Bigger, better, brighter: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 reviewed
Getting to using the device, you’ll find the buttons are in the familiar places, and even though this is a larger device with a 5.7 inch screen, it still fits comfortably in the hands, likely due to the softer edges and slightly curved back.
The continued placement of the power button on the left and volume rocker on the right still makes it easy to hold, but thanks to the massive size, you’ll likely need that second hand to use the device.
No worries, though, because we expected that, and big phones generally are a two handed affair.
For this two handed device, you’ll find a big screen staring back at you, working with a Full HD 1920×1080 resolution that looks absolutely fantastic, and providing 386 pixels per inch for your eyes, making it 60 pixels per inch higher than what Apple provides on the 4 inch iPhone 5S screen.
Colours are excellent on this display, and regardless of the angle you take, this is a lovely screen to view.
Operating the phone is really no different to other Samsung devices making their way out, though you do get a few new features for your troubles, and of course an updated pen that knows when you’re using it.
Much of what made the S4 popular is here, including smart screen support, air command to pick up on your hovering finger, air view, and support for multi-window, which lets you run two apps on the main screen at once, setting the screen divider up as you please. Regular Android staples are also here, such as multiple homescreens, support for widgets, the drop down bar, and slide out multitasking.
The pen has been updated too, and now activates a special “air command” roll-out screen every time you pull that pen out, which provides you with shortcuts to using that accessory at your fingertips, or pen tip, as the case appears to be.
This mode, which can also be activated by hitting the pen’s button, offers you the ability to take memos, write on your screen, and even add extra windowed applications by drawing shapes for where you want these micro-apps to go.
We’re not sure if everyone will have a use for these pen-based apps, and we found “Action Memo” to be among the most useful, letting you take a note, and then either send it to someone or have it stay as a small icon on your desktop until you need it again.
Over on the performance side of things, there’s no doubt that this is a fast phone, a fact which is evident the more you use the handset and find very little to no lag in the operations.
Switching between apps yields pretty much no slowdowns, and the chip on offer doesn’t seem to struggle or get remarkably hot, which is a good thing.
That same strong performance is echoed in the mobile 4G performance, and we found speeds ranging from 30 to 85Mbps on the downloads.
It’s the second device we’ve seen to sport Cat4 LTE connectivity, though as of the time this was published, only Vodafone customers in Australia can play with the extra speeds this technology offers. Everyone else will see high Cat3 speeds, as we did testing on the Telstra network.
Battery life is also equally good, thanks to the 3200mAh battery inside the handset, which helps to provide a solid two days worth of life.
This isn’t like either the Note or Note 2 devices, which barely manage a day on their technology. Two days seemed consistent for us, and that was tested with both the Galaxy Gear smartwatch connected and without.
You’ll find a little more juice without Bluetooth always being used, a requirement of the Samsung Galaxy Gear, but it’s not much, and still leaves you with roughly the same lifespan.