Samsung’s mammoth Galaxy Note 3 smartphone will be released this week, and for the last five days or so, I have been using a review unit of the Note 3 and forming my impressions. And while other reviewers have scrutinized the phone’s camera, and its speed, and its build quality, I’m here to talk about one thing and one thing only:
What I want to focus on here is the fact, ineluctable and, I would argue, undebatable, that the Galaxy Note 3 is absolutely the greatest smartphone for Snapchat that you can buy, bar none, in any country, for any amount of money, with any operating system, period. If the primary, solitary metric by which you make your smartphone purchasing decisions is “How handy will this thing be for Snapchat?” then boy oh boy, mister, has Samsung manufactured the early Hannukah present you’ve been praying for.
In a way, you’ve never really Snapchatted — never really experienced Snapchat — until you’ve Snapchatted on a Note 3. Comparing Snapchat on any other phone to Snapchat on the Galaxy Note 3 is like comparing a Slim Jim that you fried with some canola oil in a dirty frying pan to a Kobe steak prepared for you by Daniel Boulud that you ate while your least favorite politician gave you a foot massage. This is a next-level Snapchat experience.
It’s not just that the display is large, serving up a veritable iMax screen on which to view your stupid photo doodle selfies. That part’s obvious: At 5.7 inches, the Note 3’s screen (in pure Snapchat viewing terms) is speaking Swaghili while other phones’ screens are playing in — I think you know where I’m going here — the D League.
The screen, however, is an insignificant historical footnote, a War of Jenkins Ear-level blip on the Snapchat RADAR, when compared to the aspect of the Note 3 that really sets it apart from other potential Snapchat vehicles. I’m talking, of course, about the Note 3’s stylus (or “S Pen,” as Samsung’s marketing guide would have me call it.)
The Galaxy Note 3 comes with a stylus, yes, a seemingly-anachronistic point that Samsung-haters are quick to mock (“Note 3? More like ‘Note Palm Treo,’ am I right? Up top!”). And I will allow that in non-Snapchat phone activities, I rarely found myself reaching for the pen. Aside from a neat feature called “Scrapbook,” which essentially allows you to draw the borders of any screenshot you’d like to take (similar to Command+Shift+4 on a Mac, transplanted to your phone), I prefered to operate every aspect of the Note 3 with my finger, rather than wield the oddly-effete stylus.
But then I opened up Snapchat and — hallelujah! — the S Pen’s primary benefit became a bigger no-brainer than a really fat zombie. This thing is great for doodling: for giving your hair a dye job, for drawing hipster eyeglasses on yourself, and, yes, for inserting cartoon genitalia into everyday photographs (which, let’s face facts, is probably the first thing every male Snapchat user does).
Now, a quick history lesson: I had given up on Snapchat months ago, because, like most people with fat fingers, I had no aptitude for it. While my slim-fingered fellows could trace intricate patterns and figures on their Snapchats, I felt like a gorilla trying to waterpaint. I would try to draw a stick figure man, and it would come out like a dull-edged vomit-Menorah, and then I would drool all over myself and curse in front a sweet small child and apologize to the mother and then shut down the app. Before the Galaxy Note 3, Snapchat was frustrating and impossible, like trying to open a can of tuna with an electric toothbrush.
But Snapchat on the Galaxy Note 3, with a S(tylus) Pen, changed all of that. I "get it" now; I am Bar Mitzvahed anew in its greatness. I was able to use Snapchat just like my friends do, all without having to actually lose weight to get my fingers down to a normal girth. The Galaxy Note 3 may have its defects — if you’ve ever tried to hold three baseballs in one hand, you have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to try to operate the Note 3 with one hand — but Snapchat is not one of them. The front and rear cameras are both terrific, and the screen is a brilliant and large canvas, and the stylus lets you draw what you actually want to draw, and not just a Rorschach test version of what you’re sweatily attempting to draw.
This is likely helpful, I realize, to approximately no one except the weirdos and super-tweens who would choose a smartphone based purely on Snapchatting. But look: I test out a lot of smartphones, a dizzying, cynicism-inducing number of smartphones, that perform the same tasks at the same speeds and with the same quality and effectiveness each year. Snapchat’s greatness on the Galaxy Note 3 was revelatory, like a Magic Eye coming to focus; and when it did come into focus, I realized what the weird random dots and patterns had been obscuring: Me, laughing with glee and without restraint, using Snapchat on the Galaxy Note 3.
Now, if you’ll excuse, my fat fingers and I have golden crowns and diamond tiaras to draw on co-workers’ heads.