I don’t know why, but whenever a new Android flagship gets officially announced, almost every single person that has ever owned a smartphone starts comparing that smartphone with the latest version of Apple’s iPhone. If it’s a Samsung smartphone, the situation gets even worse. Add into context the latest legal showdown between Samsung and Apple, and you’ll understand why, the moment Samsung has officially announced all the details regarding its Samsung Galaxy Note 2, everyone started comparing this second gen phablet to the iPhone 4S in the back of their minds.

Just in case you happen to fall into this category (and you know you do), we’ve decided to give a little help in your quest of discovering which one is better: the Galaxy Note 2 or the iPhone 4s.

At this point, it should be mentioned that it’s almost obvious that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a better smartphone than the iPhone 4s, considering the fact that the latter was released back in October 2011, while the Galaxy Note 2 will be released internationally in October 2012. A year of progress is a lot in all domains, at any given point, but it means even more in the tumultuous waters of the smartphone market. So I guess a better question would be: “by how much is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 better than the Apple iPhone 4s”? But that wouldn’t be much o a title, would it now? Once the iPhone 5 is announced (probably at the end of next month), we’ll be able to find the Galaxy Note 2 a more properly suited Apple-esque competitor. But until this comes to past, all we can do is shame Apple’s current flagship, the 4S.

If you’re looking to analyze how much of an improvement is the Galaxy Note 2 over its predecessor, head to the article right here. We’ve also got you covered in case you want to compare the Galaxy Note 2 against the HTC One X.

So let’s dive right in, shall we? I’ll divide the Galaxy Note 2 vs iPhone 4s showdown into segments, so that we can take a closer look at the details.

Note 2 vs iPhone 4s: Display, Design and Form Factor

Take a closer look at the picture above, and you’ll clearly notice the biggest difference between the Galaxy Note 2 and the iPhone 4s: the size of the display. While Apple has used the same length – 3.5 inches – across the diagonal of all its iPhone displays since they’ve introduced the original iPhone back in 2007, Samsung is counting on a totally different approach – one that’s heavily mirrored across the entire Android ecosystem: diversity.

If you want a Samsung smartphone with a more regular sized display (there’s a study placing the optimum size of a smartphone’s display between 4.0 inches and 4.5 inches across the diagonal), you can go ahead and check out the Galaxy S3. But if you want a smartphone with a big a*s display, Samsung offers the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a smartphone-tablet combination that features a gargantuan 5.5-inch display.

The advantages of a 5.5-inch display on a smartphone are obvious (from a mile away): YouTube clips, photos, and all visual content is a joy to watch. The main disadvantages are that a 5.5-inch display is kinda hard to operate with just a single hand, as well as the fact that big smartphones like the Galaxy Note 2 are way harder to pocket comfortably. A smaller display makes for a more balanced all-around experience, but subjectively speaking, I find a 3.5-inch display to be just too small to make a joy out of… anything really. It’s almost like everything is just too small.

Design is also a matter of personal taste, but I really find both the Galaxy Note 2 and the iPhone 4s to feature a sexy design. In the Samsung corner, the Note 2 is in many ways like a bigger brother to the Galaxy S3, and the design sticks to this trend. The Note 2 measures 80.5 x 151.1 x 9.4 mm. In the Apple corner, the iPhone 4s has the exact same design as its predecessor, the Apple iPhone 4, measuring 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm.

On to the resolutions, the 3.5 inch LED-backlit IPS display on the iPhone 4S runs at 960 x 640 pixels and features a 330 pixel per inch (PPI) density. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 2’s 5.5 inch Super AMOLED HD display runs at 1280 x 720 pixels and features a lesser 267 PPI. While PPI densities are just but one factor in judging the quality of a display, it generally means that a display is crisper.

Verdict: It’s a matter of personal preference, really! If you want a smartphone with a big, vibrant display, get the Galaxy Note 2 and handle the comfort inconveniences. Want a pocketable smartphone with the crispest display around, get the iPhone 4S. It’s that easy!

