Tomorrow, the last of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 models will arrive in the United States which means that the Galaxy Note 2 will finally be at full strength against its competitors. And one of those competitors is Google’s latest Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 4, which went on sale earlier this month. Both are extremely attractive phones and two of the best options on the table. But how do they stack up against each other? Let’s take a look.
In October, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 finally arrived in the United States, looking to take the smartphone world by storm. So far so good it seems as Samsung’s phablet sequel has sold over five million units worldwide, a number that likely was helped by numerous launches in the United States. It was likely also helped by the fact that the Galaxy Note 2 is a high quality smartphone featuring some of the most powerful and unique hardware and software that can be found on the market today.
The Android smartphone landscape is a competitive one though and the Galaxy Note 2 is not without competition and one of its main competitors if Google’s yearly smartphone, the Nexus, which this year is called the Nexus 4 by LG.
The Nexus 4 is Google’s fourth iteration of the Nexus smartphone, following in the footsteps of the Nexus One, Nexus S and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It’s also the first Nexus smartphone to be made by LG. The others were made by HTC and Samsung. Like the Galaxy Note 2, the Nexus 4 is an extremely alluring smartphone for a number of reasons including its software, its price and its hardware.
So how do they match up against each other in terms of hardware, software, price, release date and more? The answer to those questions and more are answered in our Nexus 4 versus the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Finally, after more than a month of waiting, Verizon became the last U.S. carrier to announce the release date for its Samsung Galaxy Note 2. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular have all had their devices out for several weeks now. The Verizon Galaxy Note 2 began shipping out on November 27th to those who pre-ordered and will become available in-stores and online starting tomorrow, November 29th.
The unlocked version of the Nexus 4 was released on the U.S. Google Play Store on November 13th. It quickly sold out that day only to return for a short spell yesterday. Those who weren’t able to order the 8GB or 16GB models are now facing shipping times that land in 2013.
As of today, the 8GB Nexus 4 is looking at shipping times that could take up to two months while the 16GB Nexus 4 is looking at shipping dates in four to five weeks time. It’s possible that these dates could get worse as more people try and order the device.
A day after the unlocked Nexus 4’s release, T-Mobile USA launched its version of the Nexus 4. While it sold out briefly, the device is on sale once again and shouldn’t face the same type of delays that are facing the unlocked models.
The Galaxy Note 2 is not a typical smartphone. It is massive, and rightfully dubbed a phablet. Those with little hands are going to have some trouble keeping a hold of it with one hand and even those with large hands may find it odd at first. Specifically, it measures 51.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm thin with a weight of 180 grams. That’s pretty thin for a smartphone, especially one this size, but it weighs more than most smartphones, including the Nexus 4.
As for the design, the phablet takes hints from the Galaxy S3 in that it offers rounded edges and a design that is constructed out of durable polycarbonate plastic which makes it easy to hold.
The Nexus 4 on the other hand is both slimmer and lighter than the Galaxy Note 2 as it comes with a 9.1mm design and a weight of 139 grams. It also comes with hints of plastic in its design but it also has a smooth, glass backing that is new for a Nexus device and looks and feels great in the hands.
One of the most noticeable qualities of the Galaxy Note 2 is its massive 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display. That’s part of where the device gets its phablet name. The massive display checks in with 720p resolution and offers 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen video. It also offers great viewing angles.
There is also support for the device’s S-Pen stylus which lets users write and draw directly on the screen, amongst other things. This is a massive display and much bigger than most other smartphones out there, including the Nexus 4.
The Nexus 4 also has a large screen, sitting at 4.7-inches with 720p HD resolution. However, where the Nexus 4 display shines is with its 320 pixels-per-inch which makes for crisp images and text. The Galaxy Note 2 has 267 pixels per inch which is still good, especially for a device that size.
Let’s run down the key specifications on both devices and look at the differences. First, here are the specifications for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
- 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display with 1280×720 resolution
- 1.6GHz Quad-core Exynos Processor
- 16GB Storage (microSD card slot)
- 8MP Camera/1.9MP Front-Facing
- 3,100mAh Battery (Removable)
- 2GB of RAM
- 4.7-inch IPS Display 1280 x 768 pixel resolution (320 ppi)
- 1.5GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon S4 Pro Processor
- 8GB/16GB Storage (No microSD card slot)
- 8MP Camera/1.9MP Camera
- 2100 mAh battery (Non-Removable)
- 2GB of RAM
- Wireless Charging
The key differences here include the storage space and the batteries. The Nexus 4 battery is much smaller than that of the Galaxy Note 2. However, that won’t matter much. The Galaxy Note 2 needs the extra battery to handle its display and 4G LTE data speeds while the Nexus 4 has a much smaller display and runs on HSPA+.
