Tag Archives: Samsung Note 3

Samsung Note 3 – Review – 16 Part Review

Below are all the review posts I have written on the Samsung Note 3. As a recap, I looked at the Note 3 and was not happy with it when it first got released. 3 months later I had another shot and loved it.

Part a – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/02/12/samsung-galaxy-note-3-thoughts/

Part 1 – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2013/09/28/samsung-galaxy-note-3-impressions-2/

Part 2 – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/01/01/samsung-note-3-3-months-later-impressions/

Part 3 – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/01/02/samsung-note-3-3-months-later-day-2-review/

Part 4 – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/01/03/samsung-note-3-3-months-later-review-day-3/

Photo Samples – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/01/04/photo-samples-from-the-samsung-note-3/

Part 5 – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/01/06/samsung-note-3-3-months-later-review-day-5/

One Handed Use – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/01/10/samsung-note-3-one-handed-use/

Part 6 – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/01/14/samsung-note-3-review-3-months-later-day-14/

Camera shootout – Note 3 vs iPhone 5S – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/01/15/camera-shootout-samsung-note-3-vs-iphone-5s/

Part 7 – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/03/19/samsung-galaxy-note-3-lifetime-3-monthly-update/

USB Audio – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/02/05/samsung-note-3-galaxy-gear-and-fiio-e18-portable-usb-dacamp-home-entertainment/

Video Tips and Tricks – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/02/26/own-the-samsung-note-3-watch-tips-and-tricks/

Loudspeaker Comparison Test – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/03/08/sony-z1-compact-vs-iphone-5s-vs-samsung-note-3-loudspeaker-tests/

Firmware update details – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2014/07/01/samsung-note-3-new-software-update-details-of-new-features-added/




Samsung Note 3 – new software update – details of new features added

The international Galaxy Note 3 (SM-9005) is receiving an update (OTA) which provides version 2.0 of KNOX, Kids Mode and Download Booster.

The update is live right now in the UK and should hit other countries in the coming week. It’s 185MB and the build number is N9005XXUFNF4.

If you want to try and force the update, go to Settings, General, About phone, Software updates menu on your Note 3.

What’s worse – performing a hard reset/restore on android phone or sleeping on a bed of nails?

As you may have read on my previous post, I performed a hard reset on my Samsung Note 3 on Friday night. I have had the Note 3 just over 3 months and this is the first time I have undertaken this exercise.

I did this to see if I could get my new Chromecast to work. I also thought after 3 months of installing and trying new apps and just recently updated to android kitkat, that a hard reset wouldn’t be a bad idea to flush out any crap.

The hard reset and formatting of the memory card takes only a few minutes, although the first attempt of erasing/formatting the memory card caused the Note 3 to soft reset by itself. The second attempt was fine. And then hard reset the Note 3, and was left with a baron phone. Mind you can you call a Samsung phone baron!

Anyway, that’s the easy part. Unlike restoring an Apple iPhone which is a totally seamless exercise, the process via Google was painfully slow. In fact, I left the phone downloading the apps and games overnight. I was up at 4.30am and it was still had more to download and install. Then by around 8.30am all 164 apps/games were installed with all logins and passwords and my custom layout back to its state from the night before. All in all, it took 12 hours.

The good news I’m left with 2gb more internal storage. And my custom setup is back.

Camera shootout – Samsung Note 3 vs iPhone 5S

And the winner is neither.

I own both these phones and use them extensively to take photos.

Below is a brief overview of each and what you should expect.

Speed – From startup to capturing the moment goes to the iPhone 5S. And then the 5S burst mode of 10 photos per second at full resolution all the way up to 999 photos as a burst is out of this world. I’ve tried it and it works. It does take a while longer than normal to analyse 999 photos and give you the best but it’s still quick.  Meanwhile the Note 3 only takes 20 shots on burst but it’s very quick once it starts. From holding the shutter button down seems to have a delay of 1- 2 seconds before the burst mode starts.

Panoramic – this goes to the 5S as it auto adjusts exposure as you pan. But both are good at this mode. And both can take some fantastic shots. With the Note 3 be sure to hold phone vertically to get a real large photo.

Low light or indoors – this is a close draw. Both have strengths and weaknesses here. The Note 3 uses the flash more often whereas the 5S tries to avoid using the flash. On scenic non moving night shots the Note 3 using a tripod will outperform the 5S.

Good light – both take excellent photos. The 5S has an uncanny way of making sure the photos are very natural in their colour reproduction. But the Note 3 has higher mega pixel lens. And it shows. I actually prefer the Note 3 results slightly.

Macro – a close match. But the Note 3 wins. It’s one of its strengths.

Software – the 5S is limited and is really a “just press the shutter” whereas the Note 3 has comprehensive options. Depending on your needs depends on your winner.

Overall I prefer the Note 3 photos but I do miss that speed to first shot that the 5S achieves.

Samsung Note 3 – review – 3 months later – day 14

It’s been 2 weeks since I received the Samsung Note 3 again. With 7 firmware updates and countless app updates, the full software packages provided by Samsung, the Note 3 has been a different phone to the buggy disaster that was released at launch.

Some of the surprises and highlights has been the camera. The Note 3 camera has taken some awesome quality photos far above what I expected. At night time and with the use of my tripod I used an app called “A Better Camera” . In fact using this camera app with Samsung’s own default app provides a superb shooting experience. I found a tripod adapter for the Note 3 called iStabilizer from Amazon which allows for high quality night shots. Using voice to take photos removes the potential for camera shake. Photo editing is handled by several apps and the effects available are huge.

