back to article Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Once, twice, three times - a Very Large Phone™

Laying Dell’s Streak to one side, you can blame Samsung for starting this whole VLP™ business with its 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, which sold in more-than-decent numbers, as much to the surprise of its maker as anyone else, I suspect. Its successor, the Galaxy Note 2, upped the stakes by featuring a 5.5-inch screen and promptly sold …


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  1. Rob

    It's inevitable...

    ... that I'm going to get this when my Note 2 is due for an upgrade, I can't imagine having a phone without a stylus again. It's made my desk paperless, now if I could just stop all the snail mail I'll hit digital nirvana.

    The only reason I would be upgrading is because I need the extra storage space, other than that, there isn't a busting lot of improvements on this compared to the Note 2, bit of an Apple 5s really, didn't think Samsung would copy them to that extend ;-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's inevitable...

      Stylus still cracks me up - how RETRO although guess a few percent of users may find it useful. It's getting like the Homer Simpson car.

      1. hplasm

        Re: how RETRO

        Don't let mmeier hear you say that...

        1. mmeier

          Re: how RETRO

          To late :)

          Ultimately it depends on what you want/need. I hate touch and have quite a few use cases where an inductive stylus is the only way to go.

          Granted, I am moving away from smartphones completely since I carry an attache case or a small backpack around most of the time anyway when I am in a situation where "smartphone might be useful and used". So a 10-12'' tablet with build in LTE is as easily carried (and most of the time IS) as a useful sized smartphone and offers a lot more capabilities. Not to mention software updates for the next 10 years. Phone calls (rare anyway these days) can be taken on a 25€ "load Sunday run all week" dumbphone at least as good.

      2. fruitoftheloon

        Re: It's inevitable...

        So what particular aspects of having an option to use the stylus did you like/dislike when you spent somewhere north of 30 minutes evaluating how the stylus works?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's inevitable...

        It's an additional input device, the OS is 100% useful without it. It is there because a big screen is an effective writing surface.

      4. HenryM

        Re: It's inevitable...

        You might laugh but did you know that Apple had also filed for a stylus patent?

        Try doing a search for "apple-active-stylus-patent-279665/"

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: It's inevitable...

          Thinking of all those fanboys and girls who have blindly spouted forth the gospel according to Steve, namely "If it comes with a stylus, you're doing it wrong", who will blindly buy the latest iGismo because it has a stylus...

      5. MacGyver

        Re: It's inevitable...

        Guess what they use at the research zoos to interact with the apes? A touch interface. Do you know why? It's the simplest interface.

        Can you click and drag pretty pictures with your built-in meat stylus? Yes.

        Is it good for anything else? NO.

        Typing on a touch screen sucks. Fingers are often wet, oily, gloved, and are often just too damn big, and depending on the task, there is a more efficient interface.

        Do you use a touch interface to play Halo? No, it would suck and slow you down.

        Do you use a touch interface to write a thesis paper? No. It would suck and slow you down.

        Can you surf around the web reading blogs with a touch interface? Yes, sort of, but it only really works on the most dumbed-down of interfaces.

        Can you play a simple game made to work with simple tapping and dragging? Yes. But so can a monkey, or a cat.

        Can you write a simple game that uses a touch screen with only a touch screen? No. You'd use a REAL interface, unless you were a sadist.

        Touch screens are not "the wave of the future", they are what the manufactures can easily put on small devices with minimal parts, assembly and cost. Period. Most people just suffer trying to use them for real work.

    2. Shrimpling

      Re: It's inevitable...

      I have another 18 months on my contract so I will be getting a inevitable Note 4 when my contract expires, all because of the stylus.

      The only things I can think of that would cause me to defect from the Note range is another phone with a similar stylus and a fold out keyboard.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's inevitable...

        You can get a stylus for almost any phone - the only difference is that one has a slot to store it. I have a combined pen and stylus - which is actually useful as I still need to carry a pen.

        1. kororas

          Re: It's inevitable...

          The other difference is the stylus in the Note 3 is has some feature where you don't need to make conact with the screen for the device to know its there. When the pen is 2-3mm away from the screen the device shows a dot directly underneath the stylus on the screen. Useful for hovering functions and all sorts of other things.

          Its certainly not your typical dumb stylus.

          PS: I've had this device for a week now. Its great.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's inevitable...

            I'm struggling to think of anything useful for that 'feature' - the whole point is you touch as a confirmation of an intended action.

            1. Shrimpling

              Re: It's inevitable...

