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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2


Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2


Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Anyone who has already gone through our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review knows that the smartphone ranks among the best ones money can buy. It is an embodiment of high-end technology, and even though it doesn’t come cheap, it offers quite a lot of bang for its buck, not to mention that the hardware tucked under its hood makes it quite future-proof. And yes, as you might guess, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is indeed better than its year-old predecessor, namely the Samsung Galaxy Note II. But what exactly makes it better and what has its maker improved upon in order to impress us this time around? And most importantly, is the Note II still worth holding on to now that its third iteration is out? Read on to find out.


We can only commend Samsung for treating its phablet to a solid hardware upgrade without that having a negative effect on the device's proportions. The width and height of the Galaxy Note 3 come really close to those of the year-old Note II (151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm for the former vs 151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm for the latter), with the new model being only slightly taller, yet a hair narrower and noticeably thinner. Moreover, at 168 grams, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is 14 grams lighter than the Note II, and is a tad easier to handle as a result.

Of course, one can simply forget about using the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 single-handedly as it is still as challenging to wield as its predecessor. But at the end of the day, that's a common trait for all phablets, so we can't complain, especially when we're compensated with that huge, gorgeous touchscreen. While the Samsung Galaxy Note II and Note 3 fit in larger pockets, they are quite bulky and some users will find them uncomfortable to carry around.

With its body made of glossy plastic, the Samsung Galaxy Note II looks and feels rather ordinary, especially now that we've grown tired of seeing the same design being rehashed over and over again. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 can't be described as a luxury device either, but it feels better to the touch with its leather-like back plate. Unlike its glossy counterpart, the Note 3 resists fingerprints well and has a lot more grip thanks to its textured surface.

Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note II come with removable back covers, underneath which reside the slots for their SIM and microSD cards. Their batteries are also found there and are user-replaceable.

Physical buttons on both smartphones are arranged in an identical manner, with a physical “Home” key below the screen, accompanied by capacitive “Menu” and “Back” buttons. The power and volume buttons are placed on the right and left sides of these devices. We can gladly say that all buttons are easy to reach and operate. It is also nice that the capacitive keys on the Note 3 can be operated with the S Pen's tip. Speaking of which...

Samsung Galaxy Note 3
5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches
151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm
5.93 oz (168 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung GALAXY Note II
5.94 x 3.17 x 0.37 inches
151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm
6.44 oz (182 g)

Samsung GALAXY Note II

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.

S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2
The S Pen is a pressure-sensitive digital stylus included with both the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note II. It is one of the perks you get with any Note device, allowing you to draw on a virtual canvas or to take down hand-written notes, as well as to navigate through the interface and take advantage of the implemented S Pen features. While a recent teardown revealed that the Note 3 comes with a newer model Wacom digitizer (that is the component turning analog S Pen input into digital signals the phone can interpret), we find the S Pen on the Note II pretty much as precise and responsive as the one on its successor.


Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Samsung has outfitted the Galaxy Note 3 with its best Super AMOLED screen to date. The panel, measuring 5.7 inches in diagonal, has a resolution of 1080 by 1920 pixels, as is now the norm for all high-end smartphones. Thanks to this high pixel count (386 ppi), graphics and text are represented clearly, in high detail. Colors are adjusted to appear slightly oversaturated by default – something typical for AMOLED tech – but an option in the display settings allows one to have them set at a much more natural level.

The slightly smaller, 5.5-inch Super AMOLED screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note II sure looked great when we first saw it in person. But with a resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels (resulting in a density of just 265 ppi), it is unable to deliver the same level of smoothness and detail achieved by the Note 3's display. Color representation is, again, a bit exaggerated and somewhat less accurate, but it can be adjusted to a more natural setting via the options menu.

One more thing that sets these two smartphones' screens apart is their brightness output. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is relatively easy to use outdoors since its display shines quite brightly, while the Note II looks much dimmer when exposed to the sun's rays. Viewing angles are also better on the Note 3 as there's little color degradation when it is looked at from the side. The display on the Note II, on the other hand, turns blue even at moderate angles – not a deal breaker, but a flaw nonetheless.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 360
Samsung GALAXY Note II 292
View all

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 360-Degrees View

Samsung GALAXY Note II 360-Degrees View

  • Options

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 05:31 10

1. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; 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.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 06:34 8

2. TheStanleyFTW (Posts: 249; Member since: 20 Feb 2013)

Have you ever heard of Sony Xperia P?
900-1000cd/m2 :)

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 07:09 2

4. taikucing (unregistered)

he's a samsung worshiper

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 07:22 13

6. joey_sfb (Posts: 6600; 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.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 08:42 2

7. GTR722 (Posts: 270; Member since: 20 Oct 2012)

And hype, marketing, fake benchmarks...

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 11:50 8

15. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Every OEM is guilty of "boosting" benchmarks. Comment invalidated.

posted on 15 Oct 2013, 16:40

32. ZPM101 (Posts: 28; 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.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 15:24

17. MistB (Posts: 581; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)

BS here, HTC/LG and Asus along with others have done it.

posted on 23 Jul 2014, 05:06

57. usrhlp (Posts: 3; Member since: 23 Jul 2014)

Why did you mention apple in a discussion about samsung?

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 11:31

14. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

Fair enough, phonearena is still off by 100%.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 07:05

3. ph00ny (Posts: 1507; 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

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 07:20 3

5. papss (unregistered)

I hate the way the note 2 looks with its round edges.. but the note 3 looks and feels pretty nice.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 08:49 1

8. JDogg5281 (Posts: 74; 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.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 09:37 1

10. Jeradiah3 (Posts: 1121; 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

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 17:04 1

19. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

If you choose to wait for the next best thing in technology, you'll always be waiting.

John B.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 20:48 2

20. Razrman (Posts: 90; 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.

posted on 15 Oct 2013, 00:03 2

21. Larry_ThaGr81 (Posts: 449; 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.

posted on 15 Oct 2013, 03:02 2

24. saffant (Posts: 274; Member since: 04 Jul 2011)

Nope. Improvements are fairly big, but I guess you're looking for something else.

posted on 15 Oct 2013, 00:10

22. Larry_ThaGr81 (Posts: 449; Member since: 26 May 2011)

AOSP or Touchwiz???

posted on 15 Oct 2013, 08:43

28. Razrman (Posts: 90; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

AOSP, Paranoid Android, features are pretty good, you should check it out.

posted on 17 Oct 2013, 17:42

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

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 09:04 2

9. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 3718; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)

Well done Sammy...

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 09:38 4

11. tedkord (Posts: 14114; 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.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 10:09

12. mobigeek (Posts: 11; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)

My note 3 is having battery and heat issues. Can someone help?

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 10:24 2

13. twens (Posts: 1060; 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

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 15:20

16. rallyguy (Posts: 620; 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.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 16:39

18. Blazers (Posts: 467; 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....

posted on 15 Oct 2013, 01:46

23. JoePhoto (Posts: 26; 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.

posted on 15 Oct 2013, 04:42 2

25. Andrewtst (Posts: 678; 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.

posted on 15 Oct 2013, 05:58

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

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