Notebookcheck

Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Smartphone

Daniel Schuster (translated by A Kammel), 10/30/2013

The third time is the charm? The newest addition to Samsung's successful Galaxy Note series comes with a huge 5.7-inch display - fitting, given the current trend toward ever-larger smartphone screen sizes. But is this beast truly a sight to behold or is it actually a step in the wrong direction?

For the original German review, see here.

Pretty much exactly one year has passed since the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, thus it is about time the successor to Samsung's large-screen flagship line hit the market. Fortunately, the Galaxy Note 3 does not disappoint in terms of innovations, at least on paper: The display has once again grown, its diagonal measuring 14.48 cm (5.7 inches) while having been upgraded to Full HD resolution at the same time. It is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 (running at 2.3 GHz), Qualcomm's newest SoC masterpiece which is accompanied by a staggering 3 GB of RAM. Of course, the S-Pen, the poster child of the Galaxy Note range, is on board as well, having learned a number of new tricks. As always, it can be stowed away within the device. In addition, the Galaxy Note 3 is the first device to feature a USB 3.0 port. Only the camera (13 megapixels) remains unchanged with respect to the one used in the Galaxy S4.

The differences between the Galaxy Note II and its successor appear to be enormous. Whether Samsung is able to translate all of this into a great user experience as well, turning its new flagship device into a worthwhile investment for its potential customers, will be examined in our in-depth review.

Case

How we test - Case

The Galaxy Note 3 ships with a 5.7-inch display
The Galaxy Note 3 ships with a 5.7-inch display

As is always the case with Galaxy range smartphones, the Note 3 is made from plastics. At first glance, the rear cover looks like it has been made from leather (it even comes with fake stitching!), but this is not the case. The sides look like aluminum, but they, too, are made from silver-colored polycarbonate. Still, the Note 3 feels and looks like a sturdy premium device. The weight is a nice surprise, too - 168 grams (5.9 ounces) is not too shabby for a 5.7-inch device. The Note 3 could have been thinner as it is 0.4 mm thicker than the Galaxy S4. The Note 3 is also as tall as its predecessor at 151.2 mm (~6 inches) while being slightly narrower (79.2 mm vs. 80.5 mm) (~3.1 vs. 3.2 inches).

Overall, no huge surprises here - at least not if one has touched a Galaxy-branded smartphone before.

Connectivity

How we test - Connectivity

The overall concept of the Galaxy Note 3 stays close to that of other Samsung Galaxy variants. We are happy to see that Samsung continues to use a physical home button (as well as soft keys for "back" and "menu") right below the display itself. LG's G2, for example, uses a significant portion of the screen itself to emulate these three navigation buttons, reducing its effective display size when compared to devices with physical buttons.

Apart from the usual power button and volume rocker, the Note 3 also comes equipped with an S-Pen slot at the bottom of the device. Great: The battery is fully user-accessible and user-replaceable (the back panel can be taken off) and the internal storage can easily (and economically) be expanded via micro SD cards.

Bottom: Micro USB port, speakers, S-Pen slot
Bottom: Micro USB port, speakers, S-Pen slot
Right: Power button
Right: Power button
Top: 3.5 mm audio jack, infrared port
Top: 3.5 mm audio jack, infrared port
Left: Volume rocker
Left: Volume rocker

Software

Immediately after booting for the first time, we were "encouraged" to install a system update, with a second update following within the same week. By now, our test device is running on Android 4.3, the newest iteration of Google's operating system. We encountered a nasty problem during the first few minutes of our review: The power consumption was extremely high and every minute an error box ("index service stopped") popped up. Due to this error, the smartphone was basically unusable for a few seconds each minute. After several days, we noted that the inserted SD card was to blame. However, even reformatting the storage device did not solve the problem - only a complete removal of the card ended our troubles. This is definitely a problem where the manufacturer will have to react fast - the continuous indexing of all files on the card just puts too much strain on the SoC.

As usual, Samsung includes a lot of bloatware and homegrown apps with the Note 3. In addition, a number of S-Pen-related apps come preinstalled.

