Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with the latest Android version available – 4.3 Jelly Bean. The Note 2, on the other hand, is still lagging behind as it runs Android 4.1.2, but an update to 4.3 is currently being brewed and will hopefully be released in the very near future.
As is typical for Samsung's Android devices, the stock Android UI on the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note II has been replaced with the company's solution known as TouchWiz. That is one of the better-made custom UIs found on today's smartphones, heavily accenting on functionality and on offering features not present on handsets by competitor brands. And to no surprise, the interface variant found on the newer handset is richer when it comes to the number of features and extras loaded onto it.
For example, while both the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note II support Multi Window mode – a feature allowing one to easily multitask on their phablet – only the new model will let you have two windows of the same app running side by side. Also, Flipboard is present on both handsets out of the box, but on the Note 3, the popular news feed app comes with a redesigned “My Magazine” layout and has been built into the UI, allowing the user to trigger it from any home screen. And that's far from all. The Note 3 comes with many of the goodies introduced by the Samsung Galaxy S4, including S Translator, S Health, and for those who demand extra security for their personal data, there's KNOX, which creates a private virtual workspace on the device.
S Pen features
The S Pen on the Samsung Galaxy Note II can be used for entering text in the email or messaging apps, for drawing, and for taking down notes using the S Note app, among other tasks. Holding down the button on the S Pen allows you to crop areas of the screen and save them for later use. Furthermore, hovering with it over a calendar appointment or an email will give you a brief preview in a pop-up window.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 can do all of that with its S Pen, but there's a handful of extras thrown in as well. These are accessed as soon as the accessory is pulled out via the new Air Command menu.
Action Memo is first on the list, used for writing down a quick note and then linking it to a specific action. For example, your note (or parts of it) can be transformed into a new contact in your address book, or a new “To Do” list.
Scrap Booker is used for cropping content from apps like your web browser, YouTube, even your home screen. Additional data, such as headlines and web page URL is also attached to the note.
Screen Write takes a screenshot and then allows the user to edit it. The image can be cropped and notes can be hand-written right on top of it.
S Finder is a tool that helps with organizing notes. As the name implies, it can search through whatever you have written down, and yes, it will recognize your hand-writing as well.
Last but not least, there's Pen Window, which is used for launching a small companion app hovering over the UI. Apps that are compatible with the feature include YouTube, the Calculator, the Phone and the Contacts list, as well as ChatON, Hangouts and the Internet browser.
Keyboard and messaging
Having a large keyboard is always a plus for it makes typing faster and more accurate. By default, the keyboards on the Note II and Note 3 occupy the entire width of the screen, and a layout like this is very comfortable for typing with two thumbs. Alternatively, one may have them condensed on the left or right side of the display, and that is supposed to allow for texts to be entered single-handedly. To be honest, we don’t really find this layout as comfortable, but we do appreciate having options. And yes, the keyboards on both smartphones come with auto-correct and support for multiple input languages.
Processor and Memory
With a 2.3GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 800 SoC under the hood (or a 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa in select markets), the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 ranks among the top Android smartphones out there. Few are the handsets capable of delivering the same UI smoothness and responsiveness no matter the task being executed. Its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Note II, has a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos 4412 SoC, which is inferior, yet still quite snappy, even by today's standards. Sure, we do notice lags every once in a while, but as a whole, the phone is still fast enough and should have no problems handling heavy apps, including today's demanding video games.
When it comes to multitasking, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has the upper hand. It comes with a whopping 3GB of RAM, so it can store plenty of the apps' data for easy switching between them. The Note 2 has 2 gigs of RAM at its disposal, which is also plentiful and sufficient for all but the most demanding of buyers.
For those who value having lots and lots of storage space, we bring good news. Both smartphones come with microSD card slots supporting cards of up to 64GB in size. On-board storage space for the Galaxy Note 3 is 32 or 64 gigs, depending on which model you pick, while the Note II comes in 16-, 32-, and 64GB flavors, although the latter two might be a bit harder to find at your preferred retailer. As an added bonus, Samsung is treating all its Note II and Note 3 buyers to 50GB of free Dropbox storage for two years. That space is ideal for backing up photos and other stuff you don't want to lose accidentally.