Internal Hardware

The one year old iPhone 4s uses the even older Apple A5 SoC (originally introduced by the Apple iPad 2 in March 2011). That’s a dual-core 1GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, a PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU and 512MB of RAM. It’s not slow or anything (given that most iPhone apps are properly optimized), but its internals just can’t compete with the new Exynos 4 SoC from Samsung.

As it was believed months before the Galaxy Note 2 was officially announced, the second incarnation of the Note uses an overclocked Exynos 4 quad SoC (the same SoC used by Samsung in the international version of the Galaxy S3), one that packs together a 1.6GHz quad-core A9 processor and a Mali 400 MP GPU overclocked at 400 MHz. Add 2GB of RAM, and the Note 2 is really the fastest smartphone on the market right now.

The Galaxy Note 2 is at least equally fast as the international version of the Galaxy S3, as it is based on the same SoC. Here’s a CPU benchmark:

Here’s a GPU benchmark showing how much faster the Mali 400 GPU inside the Exynos 4 Quad is compared against the PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU of the iPhone 4S:

iphone 4s vs galaxy note 2 GPU

On to the cameras, it’s worth mentioning that despite the fact that both the iPhone 4s and the Galaxy Note 2 both use a 8MP sensor for their primary camera, the iPhone 4S takes photos and records HD video like no other smartphone out there.

Both the iPhone 4s and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 come with 16 GB / 32 GB / 64 GB of internal storage, but while the iPhone 4S has no microSD card slot, the Note 2 can work with microSD cards up to 64 GB in size.

Verdict: The Galaxy Note 2 is the fastest smartphone currently available and that’s that!

OS and Software Tweaks

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will be launched with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean preinstalled, but this isn’t the only thing that Samsung has impressed us with on the software side at IFA 2012. I’m talking about the improvements made to the S-Pen integration, and the cool new software tweaks built around the S-Pen, such as the ability to hover over a folder with the S-Pen to view additional info without switching screens, the S-Pen quick command functions or improved hand-writing capture. We’ll go into further details on the S-Pen related features of the Galaxy Note 2 in a jippy, and we’ll update this article with a link once that’s done.

The iPhone 4S uses Apple’s iOS 5.1 operating system, one that features an unmatched number of properly optimized apps, although the number of apps that are iOS exclusive has dropped considerably over the past year or so. There are a lot of fun apps, that’s for sure, but the OS itself offers little room for customization.

Verdict: Since this is an Android website, you know what’s our stance when it comes to Android vs iOS! Note 2 + Jelly Bean = Note 2 wins!


It wasn’t even a fair fight really! The Note 2 features blazing fast internals, comes with the latest version of Android available and makes even better use than the original Note did of the S-Pen (thanks to the new software tweaks and S-Pen optimized apps). It’s literally one year ahead of the iPhone 4S in all aspects.
If you want the biggest smartphone display that money can buy, yet you can handle the large footprint, the Galaxy Note 2 is really the only viable choice you can make!

What do you guys think? Was this even a fair battle? Let us know what you guys make of the Note 2 and the iPhone 4S in the comment section below!

Mike Andrici
Growing up in my father's PC store, I was surrounded by and developed a passion for technology ever since I was in kindergarten. However, advancements made in the technology world continue to amaze me on a daily basis! I've been writing about the Android OS since back in October 2008, when Google and HTC launched the first Android smartphone ever, the T-Mobile G1 / HTC Dream. Although I'm no company's fanboy, Android is the mobile OS I devoutly support.
  • iOStoAndroid

    This comparison is looking like a big joke. Poor Apple

  • wait for iphone 5…then you will be able to compare more fairly…

    • Even the new iPhone won’t be a match for the Note 2. Apple doesn’t have a smartphone in the “phablet” category. Maybe they will copy Samsung after a while… when they realize that there’s a market for that (like they do now with the iPad mini).

      • EducatedToPerform

        You mistake being larger for an advantage.

        The iPhone will no doubt better this phone in performance, battery life, DPI etc – and will do so in a more usable and customer friendly form factor – which doesn’t look so ridiculous when actually used to make calls.

