Why I returned the Galaxy S4 – Galaxy Note 3 Fever

by: Darcy LaCouveeMay 10, 2013

samsung-galaxy-s4-vs-galaxy-note-2-bezels-straight featured

As an endless consumer of the latest mobile technology, I’m both privileged and cursed to experience the latest and greatest, generally before most people in the world get to. Ah, but before you start cursing me – please consider the affliction with which I am cursed. I have a confession to make.

As a power user of mobile technology, I like to see how far I can push the limits of what my devices can do. Only upon spilling coffee all over my computer did I realize how much work I could actually get done on my Note 2 and Nexus 10.

So what is my curse? I’m hooked on big ass phones.


The AMOLED panel on the S4 [right] is the best in the world. It will be brought to the Note 3, in a larger form.

The Galaxy S4’s display is, beyond the shadow of any doubt, the best AMOLED display ever made. Some say it’s the best mobile display created, ever. While both assertions remain in the realm of personal opinion, there’s no doubt that Samsung continues to hold the crown in this particular category, and at last count, dominates over 90% of all AMOLED panel sales, worldwide.

So why did I return my Galaxy S4? A reasonable question, dear reader. Let’s see why.

Hooked on that thin Bezel, baby


Folks, screen real estate and pixel density are like smoking addictive drugs. Once you get a taste it’s very difficult to go back to the ‘weaker’ stuff.

But poor and credibility damaging analogies aside, I really wanted to love the S4. I tried so desperately to feel an attraction to it, partly because that’s what we are as consumers of mobile technology – always looking for the next best thing. Innovation and the relentless pursuit of ever improved technologies are what drives consumerism as both a culture, and a practice. And it’s all fine. Change is good, and, if you consider the top tier phones of yesteryear, then you will undoubtedly realize that we have come so far in such a short time.

Some still very excellent handsets from yesteryear

Some still very excellent handsets from yesteryear

For me, the Galaxy Note 2 scratches a special itch. When I leave my computer, I feel guilty. I think, “Oh, I won’t be able to get any work done.” But then I let my fingers grace over my left pocket and I feel that good old familiar strong, rectangular shape, and I am comforted that I have a device that works as hard as I do, and one that can take a licking, too. It remains as the only device that I’ve been able to drop, both in the video below, and in my actual life that has been able to sustain the savage abuse I subject my devices to. Sorry folks, I can’t help it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen what happens when devices are dropped that my perspective is a bit altered. The bottom line is this – my lust for a new device will not be vanquished until I have the Galaxy Note 3 in my hands. I think there’s a special kind of geek out there that can appreciate what I’m laying down. You are among friends, Note 2 lover. You’re reading the words of one right now. You have those that value style and aesthetics. You have those that value simplicity and build quality. And then you have power users that simply demand more.


The only caveat I have about the Galaxy Note 2, and devices in its class, are when you truly only have access to one hand. For me, this problem is quite limited, because I don’t use my device in a passive fashion. I dominate them, control them, and make them do my bidding. This requires two hands, more or less. I am a creator of information, not a passive, swip and swipe consumer.

I'm super hooked on thin bezels, bro. Loving me LG's Optimus G Pro

I’m super hooked on thin bezels, bro. Loving me LG’s Optimus G Pro

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. We live in exciting times. Competition has never been as fierce between manufacturers. While much of the market is controlled by the two major players Samsung and Apple, there remains opportunities for those that can strike the right balance of excellent build quality, the latest technology, and by aggressively pricing their devices.

Cheers, guys, and thanks for reading Android Authority. We work around the clock to serve you, mobile device lover! Bring on the Note 3! How about you? Love your Nexus 4? iPhone 5? HTC One? What’s the perfect size for you? What is the single most important thing that stands out for you when you choose your device? You know what to do below!

  • Neil Ross Goco

    Me? I’m waiting for Android 4.2.2 on my Note 2. I’m sure almost, if not all features on the GS 4 will come to Note 2 and such.

  • vampyren

    Personally i wanted to love note but its just a bit to big to carry around. I love S4 myself. Only thing i dont understand is what is it you can do with note2 that you couldn’t do with S4? If you only meant the drop test than its called luck :) try dropping it face down and we will see how it goes :)

    • Tomcat

      Try writing a note on the back or the front of your pictures try making a technical sketch with dimensions and all.
      Only a few days ago I took a picture on a construction site, add on the back dimensions (kind of augmented reality style because the pictures is semi-transparent from the bak side), send the picture to my office by mail and when i arrived at the office the drawing was there, waiting for the check up. I loved it!
      You should try also using AutoCAD WS. Possible even on a S 3 but on a note with a pen….the real thing, baby! :).

