So I’ve had the Note 3 to replace my problematic HTC One. Having a large phone never really bothered my with these hands of mine - though everyone who sees me use it has to comment on how massive the thing is. Anyways, no device is perfect so here are my thoughts:
I’ll start with the things I like:
- The screen. 5.7 inches, 1080p and the colours pop out at you. Samsung finally did OLED properly. Watching YouTube, browsing, reading - everything is just better on this thing. It’s pretty much edge-to-edge and it looks impressive with the bezel being this small. It’s a good looking device.
- The camera. The only reason I didn’t go for the new M8 is because HTC decided to stick with the 4 megapixel sensor. No, I don’t buy into the ‘ultrapixel’ marketing, yes it takes decent low-light photos but I want to take photos that look good on the computer as well as the small phone screen and HTC just doesn’t. The Note 3’s camera, so far at least, seems stellar (plus it takes 4K video). I’ve got a photoset on Flickr here and I’ll upload shots as I go along.
- The S-Pen. Honestly I wasn’t sure how often I was going to use it but for work its really useful. Now that Evernote supports handwritten notes it’s even better, sketching out simple diagrams for infrastructure deployments is great on this thing.
- Battery life. With a phone that has a screen this big and internals as powerful as they are, Samsung had it’s work cut out making the battery last. My first full charge got me 25 hours of life with 4.5 hours of screen on time. Pretty stellar, especially considering that I’d hammered it with software downloads/installs, camera use, etc.
- USB 3.0 and fast charger. The phone has a modified micro-USB port that provides USB 3 transfer speed and also allows for fast charging with the bundled charger.
- Notification light - sounds simple but I do enjoy a nice bright, multi-coloured notification LED.
- Sound quality. Obviously not the speaker on the phone, there’s nothing that rivals HTC’s boomsound speakers. I mean the audio chip inside the phone - its actually really good, sound quality through my headphones is stellar.
- Multitasking. One thing that Samsung did do right was the multitasking capabilities of the phone. You can split the screen and use two apps at the same time. Really useful - if you’re browsing Facebook and come across a ‘hilarious’ YouTube video that uncle perv has posted, you can launch it split screen and keep browsing Facebook.
- Micro SD card slot. Having expandable storage is always nice and Samsung were nice enough to send me a 16gb card for free - probably feeling guilty for loading the phone up with so much shit, which leads me nicely onto…
The things I don’t like so much:
- TouchWiz. Samsung, give me a job and let me design your next Android skin - please. Either that or go stock Android with MINOR adjustments. HTC’s Sense 6 is FAR superior and is a pleasure to use. Whoever Samsung has doing UI design needs to be shot. Ugly fonts, ugly icons, wasted screen estate. Fisher f’king Price nonsense and it needs to stop. If it wasn’t for the XDA community, the customisation capability of Android and the Xposed framework I’d have never bought this phone but thankfully most (not quite all) of my hatred for TouchWiz can be toned down or changed. I’m being quite harsh here maybe - the launcher itself is much better than it used to be but it’s nowhere near the quality it should be.
- Samsung bloat software. Again, WTF? Why is it that you have to load up the phone with a load of absolutely shite? In fairness, Joe Consumer would probably like half of this gimmick shit but not me. I have a brain - and that brain allows me to install what I need, not what you THINK I need. Again, thankfully I’m able to use that brain to root and remove that shit from my device. But at a price…
- KNOX bootloader. Samsung has deemed it necessary to instantly (and so far, irreversibly) invalidate your warranty as soon as you try to do anything with your phone that Samsung deems unacceptable. That includes rooting, flashing custom roms or anything of that ilk. Assholes. This basically means its essential for me to now have mobile phone insurance just in-case something goes wrong with the hardware (which is good practice anyway obviously). Leading me onto…
- Hardware confidence. Maybe not the fault of the phone itself but having gotten so used to the HTC One’s metal chassis having a phone this big with that massive screen and it’s plastic build doesn’t inspire confidence. Saying that, I’ve seen a few drop tests (such as this one) and it’s actually held up surprisingly well. Still, felt the need to buy a case for it but we’ll see how long that stays on for. It’s the S-View case that gives you a transparent panel to show quick notifications, etc. without opening but because its new it’s really stiff and the thing doesn’t stay shut all the time - which is pissing me off already. That and it makes an already-big phone that bit bigger. Suggestions for alternative cases are most welcome.
I think that covers my initial impressions. Samsung makes excellent hardware, they really need to work on the software side of things. Apparently Joe Consumer takes well to what they’re doing though considering how many devices they are shifting so can’t see it happening any time soon.