        They don’t do a ‘phablet’ because it’s a tiny minority market which most people don’t want. The iPad mini is different, because there actually IS a large market for that.

        Which exactly do you think will achieve more sales?

        • I didn’t just mean the size… there are a lot of features the new iPhone won’t have, unless they start copying Samsung…

          • EducatedToPerform

            Such as?

            And by ‘copying Samsung’ I assume you are going to prove that Samsung invented whatever items you list…. and has protected it with a patent?

          • Bryan

            This is “AndriodAuthority” so Get out , Apple Fanboy

          • EducatedToPerform

            I’m a fan of truth. Not Apple. Not Android, either.

            Being a fan of any company or operating system, regardless of how it evolves, is irrational.

        • ScrewApple

          Hello there, EducatedToAnnoy. Nobody here really cares about the new iCrappyPhone. It doesn’t matter what hardware it will have, all the ignorant non-tech savvy sheep of the world will want it. One huge problem, it will still run IOS of some sort. Which is clearly inferior in pretty much every aspect when compared to Android. Just like everything Apple releases, it’s tailored for people too stupid to operate a proper OS. And let’s not forget it will be far more expensive then the comparable Android offerings. The only thing you can count on Apple for is releasing seriously over-priced gadgets… oh and suing any competition in an attempt to raise prices further. FOAD, Apple and all Apple sheep.

          • EducatedToPerform

            As much as your comment makes a mockery of itself, I’ll bite.

            What’s actually sad is that your comment about ‘ignorant non-tech savvy sheep’ is firstly – more applicable to Android, which dominates the bottom end of smartphones (the cheap knock-off’s which people on a budget buy), but secondly, directly applicable to you, and here’s why: I can deduce from your comment that you wont buy the iPhone regardless of it’s hardware. Even if it dominates the performance benchmarks for 10 months like the iPhone 4S did – you wont be interested – because you’re not objective, balanced, or reasonable – you’re a fanatic.

            Despite being the fastest performing phone at release, the iPhone is typically costed at the same price as top end Androids – so actually represents better value for money. Also, value is determined by the market – not by your opinion – and given the record breaking sales it set the market is telling you it strongly disagrees with your assessment that it is overpriced.

            You state that iOS is ‘clearly inferior in pretty much every aspect’ – well I think that’s your own lack of technical ability surfacing. I challenge you to find one useful thing that you are too incompetent to work out how to do on the iPhone, but can on Android. And remember, I said ‘useful’ – it has to be an end, as opposed to a means to an end. For example, if you say ‘Widgets’ – that’s not useful, nor is it an end – it’s a means to an end. Of course, you can get widgets on iPhone anyway – but it was just an example.

            iOS is widely documented to be more secure, has more flexibility because of a wider range of apps, has higher quality apps due to more purchases, lower fragmentation and better development community as a result, is far more stable and efficient and achieves better battery life. It’s also far, far smoother than Android, right down to basics. I tested a Samsung Galaxy S3 in a store the other week and couldn’t believe how laggy and glitchy it is just scrolling through the pages.

            But despite all of the above, I was actually testing the phone, because unlike you, I’m not so primitive and irrational that I would restrict my own options for the sake of benefiting or punishing a large corporation.

            And by the way, ‘suing any competition’ and winning, proves that the instigator here was Samsung copying, not Apple suing. If the companies you want to ‘support’ (like a little cheerleader in a pink dress) didn’t rip off the devices (as proven in court) – Apple wouldn’t have anything to sue over.

          • Anne

            FYI: Apple won because the head of the Jury has a patent on technology that Apple has been using… And take note they admit that they didn’t have much time to discuss the case further. If Samsung wasn’t selling their chips, their technology to Apple. Apple nor Iphone was a just a name by now.

          • EducatedToPerform

            Incorrect. The Jury Foreman was experienced in the patent system and its legalities because he himself owns a patent – a patent completely unrelated to this case or to Apple.

            The fact he had experience with patents is actually a positive thing, it goes to demonstrating that he has legal knowledge and experience in the industry.

