The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the most interesting smartphone released this year. Here’s why.

Daniel Bader

September 5, 2013 11:19am

We weren’t in Berlin or New York for yesterday’s Galaxy Note 3 reveal, but there is plenty of evidence that Samsung is on its way to yet another, ahem, massive hit.

But underneath the glitz, glamour and stitched pleather is a smartphone worthy of praise, since Samsung has managed to pull off a number of interesting things with this upcoming 5.7-inch device.

USB3_cable_Image_1__74180_zoom

1. It’s the first phone with USB 3.0

You may have missed it behind all the faux leather, but the Galaxy Note 3 is the first device we know of to use the new USB 3.0 standard.

Aside from the wider, strange-looking plug, USB 3.0 has two main advantages: it will transfer files between your phone and PC up to 10 times faster than a traditional USB 2.0 port, though your computer will have to support the new technology as well (it started rolling out in new Macs and PCs in 2012).

Perhaps even more exciting is, combined with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0, the Galaxy Note 3’s 3200mAh battery will charge much, much faster. USB 3.0 alone improves charging speeds from 500mA of current to 900mA, which is closer to an AC adapter than a USB port. The Note 3 also sports a 1.5A mode, too, which promises to bring charging time to under two hours.

And the good news? It’s all compatible with USB 2.0, so you can continue to use your legacy microUSB cords, chargers and plugs.

2. It’s the first non-Nexus phone with Android 4.3

Android 4.3 may not have seemed like a big deal when it was revealed alongside the Nexus 7 in July, but it does have two major upgrades over previous versions: OpenGL 3.0 ES support, and compatibility with Bluetooth 4.0 LE.

The latter has been a long time coming, but it’s notable because it brings Android into the same league as the iPhone 4S and 5 in terms of compatibility with smart watches and fitness bracelets like the Fitbit Flex.

At launch, the Note 3 will be the only smartphone compatible with the Samsung’s Gear smart watch, but over time, as millions of Galaxy devices get updated to Android 4.3, they too will update their proverbial resumes. It doesn’t look like Samsung intends to expand compatibility beyond its own range of Android devices, but we can always hope.

3. It sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and 3GB of RAM

Refer above to that OpenGL 3.0 ES support in Android 4.3, and combine that with the potent CPU and GPU combo of Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 800 SoC, the Note 3 will likely be the fastest smartphone in the world.

More importantly, the top Android games will absolutely fly on the Full HD screen, which promises to be of greater quality than that of the Galaxy S4 released earlier this year. The Note 3 is going to be a great gaming smartphone.

Yes, the Snapdragon 800 is not unique to the Note 3, but 3GB of RAM is. The LG G2 and Sony Xperia Z1 also promise to be fast-as-heck smartphones, but most games are optimized for the Galaxy series of devices first, because they are the industry’s most popular Android phones.

4. It comes standard with 32GB of internal storage

The Note 3 is Samsung’s first device to come with 32GB of internal storage, along with a microSD slot for expandability. This is the company acknowledging that 16GB is not enough anymore for the average user, and addressing the GS4’s issue of system files taking up nearly half of the available bits.

It also looks like there will be a 64GB version, but Canadians are unlikely to see it. Regardless, the Note 3 is a move in the right direction for Samsung.

fig01-2-ffedb

5. It’s one of the first devices to support Category 4 LTE, also known as LTE-Advanced

While it waits for the carriers to catch up, Samsung included Category 4 LTE inside the Note 3. Specifically, this is Qualcomm’s doing, through its updated MDM9x25 baseband, but ultimately it means the Note 3 will be as future proof as possible when it’s released later this year. This means speeds of 150Mbps down and 50Mbps up are theoretically possible, along with carrier aggregation for sharing up to 100Mhz of bandwidth for contiguous frequencies.

The MDM9x25 baseband also supports 6 LTE frequencies on a single chip, meaning Samsung will need to build fewer SKUs of the product for the various carriers.
note3mymagazine

6. Most of its new software features are actually useful

Unlike on the Galaxy S4, which boasted more than a few software features that we’ve never used beyond the initial review, the Note 3 adds a number of things we’re actually excited to use.

Specifically, My Magazine, which is accessible by swiping up on the home screen at any time, is a potent combination of BlinkFeed and Flipboard, who Samsung actually partnered with to implement it. My Magazine takes your various social feeds, favourite news sources and Flipboard’s choice picks, and makes them easily accessible at any time. Unlike BlinkFeed, though, it’s hidden until you want it.

