Last week, Samsung finally took the shroud off of its long-awaited Samsung Galaxy S4, a device that had been swirling around in the rumor mill since the latter half of 2012. And while the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be replacing the Galaxy S3 as the company’s flagship, it’s still going to be facing in-house competition, not only from the Galaxy S3, which will likely drop in price, but also from Samsung’s other flagship smartphone model, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
After months and months of rumors, leaks, and speculation, Samsung finally debuted the Samsung Galaxy S4, the device it will be using to replace the Samsung Galaxy S3, its flagship smartphone from 2012. The Galaxy S4, thanks to the Galaxy S3, will have some massive shoes to fill when it debuts in the weeks ahead.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 represents Samsung’s most popular smartphone to date, selling over 40 million units around the world, and propelling Samsung to the top of a long list of Android manufacturers vying for the top position. In fact, the Galaxy S3 and its furious marketing campaign helped to push the Galaxy S series into the upper echelons in terms of visibility amongst consumers with the device arguably on the same level as Apple’s iPhone.
This success obviously put the pressure on Samsung to deliver with a high-quality smartphone in the Galaxy S4, and from the looks of things, it looks like it may have done just that. Of course, despite the attractiveness of the Galaxy S4, it’s going to be facing stiff competition from the likes of the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z and the iPhone 5.
Further, it’s going to have to deal with some in-house competition from Samsung. One such device is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung’s current large-screen smartphone that has been on shelves since late last year.
Like the Galaxy S4, the Galaxy Note 2 is an attractive option for those upgrading or signing on for a new contract and it certainly has to be mentioned and listed as a Galaxy S4 competitor. So just how do they match up? We’ve taken several past looks at how they match up against each other but now it’s time to take a final look now that the Galaxy S4 is official.
Here now is how the Samsung Galaxy S4 stacks up versus the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, in terms of release date, hardware, software and more.
While Samsung chose to announce the Samsung Galaxy S4 in the United States, the first time that it has announced a Galaxy S smartphone in the U.S., it failed to deliver any kind of a U.S. release date for the device, instead opting to offer a broad roll out window for the Galaxy S4 and the many carriers that will be getting it.
Samsung announced that the Galaxy S4 will be rolling out to a number of carriers and retailers starting in late April and thus far, retailers and carriers in the United Kingdom have confirmed April 25th and April 26th as release dates for the Galaxy S4 there.
However, the Galaxy S4 U.S. release date remains unclear with rumors suggesting that the device could be heading to shelves in May or June, after the phone’s initial launch.
American carriers typically release their devices long after other regions, something that happened with the release of the Galaxy Note 2 which didn’t debut in the U.S. until October and November, several weeks after its initial debut.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2, unlike the Galaxy S4, is alive and well on shelves and it’s widely available through all carriers except for T-Mobile which has been experiencing stock issues, at least online.
As expected, the Samsung Galaxy S4 design closely mirrors the designs of past Galaxy phones including the Samsung Galaxy S3′s and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2′s.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with a similar polycarbonate plastic design as the Galaxy Note 2 but as we experienced at the launch event in New York City, the back of the device feels a lot less like plastic than the back of the Galaxy Note 2.
Like all Galaxy plastic designs, the Galaxy S4 form factor also feels extremely durable and shouldn’t crack on the ground if it’s dropped from a reasonable distance. Helping matter is the fact that the display is made out of Gorilla Glass 3, technology that we saw at CES and which is three times more resistant to scratches than Gorilla Glass 2, the material found on front of the Galaxy Note 2.
Specifically, the Galaxy S4 measures in at 7.9mm thin which is thinner than most phones on the market, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. It also weighs a reasonable 130 grams which is far lighter than the massive Galaxy Note 2.
Massive is a great word to describe the overall footprint of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Due to its massive display, the Galaxy Note 2 is a monstrosity of a smartphone checking in with a weight of 180 grams that is both 9.4mm thick and much larger than the overall design of the Galaxy S4 which didn’t grow much from the Galaxy S3, despite the change in display size.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 closely mirrors the design of the Galaxy S3 which means that it’s similar to the Galaxy S4 in that it sports curves, but it doesn’t feature the metallic looking band that stretches around the Galaxy S4.
