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Customer Review

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Note 3 Genius, 15 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Region Locked Smartphone - White (Electronics)
I recently upgraded from the iPhone 5s to the Galaxy Note 3.

This phone is a revelation and I want to try and give some indication why.

I have been using iPhones for many years with a detor to Android every few months (itchy feet!).
Whilst Android is clearly the more technically advanced platform, I always end up dumping the Android phone a few weeks later and returning to the iPhone.

Why ? mainly for two reasons. 10 years ago we used to say that a phone is mainly for phone calls. Internet was a limited and frustrating experience. Today I realise that I only use my phone 5% for calls, the rest is email, general messaging and browsing. The keyboard and user experience therefore become very important.

Apple software engineers really "get" user experience. I don't know how they do it but the keyboard on the iPhone is psychic. My typing is terrible but it manages to mostly get the right keys and if not, do the correct word substitution. It must estimate if you hit between two keys then pick the best letter in the context of the word you were typing or something like that. And then the word lookup is terrific and terribly accurate
Now Android keyboards gave me much worse typing. Not only that, but the word substitution was not automatic (no way of setting it). I could never get used to clicking on the correct word substitution after practically every word. This whole keyboard thing made me feel like chucking every Android phone in the bin after a few weeks (aka to ebay).

Recently, epiphany! I discovered whilst testing an Android phone, that savvy users actually never used the default keyboard (duh!). I found that SwiftKey app was pretty popular, installed it and bing!, now I had 95% of the apple keyboard experience.

That's the thing about Apple, you see it works great out of the box. Android you need to fiddle with it, and for many users they just don't have time or want to do this.

Step in the Note 3.

Ok, now the keyboard is great. I don't know whether it's the latest version of Android or a Samsung developed keyboard but many of the issues have been solved out of the box. One other thing though, due to the size of the screen they have taken the liberty of adding a fifth row of keys, the numeric ones. Genius! You know how frustrating it is when you are typing in passwords or email addresses with a mixture of letters and numbers, always having to flick between numeric and letter keyboards. Now problem solved. For the first time it seems an Android keyboard is better then the Apple one!

The other thing that frustrated me was the speed. Despite having better specs, Android phones have always had the occasional stutter. This can occur anytime, when scrolling, opening an app, etc.
The Note 3 seems 99.9% free of this. Again not sure if this is software development or brute force.

So whilst we are on the subject of brute force let's talk specs. The Note 3 has 3gb of memory, a quad core snap dragon 800 cpu running at approx. 2.3Ghz and a Adreno 300 GPU (yes, thats right, a graphics co-processor). The screen is a full HD 1920x1280 and is an AMOLED with Gorilla glass 3. AMOLED was invented by Samsung and its simply the highest contrast phone screen you can get. IPS screens, as used by the iPhone, have slightly more accurate colours and a slightly brighter maximum brightness, but the contrast on an AMOLED is quite striking. As well as 32gb of internal storage it has a microSD card. I put in a 64gb one so now I have 96gb of storage. Note that with Android you can install apps on the external card if you want, which is very useful.
This spec approaches many full computers!

Completing the specs it has a truly monster 3200MAh battery and a removable stylus built into the body. A stylus you say, back to the Pocket PC ? not quite, this is a whole new technology. For taking notes (aka the phone name) or drawing, its really very good. It also has a switch on it for a pop up menu and other fun.

Lets talk about the elephant in the room, the size. Samsung have been crafty here, the screen size is 5.7", only 0.7" bigger then the S4 but of course a world different from the iPhone 5. Samsung do have phones with bigger screens (e.g. the Mega) but in this bracket have clearly restrained themselves, e.g. compared to say the HTC One Max , Sony Xperia Z Ultra, etc.
This has paid off. The screen is larger and much more comfortable to use then a smaller screen, but due to the extreme thinness, lightweight and minimised bezel of the device, does not feel gigantic in the hand.
Its a personal taste thing and you have to push yourself to even try a device of this size. But the danger you run is that there is no going back. Even 5" screens look pokey, let alone the iPhone 5.
It fits fine in a jean pocket and you get use to it faster then you would think.

The main reason for me trying this in the first place was to attempt to replace both my iPhone 5s and iPad mini, which I take to work every day, with one device. Also cutting the need for two contracts. On a side note I have 4G contracts from EE and vodafone. Again its something you don't think you need, but once you have you can't go back to 3G. The EE network is more mature and has better coverage, I assume Vodafone will come up to the same coverage in time.

Lastly lets talk accessories. Samsung just get this much better then anyone else. There are all sorts of things, from charging backs (so that you can use wireless charging) to docks and headphones. However the key breakthrough is the S-View wallet type cover. This has a window in to allow the phone to show status reports of phone calls and texts as they come in, without having to open the cover. The phone is "cover aware" and formats a small square window to fit this window. It also switches on when you open the flip cover and switches off when you close the flip cover. This is just sheer genius. It sounds simple but it raises the functionality to a whole new level. The final piece of genius is that the cover replaces the back of the phone, so it doesn't add much to the bulk (although it does clverely add a less then 1mm overhand to protect the sides).

Samsung has always made excellent phones, but its no use denying that its basic design has been influenced heavily by the iPhone 3, which it has kept to slavishly.
With the Note 3 Samsung has finally carved its own genuine innovation into the market and created something quite special which is going to permanently change the direction of phone development.
Put it this way, Apple will be responding to this either this or next year, and not the other way round.

Lastly to mention the region lock. Samsung say it goes away if you initially switch on the phone with a sim card in the right region. I have no reason to doubt them here but will be testing shortly when I go abroad.

Its not surprising that this is one of the world's best selling phones. A busy central London Vodafone shop told me recently that Samsung had long ago overtaken Apple with sales volume, especially the S4, but now the Note 3 is their best seller. No surprises there.
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