25. Don’t lose your S Pen with S Pen Keeper
The biggest usability issue we’ve had with Note phones is that a stylus is terribly easy to lose. However, the Galaxy Note 3 does at least have a go at keeping you attached to your stylus. S Pen Keeper is a clever little function that makes the phone bleat and vibrate if you walk away without the stylus.
It’s not magic – the phone knows whether the stylus is in its cubby hole or not, and the accelerometer of the Note 3 knows when you’re walking. It’s dead handy, though.
24. You can use the S Pen with the soft keys
A great little update Samsung made with the third-generation Note phone is that you can now operate the phone’s touch-sensitive home buttons with the S Pen stylus. This is because the digitiser layer now extends down below the screen. It’s not a secret feature, but Samsung hasn’t shouted too much about it.
23. Customise how the S Pen reacts for even more stylus speed
As the Galaxy Note 3 knows when the S Pen is taken out of its little sheath, it can be made to load apps as soon as the stylus is taken out. You can’t launch absolutely anything (a shame if you ask us given how many other features the phone has), but you can pick between Air Command – the stylus menu overlay – and Action Memo. The latter is a virtual post-it that lets you perform actions too. You’ll find these options under the ‘Pen detachment options’ menu within Settings> Controls>S Pen.
However, we found that we liked the S Pen most when it didn’t launch anything when taken out.
22. Gesture keyboard gives you faster typing
The Note 3’s big screen is great for two-handed typing and the stylus is a neat handwriting tool. However, we find that the fastest Note 3 typing comes from using the gesture keyboard. Some people also know this as the Swype keyboard, although Galaxy phones use their own kind of gesture keyboard these days.
Using it, you draw a line over the letters in a word rather than tapping away at virtual keys. The menu option for it is buried fairly deep in the Settings menu, though. Go to Settings, then tap the Controls menu. Tap Language and Input, then tap the cog icon next to the Samsung Keyboard entry. Under the Keyboard Swipe heading, turn on ‘continuous input’. If the option is greyed-out, make sure predictive text is turned on.
21. Turn off auto pen input if you don’t like handwriting much
One of the few bugs we’ve encountered while using the Galaxy Note 3 is that the handwriting recognition keyboard tends to stick around when you actually want to use the standard Qwerty keyboard. It’s annoying.
If you find yourself in this situation, or just don’t like using the stylus to write messages or emails, go to the Samsung Keyboard menu mentioned in the previous tip and deselect Pen Detection.
20. Downloading custom keyboards
Thanks to the wonderful way Android works, you’re not limited to Samsung or Google keyboard with the Galaxy Note 3. You can use all manner of third-party keyboards. There are loads of them available from the Google Play app store. One of our personal favourites is Swiftkey. Once you’ve found a keyboard you like the look of, install it and then go Settings> Controls tab> Language and Input then hit the Default option. You should see a radio button for the keyboard your just installed.
19. Use Flight Mode in dire straits
The quickest way to minimise battery use in your Note 3 is to turn it onto Airplane mode. This turns off all the phone’s wireless functions (Bluetooth, mobile network, Wi-Fi ) and so on. You may be shocked at how long the phone will last in this mode.
18. Turn off Haptic Feedback
Vibrate mode is a surprisingly potent battery drainer in phones. The most notable of the lot is the Haptic feedback, which produces a little rumble too accompany screen taps. It feels food on the fingers, but is no good for battery stamina. Turn it off in the Settings>Sound>Haptic feedback menu.
17. How to create your own wallpaper
Making your own wallpaper is the easiest way to give your phone its own personality. And if you want to make the perfect wallpaper, it needs to be matched to the Note 3’s screen. That means it should be 1,920 pixels high and 1,080 pixels wide. Alternatively, you can crop and edit your own photos in the Gallery by pressing the ‘pencil’ icon at the top of the screen when viewing a picture.
16. Transferring and setting wallpapers
Already made a piccy on your computer? The easiest way to transfer it is to plug the Note 3 into your computer using the supplied USB 3.0 cable and drag it over into the phone’s file system.
Alternatively, email it to your Gmail address, find the email within the Gmail app, open the attachment then press the ‘menu’ soft key. There’s be a ‘save’ option that’ll save it to the phone’s gallery.
Audio and Video
15. Get an MHL adapter to turn your Note into a home cinema handset
An MHL adapter is an essential accessory for those who want to turn a Note 3 into a media jukebox. It’s a little cable that jams into the microUSB port on the phone, ending in an HDMI socket that can be jammed into your telly.
14. How to output surround sound over HDMI
There are some extra settings that need to be switched to get the most out of an MHL adapter – namely that you have to manually opt to output Surround audio. As standard the Note 3 is set to output stereo surround over HDMI. You’ll find this settings in Settings> Device tab> Sound> Audio Output.