              "You can get a stylus for almost any phone - the only difference is that one has a slot to store it"

              A Generic capacitive Stylus is not the same as the Stylus that comes with the Note. It works when you hover over the screen and has a button on it that changes the functionality. They sound like simple things but having used a generic stylus on my old phone you can really notice the difference.

              One of the things I use it for is scrolling down web pages by hovering over the bottom of the page, then using it to accurately select some text for me to copy any paste into the comments box. being able to select a single point with the stylus is much more accurate than using my man sized fingers to select something.

              The hover effect also allows you to use old school websites not designed with touch screen in mind that want you to hover over the menu to select the other options.

              1. mmeier

                Re: It's inevitable...

                The inductive Wacom stylus of the Note series is vastly superior ti the sausage in a condom capacitive "stylus" offered for some touch only phones. It is as precise as a mouse on a desktop (actually even more precise) so:

                Palm detection/rejection - if the stylus is near this is the input taken not the palm/thumb somewhere else

                Using Websites not designed for touch

                Taking fast handwritten notes while standing

                Quick mark and copy of texts

                Text annotation in PDF (the Note screen is big enough for that)


                all work nicely. And it keeps the phone fingerprint free. For those who see a smartphone as an organiser that can make phonecalls the stylus is THE criteria. And given the Notes sales there are quite a few that see it this way (Otherwise VEB Plaste and Elaste has cheaper touch only phones with similar capacities)

            2. Dave Fox

              Re: It's inevitable...

              MouseOver events for one!

              Not every website is enhanced for touch, and sometimes the fact that the S-Pen can act much like a mouse is very useful indeed.

              YMMV of course.

            3. Richard Plinston

              Re: It's inevitable...

              > I'm struggling to think of anything useful for that 'feature'

              Your admitted inability to think is not a limitation on its usefulness.

        2. Nick De Plume

          Re: It's inevitable...

          The stylus on Note is a pressure sensitive "real" stylus.

          It is not a substitute for sausage-like fingers.

          The device has a wacom-made digitizer layer to sense the proximity/position/pressure of the stylus, so it will actually reject (read: not register) touch input when you are using the stylus. This is a GOOD THING, so you can rest your hand on the screen while doodling/painting. Just like using a proper notepad. Hence the name.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's inevitable...

        and a centronics port and a toaster?

        1. lambda_beta

          Re: It's inevitable...centronics port and a toaster?

          The toster was on the Amiga!

      3. James 51

        Re: It's inevitable...

        Sounds like you want a N900.

        1. GregC

          Re:Sounds like you want a N900.

          Can't speak for the original poster, but I do - or rather, I want an up to date equivalent. Make it around Nexus 4 size & power and I'd be a very happy camper.

          1. James 51

            Re: Re:Sounds like you want a N900.

            Was on a few weeks ago and they're trying to get something like that off the ground.

        2. mmeier

          Re: It's inevitable...

          N770 (due to the very sturdy case) updatet with WACOM technology (N-series was resistive) and WP8 (due to the chance to get the currently best Handwriting-Recognition engine from Win8) and we might have a deal :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's inevitable...

      Finger not work - in this advanced digital age a stylus should have little or no place other than perhaps for very detailed art work and are you genuinely going to do that on a 5" phablet = no. You may as well suggest an artist paint on the back of an envelope.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, it's NOT inevitable..

      My opinion of large phones: perfectly expressed here..


    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's inevitable...

      For some reason it reminds me of my dad dancing to Fall Out Boy at a wedding, he's 76.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's inevitable...

      The stylus loving Luddites remind me of the keyboard loving Luddites who insisted that a full hard keyboard ala Blackberry was the only way to go. There are still a few of them around, I'm sure there will always be a few stylus addicts around too.

      I suppose having a stylus replaces the hard keyboard for some, as they can write stuff instead of typing if they never got the hang of a touch keyboard?

      The 'hover' for web pages is useful, but it is mostly not a problem any longer as web sites that don't work properly for touchscreen are avoided in droves by the 99% of smartphone owners who don't use a stylus.

      Waiting for the inevitable downvotes from the stylus lovers who seem to be watching these comments rather closely based on the number of downvotes some other stylus critics have received :)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's inevitable...

      Nice phone, but Android though :-(

      If only they made this with Windows Phone on....

  2. Aberdeen Angus

    Following a string of Nexus devices, I'm jumping on this one. It's the stylus see.

    I just hope I can remove most of the Samsung duplication of function and get close to a Nexus experience, with a stylus.

