The larger, cynical part of my brain expected the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to be a predictable incremental upgrade of its predecessor, but it has to be said: I was pleasantly surprised.
Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is very much its own beast, so much so that even happy Galaxy Note 2 owners might want to consider a sexy upgrade. Join me after the break, won’t you, as I compare the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 2.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 5.7in 1080p
Samsung Galaxy Note 2: 5.5in 720p
Yeah, we might roll our eyes at the very mention of 1080p smartphones these days, but since the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 display is only marginally bigger than that of the 720p Galaxy Note 2, we’re talking about a significant increase in PPI, specifically from 267 to 386. That’s a leap of almost 50%. Nice.
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm, 168g
Samsung Galaxy Note 2: 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm, 183g
Despite the larger display, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is roughly the same height, and technically – according to the official spec sheet – a tad narrower than the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. It’s also 1mm thinner, and 15g lighter.
However, JK Shin explains that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 feels pretty solid, with the design chaps going for “heft, but not weight”. Colour me impressed.
Processor and RAM
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.3GHz quad-core (LTE) or Exynos 5420 1.9GHz octo-core (3G), 3GB RAM
Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Exynos 4412 Quad, quad-core 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM
Like the Samsung Galaxy S4, there are two processor variants of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, specifically the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (quad-core) on the LTE model, and the 3G Exynos 5420. You’re well covered in either case.
As for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3's 3GB RAM, it’s impressive on paper, yes, but also crucial for managing the spanking new multitasking features.
Android software support
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Jelly Bean (Android 4.3)
Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Jelly Bean (Android 4.1.2)
Unsurprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 ships with the latest version of Android, namely Jelly Bean 4.3, while the Galaxy Note 2 is merely a maybe for 4.3-based action at present.
Inevitably the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will fall behind in time (as I mentioned, even Jelly Bean Android 4.3 is unconfirmed at this stage), though there’ll be no shortage of independent support.
One of the headline features on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is all those new software tricks. At least some will make their way to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but we imagine it’ll be more like a “Value Pack” than the whole experience recreated.
In particular, there’s Dot, with Action Command bringing up five further options, Circle, which invites you to throw stuff into the Scrapbook, and Box (Pen Window), which lets you draw a little window on top of whatever you’re doing; maybe you’re looking at expenses and you want to draw a mini calculator.
There’s also Multi Window, which supports opening two of the same thing at once. Lovely.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 camera gets a predictable – but welcome – bump from 8MP to 13MP on the rear, in addition to 4K video capture in some territories, and while the battery going from 3,100mAh to 3,200mAh on paper mightn’t look particularly impressive, we’re promised better battery life.
Oh, and not forgetting the faux-leather on the back and serrated edging, lending the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 a diary-like feel.
So pitting the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 against the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, you’ve got a significantly better display, faster processor, more RAM, better camera, 4K video, exclusive (for now) software tricks with enhanced multitasking, a thinner and lighter device with a diary-like feel, and improved battery life. Incremental upgrade? Don’t be silly.