- Review Date: 10/23/2013
- Bottom line: Samsung refines its top-tier phablet with the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3, a powerful, full HD phone/tablet combo that may be the only mobile device you need.
- Pros: Massive, stunning 1080p display. Lighter and faster than before. Dizzying array of software enhancements, some of which are genuinely useful.
- Cons: Like all phablets, it's huge. Dizzying array of software enhancements, some of which are dubious.
Now in its third iteration, the Galaxy Note line continues to prove skeptics wrong—people just can't get enough of these supersized smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on Verizon Wireless ($299.99 with two-year contract) picks up right where its predecessor left off, making key upgrades to the design and display, while adding a bevy of new stylus features. Add in the powerful processor and superb multitasking chops and the Note 3 easily wins our Editors' Choice award for phablets on Verizon.
We've already reviewed the Note 3 on T-Mobile, so see our original review for a full run down upgrades and improvements.
Design, Call Quality, and Bloatware
To recap some of the new design and features, the Note 3 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, with an eye-popping 5.7-inch 1080p AMOLED display and a new faux-leather finish on its back. Our Verizon unit came in black, which I found makes the leather effect look a bit more convincing than the white model. The phone is available in black and white on all carriers.
Note: The slideshow below is of the T-Mobile Galaxy Note 3, which is physically identical to the Verizon Note 3 except for the carrier logo.
The Verizon Note 3 supports LTE on 700Mhz and EVDO Rev. A on 800/1900 MHz, and is global-ready with EDGE/GSM (850/900/1800/1900) and HSPA/UMTS (850/900/1900/2100) support. It will support Verizon's upcoming, faster AWS LTE network with a software update. Download speeds over LTE were consistent with what we've seen from other Verizon phones and reception was excellent in my tests in New York City. Call quality was great. Voices came through full and clear in the earpiece with plenty of volume to spare. Transmissions through the mic sounded equally clear, if a bit muted, and noise cancelling did a good job of blocking out distracting environmental noise. The Note 3 connected easily with a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset and voice dialing worked quickly and accurately.
One of the benefits of giant phones is the giant battery they can accommodate. The Note 3's 3,200mAh battery was good for 18 hours, 50 minutes of continuous talk time in our tests. That should be plenty to get you through a day and even beyond with moderate use.
Of the 32GB of internal storage, 24.15GB is free for users out of the box. On top of the numerous Samsung pre-loaded apps and features, Verizon went ahead and loaded up 15 extraneous apps. Of course, none of these can be uninstalled, though they can be hidden from the app drawer.
Pricing and Conclusions
You have two options for buying the Note 3 on Verizon; pay $299.99 up front and sign a two-year service contract or buy the device up front for $699.99. On T-Mobile, you get the Note 3 for $199.99 up front and 24 monthly payments of $21 or $704.99 up front, neither of which require a contract. Verizon only offers Share Everything plans now, and charges a separate monthly price for each device included in the data bucket. A 2GB plan costs $60 per month for the data and $40 per month for the individual smartphone access. So over the course of your two-year contract, the total price for the device ($299.99) and service ($2400) adds up to $2699.99. A 2.5GB plan on T-Mobile costs $60 per month, with no additional cost per device—that works out to $2143.99 for the Note 3 and two years of service on T-Mobile. So while the Verizon model might seem less expensive at first, you actually end up saving with T-Mobile over the long run. The Note 3 is also available for $299.99 on AT&T or $249.99 on Sprint, both with two-year contracts. Over two years, the Note 3 will ultimately cost $2579.99 on AT&T for the 2GB plan or $2169.99 on Sprint for unlimited data.
It's only natural that Samsung dominates the category it helped create, and the Note 3 is no exception. The greatly improved 1080p AMOLED display, fast Snapdragon 800 processor, and robust system-wide stylus support keep the Note 3 at the head of the pack. It's the best phablet you can buy right now and easily wins our Editors' Choice award.