    1. mmeier

      Little chance. If you want the Wacom stylus you are stuck with Samsungs mutation of Fragmentdroid.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That micro USB 3 connector is nasty compared to the elegant Lightning connector - although I admit the Lightning connector is USB 2 currently.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ...but slow. So a bit shit then. But it looks nice!!!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Elegant..

        Not just looks... the microUSB connector is a bit scratchy and I still need to give it a second glance to determine which way round to plug it in.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Elegant..

          "the microUSB connector is a bit scratchy and I still need to give it a second glance to determine which way round to plug it in."

          Humans rely on sight far too much. Use touch, the "bottom" side of a micro USB plug has 2 little notches on it. Here in my dimly lit cave, it is the only option.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Elegant..

            Yeah, but the whole point of good design is to make life easier for us humans (a little more good thought at the design stage gets multiplied by the production run... i.e magnified by millions)... so I'd like every connector to be as easy to use as a 3.5mm headphone jack. (Though even that gets messed up... an example being the original iPhone when the socket was so recessed that not all 3.5mm plugs would fit it, especially fancy thick hifi 'Y' cables)

  4. Mark Alexander


    I really don't get the trend for making Android devices bigger and bigger and bigger*. I've just jumped ship to the new iPhone. I love Android, and Google, but I just can't get an Android phone which isn't either gimped at a processer/performance level (the "anything mini" line of phones are crippled, all of them) or three times bigger than has the right to be put in a pocket. I've go a tablet guys - i want a small device, but I don't want to put up with poor performance.

    The whole Android/IOS debate is moot if the bloody hardware is too bloody big.

    * Actually I do, if you put a bunch of people in a focus group and asked them if they want a phone with a bigger screen of course they'll say yes. Just don't ask them if you want to put them in your pocket.

    1. turnip handler

      Re: Why?

      Turns out a lot of people carry their phones in bags. Which means that a bigger phone is quite helpful, and when the phone is used mostly for email, text and internet browsing then a big screen is helpful too.

    2. mmeier

      Re: Why?

      In case of the Note the size follows function. It is designed along the lines of the old PDAs as a digital notepad/dayplanner first and a smart phone second (Phone part of the hardware is so so) and 5'' is basically the minimum useful size for taking a quick note with a pen. Since at least the original target audience (business) would typically carry the N70x0 in a attache case etc. the size was not a problem there.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        Is it because people keep buying them?

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        >Since at least the original target audience (business) would typically carry the N70x0 in a attache case etc.

        and a Nokia phone in their pocket for voice and MMS...

        1. ISP

          Re: Why?

          "When I first used Android, I would tap a hard-button thinking it would end the call, but it didn't work that way..."

          I still do that on mine sometimes, hit the hard home button instead of the end call soft button, which dumps you out of the dialer interface entirely. Gah...

        2. Mark Alexander

          Re: Why?

          My point is I do carry something in my bag. It's called a tablet and it means I don't have to carry a laptop 90% of the time.

          If I'm on the tube or standing on the train I don't want to hold a tablet in both hands. I want to use a phone one handed. And I'm not that keen to go into my bag to get it. Hence the need for a powerful, pocketable phone.

          1. mmeier

            Re: Why?

            Well actually a 10'' tablet should be useable for the typical "in the bus" activity as well.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      > (the "anything mini" line of phones are crippled, all of them)

      If you wait until the new year, you might consider an Zperia Z1 f. This 'f' variant has a 4.3" screen, but the same processor and 2GB RAM as its bigger Xperia Z siblings.

      I have a 4.3"-screened Xperia P, and whilst being far from state-of-the-art it ticks along quite nicely on a dual-core chip and its copes with HD video and 3D games happily enough- though I seldom ask it to. Good call quality. Battery life could be better. Small text is readable on websites, but I imagine a bigger screen would make browsing easier. I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone with poorer close-up vision or 'sausage-fingers' though.

      1. ISP

        Re: Why?

        "If you wait until the new year, you might consider an Zperia Z1 f. This 'f' variant has a 4.3" screen, but the same processor and 2GB RAM as its bigger Xperia Z siblings."

        Still sounds too big to me, I'll be looking to replace my 3.3" Xperia Ray and want something of a similar size. The Ray can go in the change pocket of my jeans or in a shirt pocket without showing but is big enough to do contacts/calendering/messaging and I still get roughly 4 days run time between charges. Even on a single 1GHz core it is responsive enough. Fine as a phone too. If it wasn't for the limited RAM I'd be happy to keep it for another year. Time for some rooting and custom rom action...