In addition, some of Samsung’s new S Pen features, including Pen Window, Air Command and the new Multi Window, feel like natural extensions of the stylus’ functionality, and will probably be widely-used features by the reported 70% of Note users who stick with the S Pen after the initial purchase.

note3covers-1

7. Despite having a larger screen, it’s actually more compact than the Note II

Finally, Samsung managed to fit a larger screen with a higher-resolution panel, a larger battery, faster processor and more RAM into a chassis that’s thinner, lighter and narrower than last year’s model.

Oh, and the new covers look fantastic.

  • Max Fireman

    Well F*%^$, now I want one after reading this… Thanks alot.

    • Bri

      LMAO same here
      Good thing it’ll be available on WIND!! YEASHH

    • Jesse Laurin

      yeah, just have to wait until December for the tab limit to be increased to $500 for their Christmas plans so you’re not paying an arm n leg for the initial device :)

    • hunkyleepickle

      so will this device have a different sku for wind then? or can i walk into my local wind store, buy the device, and use it on rogers lte network? I know the Note2 was that way, two diff sku’s that is…

    • Evolution is a Hoax

      thats a real issue, I have been holding off buying a new phone hoping that this difference between networks would be resolved with a multi use phone so I could buy it at a electronics store for cheep without being obligated to buy into a plan.

    • BB BB

      Can’t wait to use that LTE Advanced on Wind!

  • Stephen_81

    I am not sold yet on the leather back, but I am very much interested in this phone.
    As said in the article it will make a great gaming machine. and while I can’t stand Android from a productivity standpoint I loved the Note2 for gaming and this Note3 just steps it up another level.

    • Bri

      Oh.. I didn’t know this.. but it feels and looks like faux leather? I think they shouldn’t have put stiches on the device it looks weird and cheap

    • Nadefrenzy

      No it doesn’t. It looks classy. Cheap was the previous plastic glossy covers.

      Also yes, it IS faux-leather ie fabric, not plastic.

    • haroonazeem638

      It is plastic. Research, my friend

    • Nadefrenzy

      Source?

    • icyhotonmynuts

      Look up the Blackberry 9000. There’s your back cover.

    • strunzo5 .

      How pathetic it is.. . There’s actually people out there that are so small minded that they take an incredibly engineered device and gripe about the back cover???….haha..sad indeed… perhaps Samsung should add scatch and sniff features for these type of monkies

    • icyhotonmynuts

      Don’t like the backing? eBay’s got you *ahem* covered. There’s …bound… to be different battery covers available after launch.

    • Stephen_81

      I agree with you on that one which is why I am still leaning on making this my gaming companion to my Q10 and Q5

    • Conception

      I like the cover myself. Pleather or real leather, I don’t care…I like it. Textured backing is nice in the hands. No more smearing plastic for me thanks.

    • ITCanWork

      just dont put an aluminum cover. i got one for my s3, and the GPS is practically unusable and the wifi/cell signal strength go down. Avoid aluminum/metal covers for galaxies.

    • 4u2nvinmtl

      FYI you can get a different back from Samsung…

  • Nadefrenzy

    Really well stated, Daniel.

    Note 3’s going to be a BEAST!

    Trying to sell my Note 2 as fast as I can :O…

  • notla

    Carrier aggregation is not required for Cat 4 devices to reach 150 Mbps; all you need is 20Mhz in a particular band, which Rogers has on Band 7 in areas like the GTA and other major cities.

    • Dabora

      In Canada, carrier aggregation is useless. Maybe few years later, it might be needed but new phone coming at that time. So, you don’t need to spend your money for it now.

  • Ballack

    kind of a Samsung-funded ad in Mobilesyrup.

    • southerndinner

      How dare Daniel post something positive about anyone other than HTC.

      This device is going to be popular and ad revenue is generated by pageclicks. This article probably generated 20-30x the pageclicks of an article about WP8 or Nokia or Motorola would.

    • Matt Alexander

      20-30x.. lol. Far more than that. Samsung owns the vast majority of the Android marketshare.

  • ronnnyraygun1

    My kids will retire their S2’s (mine and the wife’s old phones) and will be getting my Note 2 and the wife’s S3 as we upgrade yet again to the Note 3 and S4 respectively. Can’t wait.

    • Eric Rabell

      Great Idea!

