Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. Apple iPhone 5

by: Brad WardSeptember 4, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs iPhone 5 rear

IFA in Berlin, Germany is underway, and Samsung just rolled out the red carpet for what might be the star of the show — the Galaxy Note 3. It’s certainly a very impressive device, but just how well can Apple’s iPhone 5 compete with it? Being a bunch of Android geeks, that might be very easy to answer, but the comparison is actually pretty interesting.

Let’s see what device comes out on top, shall we? In a rush? Jump straight to the video, otherwise, stick with us as we take a closer look at these two devices.

Design and build quality

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs iPhone 5-front

Right out of the gate, these are two very different devices. We have the Note 3 with its massive screen, and then the iPhone 5 with its 4-inch display. Putting the two devices side by side, you can see just how small the iPhone 5 is compared to the Galaxy Note 3.

Smartphone owners have expressed a lack of satisfaction in plastic clad devices, and it seems that Samsung listened, to an extent. Opting for a faux leather type of plastic, the Galaxy Note 3 is very comfortable to hold, and it gives an easier grip. It’s not metal like the iPhone 5, but it certainly is different, not to mention stylish. It also feels quite durable, even more so than that old, glossy plastic.

galaxy s4 vs iphone 5 5 back 2 aa

The iPhone 5 is made out of metal, and it’s very durable as long as the device doesn’t fall on one of its corners. While it’s certainly not a very unique device, the metal material is very comfortable to hold in the hand, and most of all, it’s a pretty slick looking device. However, with 5-inch screens becoming the standard, the iPhone 5’s biggest flaw is that 4-inch display — it’s just too small.

Verdict: The Galaxy Note 3 features a new material that not only feels comfortable in the hand, but durable, too. On the other hand, we have the iPhone 5. Opting for a metal material, it feels easy to grip and is very durable. It’s a tie.


samsung galaxy note 3 aa 35

The Galaxy Note 3 features a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen capable of 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, rated at a really impressive 386ppi. It has one of the most beautiful and color rich displays you’ll find on the market. Viewing angles are great, and colors really pop, thanks to the high saturation in that Super AMOLED panel.

galaxy s4 vs iphone 5 5 ui 2 aa

Apple’s iPhone 5 sports a 4-inch IPS LCD display capable of 640 x 1,136 resolution, rated at 326ppi. It’s a pretty impressive display — everything is very clear, the colors look nice, and text is sharp. Viewing angles are really good, and as for brightness, well, it’s alright, but it’s nothing to brag about.


Verdict: The iPhone 5 features a nice display, but it’s hard to beat the Note 3’s superior 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen.


samsung galaxy note 3 aa 47

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 features 13-megapixel optics, and it’s essentially the same camera strapped on the back of the Galaxy S4. Picture quality is very good — colors are reproduced fairly accurately, and there’s a lot of detail captured. There’s also a nice level of vibrancy and sharpness to the photos, however, it’s pretty average when it comes to low light shots.

There are a slew of extra scenes and modes in the Note 3, though there isn’t much that’s new. Most of it is various options that can be found in the Galaxy S4’s camera app.

galaxy s4 vs iphone 5 5 camera modes aa

The iPhone 5 has an 8-megapixel rear shooter. Picture quality is actually pretty great — a lot of detail is captured and color reproduction is accurate. Like a lot of smartphones out there, the iPhone 5 isn’t that great with low light shots.

As for software features, well, in this case, you could compare the iPhone 5’s camera app with a Nexus’. There isn’t any extra features like you’d find in Samsung phones, it’s very clean and minimalist in this area. However, you do get a few things, such as HDR, Panorama, and face detection.

Verdict: The Galaxy Note 3 takes the cake here. With 13-megapixel camera optics and a slew of features inside the camera app, the Note 3’s camera package is leagues ahead of the iPhone 5.


samsung galaxy note 3 back cover battery aa 1

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 is equipped with a removable 3,200 mAh Li-ion battery. There’s also been quite a few optimizations done, so it’s very likely that the Galaxy Note 3 will last much longer than the iPhone 5, though that all depends on just how much you use the device.

The battery is definitely a shortcoming in the iPhone 5. You get a non-removable Li-po 1,440 mAh unit. It’s not a whole lot compared to what’s been packed into most Android phones, but it’ll get you through the day easily. Just don’t expect to get much more than that out of it.

