Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2

March 15, 2013
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Arguably the most important Samsung announcement of the year has just passed earlier today, as the South Korean manufacturer has raised the curtain on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Now that the Galaxy S4 is official, we take the time to compare it against the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and learn how the two size up.

As the freshly unveiled Samsung Galaxy S4 is the first high-end smartphone that the South Korean manufacturer has unveiled since the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a comparison between the two should reveal the progress of Samsung’s technology in the past six months.

It’s no news by now that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was a major hit for Samsung, as the second generation phablet has received positive feedback not only from the online tech media but, if you take into account a few sales reports, regular consumers as well. By the looks of it, we’re in for an interesting battle.

Additionally, it is my belief that this article might help some of our readers to better understand the differences between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, should they ponder upon buying one of the two.

For a video comparison, you can jump to the bottom of this article. Those of you interested in learning all the details might want to bear with us as we divide this battle in four equally important rounds: display, design and build quality, internal hardware and Android version.

Specs


Specifications
Samsung Galaxy S4 Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Dimensions 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm130g 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm (5.95 x 3.17 x 0.37 in)183 g (6.46 oz)
Display 4.99-inch, Super AMOLED1920 x 1080 Full HD, 441ppi 5.5-inch Super AMOLED720 x 1280, 267ppi
CPU and GPU International version

  • Samsung Exynos 5 Octa
  • Quad-core A15 (1.6GHz) + Quad-core A7 (1.2GHz)
  • PowerVR SGX544MP3

US version

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T
  • Quad-core Krait 300
  • 1.9Ghz
  • Adreno 320
Exynos 4412 QuadQuad-core 1. 6GHzMali-400MP
RAM 2GB 2GB
Storage 16GB/32GB/64GB internalmicroSD, up to 64GB 16/32GBmicroSD, up to 64GB
Cameras 13MP rear, LED flash, autofocus, burst mode, Shot with Sound, Dual record, Smart Erase 8MP rear,  autofocus, LED flash1.9MP front, 1080p, 30fps
Battery 2600mAh, removable 3100 mAh16h talk time (3G)
Networks GSM, UMTS, HSPA+/LTE GSM, UMTS, CDMAHSPA+, LTE
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n acWi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, NFCBluetooth 4.0 A2DPmicroUSB, MHL 2, infraredA-GPS Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, nWi-Fi hotspotmicroUSB, DLNA, MHLNFCA-GPSBluetooth 4.0
Operating system Android 4.2 TouchWiz UIAir View, Smart Scroll, Smart Pause,S Translate, Knox, S Drive Android 4.1.2 TouchWiz Nature

Display

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The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 4.99 inch Super AMOLED display that runs at a 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution, at a 441 Pixel Per Inch (PPI) ratio.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 uses a 5.55 inch SAMOLED panel that displays 1280 by 720 pixels at a lesser 267 PPI ratio.

The only noticeable difference (besides the size, of course) is an extra crispness on the Galaxy S4 display. Both panels are very bright and display good contrast ratios, but they also bear the mark of the traditional issue with SAMOLED displays, meaning that color reproduction is not very accurate. Some can live with these oversaturated colors, some can’t.

Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy S4 wins this round thanks to the enhanced crispness of its display.

Design and Build Quality

S4-build-quality

Samsung seems to be very fond of the design language that they’ve used on the Galaxy S3, and then on the Galaxy Note 2, as the Samsung Galaxy S4, at least from the front, appears to be little more than a Galaxy S3 with a larger display. But if you examine the bezel and the periphery of the device, you will find that Samsung is opting for higher quality materials here, giving it a more refined and luxurious aesthetic and feel.

Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 make use of the same rounded corners, the same glossy plastic back and the same navigational button style (a hardware button flanked by two capacitive buttons). The metallic frame that the Galaxy S4 uses is a welcomed addition, although some were expecting a bit more from Samsung in the design segment.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 measures 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm (5.95 x 3.17 x 0.37 in) and weighs 183 g (6.46 oz), while the Samsung Galaxy S4 measures and weighs in at an incredibly svelte 130 grams.

Verdict: Some love larger devices like the Note 2, whereas some don’t. Samsung has managed to fit a very large display with seemingly higher quality build materials into a device that is substantially lighter, too. Our hats go off to Samsung here for making it so compact, yet a large, high resolution display. Plus that thin bezel is a very welcome addition for people, too!

Internal Hardware

Galaxy-S4-vs-Galaxy-Note-2-

CPU, GPU & RAM

For the international variant, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will use a Samsung Exynos 5 Octa SoC, one that consists out of a quad-core A15 CPU and a quad-core A7 CPU in big.little configuration, a GPU and 2GB of RAM memory. For LTE markets like the US, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 SoC, which is the one depicted and benchmarked in the image above.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is based on Samsung’s Exynos 4 System on a Chip (SoC), one that combines a 1.6GHz quad-core A9 CPU, a Mali 400MP GPU and 2GB of RAM. Benchmark results as well as real life performance have proven the Exynos 4 as the fastest chip for the main part of 2012.

Six months is a very long time in the mobile device market, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 seems to be the faster smartphone of the two, whether or not it’s the LTE specific one with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 or whether it’s the international variant with the Exynos Octa SoC.

Internal and Expandable Storage

Both the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S4 can work with microSD cards of up to 64GB in size and are available with either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage.

Cameras

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The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a 13MP primary camera and a 2MP secondary camera for video calling, an upgrade from the Galaxy Note 2 and its pair of 8MP and 2MP cameras.

Battery

To power all its components, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 uses a 3100 mAh battery and features great battery life. In the other corner, the Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 2600 mAh battery, but we’ll have to wait for more time with the device before we can assess its battery life rates.

Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy S4 is likely to have comparable or better battery life compared to the Note 2, due to its more efficient SoC, because it has a smaller display, and because it uses a more advanced display technology compared to the Note 2.

Android Version and Software Tweaks

Both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box. The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a newer version of the TouchWiz custom Android UI, although only the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has access to Samsung’s range of S-Pen enabled features and apps.

Verdict: Draw

Video

Conclusion

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As one could expect before Samsung’s announcement, at the end of the day, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is inferior to the Samsung Galaxy S4 in terms of display quality and internal hardware. Despite this, I personally know a bunch of Galaxy Note 2 owners who couldn’t give up the extra screen real estate and S-Pen capabilities for nothing in the world.

What do you think about this? Between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 which one would you choose and why? Voice a thought in the comment section below and let us know!

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