Fast and precise localization via GPS
Fast and precise localization via GPS

Communication & GPS 

The Galaxy Note 3 ships with more than enough communication modules. The Wi-Fi wireless for accessing the web at home or at the office supports all current standards (802.11 ac/b/g/n, thus including dual-band mode), provided the router does so, too. Maximum LTE speeds of 150 Mbit/s via numerous frequency bands (800/850/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz) are possible. In addition to the standard 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth 4.0 for establishing low-energy wireless connections to a number of end devices is on board as well. Naturally, a Samsung flagship smartphone nowadays cannot ship without NFC support for the emerging near-field communications standard. Handily, the Galaxy Note 3 is also able to double as a universal remote control (for TVs and other multimedia devices) due to its optical infrared port on top of the smartphone. During our tests, all wireless modems worked flawlessly at all times, without any unexpected connection interruptions. Reception and transmission quality were constantly high.

The Galaxy Note 3 comes with an aGPS module (including GLONASS). In order to test the quality of this module, we are comparing its precision to that of a full-blown outdoor navigation system made by Garmin during a real-life bicycle ride. Unfortunately, both modules could have worked better. Close to the crossing, some deviations from the actual route can be noted, but things got even less precise once we entered the forest patch. Such an imprecision in terms of locating the exact route also leads to wrong results in terms of the overall distance we rode. The GPS module used in the Apple iPhone 5C is definitely better.

Garmin Edge 500 crossing
Garmin Edge 500 crossing
Garmin Edge 500 overall
Garmin Edge 500 overall
Garmin Edge 500 forest
Garmin Edge 500 forest
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 crossing
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 crossing
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 overall
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 overall
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 forest
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 forest

Telephone Functions & Speech Quality

It may be hard to believe, but the Galaxy Note 3 is also still a telephone - and it actually works very well as such. As long as the signal strength did not hit rock bottom, we were always capable of understanding our partner at the other end clearly and vividly (as was he). The speakerphone does a satisfying job, too, fulfilling our expectations.

Cameras & Multimedia

"Never change a winning team." That seems to have been the idea behind reusing the Galaxy S4's camera modules in the Galaxy Note 3. After all, the sensor (13 megapixels) had already done an admirable job in our review of the Galaxy S4 a few months ago. Thus, we are not going to go into any more details here, letting the test images speak for themselves instead.

Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Referenz: Sony Alpha A57
Referenz: Sony Alpha A57
Referenz: Sony Alpha A57
Referenz: Sony Alpha A57
Referenz: Sony Alpha A57
Referenz: Sony Alpha A57

Accessories & Warranty

The Note 3 ships with the obligatory In-Ear headset as well as a modular power adapter. Since the Galaxy Note 3.0 offers a USB 3.0 port, such a cable is included as well.

The standard warranty of 24 months includes a bring-in service only (all Samsung service partners are okay, as is sending in the device). No warranty extensions are available from Samsung.

Input Devices & Handling

As usually with smartphones, most of the input and navigation is done with the help of the touchscreen. The one which is built into the Galaxy Note 3 is not only extremely fast in registering and interpreting touch commands (as well as display rotations), but also comes with S-Pen support. The S-Pen is an active digitizer (with one button at the side) which can be stored away in the chassis of the Note 3. Pulling the pen out of its slot automatically opens a menu on the screen with a number of different command options. The pen is not only very simple to use, but it is also extremely precise - making it viable to use the display in pretty much the same fashion as an old-school notebook. All of this is well done, but we ourselves still did not use it too often.

Typing on the virtual keyboard feels like bliss. After all, a diagonal of 5.7 inches leaves more than enough space for a generous keyboard layout, no matter whether it is being used in portrait or landscape mode (in the latter case, the keyboard uses up even more than 50% of the available screen real estate).

More than enough space left in portrait mode
More than enough space left in portrait mode
Not quite as much in landscape mode, though
Not quite as much in landscape mode, though

Display

How we test - Display

Super AMOLED screen with a Full HD resolution
Super AMOLED screen with a Full HD resolution

Its 5.7-inch display turns the Galaxy Note 3 into one of the largest smartphones on the market right now, even though it feels rather compact next to some especially huge phablets such as the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. The newest Galaxy Note variant stays true to the current trend towards ever-larger smartphone screens, adding 0.15 inches to its already challenging (in terms of handling) predecessor. To be fair, the concept seems to work out. In addition, Samsung has actually managed to slim down the chassis when compared to the Galaxy Note 2, both in terms of thickness and width. The display has seen another (unsurprising) upgrade, too, now sporting the same Full HD resolution as its smaller sibling, the Galaxy S4.