13. Perfect sound quality for your ears with Adapt Sound
One of the coolest audio features of the Galaxy Note 3 (and other top-end Galaxy phones in fact) is Adapt Audio. What this does is to give you a miniature hearing test, in order to optimise the phone’s sound output to make it suit your ears better. It’s great, even if it does make you worry about your level of hearing. Check it out for yourself at Settings>Device tab>Sound>Adapt sound. It’s right down the bottom of the menu.
12. Using Screen mirroring, what is it?
Screen Mirroring is a very clever feature that lets you send what’s on your Note 3’s screen to another device wirelessly (using Wi-Fi Direct technology). It’ll work very well with up-to-date Samsung TVs. You’ll find it right down at the bottom of the Connections tab within Settings.
11. Control music playback with your voice
One feature we imagine few people know about is that you can control music playback of the Note 3 using your voice. Simply say ‘play’, ‘pause’ ‘next’ and ‘previous to do so.
You’ll need to make sure the feature is turned on in the Note 3 first, though. To do so, go to the Voice control menu found in the Controls tab of Settings. There is a separate check box for music control. However, you will have to use the inbuilt player for this to work.
10. Transferring files more quickly – how to use USB 3.0
The Note 3 is the first USB 3.0 phone we’ve used. It’s why the socket on the bottom is so weird-looking. USB transfers files faster and will charge the phone over USB faster too. However, in order to get the benefits of USB, you’ll have to use the oversized bundled cable rather than a standard microUSB one, and you’ll have to be plugged into a USB 3.0 port too.
9. Palm Mute
Using one of the Motion Control features of the Note 3 you can mute anything playing on the Note 3 simply placing your palm over the phone’s sensors. However, the screen needs to be on for this to work. You’ll find this option in the Palm Motion menu in the Controls tab of Settings.
8. Essential S Pen apps
The most interesting Note 3 apps are those that make use of the S Pen stylus – and its pressure sensitivity. One of the best, SketchBook, comes pre-installed, but other must-try apps include Papyrus and Infinite Painter. Drawing/virtual painting is one of the best uses for the Note 3’s stylus.
7. Essential Games
Aside from a few quirky games made for the S Pen stylus, the best Note 3 games remains those we’d recommend for any Android phone. For action, try out Dead Trigger or Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. For driving, take a look at Real Racing 3 or one of Gameloft’s Asphalt series games. For something a little more casual, give Angry Birds a go (duh), Candy Crush Saga or World of Goo.
6. Essential general apps
The Note 3 comes with most of the apps you need to get going with an Android phone. It’s seriously feature-packed. However, there are a few gems we recommend checking out too. Whatsapp is great for chatting to, and sharing pics with, friends (if you haven’t tried it, where have you been?), iPlayer is a must, Endomondo is great for fitness freaks, Strava is perfect for cyclists and the eBay app is a lot better than using the website if you’re a virtual action fan.
5. Look out for indie bundle deals online for great deals
You probably won’t know about this unless you’re a bit of a gaming geek, but the indie gaming scene has started selling ‘humble bundles’ of games made by independent games studios in order to raise money for charity. They now regularly offer bundles for Android devices too. Check out the Humble Bundle website for more.
4. How to fix glitchy performance
The relative freedom Android gives apps means your system can often get bogged down, causing glitch performance despite the Note 3’s great specs. One obvious way to solve these it to properly power off the phone by holding down the power button until the power off pop-up comes up – then either turn off or restart the phone.
If this doesn’t help, try closing down all recent apps by holding the central select button to bring up the multi-tasking menu, then tap the ‘cross’ icon in the bottom-right of the screen.
3. How to close down apps fully
If this still doesn’t solve your issue and your problems relate to a specific app, you can delve deeper. Go to Settings>General tab>Application Manager. Then flick right-to-left on-screen to the list of the apps currently running, or all apps. Find the pesky app’s entry and tap it. You’ll see options to ‘force stop’, ‘clear data’ and ‘clear cache’. Pressing all of these will fully reset the app, and should solve most app-related problems.
2. How to perform a factory reset
If none of the above measures have exorcised the gremlins from your phone, you should probably try a full data reset. This wipes everything of yours off the phone, making it just like it was fresh out of the box – so make sure you save any photos before doing this. To perform a reset, go to Settings>General tab>Backup and Reset, and select Factory Data Reset.
1. How to update software
The Galaxy Note 3 will get fairly regular software updates. The phone should give you a nudge when a new update is available, but you can manually check for an update too. To do this, go to Settings>General tab>About Device (it’s right down the bottom). At the top of this sub-menu is a ‘software update’ option. Within it is a check box to make the phone automatically check for updates, along with the manual check button.
Let us know any bits and bobs we’ve missed in the comments