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 22270
Samsung GALAXY Note II 6501
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 31543
Samsung GALAXY Note II 20771
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 54
Samsung GALAXY Note II 18
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 1214
Samsung GALAXY Note II 623
Vellamo HTML 5
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 2766
Samsung GALAXY Note II 1882
Internet browser and connectivity
Both these phablets, with their large screens and all, are ideal for web browsing, but we'd much rather use the Note 3 for the job. Its display is not only a bit larger, but its higher resolution allows for text and graphics in pages to look sharper and more detailed. Besides, its web browser has been polished a bit further. The size of the text is slightly increased, where appropriate, which makes it easier to read, while the status bar on top is hidden, allowing for more of the web page to be displayed on the screen. Both web browser apps offer Reader mode, which clears the entire page from all non-essential content, leaving just the text and some photos – useful for reading lengthy blog posts and articles. In terms of performance, both phones' browser apps are pretty fast and responsive, supporting all the mandatory navigation gestures, such as pinch to zoom and the likes.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a richer set of connectivity features, although only users on the fastest of mobile networks are likely to notice the difference. The Snapdragon 800 based model comes with a 150Mbps LTE radio backed by HSPA+ 4G at 42Mpbs (peak speeds are theoretical and depend on the network's capacity). Naturally, there's Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, and GPS as well, with the latter supporting GLONASS for increased accuracy. The Samsung Galaxy Note II offers all of these, the only difference being that its LTE radio peaks at “just” 100Mbps and it supports HSPA+ connectivity at a maximum of 21Mbps. Surprisingly, the Note II has an FM Radio while the Note 3 lacks one.
1. _Bone_ (Posts: 1745; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
Yo Nick, the Note 3 still has the brightest mobile screen ever at 660 cd/m2 (auto mode). Movie mode is also very color-accurate.
2. TheStanleyFTW (Posts: 15; Member since: 20 Feb 2013)
Have you ever heard of Sony Xperia P?
6. joey_sfb (Posts: 1477; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)
Samsung don't need any worshipper. If they continue to provide top end spec and timely software update many will continue to buy Samsung phone.
15. PapaSmurf (Posts: 4196; Member since: 14 May 2012)
Every OEM is guilty of "boosting" benchmarks. Comment invalidated.
32. ZPM101 (Posts: 22; Member since: 12 Apr 2010)
The only thing invalidated is your use of the word "guilty" in this context. Would it not make logical sense to to maximize performance based tests using all available resources?! Manufacturers are not guilty (in the negative connotation you express), but rather, being honest by showing the consumer what the performance expectations we can expect.
17. MistB (Posts: 509; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)
BS here, HTC/LG and Asus along with others have done it.
14. _Bone_ (Posts: 1745; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
Fair enough, phonearena is still off by 100%.
3. ph00ny (Posts: 529; Member since: 26 May 2011)
It looks like he left the screen in whichever mode he received it. At least other reviewers tested various screen modes
5. papss (Posts: 2179; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)
I hate the way the note 2 looks with its round edges.. but the note 3 looks and feels pretty nice.
8. JDogg5281 (Posts: 40; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)
Right now im thinking about sticking with my Note II. And just waiting til the Note 4 to upgrade. I just dont think it is really worth it in my opinion.
10. Jeradiah3 (Posts: 881; Member since: 11 Feb 2010)
Thats what I said when I thought about upgrading to the Note 2 last year. I ended up upgrading to the S3 because I knew that the Note 3 would be better than the Note 2 when it came out.
Cell phones advance every 6-12 months so I think that your comment is normal among us
19. Slammer (Posts: 676; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)
If you choose to wait for the next best thing in technology, you'll always be waiting.
20. Razrman (Posts: 48; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)
I have rooted my Note 2 and can wait another year to get an updated one. I'm running 4.3 on it and it is great, like having a new device.
21. Larry_ThaGr81 (Posts: 293; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Yeah I'm waiting for the Note IV because the improvements for the Note III vs the Note II are minor. Hopefully the Note IV will have a fingerprint scanner onboard.
24. saffant (Posts: 173; Member since: 04 Jul 2011)
Nope. Improvements are fairly big, but I guess you're looking for something else.
