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Galaxy Note 3 owners: is it time to upgrade?

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So you own a Galaxy Note 3 and are considering upgrading to a new phone. Whether you bought it from a store or your mom gave it to you after getting an iPhone, there are some factors to consider. Note 3 owners – read on to find out whether now is the right time to buy a new phone.

AndroidPIT Galaxy Note 3 Lollipop
The Galaxy Note 3 is awesome, but is it upgrade time? / © ANDROIDPIT

1. Your contract has ended

This is a simple one to consider. If your two-year contract just ended then you're free to shop around. The question is whether you want to keep using the Note 3, or its usable life is over and you want to move on to something newer.

If your Note 3 is in good condition then you might want to keep it. Perhaps you just want to speed up your Note 3 or are simply in need of some cool Note 3 tips and tricks to make it work better. Either way, ending your contract is a turning point in the life of every phone, so this could be the most obvious sign that it's time to look for something new.

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The end of your contract could be a good time to upgrade. / © ANDROIDPIT

2. You want a better camera

The Galaxy Note 3 camera was great for its time. At 13 MP and with an f/2.2 aperture, it was a serious photographic tool. And the Note 3 still takes good photos now. But its hardware it not so special anymore and you'll find 13 MP rear cameras on many phones, especially in the mid-range.

Compared to the Galaxy Note 5, which has a great 16 MP main camera, the Note 3 has certainly fallen behind. But how much do you use the camera? Do you edit and share photos often? These are important factors to consider, because if you aren't so serious about photography, then perhaps the Note 3's camera is still good enough for your needs.

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The Note 3 camera is still solid, but the Note 5 camera is light years ahead. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. Does microSD matter?

If you're considering upgrading to the Note 5, then you need to consider what you're losing here. The Note 3 has a microSD card slot so you can expand its storage space considerably. You could also do this on the Note 4, of course. But the Note 5 is sealed shut and there are no memory expansion options.

If you buy a phone that comes with large internal storage – say 64 GB or even 128 GB – then you mightn't need microSD support. Something to think about. But it comes at a higher price than expandable storage.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S6 Edge storage solutions Leef Access
There are ways around a lack of microSD expansion slots. / © ANDROIDPIT

4. You want better design

Smartphone design is getting better every year. With many flagship Android phones now being built from glass and aluminum, build and design quality has become a central selling point many of us now consider before making a purchase.

Sure, the Note 3 is a good-looking phablet. But in 2015 its looks are plastic-heavy and a little outdated. The Note 4 was built with a solid metal frame and the Note 5 sparkles with aluminum and glass. Does this matter to you? If not, then I suppose newer materials won't attract you. But if you’re looking to make a statement on your design tastes, or if you just want to own a better-looking phone than everyone else, you should consider upgrading to something sparkly.

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Galaxy Note 5...a great design. Just don't put the S Pen in the wrong way. / © ANDROIDPIT

5. You're getting bored

If you find yourself constantly yawning while using the Note 3, then you might be bored. Owning the Note 3 is similar to owning a laptop or even a car – it’s an investment, like a long-term relationship. After a while, you might get a little bored with the same hardware and the same interface.

This could be enough for you to make the jump. Has the glossy rim of your Note 3 chipped? Or have a few drops and bumps made it look less special than when you bought it? Then it might be time to upgrade.

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Getting bored? Perhaps it's upgrade time. / © ANDROIDPIT

6. You don't want a Samsung anymore

Sure, Samsung makes great hardware. They’re one of the best in the business. I used a Galaxy Nexus for several years and it was great. But like I did, you might feel that your time with Samsung has come to an end and it’s time to switch to another manufacturer.

I eventually went with Motorola. But you might be sitting on the fence and wondering what else is out there. OnePlus makes quality phones at affordable prices (if you can get an invite) and the new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are great value pure Android beasts. Are they worth the jump?

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If you've had enough of Samsung, perhaps you should look elsewhere. / © ANDROIDPIT

7. It's time for a smaller phone

Whether Android or iPhone, smartphones have been getting bigger for years now. What we once called phablets are now just phones. But the Note 3 is still quite a massive piece of tech. As an owner, you obviously like that. But perhaps you might miss being able to sit down with a phone in your pocket, or simply using your phone with one hand.

Perhaps it’s time for a smaller phone then. Something around 5 inches? Depending on your needs and what your content consumption habits are (do you have a tablet?), perhaps a phablet is too big. If it is, then you might want to consider upgrading to new, but smaller, smartphone.

samsung galaxy note 5 vs galaxy note 3 top 1
Our Galaxy Note 3 hasn't aged so well compared to the smaller Note 5 (bottom). / © ANDROIDPIT

Note 3 owners, are you ready to upgrade to a newer device? Or are you still flying the phablet flag? Let me know in the comments.

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Go to comment (34)
Omar Hamwi

Omar Hamwi
Head of Content

Omar has been a dedicated Android user since 2011. He began his career as a print journalist before a move into digital editing. He is passionate about technology and, since relocating from Sydney to Berlin, now shares his passion as part of the AndroidPIT team. His mission now is to help readers of AndroidPIT find the best hardware and software.

