iPhone 5S vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 3: What We Know So Far

Two of the biggest smartphone releases of 2012 came in the form of the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 so it should come as no surprise that two of the most heavily rumored and anticipated smartphones of 2013 are their sequels. The iPhone 5S and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 have dominated headlines for months now and in due time, the two should arrive on shelves.

Last year, just ahead of the holiday shopping season and within weeks of each other, Apple and Samsung took the curtains down from around two of their big name, yearly smartphones. In August, at an Unpacked event in Berlin, Germany, we saw the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. In September, a month ahead of the iPhone 4S’ launch in 2011, we saw Apple reveal the iPhone 5. Both devices were aimed at taking the companies through the holidays and into the new year and both devices certainly succeeded.

An iPhone 5S concept.

An iPhone 5S concept.

The iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 remain two of the best smartphone options across all carriers in the United States. The iPhone 5 with its industrial design, solid camera and longevity and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 with its large display, unique S Pen stylus and bright future. These two juggernauts will remain top choices for several months until they are replaced by the new.

The life of a smartphone is finite and the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2 are no exception. And while we knew that the Galaxy Note 2 and iPhone 5 would not be replaced in the first half of the year, the second half of the year is a different story.

Now that we’re in July, rumors of an iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are permeating the air, tempting consumers with their fruits. And while some details remain scarce, we still have a fairly vivid picture of both devices.

Here, for the sake of comparison and for those that might be thinking about buying one or the other or both, we take a look at everything we know so far about the match up between the rumored iPhone 5S and the rumored Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Release Date

The iPhone 5S is expected to be out this fall, possibly in September.

The iPhone 5S is expected to be out this fall, possibly in September.


Those searching for a release date for both the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 haven’t found a shortage of rumors. In fact, rumors of their respective releases have been steadily lurking to the surface over the past few months. And while the Galaxy Note 3’s launch has become quite clear, the iPhone 5S launch remains a bit of a mystery.

Last year, the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 were announced within a few weeks of each other. This year, there is a distinct possibility that we could see something similar happen.

Samsung is rumored to be debuting the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in early September at an Unpacked event, likely Episode 2, ahead of the IFA conference in Berlin, Germany. IFA has been the site of Samsung’s past two Galaxy Note launches and so it makes a perfect sense that the company would launch the device their again.

A recent report from Android Geeks puts the Unpacked event on September 4th, two days before the start of IFA 2013. Again, that date makes a whole lot of sense considering Samsung’s past. If this is true, and at this point it’s looking like it is, it could be that the iPhone 5S launch takes place just a few weeks after the Galaxy Note 3’s.


Apple itself has stated that it will be introducing new products this fall and a new iPhone is assuredly going to be one of them. Rumors haven’t been able to pinpoint a certain date for an iPhone event but September has been mentioned several times. September of course is the same month that Apple announced the iPhone 5.

Apple and Samsung typically announce release dates for their devices at their events with Apple announcing specific dates and Samsung offering specific windows. If Apple were to launch the iPhone 5S in September, it likely means a release in September or October. With Samsung, it’s hard to say but it has been moving its launch dates closer to its release dates and thus far, Galaxy Note 3 release rumors suggest late September is the target.


No doubt about it, the displays on the new iPhone 5S and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be different. How do we know this already? While the iPhone just recently jumped to a 4-inch display, the Galaxy Note series is known for its massive display which comes in handy when using the device’s bundled S Pen stylus.

Rumors suggest that the iPhone 5S will keep the same display size as the iPhone 5 which means 4-inches. A larger screen iPhone isn’t expected to arrive until 2014, possibly as the iPhone 6. And while that seems to be set in stone, rumors can’t agree on whether Apple will be making any resolution changes to the new iPhone.


The iPhone 5S display will likely stay at 4-inches.

