In just a few weeks, Samsung is rumored to be announcing its latest smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4, a device that will replace the Samsung Galaxy S3 as the manufacturer’s flagship smartphone. There is, however, one big name Samsung Galaxy smartphone that the Galaxy S4 won’t be replacing though and that is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Last year, Samsung unveiled two new big name smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy S3 launched in May of 2012 and arrived in the United States during the months of June and July. That device replaced the Samsung Galaxy S2 and has gone on to sell more than 40 million units around the world.
Later, in August, Samsung announced a brand new version of its Samsung Galaxy Note series, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a device that didn’t replace the Galaxy S3, but complimented it on shelves. The Galaxy Note 2, while not as popular as the Galaxy S3, has still made a huge impact with Samsung announcing over five million sold with millions more likely to come.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is relatively new which means it still has quite a bit of time on shelves ahead of it. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3, while rumored, isn’t supposed to arrive until August at the earliest. However, the Galaxy S3 is now poised to be replaced by a smartphone that has shown up in the news since December.
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 first appeared in rumors in late 2012, after the launch of the Galaxy Note 2, and now, it appears to only be weeks away from settling in on shelves next to the Galaxy Note 2.
While they may be Galaxy brethren, they will be competing against each other for the hard earned money of consumers not only in the United States but around the world.
We have taken two previous looks at how the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 matches up against the rumored Samsung Galaxy S4, and now, it’s time to enter the final round as the Samsung Galaxy S4 looks set to touch down in just a few days.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has been out on shelves in the United States since October. Sprint and T-Mobile were the first carriers to launch it, followed by U.S. Cellular and AT&T and Verizon, the latter of which both released the device in November.
In fact, the Verizon Galaxy Note 2 has only been available on shelves since November 29th, which, makes it a relatively young smartphone. The device are also currently available through third party retailers like Amazon, something that consumers have become accustomed to.
Very obviously, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is not out on shelves just yet. Yet, from the looks of things, the Galaxy S4 could be available to buy as early as next month.
Right now, the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch date has been pegged for March 14th at an event in New York City. It’s a date that, while not an official Galaxy S4 launch date, is a virtual lock.
No other rumored Galaxy smartphone would deserve the kind of attention that this launch looks like it will get. Samsung has set the launch in the Radio City Music Hall in New York City which can hold over 6,000 people. Needless to say, this won’t be a small time launch.
On that date, we expect to hear about the device’s release date. Samsung announced Galaxy S3 release dates last year, though for the U.S., it kept it to a release window of June.
With the Galaxy S4, we could see the same thing. Current rumors suggest a Galaxy S4 release date in Europe in April, followed by release dates in the U.S. in either May or June.
Nothing is confirmed just yet so it could be that the United States does in fact see the device arrive much sooner than that.
Maybe the most unique thing about the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is its design. The look of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is different than the design of the original Galaxy Note and best resembles the Galaxy S3. A much larger version of the Galaxy S3.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a monstrosity of a smartphone as its footprint is dominated by the device’s large display. The device measures in at 9.4mm thick but weighs a whopping 180 grams due to its size. To put that into perspective, the iPhone 5 weighs 112 grams and the Galaxy S3 weighs 133 grams.
For those that need photo evidence, here is the Galaxy Note 2 next to the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini.
Samsung used the same build materials as the Galaxy S3 as well. The Galaxy Note 2 is made of polycarbonate plastic, a staple of Samsung’s big name smartphone models. It also features a physical home button on the bottom of the device.
The Galaxy S4 design was once a complete mystery, but over the last few weeks, we finally have some whispering about what we might see arrive with Samsung’s new device.
An image, which is claimed to be of the Samsung Galaxy S4, leaked out showing a device that looks like a smaller version of the original Galaxy Note with a more rectangular shape rather than the curves that consumers have been accustomed to with the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy S3.
It’s unclear if that photo is indeed the real deal and given the past, we have to say it’s unlikely. Samsung has kept the designs of its Galaxy S models locked down in secrecy and last year’s Galaxy S3 didn’t emerge until just before the event.
Other Galaxy S4 design rumors suggest a phone with a physical home button, much like the Galaxy Note 2, a slim 7.9mm design that rivals the 7.6mm iPhone 5, and a 138 gram form factor which would be a little heavier than the Galaxy S3, but much lighter than the Galaxy Note 2. There have also been rumors that the device could be a smaller version of the Galaxy Note 8.0 which launched at Mobile World Congress last month.
The display of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 measures in at a lofty 5.5-inches of Super AMOLED HD. That means that it’s much bigger than most smartphones on the market and its the reason why the device itself is so massive.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 rocks last year’s display technology, sporting 1280 x 720 HD resolution with 267 pixels per inch (ppi). While that means good looking video, images and text, it likely won’t be able to compare to the Galaxy S4 display.
Just about every single rumor out about the Galaxy S4 states that it will be coming with either 4.99-inch or 5-inch display with current-generation 1080p resolution. The pixel-per-inch count is unknown but expect it to be upwards of 400. If true, it will likely deliver crisp, beautiful images, high quality video content and rich text.
More recently, the Galaxy S4 display has also been rumored to have sensors on board that will allow owners to manipulate the display without physically touching it. The tech is not available on the Galaxy Note 2 though it has shown up on devices in the past, namely the Xperia Sola and the Pantech Vega 4G LTE.