      • vampyren

        ok you have obviously special needs but not everyone need that :)

        But its very much so doable, i have a thick pen that is more meant for browsing but to show you my point i tried it out on a picture which was actually pretty small also so in worst case scenario i made the video :) had to hold my iphone in one hand and rest the phone on the leg so its just to prove my point its very much just as doable as note.
        if you use the same pen as note you get the same result i’m sure ;)
        The semi transparent i dont know if its possible but thats just software nothing special about note, will check later to see if i have it also, my battery is dead after lots of gaming :D

        • Note3Rulz

          i sent my girlfriend a video me drawing her birthday cake right before her eyes and talking romantic poems at the same time. (thank u galaxy note 2!) then posted it on her Facebook timeline. lets just say i got lucky that night.. :)

          • youpla

            She got lucky too if you used your S-Stick…
            Sorry, I go away ^^

          • vampyren

            ROFL :D

    • freedomspopular

      Mine’s dropped face down a few times. The battery and back cover fly off every time. No noticeable damage except for a tiny ding on the bottom of the frame. Pretty good for “cheap plastic.”

      • vampyren

        The thing is the glass on Note2 is not better, as a matter a fact S4 has gorilla glass 3 so its a matter of luck. If you drop the exactly the same and they hit the surface exactly the same way the result should be in favor of S4 but all test i seen is just pure luck.

        Even a tiny stone on a flat surface can be a factor which not always shows on videos….

  • tomn1ce

    I’m waiting on the next Motorola device and G-Note 3. The only way I would buy the G-Note 3 is if it has the same overall size of the G-Note 2 or no bigger than 3-5mm. Lets see what’s on the menu by the end of the year…

    • Coelacanth

      I’ve an SGN1, I love it.
      I’m waiting for the SGN3 which will be awesome.
      You know the real next big thing to own.

  • Dean

    note 3 all the way!

  • SamerKurdi

    Im also waiting for Note 3, not just for the screen size, but the STYLUS, which I love. Buying a phone without a stylus will not work for me anymore.

    • Blaine Magee

      I used to have a HTC Tilt. That phone was awesome. Good ole Windows Mobile 6. It was the first phone that I had that had a stylus and it was so nice to use when trying to select things on that tiny screen.

      • neohemp

        I had the Tilt and Tilt 2, we should be Tilt brothers

  • MasterMuffin

    Next Nexus for me. I just want to try Nexus because it sounds so awesome, I’ve always had AOSP roms on my devices anyways so no difference (liquidsmooth FTW)

  • I bought on a S3 last year, and until some days ago, I was thinking about to buy S4. Now, I’m thinking to sell my s3 and buy a Note 2 or waiting a Note 3… Really don’t know, but i think the S-series won’t work for my anymore..

    • I have the s3. I like the s4. But I think I have to wait for the Note3 – specifically for the stylus and the bigger screen.

    • lil bit

      I advice against the Note 2, the low PPI destroys it. I can fit more content on the screen of my Xperia Z than my wifes Note 2, because the superior clarity allows for smaller fonts, and they are still more readable on the smaller display due to the high PPI. Going below 300 PPI is always a bad idea, and then i dlont mean the S3 is good just because it has 300+ PPI, quite the oposite because of the pentile matrix, only green supixels have 300+ PPI. Must compare to true RGB displays with 300+ PPI, and then the Note 2 is quite disappointing for reading.

      Wait for Note 3. But make sure you need the S-pen and the samsung bloat, if not you will probably like me be happier with an Xperia Z or similar phone, personally i could never go back to Note 2 after using Xperia Z, the Z is vastly superior, FOR ME.

      • asadian

        I disagree. I find it much easier to read smaller font on my note 2 Than even my wife’s new htc one. Text that you need to zoom in on with the note is no more legible on the htc.

        The note 2 also displays more content than the htc in both ebooks and Internet browsing. So your comment of”low ppi destroys the note 2″ is completely false. It leafs me to believe your just parroting the ppib is everything mantra.

        Ask any professional who uses the note 2 for business. We will be glad to tell you how much of a good send this big screen has been.

  • Tomcat

    I have my Note 2 for a few month and a Note 8″ on it’s way. I love them big and I love them capable to to help me do my work.

  • Abednico Mogale

    Homie my note 2 over any phone any day….and the possibility of the note 3 well that will surely give me an orgsm when it comes out!

