In this post I’ll be comparing the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 versus Samsung Galaxy S4. These are my personal two favorite smartphones on the market right now. If you are planning to by one of the two, I think that you’ll find this article very informative and helpful. Two excellent smartphone devices, each one with its own unique features, cons and pros.
Samsung GALAXY Note 2
The Galaxy Note II is one of the most appealing devices on the market right now. Already reviewed by dozen of websites, this 5.5-inch smartphone is visually very appealing and also very powerful. It utilizes a 5.5″ HD Super AMOLED screen with 16:9 ratio for gorgeous visuals. This device replaces the GALAXY Note (N7000) and although it features a larger screen, it’s less wide and even slimmer than its predecessor. The GALAXY Note II is a powerhouse with its 1.6GHz quad-core processor.
The GALAXY Note 2 was designed for productivity in mind and be the perfect mobile companion. The Note 2 is also an excellent alternative to a tablet device for those who don’t want to carry a large tablet, although there are some 7-inch tablets that are relatively small like the ASUS Fonepad (which is also a phone as well). Still, the difference in size is quite larger and a 7-inch tablet is not something that you just throw in your pocket and go.
The Note 2 large screen is perfect for games, watching videos and images, but also as an e-reader as well. The S-Pen that comes with the device makes it very easy to use and really ads to the phone’s functionality, whether for sketching, drawing, adding captions to images, easy copy & paste, writing or for menu navigation. Some mobile phone users find it more comfortable than using the touch screen with their fingers. The S Pen also imitates the hover effect on supported elements so you have alternate functionality that works when you just hover your S-Pen over certain elements, it also works on web pages and actually gives you the same effect as if a mouse cursor moved over the element.
Everything seems to run smoothly on the Note 2 without any hiccups. The camera image quality is very good and offers plenty of software-based features to play with. If we really need to find a complain, some people aren’t that satisfied with the 3.5mm headphone audio quality, not that it’s bad, but it’s not as good as other devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S3 for example. Furthermore, it’s a relatively large device, so you probably use it with two hands especially for writing. People that are used to one hand typing will find it a beat odd at first.
The Samsung GALAXY Note 2 has excellent battery life, big screen to ease your eyes, it supports multi-window (virtually split the screen into two windows) and multi-tasking, it comes with a microSD card slot and above all you can even put it in your pocket. This is among the my top 5 most favorite phones right now. Samsung has done an incredible job with this phone and there is a reason why this devices gets such high ratings all across the web. I also find the Samsung GALAXY Note 2 an excellent device for bloggers on-the-go.
Samsung GALAXY S4
Samsung Galaxy S4 is the most awaited phone from Samsung in 2012/2013. Samsung hopes that the S4 will continue the success of the S3. First of all, the Galaxy S4 is a powerful beast and was able to put the Apple iPhone 5 to share in recent benchmarks. It features a 5-inch Super AMOLED Full HD display with 441 ppi (pixel density), yet it slimmer than its predecessor.
With the Galaxy S4 Samsung put a lot of attention in the software part of the device, trying to put more innovation in the built-in apps. This includes features like “S Translator”, “Dual Camera”, “Group Play”, “Air View”, “Smart Scroll / Pause” and many others. The S4 is the most advanced device when it comes to hardware and software features. It utilizes a Exynoe 5 Octa chipset 8-core processor with big.LITTLE processing technology. It comes with IR LED, 2GB of RAM, microSD slot (up to 64GB), compatibility with Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 4.0 and it’s a 4G LTE device. It comes with a large arsenal of sensors and its very power efficient.
Samsung has decided to use a 13MP camera with back-illuminated sensor and a f/2.2 lens. You can record Full HD videos at 30 fps with the rear camera. The S 4 has a large screen and it’s a well-worthy competitor to the Note 2.
The S4 will be a very popular smartphone, there is no question about it. The question that still remains is whether the Note 2 will be a better device for your specific needs. I hope that after you finish reading this comparison, you’ll find the answer and will be able to make a decision.
GALAXY S4 vs GALAXY Note 2
Some will argue that that the two devices are aimed towards different market segment, in some part I agree, but they have a lot of similarities as well.
Design & Size
Both the S 4 and Note 2 are made of plastic and in some way the y both resembles the look and feel of the S3. Some people reported that the S4 feels more durable when holding it in there hands especially the rear cover which is more rugged compare to the smooth surface of the Note II. The Note 2 weights 180g which is 50 grams more than the S4.
Galaxy S4: 136.6 x 69.9 x 7.9mm
Galaxy Note 2: 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm
The most obvious difference is of course the screen. The S4 uses a 5-inch 1920 x 1080 pixels (Full HD) 441 ppi display, the Note 2 has a 5.5-inch 1280 x 720 pixels (HD) 267 ppi display; both Super AMOLED. It might not sound like a big difference in size but it is. Of course the S 4 has a higher resolution display and that means crisper look. This gives the S4 advantage when it comes to viewing more data on the screen like viewing a website, because you can have more information on the and there is less need to scroll. The 5.5-inch will probably be easier for reading due to its lower resolution yet larger size screen. A large display might give you a more engaging gaming experience and serve better an e-book reader as well.
