Samsung has upgraded its phablet, the Galaxy Note 2 to (unsurprisingly) the Galaxy Note 3, we spent some time with the new smartphone/tablet at IFA 2013, here’s our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 hands-on review.

The first thing that catches your attention with the Galaxy Note 3 is the new stylish leather back cover. The new leather rear makes holding and gripping the sizable device an easier task, and it also fits in with the business vibe of the phablet too. the back is completely removable, giving you access to the phone’s battery, which is of the Li-Ion 3200 mAh variety.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 hands-on reviews

While the size and weight of the Note 3 isn’t really any different to the Note 3 (151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm plays 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm) The overall shape and appearance has smartened up somewhat, with the Galaxy Note 3 sporting a more sophisticated and boxy silhouette. The Note 3 is also a little bit lighter than its predecessor, weighing in at 168g compared to the 183g of the Note 2.

Samsung has performed a clever trick with the upgrade to the Galaxy Note, by making the Note 3 both smaller and thinner than the Note 2, but the Korean tech giant has also made the display bigger and shaper. The Note 3 now has a 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.7 inch display with 386 ppi, this is a gain of 0.2 inches and +119 pixls per inch. Not to be sniffed at! The new Super AMOLED display on the Note 3 looks incredibly sharp and impressive for a phablet.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 video demo

There is a bit of an issue with the attached S Pen though, and that is simply that it is far too thin and fiddly, it’s impossible to get a good grip of. The stylus does have an almost hidden button built in, which unlocks one of the Note 3’s new features, Air Command.

Air Command is a classic piece of Samsung mobile software and is unique to the Note 3. When you click the button on the S Pen and activate Air Command you are present with a pop-in circle that gives you the option to do five things. These are Action Memo - handwritten notes; Scrapbook - which lets capture media by simply circling it on the screen and works with pictures, text and YouTube videos too; Screen Write - takes a screen shot and let you add handwritten notes; S finder - the Note 3’s internal search engine; Pen Window - this one is a confusing thing to get your head around. To use Pen Window, you click the button on the stylus, select Pen Window, then you need to draw a box on the screen and then finally you can select and open one of the following eight apps: YouTube, contacts, calculator, clock, web browser, Google Hangouts, ChatON and phone.

The new Galaxy Note now has 3GB of internal RAM, which is more than enough. Internal storage also now starts at 32GB and tops at 64GB, it has retained its microSD card slot too. The rear-facing camera has been upgraded to 13 Mp from 8 Mp, the front-facing has a hefty extra 0.1 Mp now too, making it a solid 2 Mp in total. There is also a new Qualcomm Snapdragon Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 processor under the hood and the device comes with Android OS, v4.3 Jelly Bean preinstalled. The end product is a very snappy phablet that is responsive to the touch and quick to open/close apps.

Maybe it’s just me, but there are a couple of things on the note that seem overly complicated and gimmicky. The design and internal hardware of the Note 3 are first class, but from my very limited time with the device I just didn’t feel that the new features were that impressive or intuitive to use. There’s no doubting that the Note 3 is a good upgrade and will be hugely useful to business types all over the world, but in my opinion it seems to lack a little polish when it comes to certain pieces of software design.


The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has gone a pretty routine upgrade from its predecessor, with results that are both impressive and confusing at the same time.