Oct 11 AT 3:12 PM Dima Aryeh 106 Comments

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 first impressions


Ever since I got my Samsung Galaxy Note II for Chirstmas, I have been 99% satisfied. It was a magnificent phone and has served me well to this day. I have not grown bored of it, nor have I longed for a new phone. This is a rare occurrence for me, considering I always want all the new technology. But the Galaxy Note II kept me satisfied, despite never liking large phones before.

But when the Galaxy Note 3 was announced, I felt a familiar excitement I haven’t felt in a long time. Unlike the Galaxy S 4 announcement, I felt like this was a true evolution. Expansion of the already awesome S Pen features, dropping the occasionally slimy plastic back, and throwing in a larger display while making a smaller device? Sign me the heck up.


First taking the phone out of the box, I was stunned by its beauty. It is a nostalgic design to me, reminding me greatly of the Samsung Galaxy S II I adore and still own. The gorgeous sharp edges are accented by a very fittingly sized home button that’s extra clicky. The back did not thrill me as much visually, as the faux leather initially looked a little tacky. However, the effect it had on grip was fantastic and made me feel like this alone made the upgrade from the Note II worth it.

The device features a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of memory with a microSD slot, a 13MP camera with smart stabilization and a 3,200 mAh battery. Despite the larger screen and better-in-every-way internals, the device manages to become narrower and thinner, only becoming a tad taller than its predecessor at 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm. Just like with the Galaxy S 4, it is an amazing experience upgrading to a smaller device with a larger screen.

Having a Galaxy S 4 in the household and experiencing the display quality, I was not expecting much from the Note 3 display. However, it blew me away. It’s incredibly stunning, making the Note II and Galaxy S 4 look plain bad. I have never seen a display so beautiful. And with a Snapdragon 800 and 3GB of RAM, it’s incredibly fast and smooth, definitely outclassing anything on the market so far.

On the software front, you have familiar old TouchWiz. It’s still as colorful and bloated as ever, but it seems to have been optimized to run much faster than on previous models. I haven’t gotten any lag on this device so far, and it’s been an amazing experience. However, you’ll still be dealing with some gimmicks and cartoony looks. It’s expected from Samsung, but well done for the most part. For someone who’s been exclusively running AOSP for months, it’s still good software.

Software features like one handed operation across the entire OS are awesome, while others like the tabbed Settings screen with no swiping between tabs aren’t. The S Pen has been made even more useful, and the pen itself more robust and less cheap. And of course, what would a Note device be without Multi Window? It’s there and it works great.

However, the camera has not been the greatest experience. While the Note 3 shares the same sensor as the Galaxy S 4, its imaging capabilities are a bit different. In darkness, it shoots better overall photos but they look like watercolors. In daylight, photos are never as sharp and detailed as they should be. Hopefully Samsung will rectify this with a software update.

Build quality has been fantastic for me. The device is extremely solid, the leather back has grown on me and provides a very premium feel, and the whole device feels solid. It’ll take some time to determine long term durability; you’ll have to read the full review for that!

In only a few days of use, I’ve already fallen for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. It’s been an absolutely wonderful device and seems like an incredible upgrade for Note II owners. However, issues like the camera not shooting sharp images impact my opinion of it, so we’ll see how Samsung handles that one. I can’t wait to get more in-depth with the software, so stick around for the full review! Do you want to know something about the Galaxy Note 3? Do you have any questions, suggestions or requests for the final review? Leave a comment and I’ll try to address them as best I can!

Dima Aryeh is a Russian obsessed with all things tech. He does photography, is an avid phone modder (who uses an AT&T Galaxy Note II), a heavy gamer (both PC and 360), and an aspiring home mechanic. He is also an avid fan of music, especially power metal.

    Most Tweeted This Week