28. Razrman (Posts: 48; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)
AOSP, Paranoid Android, features are pretty good, you should check it out.
38. bohannibal (Posts: 27; Member since: 17 Aug 2009)
My note 2 is just fine so im going stick with it plus the next big phone from Samsung might just be the youm flex screen technology like in that commercial
11. tedkord (Posts: 3410; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)
Come on, phonearena. This is the second article that got the max brightness of the Note 3 wrong by half. The sad part is, you reported the story where it actually was over 600nits max before these two.
12. mobigeek (Posts: 9; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)
My note 3 is having battery and heat issues. Can someone help?
13. twens (Posts: 336; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)
If you are having issues with your note 3 it's probable a faulty model. I will advice you to return it for another one. Mine was freezing and heating and I returned it and got a new one. Haven't faced any issues since. Excellent device, by the way phonearena stop reporting wrong hardware specs of the note 3. It has a maximum of 660nits brightness not 310. Shame on you guys
16. rallyguy (Posts: 364; Member since: 13 Mar 2012)
I'm loving my note 3. I upgraded a week ago from a Galaxy Nexus. Wow!
You can't knock it for being a two handed device most of the time. You know that. Fits in my cargo/pant pockets just fine.
Good article Nick. I enjoy reading articles by you and Michael H. Fair and reasonable without any extreme and obvious bias.
18. Blazers (Posts: 117; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)
What Note 2 model comes with a FM radio? I have the AT&T version SGH-i317 and it doesn't have one....
23. JoePhoto (Posts: 13; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)
I appreciate it may be brighter in sun, but only slightly and still does not seem to approach the Xperia.
I am VERY disappointed it does not have FRONT speaker(s), ala HTC. Worse it seems specked at a lower volume. This comparason does not mention that speaker is now on "bottom", but that does not compare to HTC's (dual) front speakers.
I am still not sure I will upgrade (probably NOT), and will instead consider the HTC-MAX.
25. Andrewtst (Posts: 203; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)
PhoneArena - if you not going to fixed it, stop commenting/reviewing on Note 3.
it is big misleading, everyone know it.
The brightness is around 650, not as low as yours one 310.
What a shame such big site can't proper do measurement and keep given false alarm.
26. BabylonShine (Posts: 25; Member since: 08 Feb 2013)
sony xperia Z1 honami is the best in all compare, buy it and enjoy the real mobile phone , its cheaper than Note III and camera is far better
Its much faster than Note III and GS IV
It has better look then all samy brands
Its made in Japan
the only disadvantage of Z1 that its batery is unexchangable
END OF THE STORY
31. Andrewtst (Posts: 203; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)
In my country, Xperia Z1 is same price as Note 3.
And Z1 is made in China. No Sony phone sell worldwide is made in Japan.
27. GrosseFatigue (Posts: 49; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)
The only advantage of the screen of the Note3 versus Note 2 is in broad day light. The screen of the Note 2 in my opinion is still better than some recent 1080p screens. It is silky smooth, a pleasure for me to read the newspapers in the train. I haven't seen the Sony though but I don't care for the LG. I thought the screen of the Note 2 was bested by the new 720p amoled screen of the Motorola that has more blacks.
29. Razrman (Posts: 48; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)
The Note 2 is still a pretty relevant phone, I have no complaints with mine.
48. skyline88 (Posts: 133; Member since: 15 Jul 2013)
2GB of RAM, quad core 1.6, awesome screen, huge battery, and best of all, its getting Android 4.3 very very soon. u bet its pretty relevant :)
30. GrosseFatigue (Posts: 49; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)
From Note to Note (3) they got it wrong in my opinion. It is an innovative phone, a game changer and now everybody is coming up with a phablet. When Apple has one they will say the screen is OK. They need an adult to supervise their reviews.
33. rifkin29 (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 Sep 2013)
Where is that tech that shows a device folding out into a tablet? until then i don't think an upgrade from my note 2 is necessary.
34. mine1975 (Posts: 2; Member since: 14 Oct 2013)
just went to see these phone at the tele shop. s4 is simply not my type for the plastic back. the note 3 caught my eyesight as the design is better. but i have concern over the textured back. over prolong use it might stain with yellow and black. so i settle for xperia z1.