The average display brightness is 342.2 cd/m² as measured with X-Rite i1Pro 2 is quite good. Its brightness homogeneity? Not so much, as its 81% is not as great as the superb 95% of the Samsung Galaxy S4. As a Super AMOLED display is used, blacks are almost perfectly dark, leading to a basically infinite contrast ratio - which strongly enhances the readability of all screen contents under direct sunlight.

371
cd/m²
338
cd/m²
312
cd/m²
369
cd/m²
335
cd/m²
312
cd/m²
387
cd/m²
341
cd/m²
315
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 387 cd/m²
Average: 342.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Center on Battery: 331 cd/m²
Black: 0.1 cd/m²
Contrast: 3350:1

A number of different display modes can be selected under the "system settings" tab, ranging from "standard" to "dynamic", "photo" and "video". The additional option "photo AdobeRGB" makes it possible to achieve coverage of almost the entire AdobeRGB color space. Still, reds tend to be under-saturated in all of these modes, as do some other colors. The strongest color saturation, leading to the most vivid color experience, can be had in "video" mode. Grayscale rendition is great, coming close to the reference curve unless the "dynamic" mode is selected, which leads to an unsatisfactory deviation from the ideal color temperature values.

Color rendition (dynamic)
Color rendition (dynamic)
Color rendition (photo)
Color rendition (photo)
Color rendition (standard)
Color rendition (standard)
Color rendition (video)
Color rendition (video)
Color Checker (photo AdobeRGB)
Color Checker (photo AdobeRGB)
Color Checker (photo)
Color Checker (photo)
Color Checker (dynamic)
Color Checker (dynamic)
Color Checker (standard)
Color Checker (standard)
Color Checker (video)
Color Checker (video)
Grayscale (dynamic)
Grayscale (dynamic)
Grayscale (photo)
Grayscale (photo)
Grayscale (standard)
Grayscale (standard)
Grayscale (video)
Grayscale (video)
Color saturation (dynamic)
Color saturation (dynamic)
Color saturation (photo)
Color saturation (photo)
Color saturation (standard)
Color saturation (standard)
Color saturation (video)
Color saturation (video)

As extreme contrast ratios and great maximum brightness are crucial for outdoor usability of a smartphone, the Galaxy Note 3 fares extraordinarily well even under difficult lighting conditions, delivering a near-perfect experience (if the brightness is set to "auto", an extra-boost applies under direct sunlight).

In terms of viewing angle stability, the Super AMOLED display shows no weaknesses. Even under extremely narrow angles, color rendition and contrast ratio remain superb, faring much better than, for example, the display of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

Great viewing angles ...
Great viewing angles ...
...and also perfect to use outdoors.
...and also perfect to use outdoors.

Performance

How we test - Performance

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800

The Galaxy Note 3 offers more than enough performance for almost everything that can be thrown at it. The 5.7-inch device is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, as are its competitors made by LG and Sony. The MSM8974 quad-core SoC is based on the ARMv7 instruction set, being manufactured via a 28-nm process. Each core is clocked at 2.3 GHz, allowing the chip to play QFHD videos (Quad Full HD, 3840x2160 pixels). An unprecedented amount of 3 GB of LPDDR3-RAM (800 MHz) is more than the already lush 2 GB used in the LG G2 or the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. In addition, the Note 3 is the first smartphone to make use of a USB 3.0 port. Not only does this increase the data transfer rate when copying files onto the internal storage, but it also allows (in theory) for quicker charging via the USB ports of a PC, increasing the 500 mA current which can be carried via a USB 2.0 data cable to up to 900 mA.