The difference though is the fact that the Galaxy Note 2 has a removable battery which means it can be easily taken out and replaced with a new one or possibly something even bigger. The Nexus 4 does not have this ability and users are stuck with the battery it comes with.
Other differences include the fact that the Nexus 4 only comes with 8GB or 16GB of storage without expandable memory. The Galaxy Note 2 comes in 16GB form only but can take up to a 32GB microSD card.
The Galaxy Note 2 also comes with an S-Pen stylus whereas the Nexus 4 does not and the Nexus 4 comes with wireless charging on board, a standard that the Galaxy Note 2 can’t obtain without some sort of third-party accessory.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 sports a decent 8MP rear camera that can shoot solid photos and take 1080p video. In the front, we have a 2MP camera that can produce decent looking video chats. The camera on the Galaxy Note 2 also features some software enhancements that make it a whole lot better. An overview of the Galaxy Note 2 cameras can be seen in the video below.
Here, also, is a sample photo taken with the phablet.
The Nexus 4 also possesses two cameras, one 8MP in the rear that can also shoot 1080p video and a 1.9MP front-facing camera in the front that can handle video chats with ease. The camera on Google’s new Nexus is good, but it’s not going to win any awards. In fact, neither of these cameras are top of the line.
Here is a photo sample taken with the Nexus 4.
One of the most intriguing features found on the Galaxy Note 2 is its software. While it’s running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, an older but still fantastic version of Android, the Galaxy Note 2 also provides some unique features not found on any other Android smartphone.
Those unique features include applications that take advantage of its S-Pen, the stylus included with the Galaxy Note 2. From a powerful note taking application called S-Pen to a feature called Air View that allows users to hover over things like email for a quick preview, the Galaxy Note 2 has some nice stylus-enhanced weapons on board.
Those two and more are also backed by a powerful multitasking feature called Multi Window View which allows users to split split the massive display up into two parts, each hosting a different application. For example, users can surf the web on one side while checking Facebook on the other.
That being said, the Nexus 4 has some powerful software of its own. Backed by the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update, the device features a fully customizable, vanilla version of Android, untouched by a manufacturer like Samsung.
It also is a Nexus smartphone which means updates, including bug fixes and major ones, will come faster to the Nexus 4 than virtually any other Android device.
One of the advantages of the Galaxy Note 2 is that it is available on a wide swath of U.S. carriers, specially, the five largest in the country. AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, T-Mobile and Verizon are all offering the 5.5-inch phablet and all five will be running on 4G LTE, well, except for T-Mobile’s which won’t have access until T-Mobile launches its 4G LTE network in 2013.
What this means is that the device will be able to pull down data speeds that reach up to 10 times faster than typical 3G. T-Mobile’s device will run on its speedy HSPA+ 42 network. The difference in speed can be seen in the video below.
More information on the differences in carriers can be found in our Samsung Galaxy Note 2 carrier comparison.
The Nexus 4’s carrier situation is a little more tricky and a lot more limiting. The T-Mobile Nexus 4 is attached to T-Mobile and runs on its HSPA+ 42 network, just like the Galaxy Note 2. It’s doubtful that it will run on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network even when the service does arrive.
As for the unlocked version, it can run on AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States. For AT&T, the best it will do is run on its HSPA+ 21 network while it can run on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network. Users will need the proper SIM card in order to use the device on these networks.
For more information on the network differences for the unlocked Nexus 4, see our comparison.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is an extremely intriguing device but unfortunately, it comes with a fairly expensive price tag that may price out many of those who are interested in the phablet.
AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular and Sprint all sell the Galaxy Note 2 for $299.99 on-contract. The Galaxy Note 2 on T-Mobile is much more expensive checking in with a $370 on-contract price tag.
The device can be found at retailers like Amazon and Wirefly but those who wish to go through the carriers directly are going to be subject to shelling out more than three hundred dollars for the privilege of owning the Galaxy Note 2. We expect the price to drop in the early part of next year but thus far, carriers haven’t budged.
Google’s Nexus 4 possesses a much more attractive price tag, especially for the unlocked version. While T-Mobile’s Nexus 4 is $199.99 on-contract, the unlocked version is just a little more expensive.
The 8GB Nexus 4 is $299 unlocked and the 16GB Nexus 4 is a mere $349 unlocked. Far cheaper than the Galaxy Note 2 and again, not attached to any carrier.