  • Anthony Hurley

    I completely agree with you. I have Note 2 and can’t wait for the Note 3 because I have become addicted to big screens and the whole Note package. I can’t stand smaller screens now, I think the S3 is small now

    • Wade06

      Ditto, as a note and now note 2 owner i could never go back to a sub 5″ screen.

      The rumor seems to be a 5.99″ screen for the note 3. A few quick calcs assuming the same SGS4 bezel widths show that the note 3 would:

      – be 158.7 x 82.2mm (7.6mm longer and 1.7mm wider than the Note 2)

      – have a screen resolution of 367ppi at 1920×1080

      – have 17% more screen area than the Note 2 and 44% more than the SGS4 :-)

  • I’m holding out mainly because of Tegra 4 and I want to see what’s coming. Note 3 sure does look interesting, but if it’s the same design and material as previous Samsung “high end” phones, then I most likely will be getting something else.
    Besides, Note 3 is not the only big thing coming this year.

    • You are right. I also have that feeling. Some surprise products maybe coming in the next few months. I can sacrifice my Note3 budget for an 8″ or smaller surface pro.

    • Ms Dynamo

      Thumbs down for you.

      • What for? I’m no fanboy, I was just stating facts. If new Sony turns out to be as rumored then I know where my money is going.

      • lil bit

        Why, are you gonna force him to to get a Note 3? I had Note 2 and would never go back to it, the Xperia Z is taking much better care of my needs. Good for you if GN3 is the best thing ever for your needs, but dont expect all of us to go for XXL size, bloated and tasteless UI, “features” and S-apps that do not work or are not needed or both, and an S-Pen that we do not need.

    • lil bit

      Seriously disagree about the Tegra 4, i will never again touch any Tegra devices, the lag and stuttering is insane, hard to grasp that Tegra 3 benchmarks quite well and still are THAT useless in real life?

      About big things coming this year, you are right. Note 3 is not much of interest since i already had a Note 2 and fail to see whats so great about it. No, Sony Honami comes to mind for me, if half the rumors are true its gonna be a Must Have. Xperia A could be interesting also unless it stays exclusive to NTT DoCoMo. Removable battery, maybe better speaker than the Z, could it be using a Sharp panel maybe, better webrowsing battery performance?

      For Note 2 fans the Sony Togari could be interesting, you guys know that Sony has a hybrid pc tablet out already with a digitizer that humiliates the one in the Note 10.1?? I tried it and it has true pressure sensitivity instead of the 3 levels Samsung offers (zero, weak, normal). Not saying it is likely but there is a remote chance for digitizer on the Togari.

      • Well, the Sony hybrid tablet (Win 8, N-trig) does have better digitizer than Note 10.1, however Samsung’s own Windows 8 tablet have a much better digitizer (Wacom) compared to Sony’s hybrid tablet.
        Windows 8 tablets have digitizers in focus so it’s no surprise. I own Asus TF810C and it’s amazing for everything except gaming. Neither iPad nor any Android tablet come close.

  • Annette

    I had the S4 for 5 days and returned it. All the new software is to gimmicky. Wasn’t really working right. So I just kept all the new features off. Instead I got the Note 2 and I love it! I am a woman and the big screen is perfect and enjoying all the perks with the S Pen. All the utube reviews, tips and tricks help out too.

    • I read this article from my note 2 :) It’s actually surprising for me that this phone appeals to a lot of women too.. I mean its easier to keep phone this big in a purse, right ? Naah, i’m loving this thing, and it fits in my pockets quite well :) I really made right decision buying this one !

  • paul metzler

    I love my note 2, but I couldn’t imagine having a 1080p screen on it as well! I will be patiently waiting for the note 3, because for the first time ever, I am satisfied with my note 2.

  • Gilles LeBlanc

    Could not have said it better myself. I am also cursed with the gift of unlimited tech. And yes, kinda like you I feel sad and like a massive douche cause so few of us can buy whatever we want :-(

  • lollicup04

    Im waiting for the SGN 3 and Sony Honami i1. Did everyone already forget about the Honami and Togari?

  • Dave Weinstein

    Hi Darcy,

    I agree with the sentiment, but I’m not sure that Samsung will deliver. They’ve been pulling their punches a bit on size, and screen resolution, and it’s definitely clear that they would rather forgo the excellent Sharp 2560×1600 6.1″ IGZO screen for one of the AMOLED ones they make themselves. In fact we saw this from the Note 1 to he Note 2. The went from a 1280×800 5.3″ screen to a LOWER resolution 1280×720 5.5″ one.