The Galaxy Note 2 features 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen content and we expect the Galaxy S4 to as well.
Samsung did not go all out with the camera on the Galaxy Note 2. In fact, the 8MP shooter is virtually the same 8MP camera found on the original Galaxy Note.
It can shoot good photos and 1080p video but those looking for something special from a camera, something current-generation, are going to have to look elsewhere.
Perhaps, that elsewhere will be the Samsung Galaxy S4 which is rumored to be coming with a 13MP camera, perhaps, Sony’s 13MP Sensor. If that’s true, and it’s the same one as the one in the Sony Xperia Z, it could be that it not only takes gorgeous photos, but shoots HDR video as well.
It would also mean a 10 frame-per-second burst photo speed, and likely, the ability to take quality low-light photos, something that is lacking in the Galaxy Note 2′s camera. A sample image that was discovered recently points to a 13MP sensor and it showcases the impressive level of detail that could come on board the Galaxy S3 camera.
Here is how the rest of the hardware matches up thus far between the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S4. Remember, the Galaxy S4 only exists as rumor at this point and that means many of the rumored specs here could change.
First, the Galaxy Note.
- 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
And now, the most recent Galaxy S4 rumors:
- 4.99-inch Full-HD 1080p SoLux Display
- 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core Processor/Exynos 5 Octa Processor
- 16/32/64GB of Storage
- 13MP Camera
- 2,600 mAh (Removable)
- 2 GB RAM
The key differences and similarities to keep in mind are as follows. First, the Samsung Galaxy S4 looks set to offer a removable battery, just like the Galaxy Note 2. This means that users will easily be able to replace a defective battery or place a larger, extended battery inside the Galaxy S4 for longer battery life.
Second, while the Galaxy Note 2 does have a microSD card slot for expanded storage, one of the Galaxy S4 is still not confirmed. That means it’s unclear if users will be able to get storage beyond 64GB.
Third, both devices will use quad-core processors but while the Galaxy Note 2 uses a previous generation Exynos from Samsung, the Galaxy S4 could feature the new Exynos 5 Octa quad-core processor from Samsung which should provide better battery life and performance. Well, at least in Europe.
The Galaxy S4 that comes to the United States is rumored to have a Qualcomm processor, the quad-core Qualcomm 600, which like the Exynos 5 Octa, would provide better performance and battery life than the Qualcomm processor found in the U.S. Galaxy S3 models. It will also likely outperform the Galaxy Note 2′s Exynos processor.
Fourth, the Galaxy S4 will likely not come with the Galaxy Note 2′s bundled S-Pen stylus, a unique pen that allows users to not only draw and write on the display but also take advantage of some unique applications.
And finally fifth, while the Galaxy Note 2 doesn’t have an official wireless charger, the Galaxy S4 is said to be coming with an official Samsung accessory, potentially, one that we saw pass through the FCC.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Galaxy Note 2 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX user interface. This means that it has an assortment of smart features and a number of hidden ones as well.
One of the most well-known Samsung-added features is called Multi-Window View which lets users split the Galaxy Note 2′s display into two parts to run two separate apps at the same time. A demo of Multi-Window View can be seen in the video below.
It also comes with some unique applications for the S-Pen stylus including the S-Note app for easy note taking, another that allows users to simply use the pen to hover over calendar events and emails to get a preview before opening them and one called Easy Clip which allows users to crop photos simply by using the stylus.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has seen a few rumored software features leak out though they remain unconfirmed. One is thought to be called Samsung Orb, which is rumored to be Samsung’s take on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean’s Photo Sphere feature that allows users to take 360 degree panoramic photos.
Two other possible features, found in trademarks, include Eye Scroll and Eye Pause which would allow users to control content on the display simply by using their eyes.
The Galaxy S4 is heavily rumored to be coming with the latest version of Android, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is available on a host of carriers in the U.S. meaning consumers have a choice of where to take their business.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon all offer the device and besides T-Mobile, all offer it on their high speed 4G LTE networks. T-Mobile will be issuing an update to the Galaxy Note 2 that will enable 4G LTE data though it’s unclear when such an update might arrive.
Thus far, the only two carriers that have been rumored for the Galaxy S4 are AT&T and Verizon. The AT&T model purportedly showed up in a user string agent from Samsung’s website while the Verizon model showed up more recently in a purported benchmark.
The Galaxy S4 likely won’t just come to those two carriers though and likely will launch across the board on the five largest carriers in the U.S.: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon.
The price of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 started out at $299.99 on U.S. carriers and has remained there. Except at T-Mobile where the device is much more expensive and runs for $370 on-contract, except for when T-Mobile offers deals, the most recent, which had the Galaxy Note 2 for $199.99 on-contract.
Through retailers like Amazon though is where the Galaxy Note 2 really shines. Amazon offers several variants of the Galaxy Note 2 for well under carrier asking price which makes it a logical destination for those that are either upgrading or signing a new contract.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 hasn’t seen a rumored price yet but it would be shocking to see it arrive for anything but $199.99 for the 16GB model. That’s where the Galaxy S3 started and that’s likely where the Galaxy S4 will start.
T-Mobile is shifting to unsubsidized plans though which means that consumers looking to snag the device, should it arrive, likely won’t have to sign a contract. Look for pricing there to be different.