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          Mr Alexander was after a smaller Android phone that didn't compromise on its internal components compared to 'flagship' models.

          Reg readers that want a 3.3" Android phone might want to have a look at this Samsung Android quad-core flip-phone with dual-SIM slots:

          1. ISP

            Re: Why?

            "Mr Alexander was after a smaller Android phone that didn't compromise on its internal components compared to 'flagship' models."

            As would I, I'd just rather go even more compact. The current screen size arms race leaves me cold. The Samsung is interesting but, personally, I've never been a flip phone fan. With a minimal bezel and a high pixel density a smaller device can be just as usable.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: Why?

              I've never been a flip phone fan either - though psychophysically the placement of the phone next to the mouth and ear is reassuring (though sidestepped by multi-microphone trickery these days), and the possibility for large buttons and a screen protected from scratches makes good sense .

              Personally, I have a soft spot for the slider-phones Samsung used to make- a very tactile way of taking a call, and then ending it. When I first used Android, I would tap a hard-button thinking it would end the call, but it didn't work that way...

            2. Mark Alexander

              Re: Why?

              Thank you, thank you. :)

              It seems like I'm not the only one who wants this either. I'm not completely keen on flip phones, but I'd get one if it's the only way to get into my pocket.

        2. Mark Alexander

          Re: Why?

          Yeah, 4.3" is definitely pushing it. 3.7" was always the sweet spot for me. Can I find one though? :(

  5. MrWibble


    Just don't try to use the gallery:

    1. Al Taylor

      Re: Speedy!

      Strange, the gallery on my review handset renders near instantly no matter how many accounts I have it set to show.


    2. rpw

      Re: Speedy!

      The gallery on my Note 3 opens immediately...

      1. Pristine Audio

        Re: Speedy!

        I think it depends on the Gallery's "Content to display" settings - you can set it up to open online libraries (e.g. Dropbox, Facebook, Picasa) as well as locally held files. This may slow things down a bit...

  6. nuclearstar

    My contract is up for renewal in January, so I will be swapping my Note 1 out with the Note 3.

    I am still very happy with my note, its still brilliant, but the slightly larger screen size and more powerful hardware is worth the upgrade. My note 1 sometimes feels a little laggy on the latest version of the OS.

    1. AndyC

      Note to Note 3, no thanks!

      My contract is up in January too, but I won't be going from my Note to the Note 3. I ran into the "Insufficient Storage available" error once too often for my liking.

      All those Samsung apps needing updating meant that I couldn't update the apps I actually used. I deleted over half the downloaded apps and ceased updating any apps I didn't use (including the Samsung ones).

      I now have a Note that only has 48 installed apps instead of the previous 80+. Some of those apps I deleted I actually used.

      So, no, I'm going for a Nexus 5 (probably) in January. I'll miss the screen but nothing else.

      Oh, and don't get me started on the stylus. It is rubbish. When I hover over the screen, it thinks I'm writing. It is far too sensitive. No more. Standard google phone for me. (Wife has an iphone5, she likes it, but I think it's far too small).

      1. Martin Huizing

        Re: Note to Note 3, no thanks!

        You are trolling right? I mean, really, right?

      2. Pristine Audio

        Re: Note to Note 3, no thanks!

        > I ran into the "Insufficient Storage available" error once too often for my liking.

        Not a problem any more - the Note 3 treats all the phone's internal memory as one, rather than dividing it between Phone and Internal SD RAM. The old phone needed a lot of manual relocation of apps into SD RAM if you were a prolific installer - this no longer applies. My apps go straight into the full 32GB of available space, and I keep my data on an external 64GB card. All runs very smoothly

        > When I hover over the screen, it thinks I'm writing. It is far too sensitive.

        Stylus settings have improved significantly since the Note 1...

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      I'll wait and see if the Note 3 is region-locked, like we've recently seen on Samsung flagship phones. If it is, I'm not buying.

  7. Andy Miller

    I was looking forward to swapping my Note 1 for a Note 3, but I now have concerns about the SIM region locking. If I go abroad I want to be able to use a local SIM in my phone, and it is not clear to me whether this will work with the Note 3. I'm getting mixed answers to this basic question.

    Oh, and no FM radio I see...

    1. fruitoftheloon

      sim locking

      Hi, I didn't twig that when I got my note 2 a little while ago from tmobile at the anything/anywhere shop that it would be locked down. in france a few weeks ago it was unlocked for 25 euros, didn't take too long either!

