Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo vs Note II: first look


Samsung's first mid-range phablet, the Galaxy Note 3 Neo, comes as a direct competitor to the Note II, which still sells globally, as they share very similar specs. Both sport 5.5” HD 720p displays, have 2 GB of RAM and 8 MP cameras on the back. Let's take a first look whether Samsung has managed to differentiate the smaller Note 3 enough to make people grab it before the also-affordable Note II.


Despite the same display size, the Note 3 Neo is shorter, less wide, and lighter than the Note II, so it is more pocket-friendly, and easier to operate with one hand. It still sports a removable back cover with the new faux leather design, so you can quickly swap the battery or add more storage, just like on the Note II. The S Pen stylus is tucked the same way you'd find it on the Note 2, but it is side-agnostic, so you can insert it back in any position, and seems to pop in and out easier.


Both phablets have 5.5” Super AMOLED displays with 720x1280 pixels of resolution, which works out to a 267ppi pixel density of the panels. This HD resolution means that detail and small text won't be as defined as on Full HD displays, but the density is enough for most everyday purposes, including doodling with the S Pen stylus. Because of the Super AMOLED tech, you can expect oversaturated, somewhat cold colors, deep blacks, and excellent viewing angles from both Notes.


The phablets sports Samsung's TouchWiz on top of Android Jelly Bean, but our prototype Note 3 Neo flaunts a newer version of both Android, and TouchWiz , plus we hope to see KitKat on it shortly, while the Note 2 is stuck on TouchWiz 4.0, and Android 4.1.

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The smaller Note 3 also carries all the bells and whistles that come with Samsung's homemade interface overlay, like Smart Stay, which keeps the screen on while you are looking at it, and the multi-window mode that can run two different apps on a split screen.

The display size of the two Notes is very conducive to multitasking, which is enhanced by the stylus-specific apps like S Note, various drawing and annotating functions in the Gallery or Calendar, as well as the Air View and Air Gestures that let you hover above the display with the stylus or a finger and call pop-up info.

Processor and memory

There's a new hexacore Exynos in the Note 3 Neo, with two Cortex-A15 cores, clocked at 1.7 GHz maximum, and four Cortex-A7 ones, clocked at 1.3 GHz. There is also a 3G version of the phablet with 1.6 GHz quad-core processor, likely the same one that's in the note II. The hexacore Exynos is paired with a decent graphics processor, too, ARM's Mali-T624, so it's unlikely you'll have interface or app lag and hiccups. 

It is clocked a tad higher than the 1.6 GHz quad-core Exynos 4412 in the Note II, but has only two cores capable of the full speed, so the difference in benchmarks is unlikely to be significant. The GPU, however, comes faster than Mali-400 in the Note II.

Samsung has put 2 GB of RAM in both phablets, as well as16 GB of internal memory, plus a microSD slot for storage expansion.


The handsets sport 8 MP camera on the back with LED flash, as well as a 1.9 MP front-facing shooters for video chat. Samsung's interface offers an abundance of shooting modes like HDR or Panorama, which on the Note 3 Neo are arranged in an easy to flip through carousel, while on the Note II they are in a grid-like thumbnail format. We did some samples with the Neo, but will comment when the retail version lands, with the camera expected to be at least as good, if not better than the one on the Note II. Both phones are able to capture 1080p video footage with 30fps.


Note 3 Neo is actually the better alternative to a Note II, even though they are likely to be close in terms of price range. It is more compact, despite sporting the same screen size, has newer software, and the next generation of the S Pen. The design and overall appearance are also more alluring, which would make the mid-range Note 3 Neo preferable to 2012's Note II.

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