Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear

After meeting with Samsung’s NZ representative, I set her a challenge.

I’m a long time iOS user and my previous forays into the Android world have been brief with my loathing of woefully underpowered Android phones. I challenged her to make me like Android, Did it work?

I’m annoyed with the iPhone at the moment, I don’t think I’m probably alone here. Í’ve been using iOS7 beta on the iPad but refrained from putting it on the iPhone until the full release. Unfortunately, I wish I didn’t. It’s slow and buggy.

Apple are crippling its older handsets with OS upgrades. Let’s not forget the iPhone 4 and 4S are massively popular handsets. Having spoken to other users who have upgraded to iOS 7, the upgrade has turned a number of handsets including the 4S into achingly slow POS.

So after a brief training session, I was set loose with the Note 3 and Galaxy Gear. On the way home, I started playing. The watch is actually quite cool looking but the initial setup requires a bit of a weird process. Insert the watch into a cheap plastic cover that you then hold to the phone.

This starts the setup procedure and installs apps. Somewhat strange and a disappointment as it would have been a lot easier to miss out the stand altogether and just setup via bluetooth.

The screen of the watch is very bright and still easy to see in sunlight. The battery does last a couple of days but its life is dependent on usage.

The Gear is definitely a companion to the Note 3, it’s not smart enough yet to take over a lot of the detailed work from our phones but as apps and technology develops, future models will become an important part of our lives. The apps are useful and I know there are some very cool apps soon to come out from NZ developers.

There is some feedback I’ve had which I share concerns on. The camera. It’s just not right where it is and not very useful pointing where it does. If it was on top of the watch and was a swivel, it could be used as a webcam. The speaker is also a bit tinny. Outside on a call, I was having to hold it up to my ear for calls then speak into it.

I’d give the watch 6/10. Almost there and with some time and work I think Samsung could come up with a great piece of wearable technology.

The Galaxy Note 3 is a great piece of technology. It has a massive 1080p screen that is bright and super sharp. Moving my contacts over from iPhone to Android was easy and the Google apps are so intuitive on the Android. I loved being able to install XBMC on the Note 3 and the stylus is brilliant for scrapbooking, I could see putting pictures onto Social Media would be very easy and useful with it. Watching movies or TV programs is easy enough although the single speaker is not the best for sound quality.

As a business phone, it has a good battery life and interconnectivity including VoIP and other common messaging services are quick. It was quick to connect to Telecom wireless. I did have issues with the normal 3G signal but living on the North Shore, I’m often on 1 bar of connectivity, so I won’t hold that against the phone. I imagine on 4G, this is going to be a monster.

The Note and the Gear together are pretty good. There were some teething issues with the watch, but this will get better the more apps are developed. I hope that there starts being compatibility with lots of phones, not just Samsung’s.

After using the iPhone again after a week of the Note 3, my frustration levels are going through the roof. I’m actually fed up with it!

The main thing I miss from the iPhone on the Note 3 is FaceTime and iMessage. Apple said in 2010 that they would make FaceTime an open standard. I’ve puzzled why they haven’t made both open standard, it’d be an industry killer!

Pros:

* The Galaxy Gear has great potential

* The big bright screen of the Note 3 is a pleasure to use

* The Stylus makes interaction simple

* The back button, not on an iPhone but so useful!

Cons:

* The Android keyboard was difficult to use with a poor autocorrect.

* The size, too big for me but ideal for others

* Toughness

* Lack of dual speakers on the front.

* Video pause eye tracking was too intruding

Summary:

I did investigate how to install iOS on the Samsung. Unfortunately, there’s no way to do that which is a shame. I could imagine a Samsung with the ability to dual / triple boot and run iOS would be pretty cool. You will be able to dual-boot Android with Ubuntu’s Touch OS soon enough on certain phones.

Instead of the 5C, I would have loved Apple to say to Samsung, “Make the best iOS compatible phone you can for the 5C price”. However, I feel that Apple may have been embarrassed by what Samsung create.

At Apple’s recent product launch, there was nothing that was amazing (although the Macbook Pro Retina is on my list!) and under Tim Cook, Apple are failing.

Has Samsung convinced me? Yes. Samsung have created some great products, it’s Android I have more of an issue with!

For me, the perfect size is 5″ with a 1080 or higher screen. The Nexus 5 looks like it will be a hit at US$349, but we’ll probably face the NZ tax. I’d love to see Samsung release their own 5″AOSP version which with a little playing could exploit the ability to install iOS ;)

Samsung do a massive range of phones. I do wish they would concentrate on making fewer models so I know which would be good to choose! How about giving the phones to New Zealanders to test before you release them? We’d be pretty good at giving you the feedback to make fewer but better handsets! How would you improve your Samsung device?

Scores:
Galaxy Gear: 6/10
Galaxy Note 3: 8/10

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