Samsung Galaxy Note LTE vs Apple iPhone 4S

Introduction and Design

By now, we’ve all probably watched that commercial about the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE for AT&T – you know, the one that aired during the Super Bowl. Sure, we get a good chuckle out of it, thanks to its over the top style, but when you overlook the theatrics and celebrity cameos, we find yet another casual instance of Samsung pitting its offering against Apple’s pride and joy. Storming onto the scene, the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE has proven itself as one captivating smartphone that’s very different from mostly everything else, but it’s going to take more than BIG talk to take away the iPhone’s grasp on the market, so let’s find out who these two titans in the smartphone world stack up against one another.


To put it bluntly, these two handsets couldn’t be any more different from one another, as size is undoubtedly the most prominent differentiator. On one side, we have the obnoxiously large size of the Galaxy Note LTE, which makes it impossible to use single handed – though, we have to admit that it’s so uncanny that it actually provides most of its wow factor. Conversely, the iPhone is more form fitting and comfortable to hold in the hand, while its top-notch quality choice of materials gives it that premium feel. We can argue which one has the better construction or killer design, but in an age where initial impressions have long lasting implications, the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE simply has that fresh appeal to snag the attention of people far and wide.

Even though we rarely had issues accidentally any of the Note’s capacitive buttons, it’s never a problem with the tactile physical home button of the iPhone 4S. Perched above their displays are their respective front-facing cameras, with the Note donning a higher count 2-megapixel snapper versus the VGA one of the iPhone 4S.

Exhibiting great responses and distinctive feels, we equally like the dedicated power buttons and volume controls of the two. Moving along to their connection ports, which are used for data connectivity and charging, they require the aid of an optional adapter to gain video-out functionality. Needless to say, we’re not fans of buying something extra to gain the function, but nevertheless, we’ve been accustomed to it by now.

Complementing their high-end status, both are outfitted with beefy 8-megapixel cameras with LED flashes, however, the iPhone 4S seems to be more photo-centric due to its F2.4 wide-angle lens and backside illumination. Previously, we would’ve complained about the iPhone’s lack of expandable memory and removable battery, but we’ve come to accept it. Well, it’s not to say we’re over it entirely, as the Note entices us with its beefy removable 2,500 mAh battery and microSD card slot.


Arguably, we can dissect and mention the advantages between each handset’s display, but ultimately it’s our eyes that emphasize which is ultimately the more alluring one. On numerous occasions, and even now, we’ve always been enthralled by the 3.5” Retina display of the iPhone 4S, but it has become somewhat passé – but to its credit, it’s still perceived as a benchmark for everything else. Naturally, both deliver stunning detail as the iPhone 4S and Galaxy Note LTE offer high pixel densities of 330 ppi and 285 ppi respectively, but we cannot overlook the unnatural size of the Galaxy Note LTE. In the end, we’re attracted to it more due to its mind-boggling 5.3” footprint – plus, its saturated colors and sheer luminance rounds out things to complement its beauty.

Samsung GALAXY Note LTE 360-degrees View:

Apple iPhone 4S 360-degrees View:

Interface and Functionality:

Here we go again! It’s yet another classic brawl between Android and iOS, but as we’ve pointed out in several comparisons, they have their specific characteristics to appeal to a wide audience. However, you can kind of see how the TouchWiz interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE closely resembles the iPhone’s grid-like interface – albeit, the Note displays more icons thanks to its generous size. As we’ve come to expect, the Note offers a ton more personalization than the iPhone can ever dream about in its lifetime, but some newcomers might be scared by its complexity – well, that’s on top of its menacing presence. Oppositely, traversing through the iPhone’s interface is wickedly easier thanks to its simplistic and straightforward approach.

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Now that the Galaxy Note LTE is here in the flesh, it redefines what it means to have a spacious keyboard layout – essentially when compared to the iPhone’s offering. Thankfully though, both are well endowed in typing up long passages of text with minimal mistakes thanks in part to their tasteful responsiveness. Sure, we might accidentally hit the wrong button when using the iPhone’s keyboard, but seeing that it has one of the best autocorrect and predictive features, we can consistently keep a good rate without worries.

Catering to our needs with their ever so useful organizer apps, their functionalities are pretty much similar to one another, but there are a few distinct differences with the Galaxy Note LTE. Specifically, we’re greeted with layouts more akin to tablets when using the calendar and email apps in landscape. In fact, we like that we’re presented with a 2-panel layout for better visibility and organization, but beyond that, we don’t find its actual functions to be any advantageous over the iPhone. Interestingly, the one trump card in it all has to be none other than the S Pen functions of the Note – thus, allowing us to create drawings with precision and jotting notes with its recognition input system.