In the past, we’ve seen Apple keep the display the same from numbered iPhone, iPhone 4 for example, to ‘S’ model, like the iPhone 4S. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will keep the same Retina display around for the iPhone 5 though. There are whispers that indicate that Apple could outfit the iPhone 5S with a Retina+ display, one with more pixels-per-inch that could help it better compete. Still, those rumors come from the fringe and given Apple’s past, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the iPhone 5’s Retina display on the iPhone 5S.

If this is true, it will mean that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 display could be 1.7-inches bigger than the iPhone 5S’ display. Rumors currently point to the device as having a 5.7-inch display, or something around there, that boasts 1080p full HD resolution, something that the Galaxy Note 2 did not have.

Rumors peg the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.2.2 and Galaxy S3 Android 4.2.2 Updates for May or June.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 display should be bigger than the Galaxy Note 2’s display.

There is also talk that Samsung could be looking at releasing a Galaxy Note 3 with several types of display. Rumors point to LCD, AMOLED and flexible displays being in the mix for the Galaxy Note 3 and it could be that Samsung utilizes all of them. Sharp’s IGZO display, which is LCD in nature, has been shown to have fantastic support for inputs from styli like the S Pen. We also saw Samsung introduce is flexible Youm technology at CES so it could be time for the company to release it on a device.

The most logical play here is a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED HD display, a display that is both bigger, and comparable in terms of quality, to the iPhone 5S’ Retina display.


Like the display, the iPhone 5S is said to be keeping the same design as the iPhone 5. For some, the lack of a design overhaul may be a bad thing and may feel stale. To many others, this will be fine. The iPhone 5 boasts one of the sleekest designs around with metal and aluminum keeping the device intact. It makes for a beautiful industrial look and one that is maybe Apple’s best yet.

The iPhone 5 is also slim and lightweight, checking in at a mere 7.1mm thin with a weight of 112 grams. Translation? The iPhone 5 one of the slimmest and lightest smartphones on the market. Apple tends to keep its designs active for two years before replacing them so rumors of a similar design should not be taken with a grain of salt.

The iPhone 5S should retain a design similar to the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5S should retain a design similar to the iPhone 5.

No matter what though, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is going to weigh more and look different than the iPhone 5S. Such is the life of a Samsung-made smartphone.

Rumors suggest that the device will be around 8mm thin, so about 1mm thicker than the iPhone 5S might be, and weigh in at 182 grams. That’s heavier than the Galaxy Note 2 and much heavier than the iPhone 5 and likely, the iPhone 5S. It also means that the iPhone 5 is going to be much more pocketable.

As for the design itself, rumors have been swirling. A recent report from ETNews suggests that Samsung may be looking to deliver four different Galaxy Note 3 models, offering both cheap and premium versions. If true, it could mean that there will be cheap, plastic versions of the Galaxy Note 3 and at least one model with a premium design.

A metal Galaxy Note 3 concept.

A metal Galaxy Note 3 concept.

Previously, rumors suggested that Samsung would keep a plastic design on the Galaxy Note 3, a design that would be similar to the new Galaxy S4 design that debuted back in March. If that’s true, we’d expect a microSD card slot and a removable back, hallmarks of Samsung designs, and two features not on the iPhone 5.

At this point, the iPhone 5S design situation is fairly clear while the dust has not settled from around the Galaxy Note 3. At the very least, consumers can expect the Galaxy Note 3 to dwarf the iPhone 5S in size.


Apple and Samsung have made it a point to include good cameras on their smartphones. The iPhone 5S and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 should be no different.

Rumor has it that the iPhone 5S will feature a 13MP camera sensor, an upgrade over the iPhone 5, and a dual-LED flash that should help the device take fantastic photos even in the worst environments. Apple has consistently upgraded its camera from iPhone to iPhone so there is no doubt that we’ll see an upgrade.

