A Look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy GEAR

I’ve spent more time using Google products over the past few weeks, although not as much as I’d like in order to give a comprehensive review. One such product was the Android OS, primarily used on a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 that was provided to me as a review unit by one of Canada’s major mobile service providers, Telus.

However, this isn’t a full review of that unit either.

Instead, it’s more of a “look” at what using an Android device is like for someone who is not only primarily an iOS user, but someone who still relies on a lot of apps that require iOS. I’m not done with the Galaxy Note 3 by any means, but this post will serve tow purposes:

  1. To offer up my thoughts on what it is like to use an Android device and an iOS device regularly.
  2. To offer up my thoughts on the Galaxy GEAR, which was also provided with the phone.

Spending Time in Android

I’ve had one Android device before. It was a substandard tablet that didn’t even run the latest version of Android, and it was promptly returned when it repeatedly crashed and didn’t give me a decent enough experience with Android to properly use it.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was a totally different story — and experience.

First off, it is very fast and responsive. It handles well and performs far better than what I’d used before. The problem with it, for me at least, is that it is too large for me to use as a phone. When I took it to San Francisco, one person remarked upon seeing it, “I see you’ve got a phablet.” That’s exactly where it lies. It is too big to be a phone and is actually a little to small for my liking to be a tablet. When I did use the Galaxy Note 3 as a phone, I used with the included earbuds and had the device in my inside jacket pocket because it was the only one it would fit in comfortably.

The other issue I had with it was my issue alone, and isn’t the device’s fault in the least. I didn’t abandon my iPhone 4S as my primary phone during the testing process, so I didn’t allow myself to dive as deep as I needed to into the Android ecosystem. I took up Telus’s offer of having an appointment at one of their dealers to learn more about the device, and that was helpful, but it didn’t compel me to ditch my iPhone altogether. I’m too reliant on my iOS apps at this juncture, which probably means I need to dip my toe into Android more and more over time or abandon the idea of learning how to use it altogether.

So what am I using the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for now?

Well, it performed exceptionally well as a camera, and that’s one use case that has stuck. It has a ton of settings and does a far better job than any of the iPhones in our household. It’s also great as a media viewer and e-reader, and since my iPad is no longer able to deal with Netflix all too well, the Note 3 has taken up the challenge of replacing it for that purpose.

Giving the GEAR the gears

I was excited to put my first “smart watch” through the paces. I opened the GEAR and found the syncing process to the Galaxy Note 3 to be rather painless. After that, though, it was less than impressive.

The GEAR needs to stay within range of the synced phone in order for it to perform all of its functions, and that distance is short. In one instance, the Note 3 was in my backpack and the GEAR couldn’t reach it. The issue: I was wearing the backpack at the time.

The GEAR actually takes decent photos, some of which I uploaded to Path (one of the apps you can install on it — as long as it’s also installed on the device it is synced to), but you wouldn’t want to take photos of anyone while using it because of the way you have to position your wrist to do so. The way the camera is placed on the GEAR makes taking photos somewhat awkward, and I really tried to get used to it but couldn’t. I made a few phone calls from the watch but, like taking pictures, it was an awkward experience.

One of the more useful things that the GEAR does is act as a pedometer when activated, but that’s hardly worth the price point of this device on its own. If anything, all the GEAR did was make me wonder what Apple could do if it ever decided to bring its own smart watch to market.

I’m not even going to try to tell you that this is a fair and balanced review of this device, because it isn’t. It is, however, an honest one from the perspective of a dyed-in-the-wool iOS and Apple user. If you’re in the market for a new Android phone, want something that can double up as an e-reader, and has a larger screen size, then I’d pull the trigger. I’m not, so it’s become what we call “the camera” in our house more than anything else.