocked. I don't want a half-block, or a semi-blocked phone. I want no blocking. None whatsoever.
            Vbitrate
    • Region lock not an issue

      This issue has died down as the region lock is automatically cleared when you first activate the phone with a SIM from the intended market. Once activated any SIM will work. If you do lock the phone by using a SIM from another market you can request an unlock from a service centre. I agree that this is not a sensible approach by Samsung but not really an issue when for most people the region lock will disappear on first activation.
      chriss30
      • British press...

        reported that a customer tried it in store in London, the assistant took out a Note 3, put in a Vodafone card and made a call, the customer then stuck his Hong Kong SIM in and the phone was locked...
        wright_is
        • that's not region lock...

          That's carrier locked. That's a different thing. It is ypur responsibility to call your telco if you are going overseas to confirm if your device is not locked.

          I can see why Samsung implemented this. Our country (Philippines) have a lot of grey market resellers, most of them are legitimate online businesses. They are also cheaper than the local models (even if ph is 3rd world and sources came from 1st world countries). It appears that Samsung would want to put a stop on this as it is affecting the profit margins of local Samsung dealers (a dealer can sell both local and grey market devices, the local with an advantage of warranty but the grey market phone has more variety and superior specs than the local).

          The problem here is that Samsung does not officially sell certain models of phones (notably the higher end 32 and 64gb models but at least sgn3 came with 32gb; pink will never be officially released here; they think the other models aside from the base model will have 'no demand'), thus, people here are resorting to grey markets to get what our local Samsung cannot provide.

          We lose on this one... :(
          triadwarfare
    • Shh

      Don't ruin the brainwashing.
      macrhino
  • The Hardware Shows

    One thing not mentioned is that this phone is handily topping benchmark software. Currently it's leading the PassMark charts in many categories and over-all performance. It's almost enough to make me waver from my pure Google devices.
    Snowsong
    • These benchmarks are not the whole story

      http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/10/galaxy-note-3s-benchmarking-adjustments-inflate-scores-by-up-to-20/
      Tangodine
      • It's not Samesungs first time either.

        ...
        Arm A. Geddon
    • Faking It

      Over at Arstechnica they've shown that the Note 3 is cheating the benchmarks:

      http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/10/review-the-galaxy-note-3-is-big-and-it-pulls-some-benchmark-shenanigans/
      rbgaynor
    • cheats

      You should never accept benchmarks from Samsung unless it was done by an expert who checks the artificial CPU doping. Samsung gives you inflated numbers that don't reflect real world usage.
      baozebub
      • Yup, Samesungs new motto...

        No need to copy when we can just cheat.
        Arm A. Geddon
        • Or...

          We lie, we cheat, we steal and we make some damn good money from it.
          Arm A. Geddon
  • great review

    Thanks for getting the review on one page instead of forcing folks to click through. This looks likes the perfect upgrade from my Galaxy Note.
    john-whorfin
  • Not convinced....

    As with all Samsung smartphones and tablets the application of Android is outstanding but as always I question build quality.
    5735guy
    • Build quality on Samsung

      A couple things about the Samsung build quality:

      I've been an HTC fan since I had the Sprint CDMA Hero. Since then I had the EVO, then the Bionic, then the RAZR.

      I have watched Samsung come up the last 2 years or so, and I was amazed to see so many people taking a liking to the plastic phones.

      I went to Hawaii on vacation a couple of weeks ago, and my RAZR battery is lasting about 2 hours on a good day, so I picked up an HTC One due to the phenomenal build quality and being a fan.

      I was there for 9 days, and I loved the battery life, build quality and camera features, but next to a Note 2, the blacks were terrible. I realized one day that while I loved the HTC build quality, Samsung puts their money into the screen because...well...we all stuff these things in cases anyway. Once it's in the case, we don't care.

      So I returned the HTC One and pre-ordered a Note 3. I'm very scared of the feature creep on the Samsung, but eventually I can root it and probably not deal with all that. Until then, I'm happy to have a large screen, terrific resolution on the camera, the S-Pen, and black blacks. I'll just put a case on it :-)
      chrisklop
    • Yep

      Yep. I've had a GS2 and GS3 and they've both had internal issues - charging, overheating etc. I still think the GS2 was the biggest leap forward in phones I've had but I ended up getting it replaced for free due to it's issues. Those issues were the sort that an OTA software upgrade should have been able to fix but Samsung weren't interested and the GS3 had some of the same issues. I agree that Samsung android implementation is good - it's superior to HTC I reckon.
      John in Brisbane