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13 slick solutions to the biggest Galaxy Note 3 problems

There was a fair bit of skepticism about the phablet form factor until Samsung scored a hit with the original Note. The third in the series is bigger than ever, boasting a whopping 5.7-inch display and flagship specs to match. Our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review found little to complain about, but out in the wild every device has its issues, even a superphone. We’ve gathered together the Galaxy Note 3 problems that have been popping up online the most, and we offer up some potential solutions and advice for sufferers.

Updated on 11-11-2014 by Simon Hill: Reformatted and added problems related to charging, disappearing photos, and phantom notifications.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 reviewNote 3 cases, Note 3 tipsbest Android apps.

First problem: Charging slowly or not charging

Problem: Charging slowly or not charging

A lot of Galaxy Note 3 owners have run into problems charging the Note 3 up. They’ll plug it in and the Note 3 will either fail to charge up at all, or it will charge very slowly. Some people have found that it charges intermittently while plugged in. There are a few obvious places to start:

Potential solutions:

  • The first thing to do is make sure that you are using the cable and the charger that actually came in the box with your Note 3. Different chargers and cables have different ratings that can impact charging speed.
  • It could be a faulty charger. A lot of people have suggested that Samsung shipped a faulty batch of chargers and/or cables, and that if you run into an issue then you can get a free replacement direct from Samsung. Definitely worth a try. If that doesn’t work then buy a new one. Your best bet is to go for an official Samsung charger.
  • Use compressed air, or carefully brush out the charger port on the Note 3 with a soft toothbrush. You may also consider cleaning the charger connection on the cable and inspecting it for damage, the pins can bend out of shape sometimes.
  • If the charging port on the Note 3 feels loose, or you think it’s bent out of shape then you may need to get it replaced. Official repairs will be costly, but you can always buy the part and do it yourself — cheaply if you’re confident you know what you’re doing and the warranty has expired, or you don’t mind voiding it. Some people found it started working again simply by tightening the screws that hold the Note 3 together so try that first.

Next problem: Disappearing photos

Glitch: Disappearing photos

There have been a lot of complaints from people struggling to find their photos on the Note 3. They are taking photos and then going to review them in the gallery or photos app and finding that they’re gone, or that they’re not in the expected folder.

Potential solutions:

  1. It could be that they’re simply hidden. Start by going into Settings > Application manager and find the Gallery Now tap Force stop and then Clear cache.
  2. Now open the Gallery app, open its menu, and tap Show hidden items.
  3. Next open the My Files app go into its Settings and select Show hidden files. You should now be able to find a folder labeled .hide. If you don’t have My Files then you can use ES File Explorer.
  4. If this doesn’t work and you have a MicroSD card installed then it might be the source of your problems. Turn the Note 3 off, remove your MicroSD card and try putting it in your computer or laptop. You should find the photos in a DCIM folder. Now make sure the card is clean and then try replacing it carefully in the Note 3.
  5. If you have accidentally deleted them, try not to do anything new on the device to avoid overwriting them and use some photo recovery software.

Next problem: Phantom notifications

Annoyance: Phantom notifications

Some people have been getting phantom notification sounds or vibrations on their Note 3 and when they check to see what it is there’s nothing in the notification shade. There are a lot of possible culprits here so we’ll run through some of the main ones.

Potential solutions:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility and look for Notification reminder. It could be the ghost of a notification past. Turn this off and it should stop.
  • It could be related to NFC. Try going into Settings and turn NFC It may be rightly or wrongly alerting you to a possible NFC device in the vicinity.
  • It could be a Gmail email coming in under another tab like promotions or social, so it doesn’t look as though you have a new email. You can change this in Gmail settings by managing your labels.
  • If that didn’t work then you’re stuck with the prospect of going into the Settings on every app you have installed to try and find something that might be causing it.

Next problem: Dropped calls

Problem: Dropped calls

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Hands On lock screen A number of owners have complained about fluctuating signal strength, even when the Note 3 isn’t moving. There are also reports about calls that drop a few seconds or so after connecting, or calls that fail after apparently good signal strength drops to zero on placing a call. If you find this is happening to you and you’re able to make calls without problems using a different phone in the same area, then here are some ideas.

Workaround:

  • If you have a decent Wi-Fi or network connection then you could use a VoIP app as a backup. Try something like Skype, Tango, or Viber.

Potential solutions:

  • To rule out a third-party app try booting into safe mode. Turn the Note 3 off and then press and hold the Power button and when the Samsung logo appears on screen, press and hold the Volume down key until the lock screen appears. If it worked you’ll see “safe mode” in the lower left corner. If your calls work perfectly then an app is causing the problem. A factory reset and selective reinstall is probably the fastest way to catch it.
  • This could be related to your carrier and local network. It’s worth contacting them to ask about local service. You could try changing your PRL (Preferred Roaming List); some people have reported success with this. You can use the PRL Helper app and find a list of numbers at the XDA Developers forum.
  • There’s a chance it’s your hardware’s fault. Contact your carrier, retailer, or Samsung about a replacement handset.

