Pros & cons of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 smartphone – Luke Otterstad

Luke Otterstad, winter 2014. Citrus Heights
Luke Otterstad, amateur reviewer.

Last week I upgraded from a Galaxy SIII (S3) to a used Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note 3 that I found on Craigslist for $300: No scratches. No contract. No sales tax. Case included. Perfect for the no-contract service I use, PagePlus. (More on that in a future blog post).

Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Photo credit: Luke Otterstad
Luke’s Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone

Here’s my thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 so far:

Screen size: at a whopping 5.7 inches, the screen is large enough to work as a sufficient alternative to my Note 10.1″ tablet. I’ve found that I either use my phone now or a computer — no need for the “intermediate” tablet anymore.
Fast: loads websites quickly, and all the apps open almost instantly.
13 megapixel camera: A nice upgrade from the S3 camera’s 8mp.
S-pen: works as a sufficient replacement pad and paper for me. I’m impressed with how the pen “ink” writes very similar to a physical note pad. Legible, quick, paperless. And it seems to auto-sync on its own with Evernote, for convenient backup.
Voice-to-Text: I have been very impressed with the accuracy and speed of using the speech-to-text function and watching the phone translate my voice into text on screen. On my S3, I had lag and accuracy problems, to the point where I chose not to use it.

Hard to carry:
The phone is a bit too large to slip in the front pocket of my jeans, as I could with the S3. It works fine in the back left pocket, but that obviously isn’t great (or comfortable) to sit down on.
No one-handed use: Having been used to being able to reach everything with my thumb on the S3, it took a bit to figure out how best to hold this behemoth. However, I’ve found it works perfect to hold it with my left hand and write, tap, or scroll with my right. Takes some getting used to — but it’s worth it for the large, mobile capabilities when away from a desktop. (Of course, if you feel you HAVE to text and drive, this phone won’t work for you. It’s just about impossible to reach the keyboard one-handed. I’m glad it restricts me from the temptation to text and drive.)
Camera quality: I’ve been a bit surprised at the number of blurry shots and grainy pictures I’ve taken on it. It also had a VERY difficult time focusing on Christmas lights in the dark. (I know that’s not the easiest shot, but I’m pretty sure my S3 was taking better shots — although lower in megapixel.
Battery life: with 4g on and all other battery-drainers off (like GPS), the battery didn’t seem to be able to last a day with moderate use. Of course, I bought the phone used, so I don’t know how well the battery was re-charged, but it looks like I’ll have to upgrade to an extended life battery.

*Speakerphone: the volume on the Note 3 isn’t as loud as I’d like, although it’s slightly better than the S3 so I won’t put it in either pro or con category.

*Tip: to get rid of the default two-second “processing…” delay after taking a picture, open the camera app and click settings. Uncheck “smart stabilization,” which for some odd reason Samsung put as default.

Pros & cons of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 smartphone – Luke Otterstad

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