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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. Galaxy S4

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September 5, 2013

Gizmag compares the specs and features of the Samsung's new Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4

Gizmag compares the specs and features of the Samsung's new Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4

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Samsung's scorched earth mobile strategy has its share of critics. But if you're going to harp on Samsung for trying anything, everything, and all the spaces in between, you also have to acknowledge that the company has two major flagship smartphones that can each command the full attention of the tech world. How many smartphone makers can you say that about? Let's compare the latest versions of those two premier phones, the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy S4.

Size

As big as the Galaxy S4, it's still pretty small compared to the Note 3

The Galaxy S4 is pretty big for a smartphone, but it still doesn't hold a candle to Samsung's hulking phablet, the Note 3. The Note is about ten percent taller, 13 percent wider, and five percent thicker.

Weight

The Note 3 is 29 percent heavier

No minor difference here either, as the Note 3 is a full 29 percent heavier than the GS4.

Build

Samsung threw us for a curve with the soft leather-like finish on the Note 3

This was our biggest surprise from the Note 3 event. Samsung ditched its much-derided glossy plastic, found on the GS4 and most other recent Galaxy devices, and replaced it with a faux leather backing. It's still made of plastic, but now it's soft and leather-bound notebook-themed.

We'll have to wait for more extended time with the Note to draw any real conclusions here, but, at the very least, we tip our hats to Samsung for trying something new in the build department.

Display

Ditto for screen size ... but at least you can know that you'll be getting a very sharp sc...

This is the biggest perk of carrying around a lumbering phablet like the Note 3. It gives you 29 percent more screen real estate than the (already big) display on the GS4. The latest phablet is pushing the boundaries between phone and tablet more than ever.

Resolution is identical. Though that has the smaller screen on the GS4 coming out a bit sharper, they're both likely well past the point where you'll be even remotely disappointed. Sharp text, crisp images, happy eyeballs.

Processor

Both phones ship in multiple versions: LTE/quad core, and 3G/octa core

No need to worry about performance on either of these phones. Both the LTE and 3G versions of each have some of the fastest mobile processors of 2013.

RAM

The Note 3 sports an impressive 3 GB of RAM

The 2 GB of RAM on the GS4 is a very solid amount, even over four months after the phone's launch. The 3 GB in the Note 3 is forging new ground.

Storage

After many people complained about the cramped useable storage in the 16 GB version of the...

The base model of the Note 3 doubles the base 16 GB in the Galaxy S4. Samsung's TouchWiz software, layered on top of Android on both phones, can really eat into that 16 GB, though, so that extra space could be a nice advantage for the Note.

Battery

The Note 3's battery holds more juice, but we'll have to wait to learn about actual uptime...

The Note 3's battery holds 23 percent more juice. We were impressed with the Note 2's uptimes, but we'll have to wait to get the low-down on the Note 3's actual battery life.

Cameras

Camera pixel counts aren't just close, they're identical

Megapixel counts are identical in both phones. The only true measure of phones' cameras, though, are sample shots. We'll have to wait a little while to put these two side-by-side.

Wireless

Yep, both phones will use speedy LTE data, as long as your local carrier provides it (and ...

Both phones sport LTE radios, though they also both ship in versions that max out on HSPA+. That split coincides with the different processors we showed you above.

Software

The Note 3 runs the newer version of Android ... for now

The Note 3 runs Android 4.3, but the GS4 is supposedly going to be updated to that latest edition of Jelly Bean in October.

Both phones run Samsung's TouchWiz software, which grows more and more bloated by the minute. Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh, but depending where you're coming from, you might find TouchWiz's feature list to mean more bang for your buck, or just overwhelming and unnecessary. On the GS4, we'd lean towards the latter. If the Note 3 is anything like the Note 2, though, we'd lean a bit towards the former.

Stylus

The Note 3 comes with its trademark S Pen stylus

... that's because the little plastic stylus known as the "S Pen" becomes something much more when TouchWiz's goodies are added to the mix. The pen not only gives you a finer level of precision, but TouchWiz has all sorts of note-related features up its sleeve. We're talking handwriting recognition, content scrapbooks, multiple apps on the screen at once, and anotated screenshots.

From where we stand now, the S Pen tricks (and TouchWiz tricks as a whole) are all a bit overwhelming. But you'll hear much more from Gizmag about the new Note's S Pen features in the coming weeks, after we put it through the paces.

Wrap-up

It's way too early to wholeheartedly recommend one of these mobile gizmos over the other. We've spent months with the GS4, but have only been briefly acquainted with the Note 3.

At this point, though, it looks like Samsung improved its phablet in all the right ways. Its screen is bigger and sharper, the device itself is a bit more compact, and its guts are full of the fastest mobile components you can buy in 2013. TouchWiz always walks that line between more of a good thing and gimmicky feature creep, so that verdict will have to wait. Ditto for battery life, camera quality, and how that soft backing feels over long stretches of time.

So stay tuned. In the meantime, though, you can whet your Note 3 whistle by checking out our post-event hands-on, with it and the Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

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About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
2 Comments

What about IR??? Does the Note 3 have IR or not?

Barry S. Weingart
6th September, 2013 @ 09:06 am PDT

So much for inductive charging. That space gobbled up by the faux leather could have accommodated a coil. never mind.

Maybe the soft casing will offer some bash resistance.

As an aside, just recently had to get a battery case to get more talk time at the expense of phone thickness. A thicker phone as it turns out is easier to hold and feels better. I don't know if in the race for the thinnest biggest phone people have forgotten what they leave behind.

Hold an A5 notebook to your ear with one hand, and hold the handset of a pay phone to the other ear. Which one feels more comfortable?

Nairda
7th September, 2013 @ 05:04 am PDT
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