Second Chances

Phone History in Canada:

Back when I first moved to Edmonton I came with my AT&T iPhone 4.  As previously mentioned, I had to return it and get something for the Canadian market.  So around Christmas in 2010 I picked up the Samsung Galaxy S from Bell.  Hearing all the great things you can do with Android, and being a tech, I figured I would give it a try.  That first day I left it mostly stock, to get a feel for the OS and the battery life.  It was alright, I guess, but being an iOS fan it felt, for lack of a better word, kludgy.  So as I tweaked things to make the phone mine, I noticed a couple things.  Apps crashing and the battery life going down the toilet.  Two days into my experiment I decided I couldn’t deal with it and returned it for a 16gb iPhone 4.  (Kids: Never, ever buy a 16gb iPhone unless you have an iPad with 64 or 128gb of storage.  You’ll be sorry.)

I never looked back as my wife kept her Galaxy S, for purely financial reasons.  iPhones are expensive.  As time went on during her THREE year contract, the phone crashed more and more.  If we were in Michigan, we would have invoked the no lemon clause of the contract and replaced the phone as it went in many times for repairs.  By the end I think her phone was crashing on a hourly basis.  She ended up upgrading a little early to an iPhone 5 and has never been happier.

I kept my iPhone 4 until iOS 7 came out.  I had been getting annoyed with the show downs whenever it checked email.  That single core A4 processor was really feeling long in the tooth.  Then with iOS 7, things really went down hill.  I ordered an unlocked Lumia 920 to try something new (and bigger).  I really enjoyed that phone with the singular exception of the fact that the memory was not expandable and the lack of mainstream apps.  Things were getting better after the Amber release of Windows Phone, but I was looking for something with a mass of memory to carry my media collection.  And after the Lumia’s larger screen, there was no way I would go back to a 4″ iPhone 5.

I started researching Android phones again, only because of the large screen and Microsoft’s reluctance to release the Lumia 1520 in Canada.  I would have bought another unlocked phone, but the LTE bands on the US 1520 don’t match up and AT&T messed with the Qi charging, looking at another standard out there.  I was leaning towards the Sony Xperia Z1 or Z Ultra.  Both great phones with a build quality approaching Apple.  Fate stepped in when Costco’s wireless kiosk carried the Samsung Note 3 at $100 on contract.  Unfortunately, I was still under a six year contract with Virgin Mobile.

The buyout was getting pretty low, and I was fed up with Virgin, so off to the Bell store we went.  My teenage daughter was taking our data over the limit too often with a shared 6gb plan with my wife.  Bell was doing a double the data offer and we decided we had enough with the overages.  I picked up a Note 3 at the price matched $100 (vs. the $300 Bell was selling them for on new contracts.)  I also got a 12gb data plan to add to the 6gb pool.  Now we have 18gb a month.  If my daughter goes over now I’m cutting off her thumbs.

Note 3:

Now, to begin with I hate the build quality of Samsung phones.  They are plastic and cheap feeling.  Take off the battery cover off the Note 3 and try and argue that fact with me.  You can’t.  And the ridges on the sides?  What is up with that?  So you can see I went into it with some reservations.  BUT.  This is the flagship of all Android phones, right?  And I could toss in a 64gb micro SD for 96gb of total space.  And it has a quad core processor and 3gb of ram.  So no crashes or slow downs right?  And everyone was talking about the great battery life, so no worries there.  Right?

Wireless charging:

One of the more interesting things happening in mobile phones today is wireless charging.  The Nokia Lumia line has had it for a while.  Even Samsung has gotten into the fray with add-on back covers that add the ability to wireless charge.  The problem is that the Samsung wireless charging backs add quite a bit of bulk to the phone.  This means that almost no case will work with the phone if you plaster on the wireless charging back.  Come on Samsung, include the wireless charging out of the box and maybe we can have wireless charging AND the case we like.

Four months in and…

My phone starts acting like a Samsung.  Random crashes of software.  Extended periods of no response when I push on the home or power buttons.  My battery went from 100% at 6am to 20% at 8am.  WTF!  And the loved Google Maps doesn’t respond when I try doing navigation.  It just sits there like a static screen (ie background).  Complain as much as you want about Apple Maps, but this doesn’t happen on an iPhone.  Not even an Iphone 4 running iOS 7.  A fourth generation device running the latest and greatest OS and it still runs like a POS?  What in the hell?  I’m going to try CyanodenMog 11 M5 and see if that makes this POS run better than the stock Samsung OS.  This is sad.  What is even sadder, if this phone ran iOS, it would be rock solid with the massive amount of hardware in this thing.  It’s Android or what Samsung has done to it that is screwing up decent hardware.  Course, having it in a plastic Samsung housing doesn’t help things….

CyanogenMod to the resque

I got so tired of the Note 3 in the four months of having it that I decided to try something different than the stock ROM.  Mind you, I had already rooted the phone back on Jelly Bean, so I already tripped their stupid warranty flag. (Sidenote:  Why does changing software void the hardware warranty?)  So when the KitKat upgrade caused even more issues, I decided to take the plunge into CyanogenMod’s pool.  Installing CM11 was in many ways easier than even rooting the phone.  There are so many videos out there walking you through it, I highly recommend ditching TouchWiz to anyone frustrated with their phone.

Running CM11

There are a couple things I noticed right away.  Battery life is amazing.  Not sure why, but with the Samsung software I would be down to 30% around meeting time (2PM).  With CM11 it took me til 9PM with heavy usage to get down to 20%.  I am really considering the Mugen extended battery to see how far CM11 can take me (yeah, I’m looking at you camping on May long weekend).  Also, the memory usage is amazeballs.  I regularly have 1.8GB free RAM.  Say goodbye to a lot of my software crashes.  Still not iOS level software, but CM11 nightlys blow TouchWiz out of the water.

Note 3 Conclusion


  • Amazing level of hardware in this device
  • Beautiful large screen


  • TouchWiz pushes the hardware to the limit
  • The Knox flag, changing ROMs should not void the warranty
  • Adding Qi charging after market removes your ability to use cases

Author: protaginets

Father, husband and freelance tech specialist.

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