    • southerndinner

      Lucky kids! Not bad phones for kids and they’ll be cooler than all those dorks with their iPhones at school.

    • Anaron

      There’s no need to call iPhone users dorks. I’m a big fan of Android and the only thing I like about Apple is their hardware design. With that said, I think it’s incredibly immature to call people dorks because of the devices they use. Don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s as simple as that.

    • HatInTheRing

      That’s a pretty dorky thing to say @Anaron:disqus

    • Guest

      That’s a pretty dorky thing to say, @HatInTheRing

  • Super_Deluxe

    For me the pricing will make or break it for me to buy it on launch week. If it’s too expensive on contract (knowing the big 3’s pricing scheme, it probably will be), then I’ll just hold out and buy it during the holiday around Christmas. I’m in no hurry to upgrade from the S3 since it’s already fast enough for my needs along with good battery life and screen quality.

    • Striker67

      I have the note 2 and love it. It may be hard to resist if this lives up to what the article says.

    • Swordfish

      I’ve been waiting for Samsung to announce a new S4 with the snapdragon 800 in it. I also want to make sure the next phone I buy is ready for the new 700mhz LTE so I don’t have to run out and buy a new phone just to take advantage when the carriers finally release it. If they don’t announce that a new S4 will be coming to Canada by the time this comes out, I may get it instead. I have the Note 2 so I am not worried about the size. Like you though, the price will play a part in whether I get it or not.

    • silver_arrow

      The current one supports 700mhz LTE, a lot of our phones do because that is what AT&T uses

  • William Worlde

    Although I own a Samsung Android (GNex), I have not been impressed with their cheap plast-icky (ha, ha!) designs. This one though is a thing of beauty and if I had a basketball-sized hand-span, it’d be worthy of my consideration.
    Nah, not really; I’d feel so stupid holding this thing to my ear obscuring half my head!

    And because they’ve been listening to me (:-)), they’ve finally implemented some innovative technology. Hmmm……

    • southerndinner

      I have relatively small or medium sized hands and the Note II really isn’t that big once you adapt.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      You must have a child like, cantaloupe sized head.

    • ITCanWork

      I thank god for the plastic, i hate putting a condom on my phone, and i drop my phone almost every day and it only has a couple minor scuffs. If i had an iphone it wouldve been dead a long, long time ago.

  • MSined

    Who uses a USB cable to sync data anymore? AirDroid (or even Samsung’s own Kies Air) is a far better solution.

    • Swordfish

      I do! I don’t actually sync my device but I do move a lot of files back and forth and it is much faster and reliable doing it over a cable. I also plug my phone into my car using USB so it charges while I play music.

    • Mark

      You can’t fastboot and adb over airdroid. Also, syncing isn’t the same as file management. I don’t want a bunch of unrelated junk dumped in the same place. I want to be able to find my data in the right place when I want it.

    • zanzee

      I adb over wireless all the time.

    • MSined

      Right, I meant sync as file management.
      AirDroid doesn’t just dumpe files in to no mans land you choose where to put your files.

      I’m guessing you’ve never tried it.

    • Nadefrenzy

      Does your AirDroid compete with the throughput of USB 3.0? I didn’t think so.

    • ITCanWork

      also USB3 would use less battery than wi-fi.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      I do, ever since air droid stopped working across all my devices. I took it up with their tech support. They’re stumped as far as I can tell because I no longer get replies. I guess I get what I pay for.

    • Matt Alexander

      AirDroid would drain your battery, hooking up USB3 would charge it.

    • oilfighter

      I do, have you tried to move 10GB of movies over AirDroid? It takes hours!

  • NobleGeorge12

    Now wait for HTC to #change !!! :)

    • southerndinner

      The only thing they’re going to #change into is another company or obscurity.

  • Magjee

    Wont the LG G2 have the first Snapdragon 800?

    At least if it gets out the gate first it should.

    • Oilersfan74

      My buddy has the xperia ultra with the 800 and he got it a few weeks ago, so I don’t know how other companies are claiming to be first?

    • Dimitri

      yea your buddy got it from Europe i believe? The Note 3 or the LG G2 will be the first phone in Canadian market to have a 800. Whichever one of them comes out first. Also the Sony Ultra is not available in Canada…

    • Oilersfan74

      No, he bought it here in Edmonton at Omegacell, you know you don’t HAVE to buy your phones from the Carriers right?

