Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

Price when reviewed

The camera is excellent, producing crisp, well-balanced shots under virtually all lighting conditions, and it sports a superb macro mode. All the novelty camera features offered by the Galaxy S4, such as Best Face (where the camera shoots a sequence, and allows you to choose the best face from each person in a group shot), and Dual Shot (where the camera will record from both front- and rear-facing camera at the same time) are present, too. Only when it becomes really dim does noise start to impose on images in a distracting manner. The Nokia Lumia 1020 retains the edge for all-round snapping ability, but the Note 3’s low-light photos are slightly better than the Galaxy S4’s, with more contrast and less noise.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Video is more of a mixed bag. The Note 3 will shoot 4K video, but only for five minutes at a time, and you’ll need a Retina-style display to make the most of all those pixels anyway. Video quality isn’t amazing, either: clips looked a little flat and lacking in contrast; autofocus wasn’t hugely reliable unless we tapped the screen to refocus; and the stabilisation smoothed out big movements but obscured fine detail as it did so.

Viewing video and editing photos, however, on the Note 3’s 5.7in, Full HD display is an absolute pleasure. The Super AMOLED panel serves up rich, saturated colours and perfect black. Maximum brightness, as with most AMOLED screens, isn’t as good as the iPhone 5s’ IPS display, but a measured 338cd/m2 makes it among the brightest panels we’ve seen of its type.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Is big beautiful?

There’s absolutely no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a stupendously capable piece of kit. Whether you’ll buy one or not, though, won’t come down to its competence as a smartphone, but whether you’re prepared to carry around and use a smartphone this big.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

It’s true that using the Note 3 one-handed is a challenge. We found we couldn’t reach the left edge of the display with the phone held in one hand, let alone the top-left and bottom-left corners. Samsung’s one-handed mode does help matters – this shrinks the Android desktop and docks it to either side of the screen for more comfortable left- or right-handed usage – but the swipe required to activate it is tricky to perform reliably with one hand. Meanwhile, stick it in a jeans pocket and the sheer size of the handset means that it will jab uncomfortably into your hip whenever you bend over to pick something up.

It’s also pretty pricey, at £585, with contract prices starting at £34 per month for a free phone deal. Our current favourite smartphone – the HTC One – is far cheaper.

That, coupled with the sheer size of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, is just enough to knock it out of contention for our top A-List spot. But if you can live with its pocket-bulging dimensions, the slick performance, superb battery life and great camera – coupled with the huge screen and stylus – make it a hugely appealing handset.


Cheapest price on contractFree
Contract monthly charge£34.00
Contract period24 months


Dimensions79 x 8.4 x 151mm (WDH)

Core Specifications

RAM capacity3.00GB
Camera megapixel rating13.0mp
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes


Screen size5.7in
Resolution1080 x 1920

Other wireless standards

Integrated GPSyes


OS familyAndroid

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos