An Annotated Tour of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Note 3 Sketch

Howard has been gracious enough to sublet his Galaxy Note 3 for a couple of days before it’s due back at Samsung Canada. There are already a lot of really good reviews out there, including his; I’ve decided to share my thoughts on the Note 3 with a series of annotated screen grabs using the S-Pen.

I know — genius, right?

Touchwiz

Note 3 Touchwiz

Ok, it’s actually not that bad. Samsung’s take on Android is starting to look a bit dated, though.

The good news, at least for me, is that in using Touchwiz I’ve come to realize that the S-Pen doesn’t really need it. I could flash the Note with a custom ROM and most of the stylus-specific functionality would remain intact. The only Touchwiz feature I think I’d miss would be the split-screen display, which is actually really cool.

If you’re interested in taking control of your Note 3 then check out its Android development forum on XDA

S-Note

Note 3 Notes

Obviously, one of the biggest draws to the Note 3 is the ability to capture your chicken scratch in full HD. S-Note appears to be the app that Samsung wants you to use for this.

You can save your notes into the virtual moleskins seen in the widget above, which are surprisingly hard to manipulate. I eventually found a way to delete them but it wasn’t easy. Nor was there a readily apparent way to show different covers for different notes — which would kind of make sense, wouldn’t it?

Action Memo

Note 3 Action Memo

Action Memos are another exclusive Touchwiz/S-Pen deal. The idea here is that a seemingly-unrelated scribble can be linked to an “action item” like a phone number or email address. Any memo can be saved into a little stub that sits in a random spot on your screen and generally annoys you until you deal with it.

Bizarrely, it doesn’t work the other way around — that is, you can’t open a contact and see an action memo as an attachment, which would be a lot more intuitive for me. I guess they’re meant for things that need to be dealt with ASAP. Even so, if you’ve got a bunch of stubs for different memos saved to your home screen there’s no way to discern which one is which.

Calendar

Note 3 S-Planner

This was somewhat infuriating. My Note 3 didn’t have Google Calendar installed but instead, Samsung’s version called S-Planner. This app will import events from your Google Calendar just fine, but it will only sync to a Samsung account. There is a warning that will tell you this when you first launch it, but you’d be forgiven for not paying attention. Can you imagine entering a bunch of data into S-Planner only to find that you have to register for a Samsung account to keep it?

Not cool Samsung, not cool at all…

Camera

Note 3 Camera Sample

Though I only had time to take a few photos here and there (no videos), the camera on the Note 3 seemed about as great as you’d expect. You can compare this particular subject with a similar photo taken by my Nexus 4 right here.

Random Thoughts

  • I think the S-Pen could be a lot better. It’s an eyesore in the back of the device, it’s hard to pull out and the button on it is too hard to find.
  • Even though it’s just molded plastic I think the pseudo-leather back on the Note 3 is quite brilliant. If I bought one I’d definitely go for black.
  • I haven’t used an Android device with a physical home button since the Nexus One. As someone who uses Google Now a fair bit I can’t say that I’m a fan.

Thanks again to Howard for enabling my first Samsung phablet experience. I’m definitely considering the Note 3 as my next device, but that would depend on how theĀ  Nexus 5 turns out…

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