    • Dabora

      I think that G2 has the first Sanpdragon 800

  • Ali F.

    IMHO, I am fed up with “it has this, it has that, it is this, …” all this BS. The only relevant is number 4 and the battery.What matter for me and should matter for everyone is $$$$$. Sell cheaper, bunch of ripoff-gang …

    • volcano

      Buy a used note2?

    • Plazmic Flame

      Exactly. The Note 2 will be at a great used price now that the Note 3 is coming out.

    • Ulfredsson The Vanquisher

      Did you know it has a Snapdragon 800 SoC, and it has 3GB of RAM!?

    • Ali F.

      All I know is that all 2013 devices up until now are superphones and very powerful. I guess the makers are fooling us with specs. If I want to play a HD game that requires high performance, I should not use a phone, I should use PS3 or Xbox. Same thing with cameras. Don’t you see the race with the number of megapixels. Again, if I want pro photos, I will use my sony camera. My point is, we are now saturated and nothing is new anymore. Why they do not improve multitasking? UI? Battery? $$$$?

    • Nachotech

      All these new 2014 cars are powerful and the advertisers are fooling us by always showing us the specs. If I wanted to race cars I’d buy a Ferrari or Porsche, not a Toyota. Same thing with trucks. Don’t you see the race with gas mileage? Again, if I wanted fuel efficient, I’d buy a moped. My point is we’re saturated with vehicles and nothing is new anymore. Why do they not improve handling? Acceleration? $$$$?

    • ITCanWork

      I dont think people like you will ever be satisfied anymore until a phone can do magic tricks or teleport you to another place on earth, or another planet. Note 2 had the best battery in the world, so what are you complaining about. I configured my android to switch to the last used app when i hold the back button. So i can flawlessly switch between two apps very very fast. Money, well, welcome to Capitalism. It’s capitalism that brought these amazing computers that sit next to your b*alls all day long.

    • Henry

      Can’t you hear how stupid you sound? There are LOTS of cheaper phones and you are complaining that the up and coming arguably top smartphone in the world is too expensive?? They haven’t even said the price yet..

    • ITCanWork

      This phone is worth like 1000$. It’s a whole computer almost as thin as paper and they feel deserving for some reason for it to be 200$.

  • kam kashani

    I wish it had front facing dual speaker like htc one.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      Then get an HTC if you like dual front facing speakers.

    • ITCanWork

      I wish it was waterproof. Sony needs to come out with a 5.7 inch waterproof xperia ()$*@(!#$_

  • Apocalypso

    Good article with several compelling reasons for getting the Note 3. Not that I needed any compelling, since I’m eagerly waiting for this phone to “surface for purchase”. ;)

  • Apocalypso

    I’m a bit confused as to why so many people are complaining about the pleather-look back. It’s removable, which therefore means that it can (presumably) be swapped out for other types (once/if they become available, which is more than likely).

    • Bri

      because of the “if” part, they complain.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      These people obviously never visited eBay for Chinese cellular accessories.

    • Bri

      some people like the oem accessories/parts

  • Bri

    Just realized.. where are the speaker grills/holes??

    • BR

      Bottom of device :)

  • Dabora

    LG G2 already has all of these features. So, note 3 is not first device

    • southerndinner

      And at the end of the day it’s an LG product so a viable battery driver, long term support and hardware reliability are non existent.

    • Dabora

      Really?

  • Sugam Kumar

    I love Samsung products and here is another. Going for it…

  • SiMoN Samuel

    Somebody plz show Samsung “how to make back covers” …It’s like they are forced to make the back look cheap cz they’re scared they might just end up making the perfect phone! -______-

    • DL1119

      dude, there’re so many choices for you to swap…why do people complain about choices?!

    • icyhotonmynuts

      They can’t please everyone. Why don’t you fashion your own back cover, Mr Whiney Baby Pants?

    • downhilldude

      Ever notice the correlation between cheap backs and the option of removable battery and SD card? Pick your poison…

  • icyhotonmynuts

    At least my comeback was original, clearly you’re not creative enough to devise personal jabs at strangers. What you said makes no sense.
    Not only that, but it didn’t even address your original problem: not having a Samsung phone with dual front facing speakers.

  • Tania N

    Possibly my most favorite article on the Galaxy Note III so far. Thanks mobilesyrup! Unfortunately though….now I really want this phone…:(

  • K.k. Ho

    I’m so excited! I can’t wait to get my hands on one!