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  • 3
    lili mek Mar 14, 2017 Link to comment

    hello guys i have a question i have a note 3 now but the screen and the touch are not working anymore after i dropped my phone and it is going to cost if i repair it so what should i do to just repair it or buy a new phone with the same cost of the preparation fees which is going to be around 2750 EGP ??

  • Addinsword Mumbika 1
    Addinsword Mumbika Sep 7, 2016 Link to comment

    Nope..just updated my note 3 to marshmallow..😊..smooooooth..and it has all note 5 and s7 edge features..

  • 3
    Clement Okolie May 16, 2016 Link to comment

    Hi, I like my Note 3, but sincerely I'd like to jump unto the S7 edge, Note 5 or the Nexus 6P. But with the fall in the Naira and the constant rise in the Dollar, I'm stuck with the Note 3. Anyway, it's been almost one year since my Note 3 stopped turning. It's always on portrait and the camera only takes landscape pictures. The only way I get to rotate a video is when I'm using the Samsung video app and tap the rotation icon or watch the video using UC Browser's video player.

    It's a T-Mobile Note 3. If you know how I can reboot the phone to make everything come back to normal, I'd be really glad to hear it.

    I can't play any arcade or car racing games on it cos the phone just won't tilt. I was an avid Real Racing 3 player till this thing happened, now I'm stuck with Piano tiles, Zigzag and Sudoku.

    I'd be really glad if you can help me. Thanks.

  • 3
    Laila Taylor Jan 31, 2016 Link to comment

    Note 3 lover here. First off, the Note 4 is a beautiful phone and an improvement in many aspects. However, I can't justify upgrading seeing how most points are negligible when it comes to normal use of the phone. If you put a hard/rubber/gel case on your phone (I certainly do), then it doesn't matter if the body/frame is made of plastic, metal, or aluminum. My brother uses a bulky OtterBox case for his Note 4. So much for that beautiful metal frame. Also, the Note 3 looks nearly identical to the Note 4 from the front, and with a case on, so it still looks quite modern and attractive to me. Moving on to software... My phone is still running on kitkat, which I think looks better than lollipop, is advantageous for amoled screens, and is very stable. I don't have to worry about new bugs or app incompatibility. Some people complain that TouchWiz is terrible and ugly on the Note 3, but I simply use a custom launcher to replace it. As for the camera, it's more than good enough for the average person (i.e taking family photos), and it still impresses me. I pretty much ditched my digital camera. The hardware and screen resolution may not be the most up-to-date, but the Note 3 is still a powerhouse of a phone. Upgrading just for better hardware will make no difference in my day-to-day usage (gmail, spotify, asphalt 8, youtube).The screen still looks great by today's standards: very clear and colors are vibrant. I couldn't tell how the Note 4's screen looked any better (maybe if you play extremely high quality videos/games or hold the phone really close to your face). Lastly, it has some perks over the Note 4 (thinner, lighter, better speaker placement, USB 3.0) and Note 5 (SD card, removable battery). I don't need a fingerprint scanner. So I think it's safe to say that I'm sticking with my Note 3! Love it. :)

    Wish Martinez

    • Wish Martinez 2
      Wish Martinez Jan 31, 2016 Link to comment

      Please and I mean please be careful with your note3 or you will be forced to upgrade or pay to get it fixed and every time there after I'm in that boat now 200.00 to fix it or 200.00 to upgrade. Yes I am and have been insured. Carriers stoped carrying the phone or something like that. So good luck. I personally didn't want to upgrade either. I had the chance to do it free for Christmas and chose not to because of the removable battery and sd. Not to mention it way more durable than the new note 5. Good luck.

      • 3
        Laila Taylor Jan 31, 2016 Link to comment

        I'm truly sorry to hear that happened to you. =/ I put a tempered glass screen protector on my phone, so I'm feeling pretty secure. If something ever happens, then I will buy another Note 3 from Ebay between $150-$250.

  • Wish Martinez 2
    Wish Martinez Jan 13, 2016 Link to comment

    I've been insured and am/was the proud owner of a note 3. Now my screen finally broke being insured you would think they would replace it right? Guess again. I've been given a choice either upgrade for $200. Or pay the $200. To get it fixed. Ugh realy. At the time I bought my phone there was no talk about them not fixing my phone , I was told to keep insurance so they could repair the damaged. So freaked pissed. I have to upgrade due to they do not carry the note 3 any longer. To Samsung if I wanted an apple I would have gotten one. I like (love) the removeable battery and sd option as most of us do. The durability sucks. My note 3 took a beating and barely gave in.

  • 3
    Jason Cooley Nov 21, 2015 Link to comment

    Love my Note 3 and its still good phone to multitask and still works great for me. Until Samsung make an better phone with all whistles and bells like the Note 3 to satisfaction. I'm disappointed about the rest of the notes, but until then I'll stick with my Note 3 and be happy with it. It's an must to have the infrared and SD card storage and removable battery. I'm not downing Samsung but soon I think they will get the point on how customers feel and want more for the money when it comes to upgrading phones, people are tired of wasting money on something that isn't better than what they have and its Senseless to buy something that won't be better than the old dinosaur phone but anyway just a thought to post and I wish Samsung would make better phones like they always have They need to listen to the customers comments so they can get the ideas and point of what people really want.