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: sim locking

        No this is a different thing. Even if you buy an unlocked Note, it will only accept a European SIM, so you can put a local French SIM in it, but not for example a local Japanese or American SIM. In a couple of years time, there won't be any reason to put a local SIM in when travelling around Europe. You will need an unlocked phone if you want to switch UK providers, but region locking will prevent you from putting in a local SIM outside of Europe.

    2. HippyChippy

      Note3 & SIM region lock...

      This is probably the biggest issue when considering/ dismissing the new Note 3 - why no mention of it in El Reg's review?

      I'm hoping you'll follow this up and provide Reg' readers with an informed answer; Is there 'really' no way around the region lock for a retail UK purchased Note3?

      Please investigate for a future article...


      1. Al Taylor

        Re: Note3 & SIM region lock...

        My understanding of this is that Samsung devices with a regional lock will work just like before so long as the first SIM card that is used to activate the device is from the region that the device is locked into. That means that if you get a European Galaxy Note 3, you'll have to activate it with an European SIM card first but once that is done you can use any SIM card you wish. My review unit didn't have the tell-tale region lock sticker on the box so even had I been able to try it overseas during the loan period I'd have been none the wiser.

        I am assuming Samsung is doing this to avoid transshipment issues though that is just an assumption.


        1. plrndl

          Re: Note3 & SIM region lock... @ Al Taylor et al

          Conspiracy theorists should note that Samsung sells its phones as a brand, not a product. This means that the Galaxy XTZ you buy in London may be a different device to the Galaxy XYZ you buy in New York or Singapore, and may have a different processor, different 4G bands etc.

          This may protect Samsung's margins in different territories. It also protects the naive consumer from dodgy grey imports.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Note3 & SIM region lock... @HippyChippy

        This is probably because Note 3 region locking has been extensively covered recently:

        Note 3

        Apple iPhone 5

        But yes, I'm also waiting for clarifying updates on this rather important topic.

      3. Al Taylor

        Re: Note3 & SIM region lock...

        As other posters have mentioned, the site has devoted a fair bit of space to this topic.

        The only way I could think of making a substantive contribution to the argument would have been to ask Samsung to send me an unopened region locked handset, run a UK SIM in it for a few days then fly to another continent and try it with a local SIM. (using an overseas SIM in the UK wouldn't have given a reliable answer. I've had several handset/SIM combos over the years that refused to work while in the UK but worked fine when in the SIM card's home territory). Clearly that would have been impractical.

        I should perhaps have linked to the Reg's coverage of the issue, and for that omission I apologize.

    3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Region locking

      Asked Currys technical support for their views on this, this was their response. It's not exactly Queen's English but the message is reasonably clear. Not sure I'd believe everything Currys tells me though...

      Dear Mr. ,

      Thank you for your recent enquiry regarding Samsung device locking. Rest assured that your concerns are recognised by Samsung and we will do our best to answer your questions. The so called 'Region Locking' on new Samsung devices is designed to make sure the device is activated in the region of purchase, not to restrict your rights or ability to use the device as you would like to do.

      What this means is that when you buy a Samsung device in Europe, you will need to first activate this device with a European SIM. If you bought the device in Japan, you will need to use a Japanese SIM in order to activate it. After activation, you can place any SIM you like in the device from any region, and use it across the world.

      Rest assured that this region locking is not intended to prevent you using your device when and where you would like. It is intended to make sure you get the best price and the most value from your new Samsung device without worrying about incompatibility or devices that may not work where you are. So it is placed on these devices for your interests.

      I hope this has answered your questions and has placed your mind at rest. Please mail us again if you require any answers to other questions you may have.

      Thank you,


      1. Neill Mitchell

        Re: Region locking

        I stopped reading at "Rest assured that your concerns are recognised by Samsung and we will do our best to answer your questions." This false and patronising "we really love you customers, honestly" crap you get on every single email/press release/Facebook post these days really gets my goat.

        I hope comment has made you chew your own arm off and has placed your blood at boiling point . Please comment again if you require any more spin and bullshit to other questions you may have.

      2. Trainee grumpy old ****

        Re: Region locking

        I would take anything that Currys tech support says with a large sackful of salt. I place more trust in Clove ( and on their Note 3 page they say:

        "...For example; If you travel to the USA, be it for business or pleasure, you can use your UK / EU issued SIM card and 'roam' on the US networks, but you can not substitute your EU SIM for a US SIM card in this mobile device."

