Galaxy Note 3: First Impressions (T-Mobile US)

Quick background; I bought the Galaxy Note 3 on day of release on T-Mobile (Wednesday) so this will be my 4th full day with it. I came from an HTC One and also have a 2013 Nexus 7.


I'm a believer in AMOLED screen technology again. The 1080P screen may not be a true RBG stripe, but I can't tell. Colors look natural. The screen gets very bright, although whites still aren't as white as on high quality IPS LCD screens like the HTC One and 2013 Nexus 7. Overall, it's a high quality screen that I might even prefer over my HTC One.


The faux leather back on the Galaxy Note 3 really makes a difference in how it feels in my hands...gone are the slimy, gross feelings due to the hyperglaze coating and glossy finish. The soft touch plastic that aims to mimic leather makes a huge difference in how the device feels in hand. The first thing I did was to check out the back of the demo device in store when I arrived at T-Mobile and was immediately impressed.

There are some typical Samsung build quality issues that are mostly fine, but may bother some. The Home button feels solid when pressing, but it does wiggle a bit. Not a big deal for me. The screen is also not perfectly sealed against the sides of the phone; there is a slight gap from the edge of my screen to the chrome trim surrounding it. Not sure how much of a problem this can be, but it doesn't appear to affect the device, nor has it gotten worse in the 4 days I've had it. Given that it's Samsung, an exchange might introduce new problems that actually are problems, so I'll likely keep this one unless I notice that the imperfections bother me too much.

The size is definitely large which makes it difficult to use one handed. However, the obvious benefit is the size of the screen.


Battery life has definitely been the best of any device I've owned besides the 2013 Nexus 7, but it's been a mixed bag. My first day with the device, it was able to go from 7 am to midnight with over half of the battery life left. However, at that point, I had not yet set up all apps I typically use which use a lot of background data. Yesterday was the first all day weekend use I had, and battery lasted around 16 hours before dropping to 1%. I had around 5 hours of screen on time ranging in brightness levels. Youtube, chatting on various message platforms, a good amount of emails (reading and replying), Feedly, Reddit News, and some Google Now searches comprised those 5 hours. All on Tmobile 4G LTE. I found some settings like location and CarrierIQ that were culprits for wakelocks and disabled them in the evening, so I'll again be able to test battery life today with all of my apps now setup and syncing with features turned off as I would on any device.


Performance has been very good, and most things fly. However, the Note 3 does hang at random times; one example is when editing ZooperWidget, it would freeze up for a few seconds then resume. It might be a 4.3 issue, or it might just be a Note 3 issue. I'll keep an eye on it and update accordingly. There is also still some lag after pressing the power button before the screen turns on, even with SVoice turned off. I noticed it more after I encrypted the device (work email requirement) so that may explain it. Overall though, I'm pleased after coming from the smooth HTC One and the 2013 Nexus 7.


Touchwiz is Touchwiz, but it does add a lot of improvements. The spen is a joy to use, and I can see myself using it for both work (e.g. noting PDF documents) and fun (annotating pictures). Features like MultiWindow really shine on the Note 3, and I like using them. My favorite would probably be having a YouTube video playing and reading Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or using Chrome. Also, messaging on hangouts or SMS is easy to do while using other apps like I mentioned above. It makes a big difference when multitasking.

Let me know if you guys have any questions and I'll try to answer them. BTW, I did type this all on my Note 3.

Pictures taken using a Nexus excuse their quality!