As we had already seen with other smartphones shipping with the same SoC, the performance levels achievable with the Snapdragon 800 are enormous, clearly beating most every other SoC in almost all benchmarks. Even though we might already be able to make an educated guess at the performance of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, our test device will still have to prove itself during a number of "experiments", starting with synthetic benchmarks such as "GFXBench 2.7". Both the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the LG G2 were able to reach slightly more than 20 fps, but the Note 3 is even 10% faster. Similar results can be obtained when different benchmarks are run, almost routinely beating the Galaxy S4 by around 40% while basically always staying ahead of both the LG G2 and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra - although both devices use the same SoC.

GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
24 fps ∼3%
LG G2
20 fps ∼2% -17%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
15 fps ∼2% -37%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
21 fps ∼2% -12%
Apple iPhone 5S
25 fps ∼3% +4%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
25 fps ∼30%
LG G2
21 fps ∼25% -16%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
15 fps ∼18% -40%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
22 fps ∼27% -12%
Apple iPhone 5S
37 fps ∼45% +48%
Basemark X 1.0
On-Screen (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
16.24 fps ∼50%
LG G2
14.636 fps ∼45% -10%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
8.608 fps ∼26% -47%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
16.776 fps ∼51% +3%
Apple iPhone 5S
27.654 fps ∼85% +70%
Off-Screen (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
14.12 fps ∼66%
LG G2
13.02 fps ∼61% -8%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
8.015 fps ∼38% -43%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
14.427 fps ∼68% +2%
Apple iPhone 5S
21.257 fps ∼100% +51%
AndEBench
Native (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
15850 Iter./s ∼75%
LG G2
13332 Iter./s ∼63% -16%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
14007 Iter./s ∼66% -12%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
13864 Iter./s ∼65% -13%
Java (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
653 Iter./s ∼46%
LG G2
503 Iter./s ∼35% -23%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
581 Iter./s ∼41% -11%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
552 Iter./s ∼39% -15%
Epic Citadel - Ultra High Quality (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
49.9 fps ∼83%
LG G2
52.6 fps ∼88% +5%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
36.9 fps ∼62% -26%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
54.9 fps ∼92% +10%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
914 Points ∼20%
LG G2
819 Points ∼18% -10%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
679 Points ∼15% -26%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
908 Points ∼19% -1%
Apple iPhone 5S
1368 Points ∼29% +50%
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
2771 Points ∼17%
LG G2
2210 Points ∼14% -20%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1889 Points ∼12% -32%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
2641 Points ∼16% -5%
Apple iPhone 5S
2449 Points ∼15% -12%
PassMark PerformanceTest Mobile V1 - System (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
4589 Points ∼55%
LG G2
4010 Points ∼48% -13%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
3430 Points ∼41% -25%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
4465 Points ∼53% -3%
Apple iPhone 5S
5339 Points ∼64% +16%

Legend

 
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB SSD
 
LG G2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505 Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
HTC One Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 32 GB SSD
 
Sony Xperia Z Ultra Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB SSD
 
Apple iPhone 5S Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB iNAND Flash

Browser-based tests are less SoC-dependent than most synthetic offline benchmarks mentioned above. In addition, these tests make it possible to compare Windows Phone and iOS devices as well. Like all of its Android competitors, the Galaxy Note 3 tends to fare worse than the new iPhone 5S. Still, the overall results remain great, being more than adequate for keeping its status as a high-end device.

Browsermark - --- (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
2977 points ∼41%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
2646 points ∼37% -11%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
2989 points ∼42% 0%
Nokia Lumia 1020
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 32 GB SSD
597 points ∼8% -80%
Apple iPhone 5S
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB iNAND Flash
3365 points ∼47% +13%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
2502 points ∼35% -16%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
2152 points ∼30% -28%
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
731 Points ∼12%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
829 Points ∼13% +13%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
828 Points ∼13% +13%
Nokia Lumia 1020
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 32 GB SSD
331 Points ∼5% -55%
Apple iPhone 5S
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB iNAND Flash
1775 Points ∼29% +143%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
555 Points ∼9% -24%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
683 Points ∼11% -7%
Octane V1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
3743 Points ∼16%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
3014 Points ∼13% -19%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
4105 Points ∼18% +10%
Nokia Lumia 1020
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 32 GB SSD
612 Points ∼3% -84%
Apple iPhone 5S
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB iNAND Flash
5561 Points ∼24% +49%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
2290 Points ∼10% -39%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
1986 Points ∼9% -47%
Mozilla Kraken 1.0 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
15661.6 ms * ∼9%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
14333.8 ms * ∼8% +8%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
14081.6 ms * ∼8% +10%
Nokia Lumia 1020
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 32 GB SSD
48417.6 ms * ∼28% -209%
Apple iPhone 5S
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB iNAND Flash
8019.3 ms * ∼5% +49%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
13779.3 ms * ∼8% +12%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
13058.6 ms * ∼8% +17%