35. Razrman (Posts: 48; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)
Most of these new flagship phones imho are good choices.
36. jimhead (Posts: 3; Member since: 16 Oct 2013)
Definitely can be used with one hand, just need to use a Flygrip on it. Get with the times.
37. mr.popo2525 (Posts: 5; Member since: 26 Sep 2013)
It is an improvement from the Note 2, but not so much as to make me want to upgrade to one. Looks good and feels good. I have seen them have freezing and overheating issues though. Still a great phone if you want the latest and greatest from Samsung.
39. vikk2232153 (Posts: 19; Member since: 18 Oct 2013)
I am happy with my note 2...HD or FHD does not matter much for a phone. Note 2 screen is the best screen samsung ever produced, even phone arena agreed to this in their review of note 2. I have never felt any lag in the device even while playing big games. Defo, Note 3 is an improvement but I would not like to spend money on a minor upgraded version.
50. Larry_ThaGr81 (Posts: 293; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Bingo!!! The enhancements are too minor for me to also jump ship from my Note 2 to a Note 3. I'm patiently waiting for the Note 4 to come out because my Note 2 is still a top of the line performer, even after a year.
51. Larry_ThaGr81 (Posts: 293; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Factors that will influence my decision for buying the Note 4 will be the fact that I've owned my Note 2 for at least two years, the Note 4 will probably have a finger print scanner, a 16MP camera sensor, and probably be the last Note series phone that Verizon offers with CDMA support since they are moving to an all data support infracture.
40. JoeDirt (Posts: 2; Member since: 19 Oct 2013)
I don't understand why someone would pay $300 for a plastic phone. I understand the PPI and size, but cheap plastic? I thought it was a premium phone....
42. mobilespecs.pk (Posts: 37; Member since: 15 Dec 2012)
Paying $860 for iPhone 5s is reasonable? Go on Samsung leave the Evil Apple behind.
46. skyline88 (Posts: 133; Member since: 15 Jul 2013)
paying $300 for plastic phone with awesome specs, mind-boggling capabilities and top notch user-friendly might not sound good to u, but its way better than paying $600-700 for a phone which basically can do nothing much, having tiny little screen and hopeless user experience equipped with 64GB of internal memory.
52. Larry_ThaGr81 (Posts: 293; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Very simple, you are concerned about a premium looking appearance as where many other people are concerned about premium performance, features and add ons. More specifically the user replaceable battery, the micro sd card expansion slot, the Snap Dragon 800 chipset, etc.
I'd trade the construction of my phone for all the other benefits that Samsung offers over its competitors such as Apple, HTC, etc.
41. wilsong17 (Posts: 78; Member since: 10 Mar 2013)
cheap plastic is the best there's nothing better then the note or the note 3
43. mobilespecs.pk (Posts: 37; Member since: 15 Dec 2012)
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was the best smartphone ever produced by Samsung, some people may not like the size of the phone. But, it is not just a simple smartphone is a pocket pc with some great multitasking features. Now with Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Samsung have pushed it's abilities the max. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the smartphone on which you can literaly do all your work with ease which was not possible before without a pc. I love the way you can so easily drag and drop things around between different apps. Find Samsung mobile prices in Pakisan here: http://www.mobilespecs.pk/phon
49. KillgoreTrout (Posts: 48; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)
I ended up getting the LG G2 this go around. Unlike most of you, i don't feel the need to bash any products, I like them all. I could see myself getting the Note 4, but who knows, at that point there may be some pretty cool flexible displays available. I really want a 4 inch phone that folds out to a 10 inch tablet. Maybe in 5 years? fingers crossed...
53. Lionheart (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 Nov 2013)
I love my Note II with only a very few exceptions - volume is not loud enough for my deaf ears, I lost the precious buillt-in FM radio I had with my HTC phone, and the buttons for volume are placed exactly where my mitts hold the phone, so I am constantly changing the volume of the ringer or the conversation without wanting to do so. Those are the only complaints I have with it and there are so many plusses, I am still happy with my purchase and will most likely stay with the NII until the IV arrives.