Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 has so many features available, it could take days or even months before you finally can explore all of its possibilities – some are keepers and others, are rather gimmicky, that you may never use…this is a list of my top 20 favorite discoveries. I was already using the Note 2 since it first came out, but the Note 3 has so many additional features/changes, it was like trying Samsung’s Note series for the first time…again.
You can love or hate the Note 3 for the same reasons – it’s large, it’s a Samsung, it has too many features, it has TouchWiz, etc. – but there is no denying that at this moment, it is the most feature/spec laden phone on the market. Some of the Note 3’s features are buried deep within its menus and are not readily visible, while others are right there, ready to use, but you may not know they exist – this list may help you find one or two gems that will help make your Note 3 experience even better.
1 – Notification Toggles – One or Two Finger Swipe
This is a SIMPLE, yet helpful little discovery. Samsung puts settings toggles in the notifications drawer for quick access – turn on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, etc. – ten in all that you can choose from the larger drop down when you tap in the upper right of the screen. Well, save that extra “tap,” because if you use two fingers to pull down your notifications bar, all of the Samsung toggles show up! Then if you want to see the normal notifications screen, tap the upper right and you are back to the one-finger swipe down screen.
2 – List or Tab View of Settings
This is purely a personal preference – some people like to see all of the settings in a complete listing and scroll up or down to make your selection and others prefer the Tab option where the Note 3 will divide your settings into four Tabs across the top of the device. You can then tap the Connections, Device, Controls, or General Tab, and then make your selection from the smaller listing of options.
It is very easy to switch back and forth – tap the “Menu” key -> “Settings” -> “Menu” key again -> then press “Switch to tab view” or “Switch to listings view.” Try it and see which method you prefer; you can just as easily “switch” back! Notice in the Tab View, you are presented with a “Search Box” at the top where you can easily find the option you are seeking.
3 – Too Confused, Make the Note 3 Easier to Use with Basic Mode
The galaxy Note 3 is a handful for an experienced user, much less a first-time smartphone user or an older person that is resisting technology but their children bought them a Note 3 so the grandkids can text and send pictures. Just turn on Easy Mode and they will be using the Note 3 in no time.
Go to “Settings” -> “Device Tab” (if tabs are turned on) -> “Easy mode” -> slide to “On.” This greatly simplifies using the Note 3 including the settings menu and access to commonly used apps. To turn it off, go to “Easy Settings” -> “More Settings” -> “Easy Mode” – Slide to “Off.”
4 – Customize Sound and Display
The Note 3 allows the user to adjust the display and sound to the way you like to see and hear your device – called Adaptive Display and Adaptive Sound. With Adapt Display on, the Note 3 will automatically adjust the color range, saturation and sharpness for specific applications you are using, like the Camera, Gallery, Google Play Books and several others to help deliver a better overall look. Turn this on in “Settings” -> “Device” -> “Display” -> “Screen Mode” – “Adapt Display”
For Adaptive Sound, go to “Settings” -> “Device” -> “Sound” -> “Adapt Sound” -> “Start.” Then your Note 3 will walk you through a setup process, comprised of beeping sounds in both ears and you tap a screen button to acknowledge if you heard the beep. This will help your Note 3 deliver the best possible sound during phone calls and while playing music – make sure to have a pair of earbuds or headphones to begin the process. It really made a difference when I listened to music over the earbuds…well worth the few minutes it takes to set this up.
5 – Control Your Note 3 Using Your Voice
S-Voice is getting better, although it has a way to go, but there are several nice features you can select that really do make using your Note 3 easier and more fun! Go to “Settings” -> “Controls Tab” -> “Voice Control.” There are several boxes that you can check depending on what features you want to use…I highly recommend the Photo option, especially if you take a lot of pictures. Here are your choices:
- Answer or Decline Calls
- Snooze or turn off an alarm
- Take a photo by saying Capture, Shoot, Smile or Cheese
- Pause, play and skip tracks in the Music app
These will not work when the phone is on “Vibrate Only” for taking calls or with the alarms…but it is a blast to take a picture just by saying, “Cheese” or “Smile!”
6- Call Notification Window
This is one of my favorite options, that you must turn on! If your phone is “sleeping,” and a phone call comes through, you will get the normal, full-sized caller screen, but if you are in the middle of something, as simple as a game, this is the screen you will be presented with…no more full-screen interruptions again! Go to “Setting” -> “Device” -> “Call” -> tap “Incoming call notification” and a check mark will go into the box, indicating it has been turned on.
