Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Galaxy Note 2: Early Look at What to Expect

Last year, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 2, its follow up to the popular Galaxy Note and a device that, for much of 2012, was along with the Galaxy S4, considered a flagship. And while it was recently replaced by the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Note 2, thanks to software updates, a cheap price tag and powerful hardware, will remain an option in 2014. And that means that it will be competing with the rumored Samsung Galaxy S5.

Back in 2012, consumers were campaigning for a new Samsung Galaxy Note, one that not only upped the ante from a hardware and software standpoint, but also from a carrier standpoint as well. The original Galaxy Note was only available on AT&T, and for a short time, it was also found on T-Mobile. Samsung delivered with the Galaxy Note 2.

The device launched on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon, a massive launch and one that was on par with the Samsung Galaxy S3 release that took place in the months before its arrival. Armed with a quad-core processor, massive HD display, solid camera, upgraded S Pen and software features, and more, the Galaxy Note 2 took 2012 by the horns.

Those features also helped to propel the device along in 2013, amidst the Galaxy S4 launch in March, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 rumors that began cropping up during the summer. Ultimately, the Galaxy Note 3 arrived to replace the Galaxy Note 2 and it is currently considered the company’s flagship. But that doesn’t mean the Galaxy Note 2 is going anywhere.

It will be sticking around not only through the rest of the year but in 2014 as well. And that means that it will be colliding with whatever Samsung brings out next, said to be the Galaxy S5. Already, we’ve seen a number of Samsung Galaxy S5 rumors emerge from the shadows, offering possible glimpses at the device that will join the Galaxy Note 3 at the top of the hierarchy.

The Galaxy Note 2 will live on with a cheap price tag and that means that consumers will look into it as an option. Some of those buyers will weigh it against the Samsung Galaxy S5 and here, we take a look at how we expect that match up to play out.

Release Date

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has been on shelves in the United States since October, and November, of 2012. Remember, AT&T and Verizon took a little bit to get out of the gates. And while that was over a year ago, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is still kicking and likely will be until the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 arrives next year to replace the Galaxy Note 3.

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Carriers typically keep two generations of a device around to cater to both the premier and budget crowds. Not everyone needs the latest and greatest technology and not everyone wants to pay $299.99 for a smartphone. That’s how much the Galaxy Note 3 costs. And that’s where the Galaxy Note 2 fits in. It’s a budget option that will continue to get better thanks to software updates.

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 is rumored to be coming out in the early part of 2014 which means that it will likely face off against the Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 2 at most carriers. The Galaxy S3 may stick around as an ultra budget option though that remains unconfirmed. This means that it will likely have to contend with the Galaxy Note 2 in the beginning part of the year and in the summer.

Rumors point to a Samsung Galaxy S5 launch as early as late February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. No date has been specified and invites haven’t gone out yet which means that that timing isn’t set in stone. We do, however, expect the Galaxy S5 to arrive within the first three months of the year with a release before the end of May.

Design

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a massive piece of plastic, checking in with a frame that measures 5.94 x 3.17 x 0.37 inches or 151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm. In other words, its larger than most phones and will likely be larger than the Galaxy S5. The Galaxy Note 2 design comes with a microSD card slot for expanded storage, a removable back for use with an extended battery and Gorilla Glass in the front to protect the screen from damage.

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Consumers should expect the Galaxy S5 to not only be smaller than the Galaxy Note 2, but feature a drastically different design. Rumors suggest that the Galaxy S5 will come with a premium metal design, something that has been rumored for quite some time but never as much as this. This leads us to believe that there is some truth to this. After all, the HTC One and iPhone 5s were praised for their designs and with an iPhone 6 rumored to be coming with a larger screen, now is the right time for Samsung to make a move.

There is also a rumor that suggests that it will have a plastic design as well, perhaps similar to the faux leather plastic design found on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Both of these remained unconfirmed.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 may use a Note 3 feature to slim down further.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 may use a Note 3 feature to slim down further.