Next problem: Unreliable GPS

Glitch: Unreliable GPS

Apparently there’s a known issue for Note 3 owners on AT&T whereby the GPS struggles to establish a fix or it frequently cuts out. Sometimes it drops for a short time and returns, at other times it seems to go missing for prolonged periods. This might not be confined to AT&T as there have been a few recent reports from other countries, but AT&T did acknowledge the problem and claim it was working on a fix.

Potential solutions:

  • AT&T released the Android 4.4 KitKat update for the Note 3 and it seems to resolve the majority of GPS issues. You should get the update OTA (Over The Air), but you can always check in Settings > General > About device > Software update.
  • You could try rooting your Note 3. Apparently the ROM in this XDA Developers thread alleviates the GPS issue.

Next problem: Battery drain

Problem: Battery drain

samsung galaxy note 3 rear batteryA lot of people have encountered issues with the Note 3 battery draining rapidly and unexpectedly. You should check out the steps for the overheating problem below, as this is likely caused by the same things. You can also check out our smartphone battery saving tips for general advice. But there is another potential fix.

Potential solution:

  • Take a look in Settings > General > Battery and see if you can find anything obvious causing a problem. A faster way is to just backup anything important and do a factory reset. A lot of people report improved battery life after this. Go to Settings > General > Backup and reset > Factory data reset.

Next problem: Email not syncing

Bug: Email not syncing

If you’ve been manually refreshing your email inboxes in order to get fresh email then you’re not alone. Quite a few people have not been getting email alerts or fresh mail when it comes in even with push set to automatic. You can try a few things:

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure Sync isn’t toggled off in your Quick settings by pulling down the notification shade and tapping the expand icon in the top right.
  • Make sure that Power saving is turned off in the Quick settings.
  • Open up your email app and tap Menu > Settings > Account settings > More settings and make sure everything is correct and set to your liking.
  • It might be best to just delete the account and then restart the Note 3 and enter all the details fresh. Do this via Menu > Settings > General > Accounts > E-Mail then choose your account and tap Remove Account.
  • You could also try turning the Note 3 off. Now remove the battery and then put it back in. Press and hold the Volume up and Home buttons then press and hold Power. When it vibrates release Power and you should see the Android system recovery menu. Use the Volume buttons to select wipe cache partition and press Power to select it.

Next problem: Random restart and boot loop

Bug: Random restart and boot loop

samsung galaxy note 3 top screen angleA number of Galaxy Note 3 owners have reported random restarts where the device just reboots unexpectedly. Some unfortunate people have encountered a boot loop where the phone just continually reboots. It’s not entirely clear what is causing this. It could be something to do with apps trying to update, or it could be related to there being too many apps or services trying to start up.

It seems likely to be a software glitch of some kind and you would expect Samsung to release a patch to fix it, but there’s no telling how long that might take. In the meantime you could take your Galaxy Note 3 back to the retailer and ask for a replacement. Some people report the same issue with the replacement; others have suggested that their replacement model works perfectly.

There are others things to try.

Workaround:

  1. Remove the battery and the SD card.
  2. Put the battery back in and turn on the device.
  3. Try Menu > Settings > Wi-Fi > Menu > Advanced and uncheck Always allow scanning.
  4. Now you should be able to turn the device off and reinsert the SD card.
  5. Boot it up and your problem might be gone.

Potential solutions:

  • You could remove the SD card, backup the data, put it back in the phone and try reformatting it via Settings > Storage > Format SD card .
  • If it’s stuck in a boot loop and you can’t get in to the main menu, you could factory reset the Galaxy Note 3 using the hardware buttons (but you will lose all data on it). Back up first if you can, and then:
    1. Turn off the device.
    2. Press and hold the Volume up, Home, and Power buttons.
    3. When you see the Galaxy Note 3 logo, let go of Power.
    4. When you see the Android System Recovery screen let go of Volume up and Home.
    5. Press Volume down to highlight wipe data / factory reset.
    6. Press Power to select it.
    7. Press Volume down to highlight delete all user data.
    8. Press Power to select it and wait until it’s done.
    9. Highlight reboot system now and select it with Power and your device will reboot.

Next problem: Region lock

Problem: Region lock

Samsung has applied a region lock on the Galaxy Note 3, which means that if you put a SIM card from a different region into it, the device will lock up. This is probably to try and curb people importing phones from different regions, but it’s an obvious pain for frequent travelers. If you have a rooted device then there’s an app that can help you. If not, then we suggest complaining to Samsung customer support.

