Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S4: first look

Most companies have one flagship smartphone, but for Samsung, it’s safe to presume that they have two – one for the first half of the year, another for the second. From what we’ve seen so far, Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphones have always followed after its Galaxy S series smartphones. Not every company is fortunate like Samsung, which seemingly has a one-two punch with its offerings. There might be many similarities between the the Galaxy Note 3 and S4, but at the end of the day, they still boast their own unique features to make them powerful contenders in the space.


No surprises here folks, these two are closely related to one another with their designs. In fact, the Galaxy Note 3 utilizes the same design characteristics of the Galaxy S4, which is evidenced by its thin profile, silver trim bezel, lightweight feel, and plastic construction. However, unlike the Galaxy S4 and its glossy finish, the Note 3 exudes a more sophisticated look with its faux-leather finish and stitching – giving it the more elegant look between the two. When it comes to size, there’s no arguing about how the Note 3 is the bigger of the two, resulting in more two-handed operation than anything else.


Everyone loves phones with big screens, and that’s what you’re going to see here. Yes, one is big, and the other is simply bigger. To be exact, it’s a 5-inch display on the Galaxy S4 – while it’s an even bigger 5.7-inch beast on the Note 3. However, seeing that they’re both Super AMOLED displays that feature 1080p resolution, they exhibit the same likable qualities. There might be a slight advantage on paper for the Galaxy S4 when it comes to pixel density, but seriously, your eyes would barely tell the two apart from a normal viewing distance. In addition, there’s the hovering functionality in tow with both displays, but it’s handled different with each. To be exact, the Note 3 relies on that S-Pen, which is pressure sensitive as it touches the display – while the Galaxy S4 tracks our finger.


Running Sammy’s TouchWiz Nature UX, the general look and feel of their software experiences are similar, but each has its own unique set of features. Seeing that the Note 3 is all about the S-Pen, the features associated with its S-Pen functions specifically target those who are big into note-taking, drawing, and organization. With that fancy S-Pen, we’re able to jot down notes, draw masterpieces, and even multi-task in more ways than the Galaxy S4. However, the Galaxy S4 has more diversity when it comes to interaction. For example, it employs various Air Gestures to enable us to do things like scroll vertically in the browser, move between images in the gallery, and even forward/reverse a music track – all by waving our hand over the display. We’ll be blunt and say that these smartphones have software features that can be regarded as useful or pointless, but it’ll ultimately depend on the user to determine that.

Processor and memory

Being the newer device, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 benefits more by having the latest hardware – it’s a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset with the 3GB of RAM and the Adreno 330 GPU. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S4 features a 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor coupled with 2GB of RAM and the Adreno 320 GPU. Quickly checking out the two, we do notice that the Note 3 is just a smidgen more responsive than the Galaxy S4, which at times exhibits some jerkiness moving about the homescreen.

Although it’s not a deal breaker for some, we’re always humbled to know that the majority of Android smartphones from Samsung continue to pack microSD card slots, which is what we see here between these two.


From the looks of it all, these two share the same exact camera gear – a 13-megapixel auto-focus camera that features a backside illuminated sensor, LED flash, and 1080p video recording. From our experience, we already know that the Galaxy S4 is one heck of a wonderful device for shooting photos and videos, so we would be inclined to expect the same out of the Note 3 as well.


Heading into the busy holiday season, Samsung is in a great position with these two offerings. They look the same and feature many commonalities, but despite that, they still lay claim to their own unique set of features. On one hand, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is positioned as the flagship device for the company – giving it the broader appeal between the two. We won’t deny that the Galaxy Note 3 will do well in the space too, but it still continues to target business professionals more than anything else, which is attributed mostly to its S-Pen functions.

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)
Galaxy S4
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, Quad-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh(17h 3G talk time)



1. AnTuTu

Posts: 1613; Member since: Oct 14, 2012

Both of them are Beasts. Probably the beasts of 2013 :) Way to Go Sammy :)

19. Samsungadroidrules

Posts: 104; Member since: Jul 28, 2013

Only Jealous Sammy Hater will say bad stuffs about these Phones. For me, this Phones are Amazing, S4 Having advance and USEFUL Features for me. While Note 3 A bigger screen,improved and evolved everything on the Note 2! Sammy, keep it up! My Boyfriend will buy this Note 3, And loving my GS4 !

2. monomilkman

Posts: 25; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

so I have an S4, is it worth upgrading to the Note 3?

5. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1245; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

Of course not. The only noticeable difference between the two is the size.

6. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

I'd say no. Almost all the worthwhile additions REQUIRE the use of the S-pen. I feel like they'll have a better implementation of the features in the S5 (like they did with air view). If you want a legitimate note taking device (more than just random scribbles of notes/phone numbers and scrapbooking,) I'd use the money for a Galaxy Tab Note.