The S4 comes with a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and Note 2 comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 2.
So what’s the difference between Gorilla Glass 3 and 2? – Gorilla Glass 3 is the third generation of screen protectors which is three time more scratch-resistant and stronger than the Gorilla Glass 2.
Processor, RAM, Storage & GPU
Both devices feature a 2GB of RAM, which is plenty to run many apps simultaneously, more than enough for anybody’s needs even the most high-end users.
The Samsung GALAXY S4 comes in two variants depends on the market, either a Qualcomm 1.9GHz quad core or Exynos octa core 1.6GHz and a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU. The Samsung Note 2 comes with a Exynos 4412 1.6GHz quad core Cortex-A9 processor and Mali-400MP GPU.
According to a AnTuTu bechmark that was published on androidautority.com website, the Galaxy S4 got the highest score:
- Samsung Galaxy S4 – 25,900
- Sony Xperia Z – 20,607
- Droid DNA – 20,594
- Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – 17,353
- Google Nexus 4 – 17,027
- Samsung Galaxy S3 – 15,771
* S4 with 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600
That leaves no room for any doubt, the Galaxy S4 is much more powerful than the Note 2 (at least in this benchmark test). The S4 will probably be more competitive against the HTC One and the LG Optimus G Pro in terms of sheer raw processing power. You can also see that the S4 is much more powerful than the S3, and who knows, maybe that by itself will convince people to upgrade to the S4.
The S4 is also the world’s first mobile phone device to use the ARM big.LITTLE processing technology. The S4 was designed to enhance the experience and elevate the productivity of any app, especially when it comes to processing-intense tasks and the most demanding 3D Android games like Real Racing 2, HORN, Bombshell Hell, Dead Trigger, Bard’s Tale and others. A few years ago games weren’t that impressive so I wouldn’t mind not having a powerful smartphone, but now you have some gorgeous games and as a gamer myself, I am very impressed with this year latest titles. Just head to YouTube and watch some demos and it will think twice before going choosing a low-end Android mobile phone.
The Samsung GALAXY S4 employ the PowerVR SGX544MP3 triple-core GPU clocked at 533MHz and capable of 51.2GFLOPS. The Samsung GALAXY Note 2 uses the ARM Mali-400MP GPU clocked at 400MHz which is integrated into the main SoC chip. At the time time of launch the Note 2 was the king of the hill, beating the HTC One X and Galaxy S3 in both Quadrant and AnTuTu benchmarks, however in terms of sheer performance is certainly behind the S4.
Both the S4 comes in 16/32/64 GB storage variants + microSD (up to 64GB).
Mobile Phone Camera
The Samsung Galaxy S4 employs a 13 MP (4128 x 3096 pixels) rear-facing camera and a 2 MP front-facing camera. The Note II comes with a 8 MP (3264 x 2448 pixels) rear-facing camera and a 1.9 MP front-facing camera.
I went to gsmarena.com to used the photo quality comparison tool to compare the image quality of the Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 8MP camera versus the Galaxy S4 13MP camera.
Here’s my observation conclusions:
- Note 2 image has much better contrast
- Note 2 camera produces a more saturated colors
- Galaxy S4 result in a more detailed image due to its higher resolution sensor
- Note 2 images have less noise, that’s most probably due to the pixel density which is higher on the S4 (441 ppi vs 267 ppi)
I can say that overall I was more impressed with the Note 2 images than the S4. Having said that, both result in very high quality images, it’s only when I do some pixel peeping that those differences are revealed. Worth mentioning that the SGS4 images were taken with a pre-release product, and therefore the image quality might improve with a release product.
Here’s some sample videos from both devices:
Samsung Galaxy S4 video sample (by GSM Arena)
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 video sample (by Phone Arena)
The camera features don’t end with image quality. When it comes to the mobile phone camera, the built-in apps and integral functionality is not less important. In that regard, Samsung did an incredible job with the S4, but instead of writing about each feature, let’s take a look at the next comparison table:
(use the rear & front camera at the same time)
|Simultaneous Video & Stills|
|Slow Motion Video|
|Sound & Shot|
|Drama Shot |
(take up to 100 shot in 4 seconds and select some to be in the final image. Like a time-lapse action photo)
(eliminates destructing moving subject in the background from the image)
The Samsung GALAXY S4 has a faster lens, higher resolution and enjoys more built-in features. However, I’ve found the Note 2 image quality to be better. Regarding the dual-camera feature, from what I understand (correct me if I’m wroing here), this is not possible to doe with an app because the two cameras use the same imaging pipeline, and with other phones you can shoot with the two cameras at the same time. Other mobile phone that is capable doing this is the LG Optimus G Pro.
