Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: what’s the difference?

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: what’s the difference?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has been available for three weeks on its home turf of South Korea, and tomorrow – October 16 – marks the phablet’s global launch, including the good old United Kingdom.

The obvious question is: What’s the difference between the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note 3? What can the Galaxy Note 4 do that the Galaxy Note 3 can’t? Join me below as I detail an as-yet-undetermined number of (EDIT: six) key changes.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: Higher resolution

Perhaps most notably, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a higher resolution, specifically 1440 x 2560 compared to the 1080 x 1920 setup on the year-old Galaxy Note 3. Multiplying those figures out, that’s 3.7 million pixels compared to “just” 2 million.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: what’s the difference?Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: It looks better

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 isn’t hugely different from the Galaxy Note 3 in terms of basic design, but the little changes make a big difference.

We were never massive fans of that faux leather stitching on the Galaxy Note 3, and while the back of the Galaxy Note 4 is still synthetic cow hide, the stitching is gone, and there’s a more premium-looking metal trim on the side. Nice.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: Enhanced S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s stylus, the S Pen, is enhanced over the year-ago model, with the sensitivity doubled to 2,048 pressure registration points. And with the ability to recognise factors like speed, direction and tilt, the Galaxy Note 4’s S Pen ultimately yields a more natural writing experience.

There are also a couple of new S Pen writing styles, namely Calligraphy Pen and Fountain Pen.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: Better cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 raises the Galaxy Note 3’s 13MP rear camera to 16MP, with – better still – optical image stabilisation, which counter-balances shaky hand syndrome and extends exposure time in low-light settings.

On the front, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 leaps from 2MP to 3.7MP for better selfies, and the f1.9 aperture welcomes “wide selfies” or – this makes me want to die a little – “welfies”.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: what’s the difference?Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: Faster charging

Fast charging is all the rage at the moment, with the spanking new Google Nexus 6 offering six hours’ use after just 15 minutes of charge.

Not to be outdone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s Faster Charging system can juice the battery from 0% to 50% in 30 minutes - that's compared to 55 minutes on the Galaxy Note 3.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: Enhanced Multi Window

Multi Window debuted back on the Galaxy Note 2 in 2012, inviting the user to do two things at once, and Samsung continues to improve the service on the Galaxy Note 4.

Essentially, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s take on Multi Window is easier to use, particularly when it comes to resizing, and there’s the option of full, split or pop-up screens.

Read more about: Samsung Galaxy Note 3Android

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8 comments

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 16, 2014 at 13:16

I'd like to see a real study/survey thingy to find out how much use people make of their stylus.

Still, nice features. Need to find a decent Note 4 review (but I'm afraid I keep hitting on Joanna Stern's :p ). I'd like to see the camera in action, and see what those pics look like in A4. OIS isn't everything.

PackieBashir  Oct. 16, 2014 at 16:42

I'd like to see a real study/survey thingy to find out how much use people make of their stylus.

Still, nice features. Need to find a decent Note 4 review (but I'm afraid I keep hitting on Joanna Stern's :p ). I'd like to see the camera in action, and see what those pics look like in A4. OIS isn't everything.


According to Samsung's internal research, approximately Note users use the 10% of the time they are using their device.

I guess that's a conservative estimate when it comes to East Asia because the handwriting recognition is particularly useful for messaging.

PackieBashir  Oct. 16, 2014 at 16:44

According to Samsung's internal research, approximately Note users use the 10% of the time they are using their device.

Or in English:

They use the S-Pen 10% of the time they're using their device.

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 16, 2014 at 17:04

According to Samsung's internal research, approximately Note users use the 10% of the time they are using their device.

Or in English:

They use the S-Pen 10% of the time they're using their device.


Obviously that figure CAN only refer to people who use the stylus.
I want to know how many people never use the stylus after the 'honeymoon' when it's all oh so new and interesting...
I personally know 2 huge Note fans who both admit they haven't used the stylus after day 3 or 4....

PackieBashir  Oct. 16, 2014 at 17:17

"Obviously that figure CAN only refer to people who use the stylus."

Not necessarily. It sounds to me like you're simply reaching for an excuse to dismiss something you might not find useful yourself.

Likewise you could ask how useful many features found on any smartphone are - do many people use Siri / S Voice / Cortana, etc? Much less 10% of the time.

The S-Pen is a definite differentiator, is it useful to everyone? No, of course not.

Smartphone usage patterns vary wildly between countries - popularity of apps (and even features - DMB, etc) clearly demonstrates that.