Verdict: The Galaxy Note 3 comes out on top with a battery that is a little more than double the capacity of the iPhone 5’s battery.


samsung galaxy note 3 air command aa 3

Just like we expected, the Note 3 has a whole arsenal of features in the software department. It has most of the features that can be found on the Galaxy S4, such as S Translator, S Health, Group Play, and etc. It also has additional features specifically for the Note 3, such as Air Command and Pen Window. Despite the amount of features in the Note 3, it still runs very smoothly and quickly.

As you know, the iPhone 5 is running iOS 6, so naturally, there just aren’t as many software features loaded on the iPhone 5 as there is on the Galaxy Note 3. In some respects, this makes the iPhone 5 a whole lot more responsive, as it isn’t bogged down by software features and bloatware that you may or may not use.

Verdict: The Note 3 comes out on top by offering a bevy of useful features while keeping things generally fast.

Hands-on Video

Wrap up

It goes without saying, Samsung’s all new Galaxy Note 3 is leagues ahead of the iPhone 5, but with its massive 5.7-inch screen, the handset definitely isn’t for everyone.

The Galaxy Note 3 is going to “wow” the crowds. Featuring some of the best technology available, consumers are really going to enjoy everything about this device.

Be sure to keep checking with Android Authority, as we’re live at IFA 2013 bringing you all of the latest in the Android world! You can check out all of our IFA 2013 content here.

  • Jusephe

    Ehm.. i like how you wait the very few days before iPhone announcement to complain how “far” (actualy about 6 days to go) is Apple behind.
    And when you will compare this to the “iPhone 5S” ?
    Thats what i care for !

    • Valtheus

      Do you really expect that iPhone 5S will beat the Note 3? I wouldn’t get exited about it, just because we already know from the past what to expect from Apple with 3GS and 4S. So just expect an upgraded version of iPhone 5, nothing more imho.

      • mrjayviper

        so what so revolutionary on the new note 2/galaxy s4 compared to last year’s version? aren’t they just upgraded versions too?

        • Valtheus

          I simply said that he shouldn’t expect much from the new version of the iPhone, i didn’t say Note 3 is out of this world! ;)

          On a side note, Note 3 has some entirely nice new features, like the S Pen features and improved multitasking. Not revolutionary but definitely interesting. What else do you expect from an iPhone 5S other than upgraded hardware? Still Note 3 is a phablet and iPhone 5 a smartphone, and shouldn’t be compared.

      • Simon Craddock

        The issue that Apple has is that the specifications of every iPhone release is often determined many months prior to launch. Samsung turns out new models like the seasons change…every few months. If the new iPhone doesn’t deliver then even die hard Apple fans will start straying.


    iphone? really? that crap is mid-range!

    • thartist

      Well, you gotta understand that it’s just for reference, no competition possible.

  • Addymore

    Some plastic again?

  • bob

    the battery spec war is pretty amusing. maybe battery life is a better metric? running android certainly doesnt help… luckily its all black

    btw, amoled vs ips? you cant even compare those two…

  • kascollet

    Rather pointless comparison.
    People looking for a phablet will see the iPhone’s screen as ridiculously small and people looking for a pocketable phone will find the Note’s ridiculously big.
    BTW, are you sure about the Note’s camera ability to deal with low-light ? The 13M captor in the GS4 is not good at it.

  • Rafael

    As we say in Brazil, this comparison is like beating a drunk guy. There is no way the one year old iPhone 5 can compare with the new Android flagships like the Note 3, the S4, the G2, the Z1 or the Ultra. Apple will have to pull a really, really big rabbit of its hat to have a chance in this war.

  • veda99

    seriously! comparing a phone with phablet

  • thartist

    Aaarrrghh, those top/bottom bezels on the iPhone!!! Really, they made my eyes itch!!

  • Mike

    Everything would be great if it had Apple’s OS. Don’t make the Microsoft Mistake
    This ain’t even close to an iPhone.

    • Kevin

      its iOS… and its what makes iphone’s so poor in comparison to android unfortunately!

  • argoss

    Galaxy still sucks on response time. No comparision with an iPhone.

  • Xavier_NYC

    This is pointless. iPhone 5 doesn’t even come close to the note 3. Lets wait for the iPhone 5s or 6 (whatever it’s called) then write a comparison. The newer iPhone may still not even come close 0_o

  • Ratnadeep Gaikwad

    I think this comparison should be done again with the IPhone 5S when it launches on september 11

  • abazigal

    Comparing straight specs in a vacuum without considering the context (that IOS is generally more resource and power-efficient than Android), simply concluding that more software feature automatically means better, trying to pass off oversaturation of colours as a plus point, and completely glossing over the fact that there are many more factors which influence what phone a consumer buys (such as ecosystem).