7 – Contact Swiping
This has been around in TouchWiz for a long time, but new users may not realize how easy it is to call or message a contact. Open your contact list and simply swipe to the left to send a new text message to the contact or swipe right and you can call the contact…there, isn’t that simple?
8 – Blocking Mode
Better known as a “Do Not Disturb” mode, it silences all incoming calls, notifications, alarms, and even the LED indicator. You can adjust the time for say 11:00PM until 6:00AM while you are sleeping and it will repeat this every day. Have a good friend or family members you want to hear from – no problem, you can allow them to bypass the blocking mode. This feature is also on the Note 2, and Galaxy S3 and S4. To go there:
“Settings” -> “Device” -> “Blocking Mode” -> “Check Boxes” – > “Set Time”
9 – Access to Notifications When In Full-Screen Mode
This another TouchWiz feature found on most Samsung phones, but one you may not be aware is available. Whenever you are in any full-screen application on the phone, such as My Magazine, you can swipe down from the top of the phone and the notification bar will appear and you can either glance at it or pull it all the way down to access the notification screen without having to leave your current app.
10 – Never Lose Your S-Pen
If you always remember to put your S-Pen back in your Note 3’s silo, then this feature is not for you, but if you are like me, sometimes you might leave it lying nearby as you pick up your Note 3 and walk away. With S-Pen Keeper turned on, you will never go far before your Note 3 alerts you that it is missing its precious drawing tool…with both an annoying noise and screen message.
Turn activate it, go to “Settings” -> “Controls Tab” -> “S Pen” -> check “S Pen Keeper”
11 – Air Command with S-Pen
This is new on the Note 3 – pull your S-Pen out of its silo or press the button on the S-Pen and hover it over the screen and the Air Command will pop-up on the screen allowing you quick access to the five most popular uses of the S-Pen.
- Action Memo – replaces the old pop-up note…take a quick note
- Scrapbooker – Draw around an area of an item with your pen to collect and add it in your Scrapbook
- Screen Write – Allows you to take a screenshot of whatever is on your screen, but then allows you to write or doodle on it
- S Finder – Allows you to quickly search for content on your Note 3 or the web
- Pen Window – Allows you to draw a box anywhere on the screen and a pop-up window will open giving you access to a Calculator, Clock, YouTube, Phone, Contacts, Hangouts, and the Internet
12 – Air View to Access Information Faster
Samsung’s Air View allows the user to use either their S-Pen or your finger to hover over items to see more detail without actually having to tap on it and completely open it up – great to see previews of your gallery photos, messages, and more.
To set this up: Go to “Settings” -> “Controls Tab” -> “Air View” -> and select “On.” From there you make your selections – you can select Pen Only, Finger Only, or Auto, which is probably the best selection, allowing you to use either one.
13 – HD S-Voice
This is a real find, especially if you use S-Voice, which can sound so mechanical. By downloading the newer Samsung HD Voice, S-Voice actually sounds like a real person, an almost sexy woman’s voice, and it is very simple to do…not sure why Samsung does not already have it installed.
Go to “Settings” -> “Controls” -> “Language and input” -> “Text-to-speech options” -> and just for a before and after comparison, press the “Listen to an example” and you will hear an example of the current “voice” -> select “Install voice data” -> Select the voice you want by tapping the down arrow -> press the “Free” bar and it will automatically install the new HD voice. After the process is over, go back to “Listen to an example” again and hear the dramatic difference.
It may even be easier on your Note 3 – after you “Listen to an example,” you may be presented with a prompt asking if you want to update, and just accept and it will jump you to the download screen where you press the “Free” bar to get things started.
14 – Smart Stay, Smart Rotation, Smart Pause, and Smart Scroll
I lumped these options into one category because they are all under the same setting. Go to “Settings” -> “Controls” -> “Smart screen” and select what options you want to use:
- Smart Stay – Forces the screen to stay on as long as you are looking at it
- Smart Rotation – The screen will rotate according to the position of your head, for instance, if you are reading and lay down, the screen will not go into the landscape mode, but stay in Portrait for easier reading
- Smart Pause – Video will pause if the Note 3 detects that you turn away from the screen and then will resume when you look back to continue watching your video, that way you will never miss a scene
- Smart Scroll – The text on the screen will automatically scroll up or down depending where your eyes are looking or if you tilt the screen…it works with email and the internet.