            Both Samsung and Apple were happy with the selection of Foreman, either could have objected. He actually owns an Android mobile phone.

            Samsung doesn’t sell it’s ‘technology’ to Apple, Apple designs many of the components that Samsung produces, such as the A5 processor. Samsung is just one of many manufacturers who Apple could use, indeed Apple is already moving away to various different manufacturers for various different items. The screens in the new iPhone and new iPad are not manufactured by Samsung any more.

            Every company which produces products, eg car companies, has suppliers which it gets to produce the parts, but that doesn’t mean that the supplier owns the technology, or that the car couldn’t be produced without them. The same is true of Samsung.

            Samsung only won the tender because Apple felt it was best suited to meet the scale Apple required, not because it owns any of the technology or because it’s the only company who can.

          • T_T

            experienced? then could you explain me why did apple won only in the monopolistic contry that is america? or the fact that they refused every attend from samsung to defend themselves? oh and while your at it explain why they what to ban th sIII, apparently it infring a paten (design maybe) like the sII, the note and the refrigirator wich are total copies of the Iphone, I mean when you put them feets away they are obiously the same.

            since steve wozniak left apple, they didnt “invent” anything they stole from everybody, patent the stolen idea and the sued the inventor. their are disgusting compagnie that slow down the progress of technology and tries to impose it monopoly on mobile technology, theyre awful.

            be “objective” as much as you want but when you look at the bigger picture you see that apple is just a childish, corrupted (everything with a big corporation is) company whos been liying to its (mostly)mignorent and mindless costumers.

          • EducatedToPerform

            ‘why did apple won only in the monopolistic contry that is america’

            lol… loaded question aside, Apple hasn’t just won in America. Even a court in South Korea found that Samsung had infringed Apple products. The Galaxy tab was also banned in Germany.

            They didn’t refuse ‘every attend from samsing [sic] to defend themselves’ – like with any proper court case, they only allowed evidence which was admissible – in other words it had to be relevant to the case. If you want to provide a specific example of something relevant which you believe the court rejected improperly, please do, and I’ll explain to you why it was rejected.

            The requested bans for the newer phones like the Note and the SG3 are not over design patents or trade dress – they are over utility patents. These have nothing whatsoever to do with what a device looks like – they are protections over specific pieces of functionality. Thus, being not ‘obviously the same’ isn’t enough to mean they don’t infringe.

            Your whole comment is ridiculed with logical failures, spelling mistakes, misguided and misinformed comments, you seem either very childish or extremely stupid, purely with your attempt to talk.

            Nothing that Apple protected / patented existed in the same way that Apple implemented it before they patented it. Take concepts such as ‘pinch to zoom’ – there was a broad concept in the world that a machine could respond to gestures, but nobody had yet implemented it using a smartphone screen to capture the response, and it is THAT which Apple patented. ‘Inventing’ the concept isn’t relevant, it’s the innovative IMPLEMENTATION which was patented. You need to try and grasp this although I fear it will be beyond you.

            Every company tries to manipulate its customers into buying its products, and Samsung has done a great job on people like you. You perhaps think that Android is ‘pure’ and ‘good’ because it’s open source, when the reality is that it’s only open source so Google can avoid paying damages for all the patents it infringed. You think Samsung is the good guy here, they’ve somehow managed to manipulate you into thinking that despite them ripping off the iPhone, infringing apples design and patents, that they’re somehow the good guy. What you claim of Apple is true of Samsung, they’ve just done a far better job manipulating you then Apple appears to have.

          • 90% agree, except “iOS is inferior in pretty much every aspect when compared to Android”, There are good and bad of both OS. But Android is improving much quicker, especially UI, which makes People think iOS never change.

            Apple keep releasing overprice and outdated hardware, more and more people will choose Android in the end. With Google nexus 2 on the way at the end of year, iPhone 5 only have 3 months time being a new phone. The iPhone market share will shrink over-time.

            Apple is run by people only caring about profit rather than provide values to customer. An operational guy run a technology company, who have no idea of what happened on their competitors side.

