Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (updated)

August 30, 2012
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- UPDATED AUGUST 29 2012 -

Samsung, the only Android device manufacturer that has reported a profit last year, basically holds every other Android OEM in check thanks to the insane commercial success of its Galaxy line of Android devices. In addition to the overall over-par quality of Samsung handsets, another reason why the South Korean manufacturer is so profitable is the fact that it was able to bring a lot of diversity among its smartphone offerings, from the entry-level Galaxy Mini series on to the almost mid-level Galaxy Ace series and topping it off with high-end devices such as the last two Google Nexus smartphones or the insanely popular Galaxy S family.

Sure, the tight grip Samsung has on global marketing channels, combined with its fruitful partnerships with worldwide carriers also contributed to its success – taking over the global Android smartphone market. But what probably mattered the most is the fact that the company has not limited its top-end smartphone offerings to what one might call “conventional Android smartphones”.

Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2: The Context

Arguably one the most popular – and one the most profitable – smartphones Samsung has launched thus far is the newest member of the Galaxy S line, namely the Samsung Galaxy S3. Recent reports claim that Samsung expects to sell a bit under 20 million Galaxy S3 smartphones by fall 2012, an impressive number given that the S3 was released just a couple of months ago. Although the numbers are as big as they come, it’s exactly what you’d expect for the best Android smartphone currently on the market, given that the market for “conventional smartphones” is as large as it has ever been.

But what really impresses about Samsung’s tactics is the commercial success met by the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, the smartphone with the largest display that Samsung ever built, one that totals in at over 7 million units sold this far. The market for such a device was pretty much non-existent at the time it was launched. Given that not many Android manufacturers have since ventured into the “smartphones with huge displays” market – with the exception of LG and its Optimus Vu phablet – the second incarnation of the Galaxy Note has every chance to sell much better than the original, now that the public has realized the utility of such devices.

Update: official Galaxy Note 2 press image

 

While not officially announced (although almost confirmed by Samsung Arabia not that long ago), we have a pretty good image of what to expect from the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Just like was the case with the Google Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 before it, I’m willing to bet that the Galaxy Note 2 rumor roundup we have recently published will turn out to be at least 80% spot on.

Update: The Galaxy Note 2 was officially unveiled on August 29 during a special media event held in Berlin, Germany, so we came back to update our comparison accordingly.

Now that I’ve hopefully managed to give context to this versus article, it is time to start the Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 specs and features battle. The fight includes four equally important rounds: display, internal hardware, Android OS version and pricing and release dates. Let’s get it on!

gs3 vs note 2

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S3 features a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD PenTile display running at a native resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, meaning the pixel per inch ratio (PPI) rests at 306. If rumors turn out to come true, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will feature a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display (most likely PenTile as well), although the resolution is pretty much a mystery at this point.

Given that the original Galaxy Note used a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution (5.3-inch display, 285 PPI), a bump in resolution should occur if Samsung wants to make full use of the main principle behind the original Galaxy Note, namely a big but crisp screen.

A 1600 x 900 pixel resolution is also possible (and roughly equally probable) and would obviously be a whole lot better as it would bring the PPI ratio to 333PPI, while dreams of a 1920 x 1080 display on the Galaxy Note should be postponed until the Galaxy Note 3 will be released, probably sometime in Q4 2013. It’s not that I believe Samsung is not able to come up with a 5.5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED PenTile display, as the company is considerably ahead of everyone in the Super AMOLED field, but why would Samsung invest more money to come up with a smartphone sporting a 400.53 PPI display, when the current standard for top-end smartphones rests well under 350 PPI. As the price of a top-end smartphone is fairly consistent across all platforms and manufacturers, Samsung would only end up making less money, as a 5.5-inch 1080p display is surely a lot more expensive to make than a 5.5 incher running at a 1600 x 900 resolution. After all, Samsung is a business whose aim is to make as much money as possible.

In conclusion, you shouldn’t expect a difference in quality of the display (contrast, viewing angles, brightness and resolution) between the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2. The only difference (and it’s by far the biggest one) is that the Galaxy S3 is more pocketable and comfortable to hold in one hand, while the Galaxy Note 2 will be much more suited for viewing media, thanks to the extra diagonal inch of display real estate, albeit not as easy to use with a single hand.

Update: The Galaxy Note 2 actually comes with exactly the 5.5-inch touchscreen display we knew it would pack, sporting a resolution of 1280 x 720.

Hardware

From my perspective, the most credible rumor claims that the Galaxy Note 2 will feature the same Exynos 4 SoC (Quad-core 1.4 1.6 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU and Mali-400MP GPU) that you can find in the international version of the Galaxy S3. While the Galaxy S3 features 1GB of RAM in its international version, chances are that the Galaxy Note 2 will come with comes with 2GB of RAM, although we can’t be sure for now. Overall, I don’t expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to come with more processing power than the Galaxy S3, although there is a chance that I may turn out to be wrong once the Galaxy Note 2 is officially unveiled.

Pricing and Release Date

Judging on how prices usually evolve in the mobile world, I would expect the Galaxy Note 2 to be priced around the current levels of the Galaxy S3’s prices, which is roughly the price of the original Note at the time of its release. However, you should keep in mind that the Samsung Galaxy S3 price will most likely drop a bit by the time the Galaxy Note 2 is actually launched.

If the rumored September/October timeframe for the Galaxy Note 2 release date turns out to be real (which could very well be the case), the Galaxy S3 will already be a 4- or 5-month old device, as it was released back in late May. From my experience, the perfect timing to buy a top-end smartphone is about six months after its release date, when all sorts of deals and special offers start showing up.

Update: The Galaxy Note 2 will hit European stores in October, although actual release dates are not available yet. U.S. launch details and pricing for either region have not been mentioned during the media event. 

Android OS

The Samsung Galaxy S3 runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and Samsung made no announcement regarding a future Jelly Bean update, although common sense dictates that it should arrive by the end of this autumn.

As Google has officially unveiled Android 4.1 Jelly Bean in late June, it would seem reasonable for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to be released with the latest Android version on board, although it is also possible for it to come out with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and then get an update to Jelly Bean. Hopefully, Samsung will decide to go for Jelly Bean from the start.

Update: Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 2 with Android 4.1 on board.

Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2: A Pre-Emptive Conclusion

As you can see, chances are that the actual differences between these two smartphones will turn out to be not that important. Personally, I think of the Galaxy Note 2 as a bigger version of the Galaxy S3. Reports claim the design will be similar, the specs are rumored to be similar – and these rumors are backed up by logic as well. If you have small hands or don’t usually watch a lot of media on your smartphone, the best decision would be to get the Samsung Galaxy S3. If working with a 5.5-inch display and carrying a device with a fairly larger footprint is not a daunting task for you, go for the Galaxy Note 2. If the Note 2 follows the path we can forecast, the decision will surprisingly be that simple to make.

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Update: We have a Galaxy Note 2 vs Galaxy S3 comparison video for you:

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