Galaxy Note 3 rumors suggest that it too will have a 13MP camera sensor, an upgrade from the Galaxy Note 2. However, there are rumors that it will be the premium version of the Galaxy Note 3 that will have the 13MP camera while the cheaper model will have an 8MP camera. There is also word that the Galaxy Note 3 may feature 3x optical zoom, a feature not found on many smartphones.

No matter the case, consumers should expect both cameras to be upgrades from the cameras found on their predecessors. Just how they compare with each other likely won’t be known until after their arrivals.


Processing power is important for things like gaming, multitasking and battery life so it’s not surprising to hear that both Apple and Samsung are going to be upgrading the CPUs in their new flagship devices.

In the case of the iPhone 5S, it’s thought to either be the A6X chip found in the iPad 4 or a new A7 chip. Either way, we expect the iPhone 5S to beat the iPhone 5 in terms of all-around performance with battery life being a key upgrade.

As for the Galaxy Note 3, it’s thought to have either a quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip from Qualcomm or a Exynos 5 Octa octo-core chip from Samsung. Or both. Samsung is notorious for putting different processors inside its devices so it could be that we see both chips arrive. Thankfully, both chips should deliver high performance that should be on par with the iPhone 5S’.

Both the iPhone and the Galaxy Note series are known for their multitasking capabilities and battery life so there should not be a huge discrepancy, despite the different processor types.


One of the biggest differences between iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be the software. While the new iPhone will very likely be running the closed-system iOS, and in particular iOS 7, the Galaxy Note 3 will most likely be running Android 4.2 or Android 4.3 which is open source software from Google.

The differences between iOS and Android are many so it’s the unique features of the iPhone 5S and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 that users should be focused on.

With the ‘S’ version of the iPhone, Apple has, in the past, added a unique feature or two to give it some ‘oomph’ over the previous model. In the case of the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S, it was Siri, the personal assistant that is found on many Apple products now. In the case of the iPhone 5S, it’s thought to possibly be a fingerprint reader for added security and some hefty camera features including 120FPS and slow-motion, the latter of which were discovered inside the iOS 7 beta by 9to5Mac.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will carry its own unique features though they will come in the form of S Pen-related features. We haven’t heard about much yet but Samsung typically outfits its devices with software upgrades.

Samsung wants to beat Apple.

The Galaxy Note 3 should feature smart software, in combination with new and improved S Pen apps.

The Galaxy Note 2 received several upgrades to its S Pen applications and also received the much talked about Multi-Window View that allows users to split the display up and run two separate apps at the same time. It should also have at least some software features from the Samsung Galaxy S4.

So, from a software standpoint, these two devices should differ greatly not only from their predecessors but from each other.


A Verizon Galaxy Note 2 update, possibly Android 4.1.2, will soon bring more Multi-View apps.

Verizon should get the iPhone 5S and Galaxy Note 3.

No carrier rumors, except one, have cropped up for these devices. Much earlier in the year, we heard that Samsung was pitching AT&T on the Galaxy Note 3 ahead of its arrival. AT&T is closely tied to Samsung so it wasn’t surprising to hear the news. Just a short time ago, we also saw what is supposedly the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 appear in a User Agent String. The model number SM-N900A is thought to possibly be the AT&T variant. And that’s all we have.

Both devices should land on their normal carriers which include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon for the Galaxy Note and the iPhone 5S should land on those five as well thanks to the iPhone 5 launch on T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular confirming the iPhone for later this year.

We also expect to see the iPhone 5S land on several pre-paid and regional carriers as well.


Thus far, we haven’t seen anything price related come up for either the iPhone 5S or the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 but it’s not easy to guess price points. Apple tends to keep its devices priced similarly, year-to-year, so it would be shocking to see the iPhone 5S check in at anything less, or more, than $199.99 on-contract.

As for the Galaxy Note 3, it should be more expensive, based on history. American carriers typically offer it for $299.99 on-contract, due to its display size and S Pen. That price hasn’t changed in two years and it likely won’t with the Galaxy Note 3.