Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Apple iPhone 5: first look

One is nearly at the end of its product cycle, while the other is just embarking on its journey very soon – it’s our first look between the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Apple iPhone 5. Samsung surely made headlines after announcing its latest phablet, and after the festivities of yesterday’s big launch event, the Note 3 is yet another offering in Sammy’s portfolio that’s vying to take down the iPhone 5 from its perched top spot, where it has remained steadily at the top of the ladder, untouched by both newcomers and veterans alike.


Painstakingly obvious, there’s a noticeable size disparity between these two prized smartphones. The Note 3 is simply one beast of a smartphone when it comes to sheer size, making it the more unwieldy device to hold in one hand – whereas the iPhone 5 is significantly smaller, thus, making it the easier of the two to grasp. At the same time, there’s more of a solid construction and premium element attached to the iPhone 5’s design, which continues to prove itself as the more attractive device. Well, the Note 3 changes the pace with its slightly more sophisticated choice of materials, a faux-leather casing, but as a whole, it’s still a plastic device underneath it all. When all is said and done, the two handsets appeal in many ways – some will prefer the large size of the Note 3, while others enjoy the compact and premium feel of the iPhone 5.


Sorry iPhone 5, even though its 4-inch Retina display produces some of the most realistic colors on any display out there, as a whole, it’s being outclassed by the larger screen of the Note 3. First there’s the matter of resolution, which the Note 3 stands out more for its higher resolution of 1280 x 1920 – whereas with the iPhone 5, it’s just 640 x 1136 pixels. Secondly, when big screens are all the rage nowadays, the Note 3’s immense 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display makes the 4-inch Retina display of the iPhone 5 look miniscule – plus, the size of the Note 3’s display is a great conversational piece with random strangers. And finally, the oversaturated colors produced by the Super AMOLED panel of Sammy’s newest prodigy gives it that iridescent glow in the dark to really catch the attention of people. Then again, the iPhone 5’s Retina display has always been a strong showing outdoors when it comes to visibility with the sun present.


Let’s lay this one down very quickly for all of you folks. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3’s TouchWiz Nature UX experience running on top of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is one feature filled thing than the iOS 6 experience of the iPhone 5, but it’s the iPhone 5 that proves to have the easier learning curve. Armed with an arsenal of features that rely on its new S-Pen, it’s wonderful that the Note 3 really focuses on being a note-taking centric device – something that would naturally appease business professionals who are on the go. Heck, drawers and artists will also appreciate what the S-Pen can do for them. However, seeing that there’s so much to know and learn with the Note 3’s experience, it can potentially come off as being too overwhelming by other people. Alas, that’s where the iPhone 5 comes into mind, as its iOS 6 experience is so darn easy to navigate around and operate – allowing even first timers to quickly adapt.

Processor and memory

Again, there’s a bit of a disparity between these two when we look at their respective processors. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is being manufactured using the 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset or 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa core processor – with both being stuffed with 3GB of RAM. Not surprisingly, it seems so much better on paper than the iPhone 5’s 1.3GHz dual-core Apple A6 processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. As we’ve come to realize, specs don’t always dictate the real world performance, and as we briefly look at the two, we’ll say that they perform evenly with some basic functions.

Storage wise, we can’t help but think about that handy dandy microSD card slot that’s available with the Note 3, which will be offered in both 32GB and 64GB capacities. In contrast, the iPhone 5 lacks any expandable storage, but it’s available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB flavors.


Hey, hey! The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 shares the same camera in use with the Galaxy S4, so it’s almost certain that it’ll produce the same crisp results. However, until we actually snap our own photos and videos, we can’t pass a whole lot of judgment on its 13-megapixel auto-focus camera. Still, the 8-megapixel iSight camera of the iPhone 5 has already established itself as a top contender in the photo and video shooting departments – so it’ll be intriguing to see how Sammy’s latest pride and joy can stack up against it.


Here’s the thing, the iPhone 5 has already established itself as the most popular smartphone right now, as it targets a broad range of consumers. On top of that, it continues to perform handsomely in the midst of new competition that’s always trying to trump it. With the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, it might not appeal to the same general mass of people that the iPhone 5 manages to succeed in capturing, but we still can’t count it out how much more extensive it is in terms of pure hardware specs and its software experience. In fact, the S-Pen alone is something that is unique to the Galaxy Note series – something that can’t be replicated by the iPhone 5.

