The US availability of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear is well underway. The handset has been rolling out to various carriers with Verizon Wireless customers getting access to make a purchase as of late last week. Big Red had pre-orders open, however the general availability kicked off on October 10th. As such, we have recently been carrying a Verizon branded Galaxy Note 3 for testing.
First things first, when we say Verizon branded Galaxy Note 3, we should clarify that a little. Unlike what we saw Verizon do with the Note 2, they eased up quite a bit for the Note 3. Gone is the awful Verizon logo on the home button. Instead the Galaxy Note 3 has just the Samsung logo on the front. That one sits up top near the earpiece. Flipping over to the back and we see the Galaxy Note 3 branding (similar to other carriers) as well as a Verizon and 4G LTE logo sitting centered below the camera and flash.
In fact, aside from the Verizon branding on the back of the handset, the hardware is the same from carrier to carrier. Well, this one does have support for the Verizon network, but the display, processor, RAM, storage, camera and other specs remain the same. As a reminder, the Galaxy Note 3 has a 5.7-inch Full HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a quad-core 2.3GHz processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot.
Other specs include the 3200 mAh battery, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, 2 megapixel front-facing camera and 13 megapixel rear-facing camera. As the size of the display would imply, the handset is on the larger side. The Galaxy Note 3 measures in at 5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches and weighs in at 5.93 ounces. Of course, as many remember, the Galaxy Note 3 also has the S Pen.
Anyway, for a closer look at the Verizon Galaxy Note 3, make sure to check out the image gallery sitting below.
In terms of software, again, at the heart this model is similar to what we are seeing from the other carriers. That is to say the Verizon Galaxy Note 3 is still running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. There are also quite a few software connections to the S Pen.
As for those S Pen software items, those include goodies such as Air Command. which opens when the stylus is removed. Air Command offers quick access to several apps including Action Memo, Scrapbooker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window. Samsung also has Multi Window, which allows you to run multiple (select) apps simultaneously. But again, the features of Android and TouchWiz are the same across carrier models.
Where things get a bit different is the carrier branded apps. Yes, we are talking about the bunch of apps that are often called bloatware. Regardless of the name though, Verizon does have a handful of these. In fact, launching the app drawer offers a look at 16 individual apps and another five folders of apps.
The app folders are Amazon, Google, Samsung, Tools and Verizon. You can get a look at these all sitting in the gallery above, but suffice to say, they are just about what Verizon users have come to expect in terms of pre-installed apps. While it is always nice to see handsets a bit cleaner in terms of pre-installed apps, thankfully there is ample storage so these are not a issue. Not to mention, we were happy to see them packaged and tucked away in folders.
While the general hardware specs and software features remain the same from carrier to carrier -- there is one difference that could be a deciding factor when it comes to choosing which carrier to get a Galaxy Note 3 from -- the network coverage. In this case, the handset uses the Verizon 4G LTE network and while this will likely vary from market to market, we were more than happy with the 36.70Mbps down and 17.34Mbps up that we were receiving.
For this particular market, Verizon LTE is a winner. Nonetheless, we have been out and about with a Verizon and AT&T handset and saw the opposite, with AT&T coming out the winner. Bottom line here, if this is what your Galaxy Note 3 (or any handset) purchase decision is coming down to, try and find a mix of friends willing to let you load the Speedtest app and see where things stand where you live, work and/or play.
While this amounts to a quick hands-on with the Verizon Wireless Galaxy Note 3, we do have a full review as well. The full review was done using a T-Mobile model. But again, the hardware specs and software features remain the same. In the end, the Galaxy Note 3 on Verizon (just like on T-Mobile) proved to be a solid handset. It performs well and has an excellent battery and rather nice camera.
Perhaps the real question will be whether you want to carry such an oversized handset. Well, that and whether or not you are going to use and take advantage of the features that come along with the S Pen.
Verizon Wireless has the Galaxy Note 3 priced at $299.99 on a two-year agreement. And in addition, the handset can be purchased for $0 down and $29.31 per month using the Verizon Edge program. Otherwise, those looking to avoid the commitment and the monthly payments would be looking at $699.99 when it comes to full retail pricing.
Those looking for the full Galaxy Note 3 review will be able to find that right here. And along with the Note 3 review, we also had a review roundup, complete with a video for the companion Galaxy Gear smartwatch. That all being said, sitting below are more than a handful of additional images of the Verizon Galaxy Note 3.