The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is currently one of the best Android smartphones on the market but every device sees its run come to an end and later this year, the Galaxy Note 2 will likely be supplanted by the rumored Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which will more than likely become the top phablet option for those in the market for large screen smartphone. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Galaxy Note 2 will go away and here, we take a look at what consumers can expect from their match up.
Last August, Samsung hosted a massive Unpacked event in Berlin, Germany to discuss its current Galaxy Note model, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a device that has gone on to take the smartphone world by storm, solidifying itself and the Galaxy Note brand as one of the premier smartphone options alongside the iPhone, HTC’s One series, and Samsung’s very own Galaxy S.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 didn’t arrive on shelves in the United States until well after its launch with carriers neglecting it until late October and early November and in the case of Verizon, late November after Black Friday. What that means is that the Galaxy Note 2 is still an extremely new device. But, as we’ve pointed out, that doesn’t save devices from succession rumors.
Thus far, we’ve heard quite a bit about what Samsung may or may not have planned for its Samsung Galaxy Note 3, rumored to be joining the Samsung Galaxy S4 on shelves later this year. And consumers, as they should, have likely begin weighing their options between the Galaxy Note 2 and its likely successor.
Details remain unconfirmed and relatively scarce but there is enough out there and enough consistency with Samsung’s launches that we can dive deep into some expectations about the brewing battle between the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Here now, we take a look at what consumers can expect from the match up between the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy Note 3 which will surely be offered side-by-side sometime in the second half of 2013.
Similar Galaxy Note 3 Release
As we’ve pointed out in the past, those expecting a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launch in the near future are going to be sorely disappointed. And those who are expecting the device to land on shelves soon, particularly in the United States, are going to be in the same boat. That’s because we don’t expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to arrive until later this year.
Rumors peg the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 release date as taking place during the month of September, perhaps during IFA, the same trade show that has served as the launching pad for both the original Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 2 launches. And while the dates of IFA may be landing in September this year, Samsung is rumored to be announcing the Galaxy Note 3 in early September which is right around the time it announced the Galaxy Note 2.
We expect the same with the Galaxy Note 3 with releases in the United States coming in late October and likely, early November. We could certainly see Verizon push its Galaxy Note 2 launch back to late November again as well.
At the very least, expect the Galaxy Note 3 for Verizon to be last among the U.S. carriers hosting the Galaxy Note 3.
Big Hardware Differences
As we saw with the jump from the Samsung Galaxy S3 to the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung knows that it can keep a similar but tweaked design so long as it equips the device with some big time hardware. We expect similar to happen with the transition from the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Yes, there are rumors of three possible Galaxy Note 3 prototypes at the moment with the company rumored to have a design with a flexible display, a design that mirrors the Galaxy S4 and one that features something completely different. While we can’t say for sure what it will pick, the most logical choice, based on the Galaxy S4, is that it will choose to employ a design that resembles a larger Galaxy S4 with some minor tweaks. Flexible display or not.
The Galaxy S4 design, while plastic, still resonates with consumers as it allows for expandable storage and it allows them to remove the back plate to access the battery for things like wireless charging and extended batteries. HTC One and iPhone 5 owners don’t have that kind of access, and the battery in particular, is a frustration.
At the very least, expect the Galaxy Note 3 to have a different design from the Galaxy Note 2 whether it’s a Galaxy S4 inspired design with better plastic and a thinner frame or something totally radical like metal.
We also expect the display to be larger with better resolution. Rumors suggest a display of 5.9-inches with 1080p resolution. That seems likely given the boost in size that the Galaxy S4 got. At 5-inches, the Galaxy S4 now impedes a bit on the Galaxy Note 2′s 5.5-inch display so Samsung may want to increase its size to help differentiate. At the very least, better resolution, but we also expect a size increase.
Other hardware differences are likely as well including a bump in processor power from a standard Exynos quad-core processor to the new Exynos 5 Octa processor which has yet to touch down in the United States. The octo-core power should help deliver fantastic performance. And speaking of that, expect a larger battery on board the Galaxy Note 2 as well as it will need one to handle all of the display and processing horsepower.
Samsung is also rumored to be including a 13MP camera on board, possibly the same sensor as the Galaxy S4. This is to be expected as the Galaxy Note series is long overdue for a camera sensor upgrade. We expect a similar S Pen to arrive with the Galaxy Note 3 as there is only so much that they can do with a stylus.