Samsung GALAXY S4 runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the most up-to-date Android operating system (as for the time of writing this review). Note 2 N7105 was released with Android 4.1.1 and can be upgraded to 4.1.2 and at the time of writing this article you and update it to the very stable 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Vanilla RootBox v3.9.1 ROM (more ‘how to’ information here). For a comparison between Android 4.1 and 4.2 visit this page and for why Android 4.2.1 is an important update read this post on network world.
Besides the operating system, most of the biggest differences are in the integral apps and features that each one offers. With the S4 its all about being creative with media, but it foes beyond that. With features like “Dual Camera”, “Group Play”, “S Translator”, “Story Album”, the unique “Air Gesture”, “Air view”, “Smart Scroll / Pause”, “Eraser”, “Sound & Shot”, “Drama Shot”, “Adapt Display”, Knox, “S Health” (and others) — Samsung really made the S4 a magnificent device for working with images and videos but provides other useful features that increases our productivity helps with communication and helps making our private information even more secure.
The Note 2 is all about productivity and take advantages of the big screen size an S-Pen for many type of tasks. There are a few features that I really liked on the Galaxy Note II: Adding widgets (great for being updated with the latest tasks and event directly on your hope screen, easy to write quick notes, etc.).
Love the Note 2 multi-window view functionality that certainly helps with multi tasking by allowing you to run two applications at the same time in the same window (both viewable at the same time). The “S Note” is an excellent app for share all your creation, whether it’s sketching, memos, short notes.. oh, and even math equation text recognition and share recognition that let you draw a shape and it turn it into a sharp vector image (ie. circle, square). Another cool feature is the popup browser, popup player and popup note that will automatically open when you take the S Pen out.
To it’s easy to see that the main advantage that the Note 2 has over the S4 is its multitasking capabilities, which works wonderfully on the Note 2. No doubt that this device will also appeal better for businessmen on-the-go. The “Air View” feature will remind you the work with a mouse because many of the Note 2 functionality can be utilizes using the S Pen by hovering the S Pen over certain elements in the apps. This saves a lot of time and helps you be more productive because you don’t need to click on an element in order to view it’s functionality. Part of the information will be presented to you by just hovering, if you need more details, click on the element. Very useful when you are dealing with a lot of information.
As you can see, each device has its unique features that certainly worth your attention. I personally think that all devices should work this way.
The Samsung GALAXY S4 has native support for Qi wireless charging, with the Note 2 you will have to mod it to make it work. There are plenty of articles about it on the web, just search for “Galaxy Note 2 wireless charging” (do it on your own risk). Having said that, I cam across a Samsung Note 2 wireless receiver and charger by Monster Watts. You need both a charger and a receiver. The receiver is ultra-thin layer that you attach under your existing Note 2 back cover, and you can than charge the phone using the Qi standard wireless charger pad. The Model SN2W is Note 2, S3 and S4 compatible according to the site.
So the advantage of the S4 is that it support native wireless charging, so there is no need for modding and other massy stuff.
Both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 are among the most interesting devices on the market. As you’ve notices, each device has its unique features that will certainly appeal to different people. The S4 seems to be aimed towards the user that is more socially engaged and takes a lot of photos and videos. The S4 is also the ultimate gaming machine, at least when it come to its sheer hardware performance.
The GALAXY Note 2 will appeal for people that love the its large beautiful display and will take advantage of the multi-tasking capabilities. I know that some not everyone takes advantage of it. Some people just work/play with one application at a time, and for them it will probably won’t be that useful. Being able to use the multi-tasking capabilities actually reminds me more of working on my own computer, and that’s why I feel that many people will find it like a second nature to them and not like a brand new functionality that you don’t know how to work with.
I think that the Note 2 will be a perfect fit for students and a perfect companion for managing your busy schedule at work. The S4 will appeal to high-end users that are more into capturing moments with stills and videos and those who are into gaming and want to play the latest 3D game titles with fast frame rates. If you always wanted a tablet, with the Samsung Galaxy Note II you might find out that it’s no longer needed.
You just can’t go wrong with either, but that leads us to the price. The Samsung Galaxy Note II GT-N7100 costs around $615 (I’ve checked Amazon.com) and the S4 16GB variant should costs around $630 in the US when it launches in early April 2013. There aren’t cheap devices, but with those two devices you really get what you paid for.
I personally don’t have a straight opinion whether you should upgrade from Note to Note 2 or from S3 to S4, it really depends on your specific needs. I think that by understanding the differences between the two devices, and already knowing your current device capabilities and features, you will be able to make that decision.
What’s you opinion, share it by commenting below. Thanks for reading.