Processor and Memory:

In our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE, we were quick to notice some evidence of choppiness with certain processor intensive tasks – and that’s despite packing a mighty 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8660 processor with 1GB of RAM. In contrast, it’s rarely a concern with the 800MHz dual-core Apple A5 CPU with 512MB of RAM of the iPhone 4S, as it seemingly exhibits the more fluid movements and executions. Honestly, the sluggish performance of the Galaxy Note LTE isn’t in our face all the time, but when we find the iPhone 4S running smoothly in all aspects, it begs the question if software is the culprit behind the Note’s performance.

You’ll need to be extremely picky with the iPhone 4S, seeing that there’s no way to increase its internal memory, which is available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities. Meanwhile, the Note is graced with 10.84GB of free storage out of the box, which can be supplemented by throwing in a microSD card.

Internet and Connectivity:

Talk about speed! There’s no comparison with this one as the Note is blessed with support for LTE connectivity – whereas, the iPhone 4S is limited to HSPA+ speeds with AT&T’s network. Taking speeds out of the equation, we still have to hand it to the Note when it comes down to web browsing. Simply, it’s fluid, displays more things on-scree simultaneously thanks to its size, and offers Flash support for that remarkably close desktop-like experience. Yeah, the iPhone 4S exhibits the same responsiveness and fluidity with its browsing controls, but it can’t outclass the Note in this category.

Reiterating ourselves, the Samsung Galaxy Note has the upper hand in the data speed department thanks to its LTE connection, but it’s worth noting that the iPhone 4S also packs a CDMA radio to run off the networks of Sprint and Verizon. Moreover, they both feature aGPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.


Unless we dive in and comb through each photo, it’s nearly impossible to say which smartphone is the superior in taking photos – since both dish up fantastic looking shots! However, we can say that the iPhone 4S has the slightly better looking shots, as its balanced results are tastefully produced by its sharp details, natural looking color production, and adequate exposure. Taking it indoors under low lighting, we do notice the usual level of noise with their shots, but again it’s the iPhone 4S casting the more neutral color tones. With the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE, we do like the manual controls we’re given, but its shots are noticeably on the cooler side – thus, appearing more bluish in tone.

At the same time, we can concretely say that the iPhone 4S is the more favorable device for shooting 1080p videos as well. Aside from the distinctive details and pronounced color tones of the iPhone 4S, there’s nothing much else separating the two in terms of quality. However, we have to admit that continuous focus on the Galaxy Note LTE comes in handy in beautifying its results – whereas the iPhone 4S offers touch-focus only.

Samsung Galaxy Note Sample Video:

Apple iPhone 4S Sample Video:


Considering that the iPhone 4S retains the same exact music player found in use with the original iPhone from a few years ago, one would think that Samsung would’ve come out of the gate with something glitzy looking, but alas, that’s not the case. On the surface, they’re quite conventional with their approach, but the iPhone 4S has this thing called Coverflow mode that stands out. Tuning our ears to the audio quality of their respective speakers, both are extremely boisterous in tone, but the iPhone 4S has some sharp tones that sound a little irritating at its loudest volume – while the Galaxy Note sounds screechy.

Since it’s larger and accepts most codecs without the need for conversion, the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE is by far the preferred device to watch videos. And to cap off its immaculate beauty, its punchy looking colors and high contrast really keeps our attention on it at all times. Sorry iPhone, but 3.5-inches isn’t enough to satisfy our insatiable needs.


Ehhh…we’re not all that blown away by the calling quality of either device, especially when they’re plagued by their own issues. Specifically, the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE is bogged by its weak sounding earpiece, while some background noise can be heard through the iPhone 4S. Fortunately, these problems aren’t annoying to the point that they make either device unusable, but they’re still items that stand out to us.

During our testing, signal strength appears to be adequate with these two beauties, but more importantly, we didn’t experience any dropped phone calls.

Even before getting started, the massive display of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE might seem menacing enough to quickly make us believe that it’ll dissipate its battery, but we’re impressed to find it performing better than the iPhone 4S. With our normal usage, we’re able to get by close to a couple of days out of a fully charged Galaxy Note LTE under HSPA+ connectivity. Meanwhile, the iPhone 4S seems to be sufficient to get us through a solid one day, but it’s in desperate need of charging before bed.


Here’s the deal people. We’re well aware that the iPhone 4S is a venerable smartphone that’s sure to continue with success, as it has done so in the past countless times, but this latest version doesn’t quite have the same level of fresh appeal found with the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE. On the flip side though, there are people that will instantly steer clear from the Note due to its intimidating posture, but that’s exactly what makes the handset so fresh and very different.

Throw in its S Pen functions, and you have a smartphone that already packs one feature that’s not available with the iPhone 4S. Nowadays, we can whip out the iPhone 4S in a crowd of people and not receive one shred of recognition. Certainly, that’s not an issue with the curious looking Galaxy Note LTE, since it’s able to somehow magically sum up conversation from random strangers. Aside from its effectiveness in garnering attention, it’s also well-endowed in various key areas to make it a formidable rival in the smartphone landscape.

Samsung Galaxy Note LTE vs Apple iPhone 4S:

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