With the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung upped the size of the Galaxy S display to a size much closer to the Galaxy Note 2′s. While the Galaxy S3 boasted a smaller 4.8-inch display, the Galaxy S4 utilizes a 5-inch display which is just a tad shy of the original Galaxy Note’s 5.3-inch display and much closer to the display size of the Galaxy Note 2.
What’s more is that Samsung has also upped the screen resolution with the Galaxy S4, offering 1080 full HD resolution with its Super AMOLED HD display for the very first time. Along with the high 441 pixel-per-inch count, the Galaxy S4 has the most stunning display ever seen on a Samsung smartphone, something that will translate into fantastic looking content.
Samsung also added a sensor on the Galaxy S4 that allows for touch less gesture support. This means is that owners are able to use the display without physically touching it.
One of the features is called Air Gesture, and this will allow owners to change a music track, browse the web or accept a call simply by waving their hand. This feature is not found on the Galaxy Note 2 and may never arrive for it.
Maybe the most striking thing about the Galaxy Note 2 is the size of its display which measures in at a massive 5.5-inches of Super AMOLED HD goodness. That means that it’s much bigger than most smartphones on the market including the Galaxy S4′s 5-inch display.
The Galaxy Note 2 display simply cannot compare to the Galaxy S4′s in terms of resolution though. 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, they are going to look much better when shown on the Galaxy S4.
Finally, Samsung has progressed from 8MP camera sensors into the realm of 13MP with the Galaxy S4 camera.
Early reports suggest that the Galaxy S4 camera is much improved over the Galaxy S3, which likely means the Galaxy Note 2 as well, as far as photography, video and low-lighting shots are concerned. The latter of the three really was a problem on the Galaxy S3 and more often than not on the Galaxy Note 2 as well so this is a significant upgrade.
The Galaxy Note 2 can take decent photos and also decent video but we expect the Galaxy S4 and its new sensor to outperform the Galaxy Note 2′s aging camera sensor.
Samsung, as expected, also upgraded its fantastic array of software options for the camera. Two of the main additions include features called Sound & Shot and Dual Camera.
Sound & Shot allows owners to record small snippets of sound to attach to a photograph. This could be handy, for instance, when signing Happy Birthday during a child’s first birthday celebration. Instead of just having the photo, users can add a bit of sound in order to make the memory feel more alive.
Another feature is called Dual Camera which uses both the front and rear camera to put the Galaxy S4 user in the photo. Users can then choose from a variety of effects to help better blend in with the photo.
These features will more than likely come to the Galaxy Note 2 later on this year though as we’ve said, the powerful sensor will likely ensure a better photography experience with the Galaxy S4.
Beyond the design, display and the camera, both the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S4 come with some high-end features that help to power both devices. Here, we take a look at the similarities and differences of those.
First, the Galaxy S4.
- 5-inch Full-HD 1080p Super AMOLED HD 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
And the 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
The first thing to notice is the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 utitlizes a unique, egonomic S Pen stylus that comes bundled in with the device. While it allows users to write and draw on the display, it also has a number of unique apps that users can take advantage of. The Galaxy S4, does not come with such a stylus.
Second, both devices rock quad-core processors. However, the Galaxy S4 is equipped with more recent generation ships in the Exynos 5 Octa quad-core octo processor and the Qualcomm 600. These chips will likely deliver better performance while offering enhanced battery life to Galaxy S4 owners.
However, third, the Galaxy Note 2 features a much bigger stock battery and like the Galaxy S4, it too has a removable back so that users can pop in an extended battery for more power. The Galaxy S4 also has a massive battery but it’s unclear if it can offer the same type of battery life as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, even with the new processor.
Fourth, both devices offer NFC chips which means that they will be able to take advantage of mobile payment services. And finally, fifth, the Galaxy S4 is coming with compatibility for Qi wireless charging standard which means that users will be able to use Samsung’s wireless charging accessory to charge the phone without wires. It will need a special back to work, but that’s better than having no wireless charging at all, which is what the Galaxy Note 2 has.
Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 will feature powerful hardware with similarities and differences intertwined between both devices.
Starting with the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung will fortunately be outfitting it with the latest software from Google in the form of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. That means that the device should be coming with all of the latest features from Android including enhanced Photo Sphere, Quick Settings, lock screen widgets and more.
However, as we’ve learned, Samsung Galaxy devices are generally dominated not by Google features, but by Samsung’s own software features and the Galaxy S4 is no different.
Samsung has packed a number of new features into the Galaxy S4′s TouchWiz software, many of which will come in addition to features that are already found on the Galaxy Note 2 like Multi-Window View, a feature that allows users to split the display in two to run two separate apps.
Two of the new Galaxy S4 software features include Smart Scroll and Smart Pause. Smart Scroll allows users to use their eyes to scroll a web page while Smart Pause pauses content on the device when users look away.
Additionally, the device features an IR port that lets user control their home entertainment system without an extra remote. Samsung calls the feature Samsung WatchON and it serves to transform the phone into a universal remote. It also comes with a feature called S Voice Drive which is an in-car version of S Voice and S Translator and which can automatically translate between a number of languages.
Swiftkey, of keyboard fame, has also confirmed that has enhanced the Galaxy S4′s keyboard with its technology, something that could make it better than the stock Android keyboard.
The Galaxy Note 2 of course is not without its big name features either. As we mentioned, the Galaxy Note 2 comes with Multi-Window View on board, something that is perfect for the device’s massive display. But where the Galaxy Note 2 truly shines is with the software for its unique S Pen stylus.
One app is called S-Note which is on board for easy note taking. In fact, S Note opens up automatically when the S Pen is taken out of its on board holster. Another S Pen feature, Air View, allows users to simply use the pen to hover over calendar events and emails to get a preview before opening them. This is similar to the Galaxy S4′s Air View that allows users to do the same thing with their finger.
Finally it also comes with a feature called Easy Clip which allows users to crop photos simply by using the stylus.
We expect Samsung to tack on many of the Galaxy S4′s software features though some of those software features, like WatchON and the touch less gestures, will need an IR sensor to operate which means they won’t be coming. However, the camera features will likely be coming to the Galaxy Note 2 at some point, as will Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
Like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, the Galaxy S4 is going to be coming to an assortment of carriers and work in conjunction with their high-speed 4G LTE networks.
Both the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2 arrived on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon. T-Mobile’s Galaxy Note 2 was not available on the carriers 4G LTE network at first but a recent software update has enabled those speeds which means users will be able to access high-speed data where it’s available.
The T-Mobile model will also be able to utilize a faster secondary network, called HSPA+ 42, which is considerably faster than the back up networks of its rivals.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is in a similar boat as the Galaxy Note 2. Which is a good boat to be in. The Galaxy S4 will launch on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon and be available on T-Mobile’s LTE network from the get go.
It’ll also be available on pre-paid carriers like Ting and Cricket Wireless, though we expect those release dates to come much later.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 still does not have rumored on-contract pricing for any of the carriers involved but it does have some pricing as far as off-contract is concerned.
Gotta Be Mobile uncovered what appears to be off-contract pricing listed in a contest for the device. Samsung lists the full price of the device at $650 which falls in line with the unlocked pricing of the iPhone 5.
As for on-contract pricing, it should start at $199.99 across the board, just like it did with the Galaxy S3, except at T-Mobile which likely won’t have any sort of on-contract pricing available as it shifts to off-contract plans.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is likely going to be more expensive than the Galaxy S4, at least through carriers themselves. Most of them offer the Galaxy Note 2 for $299.99 on-contract. T-Mobile is currently the exception as it offers it for $199.99 on-contract. That’s a deal though and typically the price is $370.
That doesn’t mean that the device can’t be found for cheap. On the contrary, the Galaxy Note 2 is indeed cheap through third party retailers like Amazon that host it for far below its pricing through carriers.