Related phones

Galaxy Note 3
  • Display 5.7" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 3200 mAh(21h 3G talk time)
iPhone 5
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A6, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 1440 mAh(8h 3G talk time)



1. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

What a crappy totally biased article. I have no interest in reading another article by John V. Thanks for wasting my time.

5. DukeX

Posts: 327; Member since: Aug 28, 2013

Then go tp BGR or Gizmondo. Those guys are way worse

55. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

oh hell no not BGR i stop going to their website two years ago ever since one of their BIAS reporter saying the 1st GALAXY NOTE is TOO BIG for him. only one i can actually go too now and days is phonedog.

7. rawbow

Posts: 428; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

praise Apple for anything and its biased? They should make you the president for your pro Samsung comments as it will be so unbiased right? Note 3 hands down is the best phone that android can have but please do tell us about this article. What do you think in this article is biased. As far as I am concerned, it's true.

29. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

So calling out a biased article makes me pro Samsung? No unlike many, including possibly you, I call it as I see it. What in my comment is pro Samsung? If you can't see it then you are blind. The article is biased from start to finish. I assume you are pro Apple with your blind backing?

37. bigstrudel

Posts: 621; Member since: Aug 20, 2012

This is just like the Lumia commercials.

58. gamblor77

Posts: 118; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

The article is biased because they chose to compare the Note 3 to a completely out-classed, irrelevant phone that children and grandparents use. He is seriously reaching just to keep iPhone in the headlines when it's really a useless dinosaur with 1/10 of the functionality. "Hey look at me guys! My phone is still cool... RIGHT?" :O Give me a break! IPhone 5 is a year old and may as well be 7 years old because it hasn't changed since the original.

8. MistB

Posts: 581; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

It's true, I can't personally get myself to like John's reviews with his smugness always putting down whomever faces the IPhone, yes i use an Apple as well but he and Alan F/Ray S always have their way to put the IPhone over fresher and superior offerings. The language he uses is so blatantly favouring the Apple product no matter what.

56. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

you should take a look at the baised review from RAY S. when he called the XPERIA Z1 a expensive handset and not even talking bout the 20mp camera on the back. pff. PA need too hire new writers getting sick and tired of baised journalist here.

12. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

I didn't see any bias in article. They just pointed out some iPhone 5's pros, like great outdoor visibility and smooth experience on dual core cpu (less powerful cpu compared to note 3). But i prefer note 3 over iPhone 5 or even 5s.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

I didn't have to read it, I could tell it was biased just by the graphic: firstly, he semi obstructs Samsung's name (which is its' logo) and, then, puts in an iLLegitimate iPhone 5 with an "AFTERMARKET" warranty-voiding-AppleCare backplate. TALK ABOUT TRULY UNPROFESSIONAL; didn't even have to look at the reporter (if you can call it that). Reporting = Objectivity! Not, oh my favorite iDevice is gonna' look "owned" next to that Samsung Beast!" He'll probably ban me for this .. 3, 2, 1, ½, ¼, ⅛

24. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

He also said that the iPhone 5 is better in direct sun light, like if he was able to take the Samsung Galaxy Note III outside & ACTUALLY TEST this. lol Yeah I may have to agree with you here, that was a bit sketchy at best. +1


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Thank god I didn't waste my time with that true rubbish, it would have been 60 seconds of my precious life that I would never have gotten back. Who wrote the "article" (I use that word everso loosely here, looser than Kim Kardashian at a High School Football game - 10 years or so ago)??

35. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

lol That's funny. I plead the 5th. PAPINYC, that white Samsung Galaxy Note III is ULTRA HOT right? I think that's the one I am going to GET. My wife is going to get my rooted HTC Droid DNA the VERY moment I buy this SEXY, SEXY piece of marvelous technology.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

I've got the white Note II, tres sexy but so is the titanium so, it boils down to personal style; something the iHaveNots 5S folks no nothing about. The more I watch the Unpacked Event E2, the more I'm thinking of getting the Note 3; I haven't finished watching it though, between errands, gym & subway (good thing I downloaded it from Youtube - something the writer of this (let's call it "piece") has no experience in doing since his favorite phone doesn't let him download more than 25MB per iDownload. Anyway, iDiGress, my dilemma: do I have my phone "stolen" [again] and spend the money for another deductible and then use the sale of [hypothetically] my 3 Galaxy Note II's or do I go straight for the Note 3 and only use the sale of two of those hypothetical devices to leverage my purchase?? Hypothetically speaking, of course :D

44. k1ng617

Posts: 270; Member since: Oct 13, 2009

He had to have the iPhone over the Note 3 cuz if he did it in reverse the iPhone would simply disappear!

