Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs Galaxy Note (original)

by: Mike AndriciAugust 29, 2012

Ok, so the Samsung Unpacked event is now underway and the South Korean giant has finally officially announced the Galaxy Note 2 phablet, a device that has stirred the interest of the entire online tech media, as well as that of Android and Samsung fans from all around the globe. You can catch all the bits and pieces of information around the Galaxy Note 2 using the link here, or take a shot at winning a Galaxy Note 2 via our giveaway, but in the context of this VS article, it suffices to say that the Smartphone Santa wasn’t kind enough as to fulfill our Galaxy Note 2 wishlist!

Now that we’ve all seen what the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is all about, I’ve noticed a few questions arise on everyone’s lips: how much better is the Galaxy Note 2 when compared against the original Note? Is upgrading from the original Note to the Note 2 a wise buying decision? We’ll answer all that and even more as we go through a thorough deathmatch between the original Galaxy Note and the Galaxy Note 2.

If you’re looking to compare the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 with more regular sized smartphones, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered as well! Follow these links for VS articles comparing the Note against the HTC One X or against its smaller brother, the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Display & Footprint

I don’t usually include the footprint as a main factor in VS articles and that’s mainly because a regular smartphone – that’s anywhere between 3.5 inches and 4.8 inches across the diagonal of the display (read more about the optimum size of a smartphone’s display) – is usually pocketable no matter how big the bezel is. And then there’s the fact that footprints are usually proportional with the size of the display.

But these articles should be nothing if not flexible by nature, so when comparing the original Galaxy Note against the Galaxy Note 2, the footprint becomes a major factor. And that’s because it’s almost the same with both smartphones, despite the fact that the Galaxy Note 2 has a display bigger by 0.2 inches than its predecessor. The original Note measures 146.9 x 83 x 9.7 mm, while the newly announced Galaxy Note 2 measures 80 x 151.1 x 9.4 mm.The Note 2 is also a couple of grams heavier than the original Note, weighing in at 180 grams.


The original Samsung Galaxy Note features a 5.3-inch Super AMOLED display running at a native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, meaning you get a 285 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) ratio. Unfortunately, the only thing Samsung did with the display on the Galaxy Note 2 was to add an extra 0.2 inches to its diagonal, as the resolution remains the same (while the PPI ratio drops to 274 since the number of pixels is divided by a bigger surface).

Both displays use Samsung’s PenTile technology, meaning the subpixels are shared by adjacent pixels. At such densities, the differences between a PenTile display and one based on an RGB matrix (as are most displays) are barely visible to most people. Sure, take a look at these displays via a microscope and the differences are huge, but who would care about such a thing anyway? Those of you interested in Samsung’s position on PenTile displays should go ahead and read the article here.

Verdict: As much as it surprises me, Samsung opted not to improve the display of the original Galaxy Note. It’s the exact same display, except it’s 0.2 inches longer. Considering that the phablet principle is really all about the display, I’m seriously disappointed, although I’m aware of the fact that this could have a lot to do with the S-Pen compatibility.

Internal Hardware

The international version of the original Note featured a 4210 System on a Chip (SoC), one that encapsulated both a 1.4GHz dual-core A9 processor and a Mali 400 GPU. On the other hand, the U.S. version, featured a lesser Qualcomm Snapdragon 8255T SoC, one that sticks together a 1.5GHz single-core Qualcomm Scorpion processor and an Adreno 205 GPU.

But while the differences between the two versions of the original Note are easily noticeable, the Galaxy Note 2 outperforms both of them by an even more significant margin, thanks to the overclocked Samsung Exynos 4412. Samsung also used the Exynos 4412 inside the international version of the Galaxy S3, but the quad-core processor inside the Note 2 was overclocked from 1.4GHz per core to 1.6GHz per core. The Mali 400 GPU is the same as inside the Galaxy S3, essentially an overclocked version of the Mali 400 GPU inside the original G Note.

The second incarnation of the Galaxy Note comes with 2GB of RAM, double the amount of RAM featured by the original Note. From the looks of it, all flagship smartphones scheduled to be released in the second half of the year will feature 2GB of RAM, and Samsung did not disappoint. Expect multitasking on the Galaxy Note 2 to be as smooth as it gets.