    Wish MartinezDavid McDivitt

    • 4
      Daniel Blackwhitee Feb 28, 2016 Link to comment want phones with more features and phones that cover the complete feature range of their predecessors. on the newer phones they have messed up the user interface removing many features. additionally the glass does Break up very quickly and is capable of being scratched much more quickly than Faux Leather. please stop sacrificing features for design. plastic slide out of the hand and does not absorb shocks as well as leAther

      • 4
        Daniel Blackwhitee Feb 28, 2016 Link to comment

        I did use Google speech input for the comment so it's Might sound a bit stupid

  • 3
    David McDivitt Nov 21, 2015 Link to comment

    I moved to the Note 3 from an iPhone. Best thing I ever did. After looking at many android phones at the time I got a Note 3. It's still excellent! Maybe go to a Note 4, but that's essentially the same as a 3. The 5? I'm disappointed. No SD card expansion. When you think about it, it has the same functionality. I haven't been able to root my Note 3 since going to android 5.0. I want to do that. Otherwise, I will keep using this 50 years.

    Wish Martinez

  • 2
    Peter Lindvall Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    The Note 3 is the best Note to date, IMO.

    Minor point, but with the Note 3, you can still go online, during a phone call... The Note 4 will not allow it, and pretty sure that the Note 5 is the same way. Better come with 128GB, if you can't swap uSD cards.


    David McDivitt

    • 3
      Jason Cooley Nov 21, 2015 Link to comment

      Great comment! I definitely agree with you on that.

    • Wish Martinez 2
      Wish Martinez Jan 31, 2016 Link to comment

      I'm warning everyone if your screen and digitizer breaks , water damage etc its heafty to replace due to they stoped producing the phone even if insured its going to run you 200.00 to fix it. As well as every time there after Good luck. Stock up on parts.

  • John kimball 2
    John kimball Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    Love my note 3. 2 years running, and we have seen alot. Modded, running at a max speed of 2.95,lots of added tweaks. Use my SD storage, moving files between friends computers. Battery life what can I say, 10,000mah since day two of having my phone. Not worried bout 4k tiny screen screen in my hands, and the things I am worried about they have opt'd not to have them. Iam good, everyone else enjoy your upgrade for what ever reason, just be happy :)

    Wish MartinezDavid McDivitt

  • 2
    Noreen Delbridge Davidson Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    I'm glad you asked......I love my Note 3 soooo much. This will be the first time I think I won't upgrade before my contract is up! I am going to have this phone until it won't work anymore and I love Samsung! Never changing. I had a BlackBerry which I really liked, my husband still uses it and it's 4 years old. I am a Samsung for life and I really love the versatility and reliability of my Note 3......I'm done. :)

    David McDivitt

  • Mark Dagostino 2
    Mark Dagostino Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    I've had my note 3 now for about 21 months. It's been the absolute best phone I've ever owed. I'm amazed at the great advancements in cell phone technology. The only problem I've had with this note 3 is the battery life. So I bought a replacement battery and now it lasts all day like it used to when it was brand new. Was also able to do the lollipop update with no problems. Out of all the phones I've owned over the years, I've had the note 3 the longest and it still works great. So I'm sticking with my note 3 til I absolutely have to replace it.

    David McDivitt

  • Gene Palmiter 1
    Gene Palmiter Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    I got my Note 5 yesterday. For two years my 3 served me well buy the headphone and power socketsweren't seating right and people calling me couldn't always hear me. It was time to upgrade and Samsung has never let me down so I stayed in the family.

    I am a retired photojournalist and computer tech. And in every way I am thrilled. I was worried about the battery and memory card but with a portable charger and the cloud I should be OK. The screen is brighter and the sound seems louder. Everything is faster, even downloading videos ... much faster! The little changes to the OS and TouchWiz have me guessing but they make sense. The camera's low light capabilities are fascinating and I cannot wait to see what I can do with it. There is even a mode for professional controls for those of us who know how to use them.

    I am nervous about a front and back that are both glass. It seems that this is twice as much to break. The slippery back means it's more likely to get dropped. The slightly smaller size is easier on the hand so maybe I am less likely to drop it.

  • 2
    Burns Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    I will be sticking with my Note 3 for quite awhile. This is the first smart phone (or flip phone) that I have truly liked and enjoyed. I have a hard time seeing so the bigger screen is a major plus. The camera works for what I need it for and there is plenty of memory for me as well. I have had a phone with no SD and no removable battery and will avoid that in the future. My phone is not as polished as when I first got it but I am one who doesn't care about looks just weather or not it works for my needs. Since it does I am keeping it till I have to replace it.

    David McDivitt

  • 1
    Don Ame Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    Giving up on note3 not yet note 5 and lgv10 tiny speaker should be in front volume to low. I want my Ir note 5,nexus 6p don't have and glass break on 6p I'll wait for phone I'm comfortable with

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