34. AnTuTu

Posts: 1621; Member since: Oct 14, 2012

Comneon Johhhhnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn Vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv from iPhonearena Please don't embarrass Note 3 by comparing it with Fruit 5.

48. PunyPoop

Posts: 752; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

Do the review, I think you know what's best ;)

54. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

hey what do u expect by a ifan from John V. just like RAY S. Iphonearena have alot of bias journalist. they don't like big size screens saying its TOO BIG too put in the pocket or in your hand

61. nasznjoka

Posts: 418; Member since: Oct 05, 2012

hey stop with that iPhonearena! Its long gone! There's no bias after all its just his 'own' opinion so don't take it seriously if you perceive it as bias!

60. imran86

Posts: 208; Member since: Sep 14, 2012

Everytime I see John V's name on an article, I close it right away as I know he is on rotten apple payroll. He should be banned from being a tech journalist for 100 years.

2. ottje

Posts: 22; Member since: Dec 18, 2012

haha looks like a mother and her baby


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

You do mean mother and her embryo, don't you??

3. McLTE

Posts: 922; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

"premium element attached to the iPhone 5’s design, which continues to prove itself as the more attractive device" I am SO freaking tired of hearing this statement. Attractive is measured by how it looks. If you LOOK at the devices, how could one possibly say "oh yeah.. the iPhone clearly is more attractive". Most phones these days look very similar.. a rounded corner here or there, beveled glass.. blah blah. If you showed these 2 phones to someone who had never seen a phone, I bet they'd say they booth look about the same on the attractive scale.. it's a brick shaped phone with rounded corners. And... "but as a whole, it’s still a plastic device underneath it all" That doesn't need to be communicated as a negative. Many of us LIKE the fact that our Notes or GS phones are plastic, light and durable. If my Note was made like an iPhone, it'd weigh 5 lbs! I swear the writers at PA have lost (or never had) any ability to be OBJECTIVE. They riddle the reviews and first looks with their own slant on what constitutes a quality phone. Guess what.. BOTH are quality phones.

47. SGSatlantis

Posts: 227; Member since: Jul 20, 2011

Please let me continue your rant... "...the Note 3 is yet another offering in Sammy’s portfolio that’s vying to take down the iPhone 5 from its perched top spot, where it has remained steadily at the top of the ladder, untouched by both newcomers and veterans alike." And basically, this is a LIE! The S4 sold more than the iPhone 5 worldwide last quarter. What top spot? What ladder? "...Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is one feature filled thing than the iOS 6 experience of the iPhone 5, but it’s the iPhone 5 that proves to have the easier learning curve." This is only a good thing if you are over 60. Sure you can remove all those features to make it easier to use, but than you'll end up with a phone not a smartphone. Get it?

57. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

yeah watch when the same iPhone 5s launch they say its the most beautiful phone in the world now covered in gold. just wait n see what they say then. com on PA fired your bias articles. i think we should all leave PA and have them less n less readers then they would shut down their website. i'd say we should protest agianst BIASED journalist to get rid of them

63. darkkjedii

Posts: 31594; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You're an idiot, and can't even form correct paragraph's. PA is a tech site, and a business, they're not going to try to satisfy only a certain demographic. You better be careful, before you find yourself banned for trying to incite a protest. Stop starting sentences with lowercase letters "too". That's the correct use of "too".

62. RH234

Posts: 52; Member since: Aug 21, 2013

Check out his Moto X-Note 3 comparison. It's even worse

4. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

omg iphonareana at its best

6. McLTE

Posts: 922; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

I re-read the whole article again and I can honestly say that was one of the worst articles I've ever seen written here at PA. Did Apple pay you to write that? Bash on the design of the Note 3, but for every key feature or spec, throw something in about how Apple is established or good enough.. wow. I'm dumbfounded by the poor writing here at times.

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