Tech Tuesday: Galaxy Note 3

NoteInHand2
Today I thought I’d take some time to give a basic review of my Galaxy Note 3. I’ve been thinking about writing this review for a while, but I always got bogged down with history and which features I should write about. Today I set that all aside and write about the phone, and what I think about it.

It’s Big!

That was the first thought I had in store when I was purchasing it. Put a case on it and it’s even bigger. So the question you have to ask yourself is do you want a big phone. For me the answer was yes, in fact I’ve been wanting a Galaxy Note since the first one ship three years ago. I got the Note 3 to replace my Nexus 7 that suffered an unfortunate accident. I didn’t want to relied on my tiny Lumia 520 as my only personal internet device. So I upgraded my phone to a Note 3 and went from carrying two devices to carrying one. So the size didn’t bother me.

TouchWiz / Samsungs Version of Android

Specs:
Screen size: 5.70 in
Dimensions: 5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 in
Resolution: 1080×1920 pixels
RAM 3GB / Internal storage 32GB
Expandable storage: Yes
Camera: 13 megapixels

A complaint you often here about android is different manufacturers add their own skin on top of Googles Android. Giving each companies phone a slightly different feel. This is often sited as a major annoyance for users. I don’t see the problem. Sure they look different, but every skinned device I’ve used has tried to add some functionality that was missing from stock Android. Sure occasionally they add things that are already there, just with their own flare, but when I look at it I don’t see the problem. In fact I like the ability to run applications side by side or even one on top of the other that Samsung added, it’s something I wished my Nexus 7 with its stock android could have done.

The primary interface with the phone is your Home screen and regardless of the Manufacturer you can change it. I’ve been using Action Launcher as my Home screen for a while, and it does point out my biggest complaint with the Manufacturers is that the widgets they use on their own Home screen are non standard so that when I choose to use a third-party home screen I lose access to some or all of their widgets. This just seems petty to me.

NotificationShade

There is on interface that is different on every phone and Android device I’ve used, and it’s one that you can’t change. It’s the notification shade. I don’t mind what Samsung has done with it, though I wish there was more options for the quick settings and I don’t really need to have that quick access to the brightness. Still it works and doesn’t take up to much of the screen when the shade is extended.

The Stylus S Pen

The S Pen

One of the selling points of the Note series of devices is that they come with a S Pen. Bringing writing to the digital world. I admit to being drawn to it, but only using it occasionally. Even before I had the note I tried different styluses with my phone and tablet, but it always seemed to remove me from the device. I am just to used to using my figure and the act of getting out a stylus to interact with the device seemed a was of time. Also limiting, I use multiple touch points when interacting with devices, with Stylus that’s more difficult. I want to say that the S Pen is different, with its fine tip and touchless awareness of where you are pointing is enough to get me to use it. It isn’t, beyond the occasional drawing or hand written note. It’s never my first choice when I pick up my phone. Still I like having it, and find it very useful whenever I do use it.

Gimmicks

All high end phone ship with features to make then stand out from the crowded field of Android device. The Note 3 is no different, it has Air gestures and eye tracking that’s supposed to give you Smart Stay, Smart Pause and Smart scrolling. I’ve tried to use these but they just never seem to work when I want them to. So most of the time I just leave them turned off. They also include S Voice, a service I barely understand. It’s clearly Samsungs attempt as coping Siri, and I guess it does that, but I don’t see the point. Google Now is a better, it can answer any question I asking but also gives me information with out me asking,

 

Final Thoughts

When I bought this phone I knew the Note 4 would be announced within two months, but I also knew that it would be out of my budget at launch. I watched the event that introduced the Note 4 to the world waiting to see the something to make me regret my decision, some feature that would make this seems like a dated piece of junk. I didn’t see it. Sure the Note 4 looks like a great phone with its higher resolution heart rate monitor and fingerprint sensor. It just an incremental upgrade, of course by the time the Note 5 is released next fall, I might be wishing my contract was less than 2 year deal.

So if you are looking for a phablet and don’t mind it being last year model I would recommend you pick up a Galaxy Note 3. I know some people say Samsung Phones feel cheep, and I don’t know about that, it certainly doesn’t feel as solid as some other phones, but when it’s in a case it’s not the phone’s build quality your feeling it’s the cases.

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