    I’ve also lost faith in Samsung’s customer commitment. They completely dropped software support for the Note 1 when the Note 2 came out, although they did keep making empty promises to make an update. I suspect they’ll do the same thing with the Note 2.

    I’m also quite disappointed that Samsung has 3 different versions of the S4, yet they insist on calling ALL of them the S4. The fast version of the S4 is only sold in Korea. We have no reason to expect they won’t do the same with the Note 3. All the rumors about Octa-core/Mali 450 processors, are just teases to trick us into buying cost reduced devices. The REAL stuff will probably be reserved for Korea. The whole thing reeks of the same stink that Apple caused when the called the iPad 3, “The New iPad”. The point of it was to leverage their marketing campaign and fraudulently trick customers in the non-launch markets to buy iPad2’s (claiming that they were “new”). Samsung seems to have learned the worst lessons from Apple.

    My hope is that another, hungrier, company will release a 6.1″ or 6.3″ superphone this year, and I’m also hoping that this company will have the wisdom to stay close to the stock AOSP codebase, and keep up with TIMELY updates as Google releases them.

    • Hi Dave,

      You raise some excellent points. And I agree with most of them.

      There’s no doubt that Samsung prefers to source as much internally as possible, shaving off precious margins in the pursuit of ever higher profits, and it’s a strategy that has worked for them in the past, and one that is likely to continue. Though it raises some concerns….

      There’s also no doubt that they’ve become somewhat complacent in certain areas. The fact that they haven’t released a Samsung branded 7 inch and 10 inch tablet with a first rate display (2560×1600) display for the 10 inch form factor, and a 1900×1200 for the 7.8 inch form factor should be an embarassment, but I don’t think consumers have really noticed, yet.

      Regarding your perception on the degredation of the display from the Note 1 to the Note 2, this simply isn’t the case. The AMOLED panel in the Note 2 was a major upgrade on a variety of fronts from that on the Note 1, and even bested the S3 in many areas.

      Anyway, the ‘Octo-core’, for lack of a better term version is available in several key markets, and will be on roughly 25-30% of S4’s sold.

      Anyway, I digress man, JDI has a super exciting OLED panel in the pipe, with epic white levels, and that OLED goodness that AMOLED’s are known for. Samsung has distribution, it has massive dollars. It has carriers by the balls in a way that few companies, if any, do, and there is no bigger customer than the carriers.

      Though, for savvy shoppers, and thanks to Qualcomm’s massive strides, there will be some incredible devices of this form factor on the market released in Q3/Q4 that will be LTE/HSPA+ compatible, with clean adherence to the AOSP codebase, as you so aptly pointed out. Have faith!

      And Sony, HTC, LG (has some amazing devices in the works), Motorola, and a few others like Oppo, Meizu, and Xiaomi are making huge strides too, but in particular look for some great stuff from the big four.

      I’m still all in for the Note 3, though!

  • huehue

    Once you go Note, you can’t go back.

  • Yasir

    G Pro for me!

  • The good thing about the Note2 users, I for one, is that we are excited about the Note3 because we love the Note2 so much. Can’t wait for a thinner bezel of this iteration.

  • Moku

    Honestly, my sweet spot for phone screens are anywhere between 4.3 and 4.7. I have a Nexus 4, and I am very happy with its screen size. In addition, my dad has a Droid X2, which has a 4.3 inch screen size, which is also comfortable for me. I tried smaller and larger phones, like the HTC One V, which was too small, and the Galaxy S4, which I thought was too big for me. I will be sticking with my Nexus 4 for a while, unless rumors about a smaller Nexus 5 with a 4.5 inch screen (not counting the software buttons) are true.

  • Trey Clancy

    I’m right there with you, Darcy! I have just about every top tier smartphone on the market right now and the one that I keep coming back to is that unbelievably trusty goliath of a smartphone – The G’Note 2! I really cannot wait for the Note 3! I just desperately hope they don’t make it any bigger! 5.5″ display is the sweet spot! Cheers, bud!

  • smeddy

    “I think there’s a special kind of geek out there that can appreciate what I’m laying down”

    Wow Darcy, it’s like I wrote this myself. I raved about the Galaxy Note 1 when it was just a pipe-dream, and I still lick it every morning. I get to review phones and I lusted with my Note 2 for two weeks last year… The Note 3 has my sexy name all over its sexy face.