Many people who do use the stylus, use it the majority / all of the time.

Given that the Note series has sold considerably better in East Asia than elsewhere (where it's arguably of more use given the complexity of messaging using Chinese characters as Chinese, Koreans and Japanese do), it's entirely possible that those users skewed the research towards the 10% figure. I'd suggest 10% would be towards the low end of expectations for users in East Asia.

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 16, 2014 at 18:39

"Obviously that figure CAN only refer to people who use the stylus."

Not necessarily. It sounds to me like you're simply reaching for an excuse to dismiss something you might not find useful yourself.

Likewise you could ask how useful many features found on any smartphone are - do many people use Siri / S Voice / Cortana, etc? Much less 10% of the time.

The S-Pen is a definite differentiator, is it useful to everyone? No, of course not.

Smartphone usage patterns vary wildly between countries - popularity of apps (and even features - DMB, etc) clearly demonstrates that.

Many people who do use the stylus, use it the majority / all of the time.

Given that the Note series has sold considerably better in East Asia than elsewhere (where it's arguably of more use given the complexity of messaging using Chinese characters as Chinese, Koreans and Japanese do), it's entirely possible that those users skewed the research towards the 10% figure. I'd suggest 10% would be towards the low end of expectations for users in East Asia.


No, sorry, you missed my point. I had 2 Notes - imho the best Android devices.
My point is: if peoplle use the pen 10% of the time (on average), that MEANS THEY use the stylus. More or less than 10% of the time (=> average)...
My question is: did the survey exclude persons who said flat out, "nope, never use it"...
I'm not unreasonable in asking that question.

If I, e.g., wanted to improve the stylus, would I care about people who say they aren't interested in a stylus (BUT like the Note for other reasons, e.g.)...???

That is all. No biggie. I have used smartphones with stylus when Android or iOS weren't dreamed up ;)
And again: I didn't use the stylus on my Note/s much, but when I did, I was glad I had one, and I was impressed by the excellent accompanying software. I have said it over and over on Mobot that imho the Notes are the only 'phablets' that justify the bulk huge phones add to our pockets.

EthanCaine  Oct. 19, 2014 at 06:19

I am exclusively buying the Note 4 for the stylus because I want to learn how to draw and get more into digital art. Otherwise your right, I would rarely use the stylus.

I guess it would be good if your hands were dirty or wet but I probably wouldn't reach for my phone in those conditions anyway.

I'd like to see a real study/survey thingy to find out how much use people make of their stylus.

Still, nice features. Need to find a decent Note 4 review (but I'm afraid I keep hitting on Joanna Stern's :p ). I'd like to see the camera in action, and see what those pics look like in A4. OIS isn't everything.

Larry0071  Oct. 20, 2014 at 16:35

Coming from a Note 2, and working in an office setting (engineering) with group meetings on a regular basis, I use the S-Pen often for note writing. I admit that I do not use it as a mouse/pointer very often at all, but I find the S-Note application to be the very reason I so much love this Samsung device! I have the Note 4 pre-ordered with Verizon and expect to use it in a similar fashion as my trusty Note 2.

That being said, of the actual time spent using the smart phone, much of the time is dedicated to quick checking of Facebook, Tapatalk forums and photo taking of work parts and assemblies as well as personal happenings in the garage/home. Aside from the meeting notes, I really do not use it in casual situations. But... I could not give up the S-Pen, for when I do need it, nothing else replaces the ability it provides to me and my Note 2!

I look forward to the improved camera and fingerprint reader more than any of the other added features and enhancements. I also have a Galaxy Tab S 8.4 that uses the fingerprint scan to unlock (via the home button) and I find it to be very fast and accurate. I'm not a fan of the pattern or PIN lock screens, so on my Note 2 I have never used a secure lock screen. On the Note 4 I plan to enable the fingerprint scanner lock screen similar to that of the Tab S and for the first time have my phone locked in the event of a lost/stolen device.

The trick that I learned on the Tab S for setting up the fingerprint scanner is this: You get 10 swipes to let it read your fingerprint. Should you hold your pointer finger flat and nearly perfectly true to the reader (home button) on each of the 10 swipes, you have a very finicky and picky print profile to match. So instead, run a few swipes flat and true, and a few tilted a bit to the left and a few tilted a bit to the right. The various swipe positions will allow the fingerprint reader to have a much wider range of finger placement positions that it will succeed with and not cause you to constantly re-swipe while trying to get that perfect finger placement.

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