When it comes to the internal storage, Samsung has decided to make the Note 2 available in a 64 GB variant as well, besides the 16 GB and 32 GB variants that mirror the original Note. Additionally, while the original Note could handle microSD slots only up to 32 GB in size, the Note 2 can work with cards up to 64 GB in size. Sure, you’ll have to spend some extra cash to raise your total storage space up to 128 GB (64 GB internally plus 64 GB via the card slot), but it’s a good thing that it can be done, right?

Unfortunately though, it is highly unlikely that the 3100 mAh battery on the Galaxy Note 2 will be able to yield better results than the 2500 mAh battery used in the original Note (with the quad-core Exynos CPU and slightly larger screen sucking more battery and al).

When it comes to cameras, the Note 2 looks to be identical to the original Note, both using an 8MP primary camera and a 2MP secondary camera. However, we’re unable to tell if these are the exact same sensors. We’ll update this article with picture samples as soon as we’ll have the opportunity.

Verdict: The Note 2 wins this round by a couple of lengths thanks to its faster, quad-core CPU and overclocked GPU.

OS & Software Tweaks

The first Galaxy Note was launched internationally back in October 2011, with Android 2.3 Gingerbread on board, and has started receiving (after quite a lengthy delay considering the status of the device) its Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update in July 2012. Since the original Note has just received its ICS update, I wouldn’t count on Samsung releasing an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update for the first generation Galaxy Note anytime very soon.

Now, on to the Galaxy Note 2, it pleases me to say that Samsung has finally stopped its tendency to release top-end flagships without the latest version of Android available. I’m honestly quite surprised to say this, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will launch with Android 4.1:Jelly Bean pre-installed. The Android PDK project might have helped Samsung a bit, but the South Korean giant still gets my vote of confidence on this one.

The S Pen (the unique accessory that’s featured on all Samsung Note devices) has been redesigned and is now wider and longer, has a rubber tip to better simulate a pen and paper experience, and generally offers a better grip.

The Galaxy Note 2 uses all the smart functions that Samsung originally introduced with their Galaxy S3 (such as Smart Stay, Smart Alerts and such, read more about them in our previous article here). Obviously enough, the original Note has no such software tweaks. In addition, the Note 2 comes with several new features such as S-Pen Quick Commands, improved hand writing capture, a Screen Recorder that’s also able to record audio, as well as a software tweak that will alert you whenever the S-Pen is not in its holster (so that you don’t lose it).

Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 wins this round thanks to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and unique software functions.


While the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is definitely better than its predecessor, the difference is basically limited to a better SoC, a slightly larger display (that maintains the resolution) and an improved S-Pen. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but I’d suggest that you don’t update to the Note 2 if you already own the original Note, unless you desperately want more processing juice.

In addition, if you own neither of these smartphones, the original Note might still represent a good buying decision, as its price will most likely drop once the Galaxy Note 2 becomes commercially available.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 2 features a larger display and much better CPU and GPU, Android 4.1: Jelly Bean, and an improved S-Pen. In addition, you should also consider that the Galaxy Note 2 should also receive a higher priority when it comes to future Android updates compared its predecessor.

What’s your take on this? Is the Galaxy Note 2 a substantial upgrade from the original Note? Or is it just Samsung’s way of begging for more money now that they’ve lost the patent war with Apple in the U.S.? Let us know what you guys think in the comment section below!

  • price of the note 2? realm of accessories,updates and apps relative to note 2 present and future? feauters? are definetly questions that i would post before considering buying a note 2 since i have the original. although the note 2 remains a seduction that is hard to resist .

  • Why do reviewers always leave the screen on when they look at the hardware of the phone. How hard is it to turn the screen off so your not swiping around and opening apps on accident. also will someone please just put the two phones on top of each other and do a close up so we can get a real comparison… ok im done ranting.

  • Michael Meyer

    When will I be able to buy it in the US, and how much will it cost?

    • Oliver Petruzel

      “in late 2012″… no clue as to cost.

    • KeneshiaS

      Around a 198 dollars something like that

    • bealb

      Goog question I have a 2 year contract on the first Note.

  • Oliver Petruzel

    Regarding the original Galaxy Note, you wrote:
    “On the other hand, the U.S. version, featured a lesser Qualcomm Snapdragon 8255T SoC, one that sticks together a 1.5GHz single-core Qualcomm Scorpion processor and an Adreno
    205 GPU.”