        This for me is a deal breaker so will be sticking with my Note (v1) for the foreseeable future. Will explore installing Cyanogen or another ROM even if that means losing some/all of the stylus functionality.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: SIM Locking @Andy Miller

      Yes Samsung haven't done themselves any favours be not being clearer on this matter, however looking at other vendors products eg. Apple, Sony etc. some form of locking has been and will continue to be part and parcel of mobile phones regardless of whether the vendor does or doesn't put a label on the box.

      The real challenge is that neither vendors or nor 'expert' reviewers provide any readily accessible insight into what the roaming capabilities of any particular regional variant of a phone - such as the Note 3, so that you can determine and compare the real world roaming capabilities of handsets - do not assume that all UK/EU region phones have identical radio capabilities outside the UK/EU. Also from some of the findings from the Note 3 fiasco, not all new phones out-of-the-box recognise SIMs from all operators in a given region, I note particularly that Giff-Gaff users have had problems with 'unlocked' UK/EU region Note 3's...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Region locking is a massive backward step.

  9. Ebaneezer Wanktrollop

    'That micro USB 3 connector is nasty compared to the elegant Lightning connector - although I admit the Lightning connector is USB 2 currently.'

    I agree, the micro USB 3 connector is a tad nasty when compared to a F22A Raptor but admittedly the latter is an Advanced Tactical Fighter jet.

    Just saying......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah, jeez

      I didn't realise the ATF was only USB 2.0. Scratch that from my list of fighters I'd like to buy then...

  10. RFC822

    Samsung have shot themselves in the foot with SIM region locking, eFuses and warranty policy

    All the talk about the the stylus on the Note 3 neglects to mention that on the Xperia Ultra you can write on the screen with ANY pencil.

    However, the thing that most puts me off the Note 3 (and I have had a Dell Streak 5, Galaxy Note and currently Note 2) is not just the SIM region locking, but also the eFuse that's built in to detect whether the phone has ever been rooted - and Samsung's decision to void the warranty on any phone that has been rooted. Compare that with Sony's support for the developer community.

    Hence I've just bought an Xperia Ultra. Still getting to grips with the size (probably need an SBH52 headset), and wondering how the HTC One Max (despite only having a Snapdragon 600 processor) will compare, but Samsung have just lost one customer.

    1. Gob Smacked

      Re: Samsung have shot themselves in the foot with SIM region locking, eFuses and warranty policy

      "All the talk about the the stylus on the Note 3 neglects to mention that on the Xperia Ultra you can write on the screen with ANY pencil."

      Well, my friend complains about all the minute scratches he finds on his Ultra Z after using a 2B pencil... They won't come off anymore.

    2. mmeier

      Re: Samsung have shot themselves in the foot with SIM region locking, eFuses and warranty policy

      Any pencil sounds like resistive digitizer or a follow uo. The stuff found on the pre touch Windows Mobile systems or the N770 and follow ups. They worked but suffered a lot more wear and tear than the inductive units. On the Nokia N series that was one of the problems with elder units they lost digitizer functionality on some parts of the scree (That killed my N770 i.e)

    3. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Samsung have shot themselves in the foot with SIM region locking, eFuses and warranty policy

      I'd missed the coverage of the e-Fuse whilst away on holiday. Definitely game over for me where future Samsung products are concerned. When will companies realise that when I buy something, it is *mine*?

      Fuck their arrogance.

  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Is it waterproof/tolerant?

    The Sony is.

    As others have said. It's a nice phablet and I want it, but I travel a fair bit to SE Asia and region locking is a dealbreaker.

    It was eye opening in the backblocks of Myanmar to see locals using Note and Tab units for _all_ their business work. The portability and connectivity means that they're able to be used anywhere, including down at the market when procuring whatever's needed for the day. Users commented that it makes account reconciliation trivial.

  12. JaitcH

    Great stylus, even better sound

    The stylus is great - I use it with a PCB design App and it's a breeze to use and you don't even have to actually touch the screen. Memories of Palm.

    The sound quality from within the Note 3 is noteworthy. Don't know they manage it but Bach through The Beetles sound great.

    The 4-contact headphone jack is a pain - needs an adaptor with my Sony headset.

    The Dock is a dumb design - cables coming out of every side other than the front. Gobbles up the desk space. Luckily a Samsung support tech gave me a dock schematic and I made my own.

    The Samsung on-line support is poor, and the manual URL in my Note 3 was wrong. The included Quick-Start manual shows where the antennae are located - handy since my home-made dock is of stainless steel construction.