All in all, don’t expect the Galaxy Note 3 to be an incremental upgrade over the Galaxy Note 2.
Big Software Differences
Of course, the hardware won’t be the only major difference between the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. No, consumers can expect the software to drastically differ as well, not only at launch, but in the future as well.
Samsung is a big proponent of putting its own software on board its devices, to the point where Android is almost no longer recognizable. Samsung didn’t even boast about the Galaxy S4 having Android 4.2, something that many companies would have done. Instead, it focused on all of the smart features it has on board.
Many of the Galaxy S4′s smart software features will likely be on the Galaxy Note 3 at the start, just like the Galaxy Note 2 featured many of the Galaxy S3′s features. The Galaxy Note 3 will also likely have some unique features of its own including updated or new apps for its S Pen stylus. These are some of the biggest draws of the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy Note series in general so Samsung would be smart to keep adding and improving.
We also fully expect the Galaxy Note 3 to be at least one version of Android ahead of the Galaxy Note 2 when it arrives. Don’t be surprised if the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is on Android 4.2 when the Galaxy Note 3 arrives with the new version of Android, thought to be Android 4.3 or Android 5.0.
Galaxy Note 2 Won’t Die Off
So while consumers should expect big time hardware and software upgrades from the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will become a bad buy. In fact, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will likely still remain extremely relevant after the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 arrives. Here’s why.
For one, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 boasts hardware that will be good enough for most. A last generation quad-core processor and 720p resolution are going to be upgrades for a lot of people. This is a device that will, even a year later, be fully capable of taking consumers through the duration of their contract.
And secondly, Samsung will be updating this device with software that will inject youth into it. We’ve heard that the Galaxy S3 will be getting Galaxy S4 software, likely the camera features and more, and we fully expect the Galaxy Note 2 to get those features as well. We also expect the Galaxy Note 2 to get Galaxy Note 3 software features in the same way the original Galaxy Note was recently upgraded with the Galaxy Note 2′s software.
Samsung, like Apple, and unlike HTC, doesn’t abandon its devices. It keeps them fresh and worthy of an investment, even a year into their life.
Big Price Drop for Galaxy Note 2
Consumers should expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to arrive with a price tag similar to the price tag that the Galaxy Note 2 currently employs. $299.99 on-contract is the sweet spot for the Galaxy Note series and we don’t expect the carriers that offer the Galaxy Note 2 to stray too far from it. That said, we do expect the Galaxy Note 2 price to drop even further than it already has.
Right now, it can be bought through third-party retailers for under $200. Through carriers, it’s still $300. We expect pricing to be well below $150 by the time the Galaxy Note 3 arrives and likely $199.99 on-contract through carriers.
So expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to not only have a cheaper price tag than the Galaxy Note but a much, much cheaper one.
Same Exact Carriers
The Samsung Galaxy S4 arrived on the same carriers that the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy S3 arrived on and so consumers can expect the Galaxy Note 3 to arrive on those very same carriers later this year.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon are almost assured and we imagine that there is a possibility that the Galaxy Note 3 could wind up on another emerging carrier like Cincinnati Bell.
At the very least, consumers should expect to have a lot of choice when it comes to purchasing the Galaxy Note 3. And with carriers offering different data plans, different coverage areas, and different perks, it’s a good thing to have choice.
16GB But Maybe 32GB
Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 came to the United States in 16GB form and the Samsung Galaxy S4, thus far, has come in 16GB form as well. It’s a sign that carriers and a majority of consumers are content with a 16GB model and and its microSD card slot. But thanks to an out pouring of anger towards the lack of a 32GB Galaxy S4 model in the U.S., we could see a 32GB Galaxy Note 3 arrive.
As we’ve seen with the Galaxy S4, there is a demand for internal space beyond 16GB, mostly because about half of that is eaten up before users can even install an app or download a file. However, Samsung and carriers have argued that the microSD card slot is more than enough space for most users and we expect that kind of language to continue with the Galaxy Note 3.
At this point, given Samsung’s rhetoric and the fact that only a small minority of Galaxy S4 owners are complaining, we expect the Galaxy Note 3 to offer 16GB like the Galaxy Note 2, but don’t be surprised if Samsung and the carriers relent and offer a 32GB Galaxy Note 3 to appease those that simply need more space for their files.