Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review: Jugger-note


GSMArena team, 3 October 2013.


The display of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the highlight feature alongside the S Pen support. The diagonal has been bumped by 0.2" (from 5.5" to 5.7"), while the resolution has more than doubled (1080 x 1920, up from 720 x 1280) resulting in a pixel density of 386ppi, which effectively (for the first time in Note history) crosses the Retina 300ppi threshold.

The display technology is, again, Super AMOLED but Samsung has abandoned the RGB design from the Note II and gone for a diamond-shaped PenTile matrix instead. However, at these insane pixel density levels there's no visible pixilation whatsoever, even if you have 20/20 vision.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review
The Galaxy Note 3 display

Here's how what those layouts look under a microscope. The diamond PenTile matrix uses OLED sub-pixels of different sizes as each color has different levels of power efficiency and longevity. Sub-pixel rendering is employed to properly distribute each of the primary colors.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 display matrix compared to the Note II

The different sub-pixel sizes and PenTile arrangements of a typical AMOLED throw its white balance off, but if you set the Galaxy Note 3 screen on Movie mode it sticks faithfully to sRGB - this includes not only white balance, but also color saturation. Professional Photo Mode uses the wider Adobe RGB instead.

The screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is among the best we've seen. It has practically infinite contrast, impeccable viewing angles and colors that pop out of the frame like nothing else. Samsung has even made sure the wallpapers available are playing the color saturation up, but in a good way.

Despite some excellent LCDs in top-tier smartphones these days, it's hard to match the Super AMOLED's amazing imagery and deep blacks. The innate lower reflectivity of AMOLED translates in superior sunlight legibility but more on that a little later.

First off, let's look at the numbers. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3, as we said, has a practically unlimited contrast ratio, as individual pixels don't get lit up - AMOLEDs light up only the parts of the screen that display a different color beside black.

The Super AMOLED panel on the Galaxy Note 3 isn't the brightest we've seen, it's actually inferior to the Galaxy S4. However in most cases you won't notice this in practice unless you put the Note 3 side by side with an HTC One or iPhone 5. Note that Auto Brightness mode can set the brightness higher than you can with the brightness slider.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 0 149 0 379
Sony Xperia Z1 - - - 0.38 580 1513
Sony Xperia Z Ultra - - - 0.47 467 1001
Sony Xperia Z - - - 0.70 492 705
Huawei Ascend Mate 0.23 222 982 0.67 711 1053
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 0.12 160 1364 0.32 440 1379
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 0 201 0 404
HTC Butterfly S 0.15 165 1117 0.43 451 1044
HTC One 0.13 205 1580 0.42 647 1541
Oppo Find 5 0.17 176 1123 0.51 565 1107
Apple iPhone 5 0.13 200 1490 0.48 640 1320

Under direct sunlight the Galaxy Note 3 is able to retain excellent contrast and stay legible even in the most brightly lit environments. The Galaxy Note 3 was able to match the Apple iPhone 5 and retain the third spot.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
  • Apple iPhone 5
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
  • Nokia Lumia 925
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
  • Samsung Omnia W
  • Samsung Galaxy S
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
  • Nokia N9
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • Sony Xperia Z1
  • HTC One S
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
  • Huawei Ascend P1
  • Sony Xperia ZR
  • Nokia Lumia 900
  • Nokia Lumia 720
  • HTC One
  • Sony Xperia Z
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
  • Motorola RAZR i
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • Apple iPhone 4S
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
  • HTC One X
  • Nokia N8
  • Oppo Find 5
  • BlackBerry Z10
  • Apple iPhone 4
  • HTC One mini
  • LG G2
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
  • HTC Butterfly
  • Huawei Ascend P6
  • Sony Xperia V
  • Sony Xperia U
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
  • HTC One V
  • BlackBerry Q5
  • LG Optimus Vu
  • LG Optimus GJ
  • HTC Desire V
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
  • LG Optimus G Pro
  • LG Optimus 3D
  • Nokia Asha 302
  • Sony Xperia M
  • Nokia Lumia 610
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
  • HTC Desire C
  • Nokia Asha 501
  • LG Optimus L7
  • LG Optimus L9
  • Meizu MX
  • Sony Xperia E dual
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
  • Sony Xperia tipo
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2

You can find all about our display testing routines here.

S Pen and S View cover

The S Pen can be placed back into its compartment either side up, the button facing up or down. The stylus is made of matte plastic, with a finely grooved top part that matches the sides of the Note 3.

The new S Pen is about the same size as the Note II's S Pen - only no longer round but flattened instead. The flat sides of the stylus actually allow an even more comfortable grip. The button is positioned on one of those flat sides and is easy to reach.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review
Taking out the S Pen

We also received one of the S View Covers for the Note 3 (note that these are not part of the retail package, but are sold separately). It's even more rectangular than the phablet and looks a lot like a leather-bound notebook except for the window. That window measures around 60 x 60mm (2.36"), much bigger than the window on Galaxy S4's S View Covers.

You can use this window with your fingers or with the S Pen - you can jot down a quick Action Memo, launch the camera and take a photo or control the music player all without opening the cover. When you do open the cover, the screen unlocks automatically (unless you have enabled one of the security lockscreen features).

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review
S View cover

The S View Cover replaces the cover on the back of the Galaxy Note 3 to minimize the impact on thickness and weight. The window on this cover (as well as the S4 covers) has a thin plastic film that protects the screen underneath, unlike LG's QuickView covers where the window is just a cutout that exposes a portion of the actual screen.

You can also go for the Wallet Flip Cover, which is the same but without the window. This cover earns its name because of a small slot where you can put a credit card or some cash.

Battery life

The modest increase in battery capacity was a bit of a question mark hanging over the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, considering the screen resolution has more than doubled. Yet, the 3,200mAh battery powering the whole thing (up from 3,100 in the Note II) did quite well. The power-efficient Super AMOLED screen was made to count in video-playback and helped the Note 3 achieve an excellent score despite the huge estate to light up. Talk time is great too, web browsing the only element where the Note 3 failed to show a meaningful improvement over its predecessor.

Anyway, with an overall rating of 75 hours, the Note 3 is well ahead of the other phablets we've tested so far. What this number means is that the Note 3 should manage three full days on a single charge if used for one hour each of calls, web browsing and video playback daily.

Reader comments

Hi , how about Spen , call recording , and phone banking app's , do they work with android 10 or 11 ? If yes please tell me which custom ROM have you install in it?

How do you do it to be using Android version 11 and 10?

  • Anonymous
  • 04 Feb 2022
  • mUx

Hi , how about Spen , call recording , and phone banking app's , do they work with android 10 or 11 ? If yes please tell me which custom ROM have you installed in it ?