Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

October 24, 2013
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    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is one of the hottest smartphones of the year, and it’s only natural to wonder how this high-end device stacks up against the competition, including Samsung’s other flagship, the Galaxy S4.

    For sure, the Note 3 and the Galaxy S4 belong to different classes, but they also have a lot of things in common, including many of the specifications and most software features. If you don’t mind the size difference and if you don’t care about the S Pen, choosing between the Note 3 and the Galaxy S4 can be difficult. Worry not, we’re here to help.

    Related content: Best Samsung Galaxy Note 3 cases

    How do the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy S4 compare? We take a look.

    Design and Build

    samsung galaxy note 3 galaxy s4 aa 5

    As has been the case with most Samsung releases over the past year, the design aesthetics of both smartphones are quite similar, but the Note 3 features a more rectangular design.

    Considering the fact that the Galaxy Note 3 features a larger display, at 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm and weighing 168 grams, the device isn’t that much bigger than the Galaxy S4, which has dimensions of 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and weighs 130g, with the difference in thickness and weight almost negligible.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (37)

    While both smartphones are similar from the front and sides (with the same silver rim on both), turning them over is where the separation begins. Moving away from the tired old glossy plastic on most of its smartphones, including the Galaxy S4, Samsung changed things around with the Galaxy Note 3.

    The Note 3 features a faux leather back cover, complete with a faux stitch around the edges, which feels soft, and makes it very easy to grip. Granted, it’ still plastic with a different texture, but the change is enough for the Galaxy Note 3 to stand out in a Samsung smartphone lineup that is mostly uniform.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (29)

    The key difference here is handling – the Galaxy S4 is a large phone itself, but you can use it with one hand in most situations. Samsung deserves credit for giving it a small footprint, making it one of the smallest 5-inch phones on the market. In the opposite corner, the Note 3 is unabashedly large and, while Samsung equipped it with a one-hand mode, it’s clearly a phone that you need to hands to use.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (2)

    If easy handling is important for you, the Galaxy S4 seems like the better choice.

    Display

    Both the 5-inch Samsung Galaxy S4 and the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 feature a Super AMOLED Full HD (1080p) display, with there being an obvious difference in pixel density because of the size, with 441 ppi and 383 ppi respectively.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (35)

    With both displays, we get the same vibrancy and high saturation that leads to bright colors, and a great experience overall. The difference in pixel density shouldn’t mislead you: it’s very hard to observe a difference between the screens of the Note 3 and the Galaxy S4, especially since you’ll likely use the Note from a greater distance.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (10)

    The Note 3 outshines, literally, the Galaxy S4. The Note 3′s display has the highest brightness levels of any smartphone, which is especially important for those who use their phones a lot in bright sunlight.

    Performance and hardware

    Similarly to the Galaxy S4, there are two versions of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The LTE version features a 2.3 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, while the 3G version will run on a 1.9 Ghz Octa core processor (quad-core 1.9 Ghz ARM Cortex-A15 + quad-core 1.7Ghz ARM Cortex-A7). The Galaxy Note 3 also boasts 3GB of RAM, an Adreno 330 GPU, and 32GB or 64GB internal storage, which is further expandable via microSD up to 64GB.

    On the other hand, the Galaxy S4 features a 1.9 Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 600, or 1.7Ghz octa core Exynos 5410 processor, 2GB RAM, and 16/32/64 GB internal storage with microSD expansion.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (5)

    It’s obvious that the Galaxy Note 3 is the more powerful of the two devices, and it’s good to see Samsung drop the 16GB option, and move to 32GB for the base model. The 3GB of RAM on the Note 3 is a world first, and, with all the multitasking that the device is capable of, it’s a welcome addition. With that said, the Galaxy S4 still chugs along quite reliably and there are very few situations when the Snapdragon 600 proc is clearly outdone by the 800 on the Note 3.

    Besides the updated processing components, the Note 3 and the Galaxy S4 are quite similar. The two Samsung flagships share the same rich assortment of sensors and connectivity options, from the IR blaster to the barometer. The S Pen is clearly the Note 3′s defining feature, but if you choose to not use it, you will still benefit from Air View and the other little features that exploit the phone’s proximity sensors.

    Camera

    The situation is similar on both sides here: the Note 3 and the Galaxy S4 feature almost identical 13MP rear shooters, with a BSI sensor, LED flash, zero shutter lag and Smart Stabilization. Like the Galaxy S4, the Galaxy Note 3 camera is loaded with features, including Drama Shot, Sound & Shot, Animated Photo, Eraser, Best Photo, Best Face, Beauty Face, HDR, Panorama, and more. Both smartphones also feature the same 2MP front camera.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (26)

    If you want a great camera, both devices will deliver the same nice experience; everything you can do on the Galaxy S4, you can do on the Note 3 as well. In bright light, images are great, though the lack of optical image stabilization is a downside in lower light and when shooting moving subjects.

    Battery

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 features a larger 3,200 mAh battery to power the larger display and faster processor, compared to the 2,600 mAh battery of the Galaxy S4. In both cases, the battery is removable.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (31)

    Despite its demanding components, the Note remains king of battery life. We found that we could easily go through a day of regular usage, and thus escape from the tyranny of the nightly charge. For some users, the same will be possible with the Galaxy S4, but it’s more of a gamble. The Note 3 takes the lead here.

    Software

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on-board, which, until the recently announced Android 4.4 KitKat is released, is still the latest version of Android. Most Galaxy S4 units, on the other hand, are still on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, though the Android 4.3 update has begun at the moment of this writing.

