Samsung Galaxy Note 3

In June last year I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 [1]. Generally I was very happy with that phone, one problem I had is that less than a year after purchasing it the Ingress menus burned into the screen [2].

2 weeks ago I bought a new Galaxy Note 3. One of the reasons for getting it is the higher resolution screen, I never realised the benefits of a 1920*1080 screen on a phone until my wife got a Nexus 5 [3]. I had been idly considering a Galaxy Note 4, but $1000 is a lot of money to pay for a phone and I’m not sure that a 2560*1440 screen will offer much benefit in that size. Also the Note 3 and Note 4 both have 3G of RAM, as some applications use more RAM when you have a higher resolution screen the Note 4 will effectively have less usable RAM than the Note 3.

My first laptop cost me $3,800 in 1998, that’s probably more than $6,000 in today’s money. The benefits that I receive now from an Android phone are in many ways greater than I received from that laptop and that laptop was definitely good value for money for me. If the cheapest Android phone cost $6,000 then I’d pay that, but given that the Note 3 is only $550 (including postage) there’s no reason for me to buy something more expensive.

Another reason for getting a new phone is the limited storage space in the Note 2. 16G of internal storage is a limit when you have some big games installed. Also the recent Android update which prevented apps from writing to the SD card meant that it was no longer convenient to put TV shows on my SD card. 32G of internal storage in the Note 3 allows me to fit everything I want (including the music video collection I downloaded with youtube-dl). The Note 2 has 16G of internal storage and an 8G SD card (that I couldn’t fully use due to Android limitations) while the Note 3 has 32G (the 64G version wasn’t on sale at any of the cheap online stores). Also the Note 3 supports an SD card which will be good for my music video collection at some future time, this is a significant benefit over the Nexus 5.

In the past I’ve written about Android service life and concluded that storage is the main issue [4]. So it is a bit unfortunate that I couldn’t get a phone with 64G of storage at a reasonable price. But the upside is that getting a cheaper phone allows me to buy another one sooner and give the old phone to a relative who has less demanding requirements.

In the past I wrote about the warranty support for my wife’s Nexus 5 [5]. I should have followed up on that before, 3 days after that post we received a replacement phone. One good thing that Google does is to reserve money on a credit card to buy the new phone and then send you the new phone before you send the old one back. So if the customer doesn’t end up sending the broken phone they just get billed for the new phone, that avoids excessive delays in getting a replacement phone. So overall the process of Google warranty support is really good, if 2 products are equal in other ways then it would be best to buy from Google to get that level of support.

I considered getting a Nexus 5 as the hardware is reasonably good (not the greatest but quite good enough) and the price is also reasonably good. But one thing I really hate is the way they do the buttons. Having the home button appear on the main part of the display is really annoying. I much prefer the Samsung approach of having a hardware button for home and touch-screen buttons outside the viewable area for settings and back. Also the stylus on the Note devices is convenient on occasion.

The Note 3 has a fake-leather back. The concept of making fake leather is tacky, I believe that it’s much better to make honest plastic that doesn’t pretend to be something that it isn’t. However the texture of the back improves the grip. Also the fake stitches around the edge help with the grip too. It’s tacky but utilitarian.

The Note 3 is slightly smaller and lighter than the Note 2. This is a good technical achievement, but I’d rather they just gave it a bigger battery.

Update USB 3

One thing I initially forgot to mention is that the Note 3 has USB 3. This means that it has a larger socket which is less convenient when you try and plug it in at night. USB 3 seems unlikely to provide any benefit for me as I’ve never had any of my other phones transfer data at rates more than about 5MB/s. If the Note 3 happens to have storage that can handle speeds greater than the 32MB/s a typical USB 2 storage device can handle then I’m still not going to gain much benefit. USB 2 speeds would allow me to transfer the entire contents of a Note 3 in less than 20 minutes (if I needed to copy the entire storage contents). I can’t imagine myself having a real-world benefit from that.

The larger socket means more fumbling when charging my phone at night and it also means that the Note 3 cable can’t be used in any other phone I own. In a year or two my wife will have a phone with USB 3 support and that cable can be used for charging 2 phones. But at the moment the USB 3 cable isn’t useful as I don’t need to have a phone charger that can only charge one phone.


The Note 3 basically does everything I expected of it. It’s just like the Note 2 but a bit faster and with more storage. I’m happy with it.

5 comments to Samsung Galaxy Note 3

  • Julian Andres Klode

    Don’t fool yourself with USB 3.0. There won’t be new phones with USB 3.0. They will have either USB 2.0 micro connectors or the new USB 3.1 Type C. The USB 3.0 micro connector is being phased out.

  • Martin

    You can charge your phone with a micro usb cabel. Just use the biggest hole.
    Done that for a year now.
    Great phone, and I don’t plan to upgrade to note 4 just for the screen..


    Julian: I guess I could always cut off the USB 3 part of the plug and use it as a USB 2 cable. The above URL has some information on the proposed USB C connector. The symmetrical design is a good thing for plugging in at night too.

    Martin: Yes, but the difference in size between the big hole and the little extension isn’t that great. The fact that the divider between the two sections is set inside the case (about 1.5mm behind the case facade) makes it even more difficult. I just fumble that thing every night.

    If the Note 4 had significantly more RAM than the Note 3 (at least 4G and preferrably 5G or 6G) then it would be very appealing. I still wouldn’t buy one at ~$1000 including postage, but I might have stuck with the Note 2 until the price dropped a bit. But as it is the extra screen resolution is going to cost some RAM and make the phone run slower. That’s not a good trade-off.

    I’ll probably keep the Note 3 until the Note 5 is released.

    As an aside it sucks that they have released “Note X Neo” phones. Now searches for cheap Note series devices return the rubbish ones with low resolution screens. “Note” is supposed to be a premium marque so they shouldn’t associate it with the cheap stuff.

  • Emilio

    By going to xda you will have fixed all your problems with your note 2 and storage issues spending 0$….
    You have done what samsung (and other phone makers in general) wanted, buy another phone.

    That model is extremely broken for the consumer, luckily there are alternatives!

  • Emilio: I installed CyanogenMod on a Galaxy S back when the Galaxy S was a new phone. It was good but took a fair bit of work. If you compare the number of hours of IT work in Australia needed to buy a new smart-phone with the amount of time taken to install a different version of Android then buying a new phone doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.

    When I buy a new phone I’m not the only one that benefits, I give the old phone to one of my relatives. Also after this purchase the number of Android phones I run is now greater than the number of relatives who want to use them. So I’ll have a spare phone for use as a Wifi access point.