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printed September 17, 2014
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Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for T-Mobile

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Screen

The Note 3's display measures 5.7 inches across the diagonal and includes 1920 x 1080 pixels. Samsung continues to use Super AMOLED panels in its displays, and the Note 3's impresses. The Note 3's screen isn't quite as pixel-dense as the GS4's display, (which has the same resolution, but is smaller,) but it's still an excellent screen. The Super AMOLED technology over-saturates colors a bit, but it offers incredible brightness and amazing viewing angles. There's no brightness drop-off or color change when the phone is tilted side-to-side. What's more, it is easily viewed when outdoors, as long as you use the auto brightness feature. Last, the screen works with gloves on. I had no trouble with big swiping gestures when wearing a pair of gloves, but you're better off pulling out the stylus if you have small buttons or screen elements to press. It's a good screen, one of the best for watching HD movies, browsing the web, or viewing slide shows.

Signal

We tested the T-Mobile variant of the Note 3 in and around New York City. It was able to access LTE about half the time we were testing the device. In NYC, it remained on T-Mobile's LTE network without faltering a bit. In fact, I had zippy data access even when attending a packed concert at a theater in Manhattan. The Note 3 was quick to download app updates, upload images, and browse the web over LTE. It performed above average when compared to other T-Mobile devices given the same network conditions. When under HSPA+, data speeds were a bit slower, but the Note 3 still performed well. It connected all calls on the first dial, but managed to drop one call in an area with weak coverage.

Sound

The Note 3 is an excellent voice phone. Not only are calls clear, they are quite loud. The earpiece produces nice, warm tones and enough volume to hurt your ear if you put the volume all the way up. I was easily able to hear calls in noisy restaurants and above the raucous din of a 5-year-old's birthday party. The speakerphone also does a good job with both the volume and quality. Calls sounded very good, and I was able to hear speakerphone calls in a moving car, in a bar, and other noisy places. People with whom I chatted via the Note 3 said I sounded clear. The ringers and alert tones can all be set to volumes that will tick off your roommate, that's for sure. I was able to hear incoming calls even when the Note 3 was on a different floor in my house. The vibrate alert is good and strong.

Battery

I was impressed with the Note 3's battery life. The phone has a 3,200mAh battery inside, which is only a tad bigger than last year's model, but the Snapdragon 800 processor - while quite powerful - is an energy-efficient engine. I had no problem getting more than a full day of heavy use out of the Note 3. Most days, it still had 30% or more battery life by the time I went to bed around midnight. Keep in mind, we were able to test when using T-Mobile's LTE network. Most people will be more comfortable if they charge the Note 3 each night, but it can go longer than that between charges.

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