Galaxy Note 3 review round-up: What do some of the best sites think about the new phablet?

BY Stefan Constantinescu

Published 1 Oct 2013

Today is Galaxy Note 3 review day. Almost all of the big websites (we’ll get there, some day) have published their reviews of Samsung’s new phablet. I’ve been promised that I will eventually get a review unit, though I haven’t been told when exactly. Never mind that, because I’m just going to live vicariously through the words and videos of others. So with that, here’s what some of my favorite sites on the internet have to say about Samsung’s new flagship.

The Verge

Dan Seifert wrote the review, and one of the first thing he points out is that despite the Note 3 having a larger screen than the Note II, it’s actually easier to use thanks to the ever so slight reduction in device width. Moving on to the screen, arguably the most important part of the phone, Dan says it’s good, but not as good as the displays found in the HTC One and LG G2. It’s also the first time he hasn’t an issue with AMOLED.

And while the fake leather back isn’t exactly beautiful in his eyes, Dan does say it’s “a million times better” than the slippery plastic that was found on last year’s model.

So overall, what did he think?

“If you really liked the earlier models, you’ll love the Note 3, but it probably won’t convert those that never bought into the idea. Samsung didn’t reinvent the wheel here, it just gave it a smoother ride.

Score: 8.2 out of 10


Moving on to a much more geeky review, Brian Klug’s 8,000 word masterpiece is something I still haven’t completely finished, but the parts I’ve digested tell me more than enough. Starting with his conclusion, because it echo’s Dan’s so well, he says:

“Whereas previous Notes felt like a strange alternative to the Galaxy S line, the Galaxy Note 3 feels more like Samsung’s actual flagship. It equals the Galaxy S 4 in camera performance, but exceeds it pretty much everywhere else. There’s a better SoC, better cellular/RF and even better industrial design. I suppose next year we’ll see the Galaxy S 5 play catch up in these areas, but until then it’s clear that the Note 3 is the new flagship from Samsung. Although you could argue that the improvements within are incremental, the Note 3 really defines what incremental should be.”

Couldn’t have asked for more. It’s Samsung’s new flagship, and if this is “just” an incremental update, then all incremental updates should this substantial. As for the specifics, Brian says you can’t notice the funky subpixel arrangement Samsung uses with their new screen. He still prefers LCD over AMOLED, but hey, I’ll take any compliment.

And as for the speed?

“The Galaxy Note 3 is more or less the fastest Android smartphone we’ve tested up to this point.”



James Trew handled this one, and he’s fallen in love with the device, saying it’s better than the Note II in almost every respect, except for one thing. He says that the new bottom firing speaker isn’t very good, and that he preferred the speaker in the Note II. I’ve chatted with several Note 3 owners who were former Note II owners and they’ve each said the same thing, which frankly worries me a bit.

How’s the screen? It can be too saturated at times (something than can be adjusted in the settings), but it’s finally an AMOLED screen that be viewed in bright sunlight.

How’s the speed?

“Probably one of the slickest performers yet. A sensation akin to getting broadband for the first time after using dial-up.”

If the price doesn’t bug you, he says, then buy it.

Android Central

There are a ton of Android sites on the internet, I’m not ignorant of that. Most of them refuse to acknowledge the others exist, which is frankly a bit childish, but whatever, I understand we’re all fighting for the same page views. Anyway, Android Central is an outstanding publication, and their Note 3 review was written by Alex Dobie.

Alex says:

“It’s big and brash and expensive — but it’s also brilliant. And whether you’re a power user looking for bleeding-edge specs or a professional seeking a larger screen with stylus-based productivity features, the Galaxy Note 3 is the best device in its class, and a phone that’s earned itself an enthusiastic recommendation.”

That’s his conclusion. Earlier in the review, he called the Note 3 “Samsung’s best handset yet.” As for specifics, the screen is “among the best mobile displays we’ve seen on any device.” The Snapdragon 800 inside, combined with 3 GB of RAM, means the Note 3 has “more performance than most Android apps know what to do with right now.”

Only con is that TouchWiz (still) isn’t very pretty.


You know how you’ll find someone who has the exact same taste as you in movies or clothes, so you always ask them for advice or listen to their opinions? That’s Matthew Miller for me. Every week I listen to his Mobile Tech Roundup podcast and find myself nodding my head up and down with everything he says. So with that, here’s his final thoughts on the Note 3:

“If you are a heavy data user and want a large smartphone, nothing beats the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The only reason I didn’t give it a perfect 10, with the base assumption that size is not a factor since you are a buyer of a large smartphone, is that the Exchange client still needs work and Samsung should lighten up a bit more on the included apps and utilities.”

With a score of 9.5 out of 10, that’s pretty much a buy.


Why aren’t there more cons, you might be asking? Surprisingly, they were few and far between. The speaker is a downgrade compared to the Note II. The fake stitching looks a bit lame. The Exchange support sucks. And it’s a big phone, but you already know that.

Everything else about this device pretty much rocks, and while I personally want to buy a Note 3, something inside me is telling me to wait. The Nexus 5 will come out this month, and if it has a 5 inch high quality LG LCD and a Snapdragon 800, then it might be the phone to beat because it’ll get constant Android updates.

Then there’s another part of me that says my Note II is fine, and while the Note 3 is a massive upgrade, do I really need it right now? Probably not. With all the rumors about the Galaxy S5 coming with a metal body and a 16 megapixel camera that has optical image stabilization, would waiting half a year kill me? No, not in the slightest.

Look, there will always be something around the corner, but you just have to ask yourself how happy you are with what you already own. Right now, I’m on the fence, which kind of stinks.

One more thing …

I’m a huge fan of Pocket-now, but their Note 3 written hasn’t gone up yet. Not to fret, however, because their video review has. Spoiler: They had the phone lock up on them a few times, and yes, the speaker still sucks, but the rest of it? Pure bliss.