22. Faslane

Posts: 19; Member since: Sep 30, 2013

You get more ram and a faster CPU and a bigger device but is that enough for you to switch? not sure. Hell I would I know I would becuae of the S-Pen and bigger screen to use it on but that's just me. What the hell, Do IT! sel the only live once! I just ordered mine and shipping overnight so fingerscrossed it'll be here tomorrow or WEd. Oct 2nd. Cheers

3. Navaid

Posts: 46; Member since: Sep 05, 2013

You forgot a difference in camera flash-light of Note 3.

4. GeekMovement unregistered

So the Galaxy Note 3 doesn't have a fingerprint sensor after all?

23. Faslane

Posts: 19; Member since: Sep 30, 2013

Not whatsoever, not a deal breaker for me as I'd never let it leave my site and it has the KNOX security option to secure stuff which is highly rated so I'll put sensitiive data in a knox container.

7. androidornothing

Posts: 143; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

Note 3 best phone until Note 4 comes out!!! HANDS DOWN! End of conversation. I dont want to hear about G2, iphone 5s, HTC One MAX, MOTO X, MOTOROLA Droid Max, or any other device out there. This is the king until the new one comes out.

8. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I wouldn't say it's the best for a whole year as next year will yield to note flagships, but as of now, yes it's the best overall phone.

12. zachattack

Posts: 621; Member since: Jul 31, 2013

That's probably the most blind ignorant comment I've ever seen, just hope you realize how dumb that looks xD

9. bugsbunny00

Posts: 2264; Member since: Jun 07, 2013

HANDS DOWN!hahaha non of these phones are @ peak...or the best.each one have its unique feature consumer still get what they like one either flagship phones, not one(you) thats HANDS DOWN!...

10. baloosh

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

all apps and games are optimize for every droid around there why ppl look at specs its 2 gig o man best whateva u will use the same apps u used in single core device no need for upgrading if u have a dual core device its doing the job :)

11. zachattack

Posts: 621; Member since: Jul 31, 2013

The Samsung galaxy S4 Vs.... ITSELF!!!?!?! LOL

17. ebubekir26

Posts: 337; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

You tried to troll, but failed :)

24. Faslane

Posts: 19; Member since: Sep 30, 2013

not at all... CPU faster S-Pen Larger Screen more Ram Knox security bigger battery (althugh slight) and that's just off the top of my head. Similar in visual look-alike yes, specs no.

13. lpratas

Posts: 398; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

What is the jerkiness you see, John V, in the homescreen? Because you don't like the interface of the homescreen , it's not necessary call it jerk. If something it's jerk here, is you, John V with your review. Even you wrote that the Note 3 shares the same camera like the Galaxy S4, what it isn't true, because the camera of Note has 4K or 2160p recording at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps and you mentioned that. You simply omited that, because you and others reviewers of PhoneArena don't like Samsung products. You only defend the Apple products.

14. lpratas

Posts: 398; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

I wanted to write that you don't mentioned about the camera features of the Note 3 like 2160p recording at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps, John V. You simply omited that. There is a big difference between 1080p recording at 30fps and 2160p recording at 30fps. It is 4 times more than 1080p video recording, even in 1080p at 60fps there is a noticiable difference.

25. Faslane

Posts: 19; Member since: Sep 30, 2013

I'm sure he got you the first time.

15. lpratas

Posts: 398; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

You PhoneArena reviewers only like Iphone and Ipad because they are american products and for you Android and the products of foreigner brands specially the Korean ones, are trash and s**t.

16. daniel_bargs

Posts: 325; Member since: Nov 27, 2010

My problem with my S4 is that, i cant hold it comfortably because it is too thin and large. I like slightly thicker and smaller phones. It just feels disappointing when you came from a smaller phone.

18. Samsungadroidrules

Posts: 104; Member since: Jul 28, 2013

Both are BEAST AND AWESOME! I have Samsung Galaxy S4, And i'm using it for almost 3 months and I have NO REGRETS that I chose it over HTC ONE, iPhone 5 or others. Now my Boyfriend is coming to you Samsung and will buy this amazing note 3! Great Job again Sammy! This Phablet is just Amazing!

20. Trex95

Posts: 2381; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

I like note 3 after i saw the introduction video that made by Samsung. But Super Amoled used to gave me some temporary colors blind.

21. Faslane

Posts: 19; Member since: Sep 30, 2013

It's interesting to me that the S4 has the home button thats rectangular but arounder body and the note 3 has a rounder button and retangular body. The should simply trade home buttons. It looks like a mistake side by side. They should each match, rectangular home for Note 3 and rounder one for S4.

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