            Google is passionate about latest technology, in contrast with Apple only using matured proven technology to cut cost.

  • DiGrifter

    Unfair fight. Like beating a dead man in the 100m dash.

    • Ron Mexico

      No, it’s like beating the previous winner at the 100m dash

  • Bjørn Åge Mossin

    1 280×720 pixels? Note 1 have 1280×800…

    • Yeah, but Note 2 is 16:9, while Note 1 was 16:10. So widescreen movies are bigger on the Note 2! :-)

  • Vai

    Totally don’t agree with the camera comparison. Guessing the camera is the same as the s3 I would say the s3 camera is far better than the I phones . The s3 camera is that much better I was shocked when I read the iphone camera was better. I compare pictures side by side and can’t believe the difference.

  • By the way, the galaxy s3’s gpu is clocked at 440mhz, not 400mhz.

  • ricjy

    this isn’t a fair fight, the note2 is to much for the iphone

  • EducatedToPerform

    I absolutely love the way you say ‘it’s literally a year ahead of the iPhone’ – when in all likelihood the iPhone coming out in less the a month will probably be far faster in performance terms.

    What it ‘literally is’ is the first phone in 10 months which has actually matched or surpassed the iPhone 4S GPU.

    I notice the SG3 benchmarks you use are also from the International Samsung Galaxy 3, not the American version (which is slower). I’ve attached more accurate benchmarks given that this is an American website.

    • EducatedToPerform

      You also cherry picked the international Samsung Galaxy S3 benchmark you used, here is the other on the same website showing the actual difference between the brand new international-only (NON USA) SG3 and 10 month old iPhone 4S is minimal:

    • jojo

      those galaxy s3 have got dual core, not quad-core, like the original one,so the samsung galaxy s III is much better than the iphone 4s.

      • EducatedToPerform

        Well it depends which version you’re talking about.

        The American SG3 has the dual core which you’re talking about, and it has a slower GPU than the iPhone 4S.

        The international SG3 was the first phone to include a faster GPU than the iPhone 4S – so that one does out-perform the 4S.

    • Tom

      iphone 4s has an monstrous gpu..at the time of its making at least.. but honestly, the 400mp(found in galaxy s2) was good enough to beat the 4s gpu

      • EducatedToPerform

        Here are benchmarks comparing the iPhone 4S to the Galaxy S2.

        The iPhone 4S was significantly faster.

        The Mali-400 used in the Samsung Galaxy 2 was quite slow in comparison. The new Samsung Galaxy 3 actually uses the same GPU but is clocked significantly higher. That’s why the international version of the SG3 has a faster GPU than the iPhone 4S.

  • Max

    Cant wait to get my hands on this baby …btw any idea when note 2 will be launched in india ?

  • Ezekiel Rage

    I have enjoyed reading your comments tremendously. The depth of knowledge that you display, especially in the midst of some rather uncouth and uninformed comments from my fellow “respected” bloggers, really stands out.

    You, sir, handle yourself with poise and finesse. It has been a pleasure reading you. :)

  • usman

    galaxy tab 7.7 p6800 is a big smartphone too… i prefer it over note…

    • jamie

      its a tablet u twat

      • Nope, you can stick a SIM card in it and make calls if i remember correctly.

  • karina

    I’m with you. Android has already done pretty much anything Apple brags about. I read a cool post at ComputerWorld about the 5 things you can bet will follw the new Apple launch – http://goo.gl/bTF1x.
    It’s funny and true, worth checking out :)

  • Samsung newbie

    After reading so many good comments on samsung note 2, decided to give it a go and move from iphone 4S. But have to say…. not as easy to use and figure. Been quite frustrated with the photos result, I don’t see the results like what I seen on screen when I capture the photo. Is this a setting problem? Why the photos result is darker and not as sharp?

  • MoodiQ

    I have an iphone 4S and i was thinking about getting the galaxy note 2
    Now i dont want it for work or planners i want it for apps and games and for internet browsing. So should i buy it or should i keep my 4S??
    Please reply