    Wrong. The U.S. version of the Gnote1 is also dual-core and uses the Qualcomm MSM8660 Snapdragon @ 1.5GHz…

  • Please correct: Note 2 is 1280×720 (16:9), while Note 1 is 1280×800 (16:10).

    • J Janz

      Which drops ppi even more: ~267 =/

      • jag

        but rgb pixels actually improve picture quality

  • Michalis_Mclaren

    I have samsung galaxy s 1 and i have bought it because of its amazing screen. Later i bought tha galaxy note for the same reason(the super amoled HD). I dont find any reason to think of going for the note 2 because there is nothing prototype. Mabe the galaxy note 3 or galaxy S4 make me spent my $$$$.

    • I recommend you the S3, there is a HUGE difference compared to the S1… :-)

      • bealb

        um what about the Note?

  • ready now

    What carriers will have the note 2 ? Come on Sprint if you want to keep me, make me happy!

  • The Galaxy Note 2 screen is significantly better, for 720p videos. Because of the 80 extra pixels on the original note, 720p video would only use about 4.77″ of the 5.3″ screen, with 80 pixels of black top and bottom. However, when you play 720p video on the Galaxy Note 2, you would use the entire 5.55″ screen with no black bars top and bottom. So, for 720p video only, you are gaining 0.78 inches diagonally. It is a pretty huge improvement for video watching.

    • Yesssss!! :-) Guess what I was thinking when I switched from iPhone 4 to the S3… HD videos on the 3.5″ screen with black borders were so small, they look almost twice as large on the S3!!! :-)

      • bealb

        This is about the Note2

        • Jamie Cottrell

          note 2 is bigger version of s3

      • Luis Leon

        And how is this relevant!?! Besides, considering how new android phones come out every month, your GS3 is old!

    • Niko

      It still has a lower resolution and you can always stretch any video to the full size of the screen. So this is hardly an advantage. All they wanted to do was to reduce the width.

      • The width is what makes the phone too big to use in one hand. I prefer the larger screen and the Note 2 will be that much easier to handle with one hand.

    • I think it strange all this talk about the screen, they have droped 80 pixels in width, it’s got a lot less pixels on the screen, 1280×800 n7000 1280×720 n7100, yes, it’s gone from 16:10 to 16:9, no big deal for most, but the screen has lost 102,400 pixels (80×1280)

      • Cedrik L

        Yes it did, but several tests showed that the screen doesn’t look blurrier or something. It even looked better because it has a full amoled screen without these pen-tile subpixels.

  • shengcai948

  • Dragonfly

    I just brought a slll ….Soo angry for this news.

  • Semp

    Since the SIII only has dual core support in the US market I’m wondering if the Note2 will have the same. I have the OG Note now and I see no reason to upgrade if the US Note2 does not have the Quad Core.

  • angrynerd001

    NOTE 2 DOES NOT USE PENTILE TECHNOLOGY. It’s conformed by close-up shots.

    • sergioosh

      Note2 does use PenTile. It doesn’t have the traditional RGB stripe
      subpixel layout, but 3 subpixel PenTile layout. PenTile doesn’t imply
      RGBG layout!

      • helbert Arkhurst

        repeating it again and again does not make it true. It has 3 subpixels. . IT IS THEREFORE NOT PENTILE! which have 2 subpixels. it has a RGB stripe period, whether they are arranged vertically or horizontally is irrelevant

      • harrold

        Devices that use PenTile RGBG Display

        Nexus One[6]
        HTC Desire (AMOLED variants only)
        Samsung S8000
        Samsung Galaxy S
        Samsung Galaxy S Plus
        Samsung Galaxy S III
        Samsung Galaxy S4
        Samsung Galaxy Note
        Samsung Wave S8500
        Samsung NX10[7]
        Nexus S (Super AMOLED variants only)
        Galaxy Nexus[8]
        Dell Venue Pro
        Nokia N9
        Nokia Lumia 800
        HTC One S
        Pantech Burst

  • hugo

    whaat, how can you not recommend to upgrade? This upgrade is 100 times better than the upgrade from iPhone4 to 4S.

    I loved the idea of galaxy note 1, but the soc was just way too slow, making the OS unsmooth. This main issue is clearly fixed, only this upgrade will make me buy it. Appart from that?

