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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £620
inc VAT

The Note 3 is still an outstanding phone, but the price gap between it and the Note 4 has narrowed


Processor: Quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Screen Size: 5.7in, Screen resolution: 1,920×1,080, Rear camera: 13-megapixel, Storage: 32GB / 64GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 151x79x8.3mm, Weight: 168g, Operating system: Android 4.3

The Note 3 is also the first handset to receive Samsung’s Knox security suite, which adds Pentagon-approved levels of security to Android’s notoriously open operating system. It’s designed to support the trend for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for corporate employees, by keeping your work data (which your IT department can access and control) separate from your personal data on one device. It’s unlikely to prove useful for the majority, but for some it could be a welcome end to lugging round a battered Blackberry too.

As well as containing a host of Samsung-designed improvements, the Galaxy Note 3 is also the first device other than Google’s own Nexus range to run the latest version of Android. 4.3 may not add much in the way of new features, but it does bring support for Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) devices such as Samsung’s own Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Until an update gets released for existing products, the Galaxy Note 3 is one of the only compatible handsets, although you’ll be looking at almost £850 to get both devices without a contract.

Just as it did with the Galaxy S4, Samsung has produced a comprehensive range of official accessories for the Note 3. You finally don’t have to choose between wireless charging and screen protection with the S View Cover Wireless, which costs around £55. We’ve only seen the standard S View cover so far, which completely replaces the back cover with a thicker faux leather face plate and flip-out front cover that protects the front.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

It has a much larger viewing window than the Galaxy S4’s S View cover, and you can actually interact with the phone through it with your fingers or the S-Pen to use the camera, change music tracks or take notes without having to open up the phone. The only downside is that it covers the volume buttons on the left side of the phone, meaning you have to flip it open just to turn your music up or down.

This high price is partly due to the top-end components Samsung has opted for. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset runs at a blistering 2.3GHz and is paired with 3GB of RAM, which simply put makes the Galaxy Note 3 one of the fastest Android handsets we’ve ever tested. As well as a blistering score of 966.6 in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, 3DMark Ice Storm refused to even post a score, simply stating the phone had “maxed out” its basic and mid-range tests. Instead we had to use the Ice Storm Ultimate test, in which the Note 3 scored a massive 19093. There’s currently nothing out there that’s as fast as this.

The extra RAM (at least 1GB more than most high-end smartphones) lets the Note 3 perform some impressive multitasking abilities. You can run two apps simultaneously, dragging one on top of the other to split the screen in half. It’s ideal for taking notes while reading a website, or sending a message to one person while keeping a conversation open with another.

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Main display size5.7in
Native resolution1,920×1,080
CCD effective megapixels13-megapixel
Internal memory32768MB
Memory card supportmicroSD
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 850/900/1900/2100, LTE 800/850/900/1800/2100/2600


Operating systemAndroid 4.3
Microsoft Office compatibilityWord, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF viewers
FM Radiono
AccessoriesS-Pen stylus, stereo headphones, USB charging cable, wall adaptor
Talk time21 hours
Standby time17.5 days

Buying Information

SIM-free price£620
Price on contract37

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