Above the 5.5" display you'll spot the earpiece, a 2MP front-facing camera capable of 1080p video recording, the proximity sensor, and the ambient light sensor. There is no motion sensor, which means no Air Gestures on the Note 3 Neo.
Under the display, we find the typical Samsung three button layout consisting of a physical Home button with capacitive Back and Menu keys each side. As usual the home button has an aluminum frame for a subtle accent.
The sides of the Galaxy Note 3 Neo has a bunch of familiar controls placed exactly where we found them on the Note 3. There's the power/lock button on the right hand side on which the thumb nicely rests and the volume rocker on the left.
The top features another mic and the 3.5mm audio jack, plus the IR blaster that Samsung has been putting on lots of Galaxy devices lately.
The bottom has the microUSB 2.0 port for connectivity and charging purposes, the primary microphone, the loudspeaker grille and the S-Pen compartment. The Galaxy Note 3 Neo will do without microUSB 3.0, which is obviously flagship-grade equipment.
The faux-leather finish has made its way into the entire new tablet lineup. We like it way more than any glossy alternative. The Note 3 Neo's back features the 8MP camera lens and a single LED flash.
You can pop the back cover open to reveal the 3,100mAh battery (just 100 mAh less capacity compared to the Galaxy Note 3) along with the microSIM and microSD card slots. The slots are stacked on top of each other like they are on the Galaxy Note 3.
The back panel emulates leather
The bottom slot holds the microSIM card, which is blocked by the battery, while the top slot is for the microSD card, which can be removed even with the battery in place.
The display of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo is just 0.2" smaller than the Galaxy Note 3's, keeps the Super AMOLED matrix but takes the resolution down to 720 x 1280. The 267ppi is below Retina quality, but we can confirm the screen still looks pretty good.
The matrix has the full number of sub-pixels in the same unorthodox arrangement as the screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note II. This means that the screen is exactly as sharp as the ppi number suggests with no PenTile to bring down the perceivable sharpness further.
The display matrix under a microscope
The good news is that, much like the other recent Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy Note 3 Neo comes with four different screen mode presets, so you can tune the saturation to your liking. You can either go for the full AMOLED bang or opt for realistic color representation. This really is the best of both worlds and we can't imagine anyone being unhappy with the presets available.The contrast is, as is the norm for AMOLED panels, virtually infinite and the viewing angles are excellent. There's some contrast loss at an angle, but everything remains perfectly legible.
The Super AMOLED panel on the Galaxy Note 3 Neo isn't the brightest around, but unless you plan to use the screen as a torch (and you better stick to the LED flash for that), that's hardly a big deal. The surface over the display is pretty low on reflections, so contrast remains high.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 3||0||149||∞||0||379||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo||0||142||∞||0||389||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy S4||0||201||∞||0||404||∞|
|Apple iPhone 5s||0.14||163||1145||0.49||596||1219|
|Nokia Lumia 1520||0.22||263||1174||0.43||522||1207|
|Sony Xperia Z Ultra||-||-||-||0.47||467||1001|
|Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3||0.12||160||1364||0.32||440||1379|
|Sony Xperia Z1 Compact||-||-||-||0.34||626||1819|
|Sony Xperia Z1||-||-||-||0.38||580||1513|
Under direct sunlight the Galaxy Note 3 Note is able to retain excellent contrast and stay legible even in the most brightly lit environments.
You can find all about our display testing routines here.
The Galaxy Note 3 Neo battery has the reasonably big capacity of 3,100mAh, just 100mAh less than the original Note 3 phablet. This is the first time we see in action Samsung's hexa-core Exynos 5260 chipset though, so we didn't know what to expect. Fortunately Note 3 Neo's battery life turned out to be great.
The lightweight Cortex-A7 cores and the energy-efficient Super AMOLED HD screen surely helped the Note 3 Neo to achieve indeed an impressive result even though it isn't on par with the Note 3 flagship. The endurance rating of 74 hours means the Galaxy Note 3 Neo should manage just over three days on a single charge if used for one hour each of calls, web browsing and video playback daily.
You can find the complete test breakdown over here in our blog.
The S Pen is the signatory feature of any Note device, phablet or tablet, and the on the Galaxy Note 3 Neo is basically identical to the one found on the regular Galaxy Note 3. It can be placed back into its compartment either side up, the button facing up or down. The stylus is made of matte plastic, with a finely grooved top part. Its sides are flattened for better grip, while the button is positioned on one of those flat sides and is easy to reach.
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