With Samsung's announcement of the Galaxy Note 3, owners of the Note 2 might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Is it worth the upgrade? Or should you snag the older model if your local carrier discounts it to clear stock? Let Gizmag try to help, as we compare the specs and features of 2013's Galaxy Note 3 and 2012's Galaxy Note 2.
The two phablets are roughly the same height. Samsung focused on narrowing the build of the new model, as well as making it thinner. We're always happy when a manufacturer can make a device's screen bigger, and still shrink its overall footprint. That's just what Samsung did here.
Another upgrade for the new model, as it's about seven percent lighter than the Galaxy Note 2.
This was an interesting feature in the Note 3 that we didn't see coming. Samsung ditched its traditional glossy plastic, found in the Note 2, for a faux leather stitched backing. It's probably a kind of plastic as well, but at least it doesn't look as "plasticky."
This might be the biggest reason to upgrade to the new Note 3. Its screen is about seven percent bigger than the old model. Its 1080p display also has much sharper resolution, with 125 percent more pixels squeezed in for your viewing pleasure.
We didn't have many problems with the Note 2's performance, so it's hard to imagine having any issues at all with the Note 3's processor. The LTE version packs Qualcomm's speedy Snapdragon 800, while the HSPA+ version rides Samsung's Exynos octa-core processor. We should be looking at one of the faster mobile devices of 2013.
The 2 GB of RAM in the Note 2 was more than healthy. The 3 GB found in the Note 3 is as good as you'll find in a smartphone right now.
It looks like Samsung skipped the 16 GB model, and is limiting your choice to 32 GB and 64 GB for the new Note. Considering how cramped the 16 GB Galaxy S4's storage got after you took Samsung's stock software into account, that might be a wise decision.
The Note 2 has terrific battery life, but we haven't yet put the Note 3 through the paces. Its battery holds a bit more juice, but it's also, as we mentioned, pushing a much denser display. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in real-world use.
The Note 3's rear camera also gets an upgrade, matching the Galaxy S4 with 13 megapixels. As with battery life, though, the numbers don't tell the whole story. So stay tuned for more extensive analysis of the Note 3's camera from Gizmag.
It's almost silly to bother with this category, as nearly every high-end smartphone today will support speedy LTE networks. The most obvious exception is the Nexus 4, and its days are numbered.
The Note 3 runs the latest version of Android (at least until Android 4.4 Kit Kat lands), but the Note 2 should be skipping Android 4.2 altogether, and jumping to Android 4.3 before long.
More important than the underlying version of Jelly Bean is the software Samsung has added. Just like with the Galaxy S4, the Note 3 event was full of an overwhelming laundry list of software features. But while the GS4's TouchWiz seemed bloated and unnecessary, we're going to keep an open mind about TouchWiz on the Note 3.
That's because it's all about the S Pen. Samsung has given the stylus a seat of honor with the Note line, and it only gets better with the Note 3. There's software for creating scrapbooks full of saved data, you can run multiple instances of the same app simultaneously, and you can easily anotate your own notes onto a screen grab. These features all center around the S Pen, and it's TouchWiz that makes it more than a little plastic nub that slides into your phone.
Wrap-upAs is always the case, the new model is better. Even though we only got a brief hands-on with the Note 3 after the event, we're pretty confident in making that statement. The screen is bigger and much sharper, the device is lighter and more compact, it's faster, and it has a slew of new software features. Even though camera quality and battery life need to be tested, it's hard to argue with that kind of progress.
So the question, then, is balancing the other considerations surrounding that quality. If you're in the middle of a two-year contract with the Note 2, paying extra to upgrade might not be as appealing. If you're getting a rock-bottom price for the Note 2, as vendors clear inventory, that might also make your decision a bit trickier.
So we won't be able to answer those more nuanced questions until we really put the Note 3 through the paces. But from where we stand now, the new model looks like a nice upgrade, and, if all else were equal, your choice would be obvious.
Want to investigate further? Then you can check out our hands-on impressions of the Note 3 (as well as the Galaxy Gear smartwatch) from the Berlin event.
Updated on Sept. 6, 11:00 am EST to correct the Galaxy Note 2's version of Android