* ... smaller is better

The Android app "AndroBench 3" is designed to bring the flash memory of any smartphone to its knees. Nevertheless, while the LG G2 already delivered great results during this test, the Galaxy Note 3 is no slug itself. In two of four tests - those measuring read speeds -, the LG G2 takes the lead by 4%, actually beating Samsung's newest flagship device. While measuring write speeds, the Galaxy Note 3 turns out to be the clear victor by up to 40%. Other competitors stand no chance at all against the sheer raw speed of our test device.

AndroBench 3
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
107.53 MB/s ∼39%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
111.49 MB/s ∼40% +4%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
66.14 MB/s ∼24% -38%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
75.1 MB/s ∼27% -30%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
58.75 MB/s ∼21% -45%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
49.7 MB/s ∼18% -54%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
29.08 MB/s ∼39%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
17.42 MB/s ∼23% -40%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
17.22 MB/s ∼23% -41%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
13.11 MB/s ∼17% -55%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
16.37 MB/s ∼22% -44%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
13.97 MB/s ∼19% -52%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
16.05 MB/s ∼44%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
16.65 MB/s ∼46% +4%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
13.37 MB/s ∼37% -17%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
12.28 MB/s ∼34% -23%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
11.83 MB/s ∼33% -26%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
12.14 MB/s ∼34% -24%
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
2.21 MB/s ∼15%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
1.34 MB/s ∼9% -39%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
1.1 MB/s ∼8% -50%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
1.13 MB/s ∼8% -49%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
1.19 MB/s ∼8% -46%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1.07 MB/s ∼7% -52%

Videos & Games

Qualcomm claims that its Snapdragon 800 SoC has no problems with QFHD video playback. With such specs, what could go wrong? And indeed, our own observations confirm Qualcomm's assertions. Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy Note 3 does not exhibit any noticeable performance drops when it comes to demanding 3D games as well. Of course, 2D games such as "Angry Birds" or "Where's my Perry" are even less of an issue.

Since even QFHD video playback is possible, ...
Since even QFHD video playback is possible, ...
...games won't really pose a challenge for the Note 3.
...games won't really pose a challenge for the Note 3.

Emissions

How we test - Emissions

Temperature

In terms of heat dissipation, Samsung seems to have done everything right. Even under full load, our test device does not exceed 34.2 degrees Celsius (93.56 degrees Fahrenheit) on the front and 33.7 degrees (92.66 Fahrenheit) at the back, never even coming close to 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit; temperatures above are seen as being "uncomfortable" by us). As long as not much strain is put on the hardware, the temperature plateaus at around 28 degrees (82.4 Fahrenheit). Even the power adapter is well-behaved: Although its maximum temperature of 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit) can indeed be felt, it never becomes uncomfortably hot.

Max. Load
 37.6 °C34.0 °C30.4 °C 
 39.1 °C34.0 °C30.4 °C 
 38.2 °C33.6 °C30.3 °C 
Maximum: 39.1 °C
Average: 34.2 °C
30.3 °C33.3 °C38.4 °C
29.4 °C33.5 °C38.3 °C
29.3 °C33.3 °C37.5 °C
Maximum: 38.4 °C
Average: 33.7 °C
Power Supply (max.)  39.0 °C | Room Temperature 22.0 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speakers

The mono speaker offers acceptable sound quality - meaning, it is sufficient for occasional use, unless very high standards are expected - with low distortion levelshigh maximum volume and a decent balance between higher frequencies and bass. Nice: Due to its location at the bottom of the device, the speaker does not get covered when the device is put on a table or other flat surface. Of course, external solutions are always an option (and in many cases a preferable one) thanks to the numerous connectivity options for the Galaxy Note 3.