After 3 months the software is considerably bug free. There are a few bugs still remaining but nothing of any significance. So what I am getting is a smooth experience. In fact, the Note 3 has less bugs than the iPhone 5S which constantly reboots and has a battery not up to the task of a smartphone.

As a music player the Note 3 is fantastic. But it has USB Audio out so by connecting the Fiio E18 USB Portable DAC/Amp the improvement in audio enjoyment is off the charts.

And then there is the even more stark realisation. With the Note 3 not only have I left my iPhone in a bottom drawer, I am not using my iPad or computer. The Note 3 handles all the computing needs for me.

Until the next best thing arrives tomorrow, the Note 3 is my favourite phone.

Samsung Note 3 – 3 months later – one handed use

One feature I like with the Note 3 is one handed use. Ideal when out and about and works really well.

First the keyboard can be shrunk for left or right handed use.

Then the phone dialer can be made smaller..

And if you really want extreme one handed use you can shrink the whole page. You can move the screen around and it comes complete with all the menu options.


Rather neat touches. The keyboard is especially handy when out and about in one handed mode.

Samsung Galaxy Note Official S-View Premium Cover – impressions

I received the official Samsung S-View Premium case at the weekend. This is the case that allows you to see and control a limited amount of actions on the Note 3 via the square clear window in the flip cover. It is very expensive at £34 approximately.

The case provides options on the colour of the window background. You have the option to see the time and missed notifications, walking steps, weather and sliding across the camera, music and action notes, without actually opening the flip cover. And that is it.

What you lose is the quick glance screen and the Watch On remote widget on the lock screen, which I have found more useful. Also the rear of this case replaces the current back cover. A good idea except its thicker than what it replaces. You can use the stylus on the cover window which is something. The camera function is weird. It takes a picture just fine but it is only a small square, similar size to the case window and not a full width shot. Another odd decision by Samsung IMO.

Some people will like this case, but for me it didn’t add any real advantages with the quick access information and in fact took away some functionality for me.

Samsung Note 3 – 3 months later review – day 6

Before you think to yourself, “I don’t remember reading day 4 and 5” you would be correct as I skipped 2 days.

I thought I would leave a few more days to see how things have progressed. Sadly, I’ve giving up on the Note 3 and I am back with the iPhone 5S. No that’s not true and I know some of still believe I will fall back to the iPhone 5S.

Using the Note 3 now is becoming a pleasure and not a frustration. I am still waiting for Google to update their Play Music app so I can stream my tunes and for for the official twitter app to allow me to receive notifications. Update. I fixed this. See separate post. Apparently twitter need to clear my cache but there support service is dreadfully slow.

Samsung’s WatchOn app remote control now operates my TV and DVD player properly and has a shortcut widget on the lock and home screen which is very handy.

And to reset or switch off and back on I have to untick allow scanning in the advanced wifi settings to avoid a reboot loop. Apart from that it’s faultless.

In the meantime, I am using Robird for twitter, a pleasurable experience, and for low light shots A Better Camera App that allows the Note 3 to take great low light photos providing their is no movement and you are using a tripod or similar. In fact, this app using the Hi-Res Night mode can produce some crazy good quality shots.

I have started to tweak everything a little bit more and I am finding everything just works a treat now. It was a painful beginning but it is starting to provide dividends.

Even the free music offer which at first didn’t work, just did yesterday when I tried again. Human error probably but it wasn’t as obvious as I would have thought. I also found a free game Monster University for Note 3 users available on the Samsung Games stores. I also have a different view of the Samsung Hub. Whilst it is not perfect, it does cover all aspects of media and is definitely Samsung’s next strike to remove itself from Google’s services in the future.

With the Note 3, Samsung included a wealth of extra software and third party software services which makes this whole proposition really hard to refuse.

I have activated Find My Phone and Sim Activation Lock. Scrapbook which I thought was a gimmick is actually wonderful to use. It provides a fluid way to clip and record properly items of interest.

Screen and battery life and amazing. I have nearly every option turned on from air gestures, to motion and smart options. The small on screen floating apps are useful although not many of them. Handy for the calculator and whatsapp. Using Flipboard, My Magazine, Business Week and other news type apps is a joy due to the large screen. I never really bothered with Flipboard on the iPhone but it is lovely to view on the Note 3.

I have now added gestures with Nova Launcher so double type, and one or two finger swiping up and down launches specific apps, saving time.

There is no away I can see myself drifting back to an iPhone despite all its positives. The Note 3 is leagues ahead in many ways and the honeymoon period is just improving.

Fix – If you have Google Play Music and a Note 3 with silent tracks occurring

At the weekend I connected a usb dac and amp to the Note 3. When I made the connection it triggered the emergency assistance function on the Note 3.

This function sends a MMS message to whoever you setup in the settings. The message includes your GPS location and a Google Map link. In addition the front and rear cameras take a simultaneous photo and off everything goes. Well, you can imagine my surprise when one of my emergency contacts calls me and tells me I need a shave and could they have one of the chocolate biscuits on the table.

I realised that every time I connected the usb dac the same thing happened.  So I turned off that option and no more emergency messages.

That got me thinking about my current issue with Google Play Music, whereby it kept going silent after one or two songs but was still playing , and only fixed by pausing then pressing play. I wondered if the emergency assistance feature was clashing and low and behold it was. With emergency assistance off, Google Play Music works just fine.