    The tone of the post sounds so obviously rigged, I don’t understand why the writers even bother comparing the two, when everyone knows how this entire event is going to unfold.

    • OLdSNeaKy

      It’s all in the software setup. Haptic feedback, screen brightness, and too many apps running in the background are the biggest battery drainers. Easily overcome by installing a startup manager and unchecking a few boxes. My Android phones get much better battery life than either my iPhone 4s or 5. Their batteries are also quickly and easily removable. With one slim and fully charged extra battery in my pocket I can go for a couple of days of heavy use without a recharge.

  • Kriss

    Dear Samsung, smarter phones doesn’t mean bigger screens. Tablets shall use big screens and phones shall use small screens. Thats how it should be. The only smartphone that meets top-notch quality and perfect size meant for a mobile phone is iPhone.

    • OLdSNeaKy

      Yeah, if you have tiny mouse hands. Many men and women have bear paws, myself included. Ahem, what was that I read about Apple looking at larger screens?

    • S

      You FOOL!
      Different phones are for people who need them.
      And people who need the note’s features will buy them.
      That is simple common sense.

  • Miked

    no comparison there.. two different markets.. Specs side.. Note 3 hands down..

  • hyden

    “The Galaxy Note 3 features a new material”….new material???yeah for samsung….my old blackberry bold 9000 using that material on back cover…

  • Bijan Mohanty

    This is like comparing apple to a Grapefruit (pun intended) :-). It’s fair to compare Notes 3 with Sony Experia Z ultra, which are in the same league.

  • Rijoenpial

    the materials and battery arguments are as stupid and pointless as fan wars… First of all, hands up who doesn’t have a cover or bumper on their iphone or any other smartphone… Also, a smartphone is not a computer… If you wanna see videos, buy a tablet… If you wanna play games etc, buy a PS Vita, or a Nintendo DS… If we only use smartPHONES for what they are intended to (SMS and phone calls) the battery life is more than sufficient… The problem is that many think that smartphones are supposed to be computers or laptops… they’re not nor will they ever be! And Samsung, at least, enables people to have spare batteries… Can the same be said of iPhone, or HTC one, or LG G2, or Moto X or Sony Xperia Zs?! NO! So, stop al that nonsense because you’re just being children, and petulant ones at that! Grow up and focus your energy to more pressing matters in your life, rather than spew all your gathered hostility in such a trivial matter such as phones and smartwatches and tablets…! Cheers!

    • M3D1T8R

      Smartphones are not computers? My current phone (DNA) with its quadcore CPU and beautiful 1080 screen, is more powerful in nearly every way than my HP laptop from a few years ago. Does that make my laptop no longer a computer? At what point did it become so?

      The whole point of SMARTphones is to serve multiple functions. I don’t want to have to carry around an MP3 player, videogame device, PDA (ha), etc., my smartphone does all those things and more. Maybe you do.

      Or maybe you’re just an Apple fanboy phone fascist upset with all the choice Android offers, trying to justify your phone’s limitations. Really, coming onto an Android site and complaining about people talking about phones? Ridiculous.

    • OLdSNeaKy

      Wrong. They are computers that are pretending to be phones. Since when does a phone need a quad core processor to make calls? These devices will replace the bulky computers we have today. In the very near future you will whip it out of your pocket and wirelessly connect to your 40 inch touch screen monitor, your keyboard, external storage devices, ect.

      Well, maybe not you per se, but I certainly will. You might be still riding your dinosaur at the end of the pack.

  • Bruno Rosa // TaRuGo

    HAHAHA It’s a joke right? iPhone is just a toy!

  • Hmmm

    Is this a joke ? :P

  • OLdSNeaKy

    Well Apple, as far as phones go we’ve had a good run together. Now go to the back of line! When you can come up with something new besides a fingerprint reader let me know. You got an A for developing the iPhone, even though Microsoft made it first, you know, that phone for giants called Surface? Regardless, one A and a string of D’s does not a good report card make…and one more thing…that giant just got up from his nap and he’s hungry!

  • agenius

    its not April 1st, is it? There is literally no comparison here. whatsoever.

  • dwayne601

    I am a rabid android guy, i can’t stand the iphone but id recognize it is a well built device and a great phone. This was not a fair comparison. Of course the Note 3 will have all the bells whistles above a year and half old device. Compare it to the 5s then its a fair fight