Energy Management

How we test - Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption serves as a first indicator for the expected battery runtime. Fortunately, the Note 3 proves to be about as power-hungry as other high-end devices. The display of the LG G2 is noticeably smaller, leading to lower power consumption levels especially when set to maximum brightness, specifically 3.8 - 4.8 Watts instead of the 4.3 - 6.5 Watts the Galaxy Note 3 requires under full load. While idle or barely strained, both need the same 0.4 to 1.4 Watts. Standby requires 0.1 Watts, while turning the Note 3 off brings this value down to exactly 0.0 Watts.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.1 Watt
Idle 0.4 / 0.8 / 1.4 Watt
Load 4.3 / 6.5 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

The battery used in the Galaxy Note 3 is not only user-replaceable, but also decently sized: Its capacity of 12.16 Wh (3200 mAh) is even (slightly) more impressive than the huge battery of the LG G2, coming down to the same battery that has also been employed in the Galaxy Mega 6.3. But this is where the similarities end, with the Galaxy Note exhibiting exemplary battery runtimes during at least two of three scenarios. While idle (with the screen brightness set to minimum), our test device survives for a possibly record-breaking 36 hours and 36 minutes. Just as good are the results of our Wi-Fi test where we open another website every 30 seconds while the display brightness is set to 150 cd/m² (60% in this case). The resulting battery runtime comes down to 18 hours. Only when all four cores of the CPU are under full load and when all wireless modems are activated as well does the power consumption increase considerably, reducing the battery runtime to 4:15 h, still much more than anything even the LG G2 accomplishes. In addition, charging the phone from 0% to 100% takes a mere 2:20 h.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
36h 36min
WiFi Surfing
18h 01min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 29min

Verdict

Quite the convincing performance
Quite the convincing performance

Those who have always been fond of the Note series will definitely already have cast an eye at Samsung's newest flagship - and rightfully so, as the Galaxy Note 3 is more than just an ordinary successor to the Galaxy Note II. Staying true to the trend of ever-larger smartphone screen sizes, the display of the Note 3 has grown as well; albeit in moderation, (the device is actually smaller and lighter than its predecessor, partially thanks to smaller bezels). Qualcomm's ultra-fast Snapdragon 800 and 3 GB of RAM speak for themselves. Even during real-life usage, the smartphone barely ever breaks a sweat, remaining extremely fast and responsive. Another big pro is the Note 3's absurdly phenomenal battery life. The camera module is the same as the one used in the older Galaxy S4, but neither Samsung nor our reviewers feel much need for change in this regard. While we did not really take to the S-Pen (not using it much at all), it is surely an attractive feature with a number of useful application scenarios for those who need it.

Samsung pretty much nailed it with the Galaxy Note 3, creating a formidable smartphone. It is no bargain, currently retailing for around 650 Euros (~$891), but this is still considerably less than the 799 Euros (~$1095) the 32 GB variant of the iPhone 5S costs. For those who are in need of an even larger device, the 6.44-inch Sony Xperia Z Ultra (approx. 600 Euros/~$822) might do the trick. The 5.2-inch LG G2, on the other hand, might be a great "smaller" alternative at 480 Euros (~$658).

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In Review: The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in review. Test device provided by:
In Review: The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in review. Test device provided by:

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Graphics adapter
Qualcomm Adreno 330, Core: 450 MHz
Memory
3072 MB 
Display
5.7 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, capacitive, Super-AMOLED, 16.7 million colors, glossy: yes
Harddisk
32 GB SSD, 32 GB 
, 20.02 GB free
Connections
1 USB 3.0, 1 Infrared, Audio Connections: 3.5mm audio jack, Card Reader: microSD slot, Sensors: Proximity sensor, gyroscope, orientation sensor, ambient brightness sensor, aGPS (GLONASS),
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a b g n ac), 4.0 Bluetooth, LTE (800/850/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz), UMTS (850/900/1900/2100 MHz)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8.3 x 151.2 x 79.2 ( = 0.33 x 5.95 x 3.12 in)
Weight
168 g ( = 5.93 oz) Power Supply: 74 g ( = 2.61 oz)
Battery
Lithium-Ion, 3200 mAh, Talk time 2G (according to manufacturer): 21 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 380 h
Price
749 Euro
Operating System
Android 4.3
Additional features
Webcam: Rear: 13 MP, Front: 2 MP, Speakers: Mono speakers, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
Already its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Note II ...
Already its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Note II ...
...did well in last year's review.
...did well in last year's review.
Now, the Note 3 marks the third attempt ...
Now, the Note 3 marks the third attempt ...
...of the South Korean company, shipping with a number of improvements.
...of the South Korean company, shipping with a number of improvements.
The display sports a 5.7-inch diagonal ...
The display sports a 5.7-inch diagonal ...
...and runs at Full HD.
...and runs at Full HD.
Beneath, a Snapdragon 800 leads to phenomenal performance levels.
Beneath, a Snapdragon 800 leads to phenomenal performance levels.
Google Android 4.3 comes preinstalled ...
Google Android 4.3 comes preinstalled ...
...being augmented by Samsung's own launcher (Touchwiz).
...being augmented by Samsung's own launcher (Touchwiz).
Forced system updates, right after turning the device on for the first time.
Forced system updates, right after turning the device on for the first time.
Samsung stays true to its lineage ...
Samsung stays true to its lineage ...
...using the same camera module as in the Galaxy S4.
...using the same camera module as in the Galaxy S4.
Beneath the back panel, the user-swappable battery ...
Beneath the back panel, the user-swappable battery ...
...and the micro SD slot can be found.
...and the micro SD slot can be found.
If the battery is about to fail ...
If the battery is about to fail ...
...a new one can be inserted within seconds.
...a new one can be inserted within seconds.
The Touchwiz skin and the preinstalled apps ...
The Touchwiz skin and the preinstalled apps ...
...have remained largely unchanged from other Galaxy-branded devices.
...have remained largely unchanged from other Galaxy-branded devices.
Most importantly, some new S-Pen functionality has been added.
Most importantly, some new S-Pen functionality has been added.
Touchwiz makes it easy ...
Touchwiz makes it easy ...
...to create new folders.
...to create new folders.
But other launchers are (at least) just as good.
But other launchers are (at least) just as good.
Our device exhibited numerous problems with our SD card and the data on it ...
Our device exhibited numerous problems with our SD card and the data on it ...
...which could only be resolved by removing the SD card from the device.
...which could only be resolved by removing the SD card from the device.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes close to perfection in basically all regards.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes close to perfection in basically all regards.
Its functionality and its superb hardware ...
Its functionality and its superb hardware ...
...make it great fun to use, securing it ...
...make it great fun to use, securing it ...
...one of the top spots in our smartphone list.
...one of the top spots in our smartphone list.

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Links

Price Check

Pro

+Phenomenal battery life
+Full HD Super AMOLED display
+Extreme performance levels
+USB 3.0 port
+Camera quality
+Capable of QFHD video playback
+User-exchangeable battery
+User-expandable internal storage (micro SD)
+S-Pen functionality
 

Cons

-Rather expensive
-Some SD cards incompatible?

Shortcut

What we like

The combination of a lightning-fast SoC, a Super AMOLED display and superb battery life turn the Note 3 into an universal multimedia player in all situations - it is even capable of high-resolution QFHD video playback.

What we'd like to see

This gets harder and harder to answer as almost all current high-end devices ship with pretty much every feature available on the market. This observation holds true in case of the Note 3 as well - we are not really "missing" anything on that phone.

What surprises us

Such battery runtimes, despite the huge Full HD display and extremely fast hardware: Approximately 18 hours during our Wi-Fi test will be hard to match.

The competition

Apple iPhone 5S

HTC One

LG G2

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

Ratings

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
04/30/2014 v4
Daniel Schuster

Chassis
91%
Keyboard
67 / 75 → 89%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
48 / 60 → 80%
Weight
91%
Battery
96%
Display
87%
Games Performance
62 / 75 → 83%
Application Performance
55 / 65 → 85%
Temperature
85%
Noise
100%
Audio
64 / 91 → 70%
Camera
73%
Average
78%
87%
Smartphone *
Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Smartphone
Author: Daniel Schuster, 2013-10-30 (Update: 2013-11- 1)