Potential solution:

samsung galaxy note 3 front screen android

Next problem: “Prevention information” message

Bug: “Prevention information” message

A number of people have encountered a pop-up message on the Note 3 with the header “Prevention information.” It goes on to say “An application has been forced to stop for an unauthorized attempt to access system in your device. It may be safe to delete an application obtained from an unauthorized route. Check now?” and there’s an option to “not show for 30 days.” You can cancel out or click OK, which takes you to your list of apps. Some people report getting this message without installing any apps from unknown sources and it seems to be some kind of bug or false positive rather than an actual issue with an unsafe app.

Workaround:

  • Long press on the message and select App info, which should take you to Knox Notification Manager. Try clearing the data and cache, then go to Settings > General > Security and make sure that Unknown sources is not ticked. If you reboot the phone the message might come back.
  • You could disable Knox or disable the notifications from Knox, but you’ll probably need to root your Note 3 and freeze a number of apps and services related to it for that to work, and it means you won’t potentially benefit from the security it’s supposed to provide.

Potential solution:

  • You should get an update to fix this OTA, but it depends on your carrier. You can always check by going to Settings > About phone > Software update.

Next problem: Wi-Fi issues

Glitch: Wi-Fi issues

Some Note 3 owners are having trouble connecting to Wi-Fi networks, finding that the Wi-Fi is very slow, or that the device keeps dropping the connection. There are a ton of potential reasons for this and consequently there are a ton of potential fixes. Here’s what you can try:

Workaround:

Some people with stability issues have been able to get solid Wi-Fi connections simply by making sure that mobile data is switched off. Just drag down the notification shade and toggle Mobile data off.

Potential solutions:

  • Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and tap Menu > Advanced and then uncheck Auto network switch. That seems to have helped some people.
  • Try turning off the Note 3 and your router for a few minutes and then turn them both back on again.
  • Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and long press on the problem connection, then tell the device to forget it and set the connection up again from scratch.
  • Try out the free Wi-fi Analyzer app and see if crowded channels could be the issue. If so then change the channel on your router.
  • Make sure that your router firmware is up to date and check settings like MAC filtering.
  • If you’re having stability issues then you might try disabling the apps Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi Direct Share via Settings > Applications manager on the All tab.

Next problem: Overheating

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Hands On main

Problem: Overheating

Samsung has packed a lot of technology into a relatively svelte body in the Galaxy Note 3 and that means it’s going to generate heat. All smartphones will heat up when you play an FPS for two hours straight, but if your Note 3 is getting uncomfortably hot during normal or light usage, or it’s having a noticeable impact on performance, then you might have a real issue. Heat can also lead to rapid battery discharge. There are a few things you can try to fix the problem.

Potential solutions:

  • Always start with a simple reboot, turn it off, leave it for a few seconds and then turn it on again.
  • Turn it off and try removing the back and popping out the battery and the SD card. Some people have reported issues with specific SD cards. If you can, try using a different SD card or leave your SD card out and pop the battery back in to test if it makes a difference.
  • It could be a rogue app that’s causing the problem. You can try uninstalling potential culprits one by one, or you can do a factory reset and then selectively reinstall. This is obviously easier if you notice that using a specific app precedes the heat increase.
  • If none of the above works for you, take it back to the retailer, or contact Samsung or your carrier, and try to arrange a fix or replacement.

Next problem: Index Service has stopped

Bug: Index Service has stopped

A number of people have encountered this problem. The message “Index Service has stopped” pops up frequently on the screen. Some users report they can click it away and continue using the Note 3, while others are suffering freezes and having to reboot the phone. It is related to files that the phone is attempting to index and generally happens when you insert a big MicroSD card with lots of photos or PDFs files on it. It could be a single corrupt file that’s causing the issue. If you can find the individual file responsible then it’s just a case of removing it and you won’t get the message again, but that can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Potential solution:

  1. Turn the phone off and remove your MicroSD card.
  2. Back up all files onto your computer.
  3. Put the MicroSD card back into the phone and turn it on.
  4. Go to Settings > Storage > Format SD card (you may have to do this twice).
  5. Now you should be able to copy the files back from the computer by plugging in the phone via USB. Make sure the MicroSD card is empty and then begin transferring the files back onto it. Just watch out for warnings about incompatible files and do it in small groups, so you can identify the culprit if the problem reoccurs.

That’s all the Galaxy Note 3 problems and fixes we have for now, but we will add new issues as and when they arise. If you have a different problem, or a solution that worked for you, please post a comment and share it.

Updated on 5-5-2014 by Simon Hill: Added problems related to dropped calls, unreliable GPS, battery drain, and email not syncing.

Article originally published 11/22/2013.