The front of the Galaxy Note 3 features the large and bright 5.7-inch AMOLED screen. The display screen occupies most of the front of the smartphone and offers full HD resolution (2.07 million pixels). This is an outstanding touchscreen.display.
In the upper right corner of the front of the device (the small circle in the upper left corner of this photo), you'll see the secondary camera which offers 2-megapixels of resolution. Along the edge of the smartphone, just below the display screen, you'll see a Menu button on the left, the Home button in the middle, and the Back button on the right. The Menu and Back buttons light up when your finger touches them, otherwise they're difficult to see when they're unlit.
The back panel of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a faux leather finish, which actually makes it much easier to hold this extremely thin device comfortably. The included S Pen stylus is shown here as well, and it unlocks a few different smartphone related features. You likely won't use the S Pen much when using this device's primary camera or when looking at stored photos though.
The top portion of the back of the smartphone features the primary 13-megapixel camera (shown as the squarish black lens on the far left of this photo). The LED flash is the yellow bulb (shown here to the right of the lens).
The top panel of the Galaxy Note 3 features the headphone jack (shown on the right side of this photo), as well as the IR LED light (on the left).
The bottom panel of the smartphone has a tiny microphone (far left), a USB port (middle left), a speaker (middle right), and a slot containing the stylus (far right).
As you're holding the Galaxy Note 3 and looking at the screen, the power button (shown here) is on the right side of the device.
When holding the smartphone and looking at the screen, the volume button (shown here) is on the left side of the device. Pressing either end of this button also will control the Galaxy Note 3's 4x digital zoom setting. As with most smartphones, there is no optical zoom lens with this device.
The back cover must be removed to access the battery and memory card compartments. The smartphone's primary antenna is just below the battery, and the GPS antenna is to the left of the main camera lens (as shown in this photo).
The battery is the large rectangular object in the middle of the back of the camera. You don't have to remove the back cover to charge the battery, which occurs through the USB jack at the bottom of the device.
Samsung included 32GB of internal memory with the Galaxy Note 3, which is great for storing the photographs you shoot. You can add up to another 32GB of storage space through the microSD memory card slot shown here. No memory card is included.
When charging the Galaxy Note 3, you'll plug one end of the included USB cable into the USB jack on the bottom panel of the device. The other end of the cable plugs into the white adapter, which plugs into an outlet. You'll use the USB cable to download photos to a computer as well.
The main camera shooting touchscreen includes control icons across the top and right side of the screen as shown here.
You can begin recording movies by pressing the movie camera button in the upper right corner of the main screen. The oval shaped camera button on the right allows you to record a still image. The Mode button on the bottom right provides access to the camera's various scene modes.
Samsung did not include any advanced shooting modes with the Galaxy Note 3, such as a Program Auto or Manual mode, although you can adjust settings such as white balance and EV through the icons across the top of the main shooting screen, which we'll discuss later.
To control the secondary 2MP camera you will use the two icons in the upper left corner. (If you cannot see these icons, press the left facing chevron along the top of the screen.)
To activate the secondary camera, touch the camera icon with two arrows. The secondary camera's image then will occupy the entire screen. To return to the primary 13MP camera, touch the icon again.
To create a picture-in-picture look with the primary camera's image occupying the majority of the screen and the secondary camera's image inserted in the upper left corner in what looks like a postage stamp frame (as shown in the image above), touch the icon showing the front and back of a camera. Both cameras will be active as you move the camera around. Then press the camera button on the far right to record the picture-in-picture photo, which will look the same as it appears on the Galaxy Note 3's display. To switch back to the primary camera only, press the front and back camera icon in the upper left again.
When you touch the Mode button, 13 scene modes become available with the Galaxy Note 3, including:
- Surround Shot
- Rich Tone (HDR)
- Animated Photo
- Sound & Shot
- Best Face
- Best Photo
- Beauty Face
As you drag your finger across the right side of the screen to scroll through the different scene modes, an explanation appears on the screen to provide more information.
The icons across the top of the screen allow you to make minor changes to the camera's settings. The 15 options include:
- Flash - On, Off, Auto
- Smart Stabilization - On, Off
- Voice Control - On, Off
- Movie Recording - Normal, Limit for MMS, Slow Motion, Fast Motion, Smooth Motion
- Share - Off, Share Shot, Buddy Photo Share, ChatON Photo Share, Remote Viewfinder
- Volume Key - The Zoom Key, The Camera Key, The Record Key
- Metering - Center-weighted, Matrix, Spot
- ISO - Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800
- Video Stabilization - On, Off
- Location Tag (GPS) - On, Off
- Review - On, Off
- Self-Timer - Off, 2 Sec, 5 Sec, 10 Sec
- White Balance - Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent
- Exposure Value - +2, +1.5, +1, +0.5, 0, -0.5, -1, -1.5, -2
- Gridlines - On, Off
To clarify to what's listed above, you won't see icons for each of the camera's 15 settings across the top of the screen at one time. The Galaxy Note 3 can only display a limited number of icons (five) across the top of the screen at one time when you touch the gear icon with the right pointing chevron. The default set of icons is: Flash, Smart Stabilization, Voice Control, Movie Recording, and Share.
To access the other 10 settings, you have to press the Edit button on the edge of the camera near the Home button. Then select Edit Quick Settings to bring a grid of icons to the screen through which you can access the other 10 settings. Touch one of the icons and drag it upward to the string of icons across the top of the screen. (Some of the icons in the grid may be grayed out, depending on which scene mode you've chosen.)
Each time you drag an icon to the top of the screen, you must use it to replace one of the icons that's currently displayed there. The Share and Movie Recording icons cannot be swapped out. Once an icon is swapped out, it will appear in the grid. You cannot make changes to a particular setting until its icon is displayed across the top of the screen.
Even after you've dragged an icon back to the Edit Quick Settings grid, the last setting that you've picked will remain active. So if you were shooting at ISO 800 and then replaced the ISO icon across the top of the screen, the ISO setting will remain at 800 until the next time you drag the ISO icon to the top of the screen, so its setting can be changed.
Although this system does limit the number of icons that are on the screen at one time, it's a significant hassle to try to access multiple settings during a single photography session. This system for changing the settings certainly could be better designed, although you do have the option of working through the camera's menus to make changes to some settings.
Samsung did include quite a few special effects with the Galaxy Note 3. You can access them by touching the upward pointing chevron at the bottom of the screen. The special effect options are:
- No Effect
- Faded Color
- Oil Pastel
As you pick a special effect, the image on the screen will change to show you what the effect will look like if you choose to record a photo with it.
Recording movies with the Galaxy Note 3 is as easy as touching the movie camera button in the upper right corner. You then can stop or pause the recording by pressing the buttons along the right side of the screen. You also can record a still image while recording a video by pressing the camera icon button in the lower right corner.
The amount of time elapsed in the video recording is in the upper left corner, while the amount of storage space required for this video stream is in the upper right corner.
Samsung included help screens with the Galaxy Note 3, and the screens all deal with using the smartphone's cameras. Press the Menu button along the edge of the camera near the Home button and then touch Help on the screen.
The camera icon is on the far left and offers control over the main camera's photography features, duplicating some of the same commands found under the Quick Settings grid discussed earlier. The camera menu options are:
Some of the options in the menus may be grayed out, depending on which shooting mode you're using.
Touch the thumbnail image in the upper left corner and then the Camera button to return to shooting mode.
Touch Create Album to make a new album, and use the on-screen keyboard to name your album.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 compared in size to a DVD.