    – 2gb ram
    – better screen
    – software + pen upgraded
    – LTE
    – better battery (yes you will most likely notice it)

    • bealb

      Ugh an Apple hater just what we need, The iPhone has nothing to do with the article about the Note2.

      • Jamie Cottrell

        the point is phone upgrades in general

  • Stankovic

    Is it just me or does the Note II’s display look narrower than the original Note?

    • note1guy

      it certainly does and i don’t like it



    • adil

      contact me i will gift u that i have many of those

      • Paul Patrick

        I am planning to buy note 1 wich has been used for 1 year can i take it? with the price of 15k please tell me

  • This article is so far the best currently available despite some errors and omissions like LTE and Quad Core in North America.

  • Dude, get your facts straight! Galaxy note 2 doesn’t use pentile matrix on it’s display…

    • sergioosh

      Note2 does use PenTile. It doesn’t have the traditional RGB stripe subpixel layout, but 3 subpixel PenTile layout. PenTile doesn’t imply RGBG layout!

        • sergioosh

          not once is it written in those articles, that this isn’t PenTile. Tell me, what makes PenTile arrangement PenTile? :) it’s not RGBG, because RGBW is also a PenTile arrangement. I’m not an expert, and I do not know how PenTile is exactly defined. This is not classic RGB stripe layout- that’s for sure.

          • allseeneye

            Here it is PenTile, research before you criticize:

          • Logical

            Don’t believe everything you read on a Wiki, in fact don’t believe everything you read on the web

            It appears that the original Note did use Pentile but was dropped on the Note 2 and this can be clearly seen in the link above. The Note II clearly does not use Pentile, Not rocket science, the facts are there in the pictures. Don’t believe everything you read at face value, not even if it comes from me ;-) Until a moment ago, I thought Pentile was a purely LCD technology but even I was wrong, see ;-)

          • “not once is it written in those articles, that this isn’t PenTile”

            Are you serious? You couldn’t even read the very first sentence?

            “Plenty of people must’ve been hoping Samsung would fit a non-PenTile screen on the Galaxy Note II and the Koreans delivered.”


        … I think these links should cover it for you. Nuff said….

  • bealb

    The release is so close to the first Note we’re still under contract and can’t update to the Note 2.

    • bealb

      Any cost or release date?

      • Big Dupe

        299 and early November..

  • Useless Mobile Note 2… why Samsung not release more then 8 Mega pixel camera … we bore in that 8 mega pixel camera every mobile are just 8 mega camera… Samsung should release 12 or 18 Mega Camera … Not like NOkia 808… 41 Mega LoL

    • Big Dupe

      Thats because the eye and software combination are maxed out at 8 mp it won’t look any better..

  • Anton R

    Note 1 is for reading and surfing. Note 2 is for Games and Movies. .. Note 1 is a small tablet and Note 2 is a big s3. They both have completely different uses. One for business and the other for entertainment… That is why there is no reason to upgrade from Note1 to Note 2.

    • ace

      great comparison. i am definitely looking for reading and surfing rather than games, etc. thanks!

    • Niko

      Come on… what are you talking about? The original Note has a Dual-core 1.4 GHz CPU!! If that’s for surfing and reading then what are the older single core processors for…? Torch light and mirror applications?

      I own an original Note and can definitely tell you that you can play any 3D game as well as watch FULL HD videos with no lag or any other problem.

    • 5.4Note

      if .2 inches can make that much of a difference, then if the phone is 5.4, would it be perfect for reading, surfing, games, and movies?

    • dil

      yeah, good comparison and that’s why i’ve stuck to the original note; better for reading and surfing. Still, looking forward to what the note 3 will bring to the table.

  • I have some complains aboutOG note, Untill the ICS update note 2 ran smoothly when running touchwiz. Using other launchers like Go launcher would make it clunky while scrolling home screens. After the upgrade I, even touchwiz became clunky and Other launchers as well. Currently using apex launcher. But sammy messed up big time on optimisation. Hope this does not happen in Note II. Also noticed that the S3’s display is really oversaturated. Tried playing temple run on it and it was completely green and yellowish. Hope after using RGB matrix on this one would solve this problem.

