Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy Note 2

October 18, 2013
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When we first took a look at the Note 3 at IFA, we couldn’t help but be impressed. With killer specs and a brand new look, there‚Äôs a lot to love about the Galaxy Note 3.

Whether you are thinking about buying a Note 2 on discount or already have a Note 2 and are considering an upgrade, it’s important to understand that the Note 3 really is a significant update over its predecessor. That said, the Note 2 is still a very nice device.

In September we had the opportunity to do a quick look at how the Galaxy Note 3 compared to the Note 2, and now we’re back with a new video that dives even a little deeper (seen above).

So how do the two handsets compare? Let’s take a closer look:

Design and build quality

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In one hand, we have Samsung’s all new Galaxy Note 3. Interestingly enough, Samsung actually changed up the design a bit, opting for a faux leather type of plastic, which gives the device a more durable, premium look.

The faux leather plastic also has a very soft feel, which makes for a better grip.¬†Beyond that, you’ve pretty much got the standard button placement.

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Despite being better than the Note 2 in just about every way, the Note 3 actually weighs less than the Note 2. Coming in at 168 grams, the Note 3 is 15 grams lighter, and it’s also 1mm narrower.

In the other hand, we have the Galaxy Note 2. The Note 2 rocks Samsung’s older design language, and that means glossy hard plastic. ¬†There’s also a¬†volume rocker on the left, power on the right, microUSB port at the bottom, and the 3.5mm headphone jack up top.

note2-vs-note3-back-side-angles copy

Again, it’s all pretty standard, but we’ve heard it before — plastic clad smartphones are getting old. In some respects, they feel cheap when compared to a smartphone made out of metal. HTC showed us that with the One.

Both of these handsets might be plastic, but the Note 3 certainly stands out as a refreshing change – metal or not.

For what it’s worth, plastic is actually pretty durable. For example,¬†I’ve dropped the Note 2 many times, and it’s been able to withstand even some of the most painful drops, such as cold, hard cement and gravel. I can imagine the experience would be similar (or better) for the Note 3.

Verdict: The new material Samsung is using with the Note 3 is an obvious improvement over the glossy plastic featured on most of their smartphones. The Note 3 also looks and feels more durable than its predecessor.

Display

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The Galaxy Note 3 is sporting a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display capable of 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, rated at an impressive 386ppi. It goes without saying, this is one beautiful screen. Viewing angles are great and colors really pop thanks to the Super AMOLED panel’s high saturation.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2, on the other hand, sports a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED panel capable of 720 x 1,280 resolution, rated at 267ppi. Viewing angles are great on this smartphone. There is some glare and drop in vibrancy, but it’s hardly noticeable. As for overall color, Samsung’s Super AMOLED panel is very high in saturation, making just about everything very colorful and vibrant.

Of course, some would rather opt for a less colorful display, in search of something more true to reality. It’s one of those you either like it or you don’t kind of things.

Verdict:¬†The Galaxy Note 3 obviously takes the trophy home here. With the massive pixel density and the high definition screen, the Note 3’s display is leagues ahead of the Note 2’s.

Camera

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The Galaxy Note 3, much like the Galaxy S4, features a 13-megapixel rear camera. Megapixels don’t tell the full story here, but it’s pretty much the same camera strapped on the Galaxy S4. That said, pictures are better in overall quality. Even low light shots aren’t bad, though they aren’t exactly fantastic either.

As for the camera app, it has plenty of new additions, as it takes on a lot of the camera features found in the Galaxy S4.

The Galaxy Note 2 is last year’s technology, but it still takes some really great photos with its 8-megapixel rear camera. Picture quality is great — a lot of detail is captured and color reproduction is pretty accurate. However, photos aren’t the best in low light shots.

The camera app on the Note 2 is full of goodies. There are tons of settings, scenes, and modes to choose from to help you capture that perfect shot. On the downside, the extra modes in the Note 3 just aren’t available for the Note 2 – yet.

Verdict:¬†The Galaxy Note 3’s 13-megapixel optics is obviously much better than the Note 2’s, producing better quality and low light shots.

Battery

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The Galaxy Note 3’s 3,200 mAh Li-ion battery actually isn’t much bigger than the Note 2’s, though we’re sure there’s been additional optimizations to make the Note 3 last a bit longer.

As for the Note 2, it’s packing a Li-ion 3,100 mAh battery. It’s a pretty giant battery, but if you use your device regularly for work, it’ll only just get you through about a day’s use.

Verdict:¬†Both the Galaxy Note 3’s and Galaxy Note 2’s batteries are similar in size, so it essentially comes down to optimization. It’s a tie.

Hardware

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Here’s where things begin to get interesting. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 comes in two different configurations. For LTE markets, the device is powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU. For 3G markets, the handset features an octa-core 1.9GHz Exynos processor.

Regardless of the model, both versions of the Note 3 come with 3GB RAM, 32 or 64GB internal storage, and a microSD slot that supports up to 64GB of memory.

As you can see, the Galaxy Note 3 is a beast. Everything about is slick, smooth, and fast.

The Galaxy Note 2 is a very impressive device as a well, though a year of technological changes means its not the powerhouse it once was. The Note 2¬†features a Exynos 4412 quad-core processor clocked in at 1.6GHz, backed by 2GB of RAM. The device comes in 16, 32, and 64GB models. If 64GB just isn’t enough for you, there’s a microSD card slot to expand that storage even further.

It goes without saying, the Note 2 is an impressive smartphone, but it’s hard to compete with the Note 3.

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As you know, both the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy Note 3 feature an S Pen, but it’s worth mentioning that the Note 3’s stylus has been slightly redesigned for easier handling.

Verdict:¬†The Note 2 is an impressive smartphone, but the Galaxy Note 3 is packing some crazy good specs. There’s a noticeable speed difference between the Note 2 and Note 3, with the Note 3 taking the upperhand.

Software

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This is another area where things are interesting. This is TouchWiz vs. TouchWiz, but in this case, the Galaxy Note 3 actually has a lot more to offer than the Note 2.

The Galaxy Note 3 has all of the software features found in the Galaxy S4 — S Translator, S Health, and etc. There’s also a few new additions¬†such as Air Command, Pen Window, and My Magazine.

The Note 3 also has the advantage of running on Android 4.3, as opposed to the Note 2’s Android 4.1.2 build.

Photo of Air Command in action.

Photo of Air Command in action.

Turning to the Note 2,¬†you have your standard S Pen features such as Air View, and then you’ve got things like Smart Stay and Smart Alert. Basically, the features here are good, but the Note 3 has many more.

Verdict:¬†The Galaxy Note 3 has quite a few useful new features. Sure, that means a bit more bloat, but things still run extremely smoothly and it’s a night-and-day change from the Note 2. ¬†In short, the Note 3 wins here too.

Additional Note 3 video coverage

Wrap up

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As you can see the Galaxy Note 3 is a pretty massive upgrade from the Note 2. This is way more than a minor spec update, and is a much more significant upgrade than what we saw with the Galaxy S4 when compared to the older Galaxy S3.¬†The Note 3’s new look is solid, there’s tons of special software features and really everything we loved about the Note series is now even better.

Bottom-line, the Galaxy Note 3 is a¬†powerhouse.¬†There’s no doubt that fans of larger screen real estate are going to absolutely love this device. For more details about the Note 3, be sure to check out our full review!

What do you think about the Galaxy Note 3, worth the upgrade from the Note 2 or not?

NEXT: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4

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