Samsung has just taken the wraps off the latest entrant to the Note lineup, the Galaxy Note 4! It’s natural to wonder how much of an upgrade it is from its predecessor, and that’s what we find out, as we take a quick look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 3!

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When it comes to overall size and looks, the Galaxy Note 4 is very similar to its predecessor, except for the fact that the Note 4 now sports a metal frame, a design element that was first introduced with the Galaxy Alpha.

The corners of the Note 4 also have a bit of a curve to them, but not enough to make it particularly noticeable. Both smartphones feature a plastic back that is designed to look and feel like leather. The textures are not exactly the same however, and the Galaxy Note 4 doesn’t have the fake stitching around the border like its predecessor. On the back of the Note 4 there’s also a heart rate monitor, placed below the camera unit.

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Up front is the signature Samsung look on both smartphones, with the physical home button of the Note 4 also coming with an integrated fingerprint scanner. The Galaxy Note 4’s front also features what Samsung refers to as 2.5D glass, which means that the edges of the protective glass are slightly curved, a touch that we really liked.

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Both devices feature beautiful Super AMOLED displays that offer everything that you may love about this display tech, including bright and vibrant colours, deep blacks, and great viewing angles.

While the size of the display is the same 5.7 inches on both devices, Samsung has upped the ante in the resolution department on the Note 4. Now boasting a resolution of 2560 x 1440, the Galaxy Note 4 comes with an impressive pixel density of 515 ppi, compared to the 1080p resolution, and resulting 386 ppi, of the Galaxy Note 3.

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The benefits of pushing the pixel density to such a high range is a matter of debate. While some users will definitely notice the difference in the quality between the Galaxy Note 3 and Note 4, some might consider the upgrade to be overkill. Regardless of which device you choose, you’ll still have a great media experience on these displays.

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Beyond the higher resolution, Samsung constantly improves the underlying technology powering its AMOLED displays, and, while we’ll have to wait for a proper review to draw any final conclusions, signs are very encouraging that Samsung has another winner on their hands as far as the display is concerned.

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If it’s Samsung, it’s beefy hardware, and the Galaxy Note 4 makes no exception. Just like the Galaxy Note 3 before it, the Note 4 comes in two versions, one powered by a Snapdragon 805 processor, and the other by an Exynos Octa-core processor.

The Snapdragon is a quad-core model clocked at 2.5 GHz, that is coupled with a new generation Adreno 420 GPU, that should really show its prowess in gaming and other graphically intensive apps. Both versions also feature 3GB RAM.

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Even if it’s one year old, the Galaxy Note 3 features a very respectable processing package, that combines 3GB of RAM with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 or the Exynos 5 Octa 5420 processor. It may not handle heavy gaming that well, and doesn’t offer the absolute best possible performance any more, but this processing package will remain more than adequate well into the future. The Note 3 remains a viable option for anyone not looking to spend a lot on the latest and greatest.

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Things remain almost identical on the hardware front, with both devices offering 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB internal storage options, with microSD expansion possible up to 128 GB with the Galaxy Note 4, and 64 GB with the Galaxy Note 3. Connectivity options and available sensors are also the same. Where the Galaxy Note 4 differs is in the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner that is integrated into the physical home button, and the presence of a heart rate monitor on the back of the device.

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You get a great stylus experience with the Galaxy Note 3, and the Note 4 takes things even further, with improvements across the board, along with a couple of new software features to help you get the most out of the S-Pen.

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While the battery capacity hasn’t changed substantially between the two iterations, the Galaxy Note 4 now features fast charging technology, that lets you charge the device by 50% in just 30 minutes.

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Samsung finally adopted optical image stabilization on the Galaxy Note 4, which means you’ll get smoother video, clearer pictures, and better shots in low light. The Galaxy Note 4 also comes with a higher-resolution sensor.

The Galaxy Note 3 comes with a software-based Smart Stabilization, that sounds similar to OIS, but the difference is clearly in the favour of the Galaxy Note 4.

The front facing camera has received a nice update as well, and is now a 3.7 MP unit, with a wide viewing angle of 90 degrees, compared to 77 degrees on the Note 3. If that’s not enough, you can use the Wide Selfie mode to capture an even wider image, perfect for group selfies. You also have the option to tap the heart rate monitor on the back to capture an image while using the front-facing camera on the Galaxy Note 4

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Like the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Galaxy Note 4 features an updated user interface that brings a flatter, more modern look to Touchwiz. But, the changes are mostly aesthetic in nature, and is visible in areas like the notification dropdown, settings, and certain Samsung apps, and the software is otherwise as packed with features as ever.

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In terms of new features that are available on the Galaxy Note 4, one of the interesting ones is Smart Select, that lets you copy content from different sources and collect it in one place, and then share it or save it for later. Samsung also tweaked the multitasking features, making it easier to switch between multi-window and floating mode. You can also launch apps in multi-window mode from the recent apps interface. The Air Command menu was tweaked, and now contains just four options, including the new Smart Select. One other great addition is the selective voice recording mode, which lets you record sound that comes from, say, the front and back of the phone only, thanks to the three microphones on the Galaxy Note 4. There are also some improvements to the software experience available with the S-Pen stylus.

All things considered though, you’re not losing that much if you stick with the Galaxy Note 3 when it comes to the software, and while the latest additions are nice, there isn’t anything that we would call a must-have.

Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 3 specs

 Samsung Galaxy Note 3Samsung Galaxy Note 4
CPU/GPUSnapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2.3 GHz Krait 400 / Adreno 330Snapdragon 805, Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 450 / Adreno 420
CPU/GPU (Select markets)Exynos 5 Octa 5420, Octa-core 4 X 1.9 GHz Cortex-A15 + 4 X 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 / Mali T628nExynos 5 Octa
Display5.7-inch, 1920 x 1080, 386 ppi5.7-inch, 2560 x 1440, 515 ppi
RAM3 GB3 GB
Memory16/32/64 GB, microSD up to 64 GB16/32/64 GB,nmicroSD up to 128GB
Battery3,200 mAh3,200 mAh
Camera13 MP/2 MP, BSI Sensor, Smart Stabilization, LED flash16MP/3.7MP, BSI Sensor, Optical Image Stabilization, LED flash
ConnectivityWiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS / GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth® v 4.0 (LE), IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS / GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth® v 4.0 (LE), IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0
Network2.5G/3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps), 4G LTE2.5G/3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps), 4G LTE
OSAndroid 4.3 Jelly Bean with TouchWizAndroid 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz
Dimensions151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm, 168 grams153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm, 176g
ColorsBlack, White, Pink, Merlot Red, Rose Gold Black, Rose Gold WhiteCharcoal Black, Blossom Pink, Frost White, and Bronze Gold

So there you have it – a quick look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 3! The Galaxy Note 4 is a definite upgrade over its predecessor, offering a display with a higher resolution, an upgraded processing package, new hardware additions like the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor, an improved S-Pen stylus experience, and a slightly different software experience with some new features. That said, the Galaxy Note 3 is still a very viable option for anyone looking for a good Note experience, without wanting to pay for the latest and greatest.

Stay tuned with us for more coverage of the Galaxy Note 4 throughout the day and for all things IFA all week!