  • Toron James

    WP had live Tiles years before HTC had Blinkfeed and even before Flipboard existed all these new smartphones are moving away from icons to a WP Tile based homescreen that updates in real time.

    • notla

      Android always had widgets…

  • IanDickson

    One of my two phones are eligible for an upgrade next year June. :-) I can probably wait that long, get it cheap on Sasktel for summer, and then give my oldest my Note II. I can wait that long.

    • HatInTheRing

      But then the Note 4 will be just 3 months away and you’ll want to wait for that. It never ends. My opinion is get a phone the moment it comes out or wait for the next one. Not worth the $50 you save to wait 6 months.

    • IanDickson

      Very good point.

  • sportingchance

    Bluetooth voice dial does not work on Galaxy S4 – does it work on this? What’s the point of a watch if it doesn’t? Also – why does the article say it is compatible with existing USB micro USB cords when it shows a new plug?

    • Candice

      Look at the cord…the configuration of it should speak for it’s self!!!

    • Midknightsun

      If you look at the cable with the weird double connection, the smaller connection on the right is the same size as USB 2.0.

  • jeff

    How much is this going to cost outright? $900? I hope it is available in a play edition too

    • notla

      What would be the point of getting a Note device without S-Pen functionality??

    • jeff

      The specs are great even if the spen doesnt have all the functions. No touchwiz is the point

  • Conception

    Ummmm, I had to read the article a few times because I couldn’t concentrate! This is my new phone…f**k YA!

  • Bloune

    LOL thanks Future Shop for this future PEP exchange!

  • Matt

    USB 3.0 was rolling out on PC’s in 2010 (if not before?!), it’s about time a phone came out with it…

  • Candice

    I have an S3 and I love it. But after what I have seen and heard about the Note 3 it will be my next phone. I have been able to upgrade since April and have waited to see what the Note 3 was going to offer. This phone/tablet is exactly what I need for my hectic life. I can do anything on the go and won’t need to take my laptop along with me. I think that Samsung has “hit the nail on the head” with the Note 3

  • Conception

    Over on GSM Arena they have full specs. Append this on to their URL to get the list. samsung_galaxy_note_3-5665.php Thing is I see BlueTooth 4.0 but not APT-X audio codec. I hope it was just looked over…if it doesn’t have it then I’m not on board to buy one. Otherwise, this is my future wife, er’ phone…

    • downhilldude

      I read that S and Note models since 2012 have had it, so I would expect it on the Note 3.

  • Spoken Word™

    Been waiting on it every since I got my Note II

  • Dize Odisu

    tiny handed fella…… the merit of Samsung’s devices is not dependent upon the variety of their range

  • FiveOD

    Sad when all it takes to be most interesting phone of the year is spec bumps, a bigger screen, and features that aren’t purely marketing gimmicks.

  • Not1Not2Not3

    Sounds pretty tempting but I’ll stick with my S4 until the S5 drops next year. I never been the type to walk around with a “mini ipad” stuck to my face. To each their own…

  • pellaeon3

    USB 3.0 is pretty cool, but I thought we had evolved past having to plug our phone in a computer to transfer content

    • Glenn Urrea

      We have. But I don’t like to wait that long. Wireless will never be as fast as wired. Ever.

  • Oliver

    Finally, a REAL laptop replacement phone for me.

    • expat

      True.
      I used to travel with the phone, camera, laptop, with all chargers and everything… And I travel a lot…
      Now I carry with me a simple Note 1 with charger and USB cable. I do my business e mails from the phone, and also use it as a camera, navigator, etc…

  • Dabora

    Hey, G2 is Cat4 device since it use same chipset (Snapdragon 800). Also, based on my research, it has 32G memory and 3000mAh battery. So, I don’t think that it need expandable and removable battery. it should be fine day of use without charging.

    • notla

      G2 is cat4, as is the Z1.

  • Colin Léger

    No mention of MHL, is it 3.0?
    What about 4K capable video…do any other smartphone do this?

  • chris125

    The g2 pretty much matches it minus 4.3 and USB 3.0

    • expat

      Samsung for phones, and LG for all appliances. Korea rules!

  • expat

    It then looks like the Note 3 available in Canada will look more like the international version, which always had removable batteries, sim card, and SD cards…

  • notla

    i’m my own source. trust me now or find out the same thing later ;-)