Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

April 5 2014No Commented

Categorized Under: Cell Phones, Handhelds

Samsung galaxy Note 3

Late last year, a video showcasing the prototype of a modular phone – Phonebloks – circulated virally around the Web. The idea of a phone that can be whatever you want it to be definitely met with approval, and we might soon see it turn into reality, thanks to Motorola.

Samsung seems to have the same goal, but its approach has been to create a new model for every possible need. Did we hear someone enquiring about a smartphone with a 5.1-inch screen and top-of-the-line specs? We have the Galaxy S4/S5 for you. No? Do you want a slightly bigger screen with a full-HD display and a stylus? Take a look at the Galaxy Note 3. You think that’s too expensive but don’t mind a slight compromise on the screen resolution and camera specifications? Enter its younger sibling – the Galaxy Note 3 Neo.

For the uninitiated, this cacophony of device names might be unnerving. Did we mention there is also a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo Duos? Now, while we are at the topic of bewildering monikers, check this out.

The Neo is slimmer and sleeker than its namesake, and Samsung is also blowing its trumpet about the hexacore processor housed inside the device. Is the younger sibling rough around the edges? How is the performance compared to the Note 3 which is slightly more expensive? Is there a single redeeming feature for us to recommend the Note 3 Neo? Read on to find out.



Look and Feel
This ‘lite’ edition also has the faux leather plastic back with a distinctive stitch design running across the border akin to its elder sibling. The Neo feels comfortable to hold if you have big hands, but it isn’t too comfortable for single-handed operation. Reaching the top of the screen with your thumb is bound to be a hassle.

Looking at it from the back, the camera and flash modules sit on top of the Samsung logo running across the breadth of the device. Removing the rear cover reveals the removable 3100mAh battery, a slot for the SIM card, and another one for the microSD memory card. It is interesting to note that the NFC module is a part of the battery.



We reviewed the alluring white edition and it is definitely a dust magnet. However, the Neo is also available in classic black and cool mint (which looks rather bland). This phablet has a single physical button for the home function which is flanked on either side by the back (right) and menu (left) buttons. Right above the screen is the earpiece grille. To its right are the proximity and light sensors, and the front camera module. To its left, you can see a discreet (almost invisible) notification LED. A bit too cramped in our opinion.

A chrome trim runs around the border, which houses most of the buttons and ports. The left edge has a volume rocker and the power button sits on the right edge, which is great for accessibility considering the size of the device (we’re looking at you, HTC). The bottom is the busiest, with the Micro-USB charging/data port, speaker grille, microphone, and enclosure for the S Pen stylus. The top is also crowded, with the 3.5mm jack, extra microphone for the speakerphone, and an infrared LED.

The oft-used statement ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ holds true in the case of the Neo, since the faux leather might give it a premium look. Once we pry open the rear cover, it is unmistakably and unapologetically plastic. Despite this, the Galaxy Note 3 Neo is a sturdy device with no signs of flex.



Features and Specifications
The USP of this Samsung phablet is the hexacore processor, which includes a quad-core Cortex A7 clocked at 1.3 GHz and a dual-core 1.7GHz Cortex A15, supported by a Mali T-624 graphics subsystem. The Neo has 16GB of internal memory and supports up to 64GB more using a MicroSD card. Two gigabytes of RAM are available for the user, which is a gigabyte less than on the Note 3. The rear camera is an 8MP variant (again stripped down from the Note 3’s 13MP) with flash and there’s also a 2MP front-facing camera capable of capturing 1080p video for those long Skype sessions.

Coming to the connectivity, Samsung has all bases covered, with 2G, 3G, LTE (no support for 2.3GHz band, though), GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0. Moreover, Samsung has added a multitude of sensors including an accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor and compass.

Since the Neo is supposed to be a stripped down version of the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung has made a compromise on the screen, which is a 5.5 inch 720p Super AMOLED capacitive touch panel. It translates to a pixel density of approximately 267 per inch. Despite being a PenTile screen, it isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the accurate colour reproduction and impressive viewing angles are an advantage. The screen also has Gorilla Glass 3 for protection just like the Note 3, which should allow it to handle a few scratches.


Colourful wallpapers and icons are standard for TouchWiz – Samsung’s custom UI on top of all its Android (4.3 Jellybean, in this case) devices. It is garish, loud, cartoonish, and we are no strangers to it anymore. Nothing’s changed in the case of the Galaxy Note 3 Neo.

The Neo carries forward all the software embellishments Samsung introduced with the Note 3. The most interesting of the lot is Air Command, which uses the S Pen (capacitive stylus) exclusive to the Note series. Basically, the moment you detach the S Pen, you’ll see a semi-circular wheel of commands on screen. Using the S Pen, the user can select any of the following tools: Action Memo, Scrapbooker, Screen Write, S-Finder and Pen Window. Except for Pen Window which is used to launch apps compatible with Samsung’s multitasking scheme, the rest of the features seem to have limited value. Still, we noted that the S Pen works better than any stylus in the market.

A few other features like Smart Stay, Smart Scroll and Smart Pause are present too. They work occasionally, but using Smart Scroll, for example, appeared to bystanders as though we were performing advanced neck exercises.


Samsung provides a panel of applications that the can run on screen simultaneously, and we found ourselves using this quite often, especially when we wanted to watch a video and do other little things such as sending a text message alongside.

TouchWiz offers a plethora of options in the notification panel and frankly, despite looking messy, it is indeed functional. Also, Samsung’s default keyboard includes a number row on top of the QWERTY layout which is handy. Another nifty addition is the handwriting-to-text feature on the keyboard that works like a charm.

Users can find the regular set of Google apps, including Chrome, bunched up in a folder. We can always expect Samsung to fill their devices with bloatware, and they don’t disappoint in the case of the Neo. Here is the laundry list: Samsung Apps, Samsung ChatON, Samsung WatchON, Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring, S Voice, S Health, Group Play, Story Album, and S Translator.

Samsung also bundles Evernote, Dropbox, Flipboard and Tripadvisor with the device. The apps are placed in a folder called Galaxy Plus. Samsung teams up with Flipboard for content syndication for the Magazine app and tries to emulate the functionality of HTCs Blinkfeed, which in itself shares design ideologies with Flipboard. The user can swipe from the bottom of the screen to pull up Magazine.

Samsung’s idea is to give the user plenty of choice, but these apps are a part of the core system, and there’s no easy way to delete them.


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