  • Clark

    From an orginal G.note owner the design of the 2nd generation is great and all but the specs is only a minimal boost. I was slightly disapointed. I think i’ll stick with my baby and w8 for the 3rd gen. I want better camera much better screen and more battery life. Though the 2gb of ram is love and having a longer s.pen is good for well gripping



  • Rzekomo

    sorry to say, but I learned more from comments than from this article full of mistakes and lack of important details. Good job, commenters!

  • sergioosh

    Galaxy Note2 DOES use pentile matrix. Simply put this screen doesn’t have the traditional RGB stripe layout and that’s why it’s PenTile. The difference when compared to original Note is that Note2 has 3 subpixels


    i like fone sumsang galaxy s ii

  • I use a 64GB microSD card in the Galaxy Note 1 without any problem.

  • SAM

    RAM increased by 1GB. Resolution is better. Speed better than predecessors. What more anyone wants when there is no hype of new smartphones coming in till december. C’mon best choice so far..

  • flipper

    also, i have a 64gb card in my galaxy note 1 and it works fine

  • Will Schmitt

    Samsung lost to Apple? Never seen an American company fight fair or compete fairly on their merits, in 50 years. Apple have no honor.


    I have the Original Note which I bought on 6th June, 2012. Given the Spec and Features of the Galaxy Note 2, I really don’t think it will be wise for me to buy the Note 2. I’ll just wait another year or so for Galaxy Note 3.

  • SamsungLover

    I love the original Samsung Galaxy note. Too bad I cant upgrade it yet!

  • Matrix

    Guys, seriously, Samsung will release NOTE 3 in an year, if you have NOTE 1, just wait and get the NOTE 3 instead of upgrading now. I am pissed this is too soon of an upgrade. I have no issue with NOTE 1, I use it for videos, games and as well as other applications.

    • hii guys i m a indian want to no exact price of note2 in canada.plzzZZ

  • Mario Carter

    Of course good ole over-rated apple, I prefer PC’s over Mac’s like the great majority of people who want trouble free easy operatable equipment; Galaxy Note 2 is comming to settle the score if they market it right, I think apple’s paying them to not mainstream the marketing, but it will also destroy the new Ipad Mini, Althought samsung lost the patent war to apple like all the others and maintains it’s 2nd place crown

  • Param

    they improved the display…what are you on brother…it’s no longer pentile

  • I’ve had the original Galaxy Note and I just got the Galaxy Note 2 about a week ago and every single thing pretty much has been improved especially battery life and even though it has a lower ppi I think the screen on the Galaxy Note 2 looks much better. The Colors are so vibrant and the whites are so bright and crisp, the best screen I’ve seen on a device and I’ve had many Android devices. – KID ANDROID. ( Team.Android.Canada)

  • Topcat488

    I agree 100% with the author of this article, Mr. Mike Andrici. I decided not to upgrade from the OG-Note, mainly because of the 16:9 ratio of the new Note II (big phone). I think the fatter 16:10 ratio was perfect for this phablet. And now that it’s being upgraded to Android 4.1 JB, with added features like Multi-Window & Air View (and more), I feel I made the right choice. I hope the Note III will be a 16:10 ratio next year, so I don’t have to think twice to upgrade… ;)

  • Logical

    As far as I can see, the Note II does (like all AMOLED’s) does not use pentile and I’d never even heard of it until now. Why am I so convinced?. Easy!, with as little as 5 minutes research, it seems Pentile is an LCD technology. Not going to explain how LCD works other than it uses a backlight/daylight (transflective). OLED is a purely transmissive technology, just like plasma and old CRT displays. That extra subpixel? it’s clear. OLED doesn’t use backlighting, each OLED subpixel is its own emitter, a single LED to the layman. Repeating something over and over won’t make it fact but it will make you look stupid. Now I’ve got a question for you, where did you get the pentile claim from?


    Samsung Galaxy SIII has its own unique compared with other phones. I like this one…

  • Raneesh

    Does anyone know how to improve the audio qulaity of note 2.
    I have N8 also the audio qulaity is way better than Note2

  • It is a pretty huge improvement for video watching.

  • Jan Hooper

    Yeah, the Galaxy Note phones are nice and big but very heavy. I wanted the Note 2 (on At&T, 4GLTE) here for my Dallas real estate work but when I felt it I knew it would end up on the floor or outside on the ground a lot because of the weight. Weight, battery life: still things the manufacturers have to work on.

  • Pahrisu

    How much now the price of galaxy note 2 tq