    Of course, it wouldn’t be a Samsung device without TouchWiz UI and its numerous features. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 includes all Galaxy S4 features, plus some new features such as Scrapbook, S Finder, Pen Window, and My Magazine, along with a lot of new (upgraded) S-Pen related apps, such as Air Command, Action Memo, and Screenwrite. You can check out the complete list of features in detail here.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (32)

    Without the S Pen features, the Note 3 and the Galaxy S4 are quite comparable, though the big difference is the larger screen on the Note, which, we think, really suits the large elements of Samsung’s overlay. But it’s the S Pen and the slew of associated software features that make the Note 3 special. From the S Finder, which lets you search through your handwritten notes, to the Action Memo, which turns your scribblings into actionable keywords, and the handy Scrapbook, the new features on the Note 3 are great for work on the go.

    Pricing

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (6)

    The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been on the market for close to six months now, but, as of now, the price you can get it for it’s still the one from launch — around $600 unlocked, and $100-$200 on contract on most carriers. With the holiday season upon us, we may see some price cuts on the Galaxy S4, though it’s not something set in stone.

    The Note 3 is clearly more expensive, though not unjustifiably so. You can get the S Pen-equipped device for around $800 unlocked and $150-$300 on carrier contracts.

    More Note 3 coverage
    Wrap Up

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is an absolute beast of a smartphone, and if the mandatory two-handed use isn’t a concern, is definitely a great choice. Samsung’s latest and greatest phone features the very best specifications on the market, has an impressive display, a competent camera, and pretty much everything you could want in terms of sensors and connectivity.

    For the most part, the more compact Galaxy S4 holds its own admirably against its new sibling, though the early 2013 specifications may not cut it for the hardware junkies amongst us. On the software side, save for the S Pen specific features, the S4 is on par with the Note 3, and the same can be said about the camera. The Note 3 leads though in the battery life competition and, thanks to the S Pen, is more flexible and powerful.

    The substantial difference of price again levels the scales. Depending on where you get it from, the Note 3 can set you back $200 more than the S4, but for many, the added performance, superb screen, and powerful stylus will more than justify the investment.

     

    Comments

    • http://www.facebook.com/abdullah.naji1 Abdullah Naji

      Awesome! My next phone

    • Ivan Myring

      383 PPI, not 338

      • dodz

        387

    • SILVERFOX

      I have the Note 2 and I love it. This will be my next cell for sure. #anythingapplesucks

      • Hakim Leveille

        I agree with everything said especially the hashtag

        • Brandon Miranda

          Fandroids

          • Tuấn Ankh

            He came to an appropriate website though. ;)

    • IanDickson

      Strongly debating. While bigger, better, faster is ALWAYS nice, I would have to get a nice chunk of change selling my Note II to make up for the Note 3.

    • Lan-Ping

      ARM Processor on Exynos is a ARM Cortex A15 not A9

    • Patty

      When do it come out for tmobile

    • Dean

      What about the speaker? Is it louder than S4?

    • Leonard

      Fuck of my s4 is better it have 441 p pi 13 mp camera same features and an amazing look and design

      • Millergr

        You forgot the 4k video camera recording which is awesome.

    • MoodiQ

      So will the note 3 have the smart scroll/smart pause/and all the features that were in the s4 or not ?

      • dodz

        everything the s4 has also the note 3 has and its additional features

    • Jonrts

      Camera software is not the same. Note 3 records 4K@30FPS, FHD@60FPS, HD@120FPS. S4 doesn’t. Note 3 is a very boosted version of S4. It also features USB 3.0 and a non-back speaker. Fix this: S4 octa is clocked at 1.6Ghz(you wrote 1.7). Note 3 A7 is clocked at 1.3Ghz(you wrote 1.7 again)

      • Amine Elouakil

        A7 is SoC on the iPhone 5S and their new iPad. The S800 is clocked at 2.3Ghz.
        There is an S4 S800 Version.

      • dontbsobutthurt

        Actually if you look at almost every video reviewer aside from here you’ll see that the S4 has an overall better camera than the Note 3 in both low light and outdoor environments Even though the hardware is identical the Note 3 suffered from a bit of quality degradation compared to the s4 but is still oobviously a rad camera

    • needNEWreviewer

      Damn this author is hella dumb waaay toooo maaaaany mistakes

    • Guest

      Real men still use the Galaxy S2 tmobile variant with the horrible dual core S3 snapdragon cpu and 480p display like I am.

    • Brandon Miranda

      PICK ONE

    • Junior Rosario

      I Like the S4′s formfactor and ease of Use, although for some reason I think the Screen is slightly better on the N3.

    • Leonardo Rojas

      No RAM usage details for the Note 3, again :( How neglected is this detail in every review :(

    • momfrom ny

      Got note 2 and love it, getting note 3 for my upgrade on feb first. Can hardly wait, either phone blows any iphone away. This is coming from an ex iphone lover.

      • Norma

        everything the s4 has also the note 3 has and its additional features

    • logo1990

      Recently I was extremely low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet. I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills!! I’m so glad, I did this!!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – vlhc

    • Grammar Nazi

      *grammar nazi*
      Should read “two hands,” instead reads “to hands.” Just a thought. 8th paragraph.

    • abby

      I want the note 3 really bad ._. ..Cause it’s so wonderful!! c:

    • gamer

      Note 3 is a awesome device, but I am happy with my s4 .

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