    Could have benefited from a security loop for a wrist-strap.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Great stylus, even better sound

      A major frustration with being an Android user - the lack of standardisation of headsets and headphones, even within the same phone manufacturer, and few offer headsets with three buttons. Even headsets with the same jacks might use resistors with different values. Most of the 'quality' 3rd party headset makers (Sennheiser etc) only support iPhones/pods/pads.

      1. M Gale

        Re: the lack of standardisation of headsets and headphones

        Think you'll find that's a frustration with phones in general. Android is the OS, not the hardware. Most phone manufacturers are selling their phones with Android on it, but the headphone jack ain't Android's fault.

        Most of the "quality" headsets that I've seen will work by default with Apple, Asus, HTC and a few others, and with a supplied adapter to work with Sony, Motorola and all the rest.

        If it's iThing-only, it's not "quality", no matter if it's been personally blessed by the ghosts of Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen.

    2. mmeier

      Re: Great stylus, even better sound

      The best part of the SPen is - you can replace it with something else!

      The case I use for the N7010 has a small elastic loop that easily holds a full sized WACOM pen. Given the size of the Note the pen is slightly shorter so it makes little difference in portability but a HUGE difference in useability due to it's size being close to a "normal" BIG pen instead of a toothpick

  13. Rob

    Region Locking

    Region locking is a cock up by Samsung, but only because they badly explained it when they first released details. When you first activate the phone you need a local SIM from the country it was bought, just to activate it, after that you can use a SIM from another region.

    The way Samsung first pitched it, it did sound like you couldn't use another regions SIM in it ever but that isn't the case.

    "The product is only compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within the region identified on the sticker of the product package," Samsung explains, in a statement sent to CNET UK.

    1. Martin 47

      Re: Region Locking

      Unfortunately that doesn't appear to be true, from other reviews I saw a couple or three weeks ago the region locking is just that, starting it of with a sim from the region or country you bought it from does not seem to change that.

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: Region Locking

        Nope, the region locking is just for first activation.

        The reason behind it is to discourage transhipment of 4G phones to regions that implement a different 4G technology (similar to the iPad 4 4G incompatibility in Australia).

        1. Gob Smacked

          Re: Region Locking

          "Nope, the region locking is just for first activation."

          Nope, not even that.

          It turns out "first activation" means "several days use with a local SIM". It takes a while to turn off, but it does eventually.

          There was a lot of complaining after a number of users found their phone still locked after they initially put in a local SIM and some outlandish SIM straight afterwards, It seems Samsung was serious about local activation: you need to use it for a while what effectively destroys quick-insert-and-resell-later schemes.

        2. Martin 47

          Re: Region Locking

          Being old and cynical I suspect the reason behind it is to protect regional pricing, however way you look at it, there is no benefit to consumers from this.

          I think Samsung is aiming to take Sony's crown.

  14. Pristine Audio

    Couple of things I found buried in the Note 3

    Not mentioned in this review but useful to me: it has ANT+ connectivity, which turns out to be very useful for gadget-minded cyclists - the self-same folk who'll also appreciate a setting buried deep in the set-up menus that allows you to increase screen sensitivity so you can use it whilst wearing gloves. These two things alone, coupled with the brighter screen, have been put to good use when I'm out and about with the phone, which in my case is an upgrade from the Note 1.

    As for the size of the thing, as a grown man I've yet to find the trouser pocket too small for a Note. And when you get to my age, the screen size really helps you to read the damn thing!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Befuddled by Choice

    "After all, do you really need Samsung’s S Planner when the basic Google Android calendar app is, in my opinion, better? Or two web browsers? Or S Translate and S Voice – both of which I think lack the polish of Google Translate and Android’s built-in voice command. On the plus side, the Samsung media playback apps are impressive if not quite up to the standard of Sony’s."

    It is always amusing to me when people complain about choices.

    Do you really need that car to come in 13 different colors? Why can't everyone love the same color you do! Conform!

    1. Al Taylor

      Re: Befuddled by Choice

      Yes, but you can't remove the Samsung apps without rooting. Choice is great, duplication less so.

    2. Shooter

      Re: Befuddled by Choice

      Yeah, what Al said!

      While I understand that phone manufacturers want punters to become used to their bespoke software (hoping to increase brand loyalty), it's inevitable that no one app is going to be "the best" for every single person's use case. Most people find it very irritating to be unable to uninstall software that they never use and is taking up valuable storage space and home screen or app drawer real estate. Though Sammy is not the only manufacturer guilty of this practice; I can't remember seeing any brand of phone lately that didn't come loaded with hard-to-remove bloatware. Even the Nexus line come with locked-in Google apps.