15 – One Handed Operation
Because the Galaxy Note 3 is a large phone, Samsung made allowances to make it easier to use with one hand, whether you are a leftie or a righty – you simply swipe your hand, in and back, from the side you want the display on, or you can move it around and resize it to exactly where you feel comfortable.
To set up the Galaxy Note 3 for one-handed use, go to “Settings” -> “Control Tab” -> “One-handed operation” -> then check the options you want. It’s really very simple and it works like a charm if you feel more comfortable using a smaller screen.
16 – Samsung’s WatchOn App
OK, this is an App that can be downloaded from the Play Store for use on Samsung phones with a built-in IR Blaster, which the Note 3 possesses. You can also find the app on the Note 3, in the app drawer, under the bundle of Samsung’s included apps. This is just too good an app not to mention – it works great with our Samsung Smart TV and is easy to setup; simply open the app and follow the on screen prompts. You can view what is currently on TV, search for shows, it will recommend shows you may like, especially as it remembers your viewing habits. Works like a charm and your guide and controls are in one neat app, and it looks great on the big Note 3 screen!
17 – Galaxy Note 3 Camera Operations
The camera on the new Galaxy Note 3 is a great upgrade on what was already good camera. You owe it to yourself to master this 13MP shooter and its multitude of options – you will be rewarded for time spent learning this camera. For starters you have several modes to choose from:
- Auto – Automatically adjusts the exposure to optimize your everyday shots
- Beauty Face – Enhances facial features automatically in Portrait shots
- Best Photo – Takes a series of pictures and you can choose the best one to save
- Best Face – Select the best picture of each person from 5 consecutive pictures to get the best merged group photo
- Sound & Shot – Enhances your pictures with a few seconds of background sounds
- Drama – Takes multiple pictures of a moving subject and then merges them together into one dramatic shot
- Animated Photo – create a picture containing selected moving objects by animating parts of the photo
- Golf – Take a picture of a golf swing and play it forward or backwards to analyze your swing
- Rich Tone (HDR) – Enhances the realism of your photo by capturing greater intensity and contrast of both color and light
- Eraser – Save the best picture after erasing moving objects from 5 consecutive pictures
- Panorama – Take a picture in either vertical or horizontal direction to create a linear panorama
- Surround Shot – Take 360-degree pictures to create a spherical panorama
- Sports – Takes pictures of fast moving objects
Those are the main shooting modes, but there are many other options to explore; a few are listed below, but there are many more features to explore.
- Burst Mode – If you turn on this option, you can tap and hold the shutter button to quickly take 20 photos with one press.
- Filters & Effects – Pull the small arrow on the left side of the screen in, and you are presented with a multitude of filters and effects without the need for any additional programs…not enough options, hit the download panel, and there are over 100 more to choose from, many free and others $.99
- Dual Shot – Tap on the small camera and back of camera icon to use both cameras at once. This puts your face in the photo, surrounded by the edges of a postage stamp. Use it to send home a vacation picture with you in the photo.
18 – Reading Mode
The Note 3 comes with a Reading Mode that makes a slight adjustment to the tone on the page to make it easier to read over a long period on time. It works on apps, such as, Google Play Books, Amazon Kindle, and many others. After you press on “Reading Mode.” a list of apps will pop up on your screen, simply check off the apps you want to work with this option and then press “Done.”
Go to Settings -> Device” -> “Display” -> turn on “Reading Mode.”
19 – Add or Remove Pages on Home Screen
This option allows you to remove or add pages to your Home Screen. There are two ways to get to this option – the easiest way is to pull inward from both the left and right sides of your Home Screen with your fingers…the other way is to press on the “Menu” capacitive button -> press “Edit page” and the page screen will come up. On this screen you can rearrange the pages, add up to seven screens, or remove a page by sliding it up to the top of the screen to the “Remove” garbage can.
20 – How to Use a Your Note 3 With Gloves
Using any touch screen with gloves on can be a real hassle, up until now. You can now operate your Note 3 with gloves (thinner, rather than thicker) on, provided you turn on the touch sensitivity. To do this:
Go to “Settings” -> “Control Tab” -> Scroll to the bottom -> Check “Increase touch sensitivity.”
Well, there you have some of my favorite features on the new Galaxy Note 3 – some may be useful to only a few, while other features will be used by many, and that is one of the nicest things about the Galaxy Note 3…you can customize it to suite YOU, the user.