  16. Zaphod_42

    I received this reply from the site where I purchased my S4 in the UK. I did not break the seal on the box as I had heard about the region lock issues, and after the reply I have got I will be sending the S4 back to them for a refund and will not be purchasing an S4:

    "Thank you for your email. Your device will work in New Zealand. However, it would be locked to the region where you first put the SIM card into it. For example, if you place a UK SIM card into the device it would be locked to Europe. You would still be able to use the phone in New Zealand but only with a European SIM card. The same thing would apply if you placed a New Zealand SIM into it for the first time. PLEASE NOTE: If the box your phone came in does not have a long white sticker running down the side of it with blue underlined text at the top then it won't be affected by the region locking. If you would like to return your phone to us then you can do so. Kind regards."

  17. mraak

    I'd get one

    If it wasn't for the Google data grab that comes with any Android phone. They try to suck you into their walled-garden-social-advertising network on any step possible. Download something from Google Play, you immediately have your G+ page and and email, which they can then use to advertise stuff. Crazy.

    1. M Gale

      Re: I'd get one

      Not that I have particular love for Google, but they don't require a G+ account to use Android. Nor to set up a youtube or gmail account, though they do make it look like you do. Just quit the registration process when it asks to set up a profile and G+ account - your account for youtube or gmail is still created and can be used as normal.

      They do require a Profile (with the real name rules that come with it) in order to leave an app review, which is why I no longer rate/review apps. Sorry devs. Blame Google for that one.

  18. OrsonX

    Three Note 3 Fails

    1. "outie" camera (just why?!)

    2. FM radio AWOL

    3. Note no longer has note widget that allows you to TAKE FUKIN' NOTES!

    1. M Gale

      Re: Three Note 3 Fails

      Honestly, while it's neat to have an FM radio on my phone, I can't think of the last time I actually used it. Partly because like all phone radios, it requires a headphone lead to be inserted to act as an antenna, and partly because I have unlimited-means-unlimited data, and a 16GB micro SD card for storing media on.

      If you're that desperate, you can get a scanning FM radio of similar quality to a phone's FM radio chip from a 99p store, Poundland or equivalent bargain-bin shop. True, it's an extra device. But, you can get 'em keyfob-size these days.

      1. Pristine Audio

        Re: Three Note 3 Fails

        I was planning to use the FM Radio on my Note 1 for English commentary at the Spanish Grand Prix this year. Then I remembered I was using Bluetooth headphones...

    2. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

      Re: Three Note 3 Fails

      What an odd claim! Detach stylus, write note. Or at least that's how mine is how set up. I don't even need to unlock it.

      Also, it warns you if you've left the pen undocked then the phone starts moving, making it far harder to leave on the table.

      It even copes 95% with my nearly illegible cursive scrawl!

      Best phone ever.

  19. plrndl

    Freedom of Choice

    Why do so many people here seem to think that the way they use a smart phone is the only correct way, and everyone who does something different to them is wrong?

    Grow up.

  20. steve2727

    Maybe it's my trousers?

    Why does everyone assume that a phone that size won't fit in your pocket? I've upgraded to this from the original Note I got 2 years ago. I take it everywhere and have never had any problem keeping either handset in any of my trouser or coat pockets.

    Either I've somehow ended up owning trousers that all have 'VLP' (Very Large Pockets) or people who've never tried putting a Note in their pocket are just assuming it doesn't fit.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Maybe it's my trousers?

      While it fits in my throuser or shirt pockets it does not fit securely. Combined with the too smooth plastic of the shell I simply do not trust it NOT to slip out

    2. nontechietechie

      Re: Maybe it's my trousers?

      I'm not sure it is a good thing to boast about having Very Large Pockets. Most of us don't have room in our trousers as our genitals get in the way.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Just switched my Note 2 for a Note 3

    Superb bit of kit. My old Note 2 served me well (and would've continued to do so if I'd kept it), but the Note 3 makes the 2 look slow. Having a problem getting a 64GB card that works well with it, I'm hoping it's a card issue and not a hardware issue. And in the ideal world, I would have a Galaxy Note 3 Google Edition, with apps for note-taking, but this is as good as it gets in the mean time.

  22. toddf

    Too big? Needs a folding display screen

    How long can it be before a folding screen with LED tech shows up? I want a big screen, but it has to fold so unit can fit in something like a normal pocket or belt pouch. And then there is screen touch sensitivity. May be a while, maybe never. But I can hope.

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