What’s important to note though is that Samsung is clearly moving away from its basic polycarbonate plastic designs. They’re no longer good enough, at least not alone. With a plastic iPhone 5c joining the iPhone 5s and a large metal iPhone 6 likely on the way, Samsung needs to not only shake things up from a build material perspective but also keep its devices slim and light.

The Galaxy S5 will likely be slimmer and lighter than the Galaxy Note 2 and it will more than likely come with a vastly different design. Samsung always tweaks its designs and this year, we could see the biggest changes yet.

Display

To no one’s surprise, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 upped the screen size from the original 5.3-inches to 5.5-inches. The display kept the 720p screen resolution with a 265 pixel-per-inch count, meaning the Galaxy Note 2 does not support Full HD. Content still looks great but it’s simply not going to look as great as it does on the Samsung Galaxy S5.

We still don’t have a firm grip on the quality or size of the Galaxy S5 display. Rumors suggest that it could be 5-inches in size, just like the Galaxy S4. To us, this makes sense given that there is really nowhere for the Galaxy S series to go. The Galaxy Note 3 sits at 5.7-inches and any larger and it starts getting close to the Galaxy Mega and Samsung’s smaller tablet models.

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While the Galaxy Note 2 display will likely be larger than the Galaxy S5 display, it won’t be able to match the quality. And that’s a guarantee. At the very least, the Galaxy S5 will have the same 1080p panel that the Galaxy S4 has. That’s already better than what’s on the Galaxy Note 2. At the very best, it could have a 5-inch QHD display with 2560 x 1440 resolution. That means crisper, sharper content.

Samsung won’t take a step backward with the Galaxy S5 display. It’s just a matter if it will be taking a step forward from the technology found on the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3.

Specs

When it was first released, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was one of the most powerful devices on the market. Its Exynos 4 quad-core processor was one of the first quad-core chips to land in a mass produced flagship. It also features 2GB of RAM, a massive 3,100 mAh battery that provides fantastic all-day battery life to owners, and an 8MP camera that is only now showing its age.

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These features have helped the device age nicely as multitasking, battery life and performance are top notch for a smartphone this old. This feature set will be find for average users though those who are looking for something with better performance will likely want to wait for the Galaxy S5 to arrive.

Every year, Samsung ups the ante when it comes to performance and the Galaxy S5 will be no different. Rumors point to a quad-core 64-bit processor, 16MP camera sensor with Auto Focus, at least 3GB of RAM as opposed to the two found in the Galaxy Note 2, and there are whispers about a 4,000 mAh battery. The battery size seems a bit off base but the other features are likely dead on.

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Given the climate of the smartphone world, with the iPhone 5s featuring a 64-bit processor, camera technology advancing at an absurd rate, and battery life a key to any smartphone purchase, the Galaxy S5 will likely offer all of these specification upgrades, delivering better overall performance than the Galaxy Note 2. Keep in mind, the Samsung Note 2 will be well over a year old when the Galaxy S5 arrives so differences with performance are to be expected.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 runs a combination of Samsung’s TouchWiz software and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean represents Google’s previous version of Android as Android 4.4 KitKat has taken over duties. We still aren’t sure if the Galaxy Note 2 will be getting Android 4.4 KitKat though rumors point to an upgrade in the early part of next year.

If true, it would likely mean Android 4.4 KitKat and some software features from previous Galaxy devices, perhaps more Galaxy Note 3 features, perhaps some features stolen from the Galaxy S4. Samsung typically offers upgrades to its TouchWiz software and it’s a big part of why devices like the Galaxy Note 2 live well beyond their initial release date.

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Whatever the case, the Galaxy Note 2 will run some version of Android along with TouchWiz. And for those who are not familiar, the Galaxy Note series runs a unique version of Samsung’s user interface that supports the device’s bundled S Pen stylus.

The S Pen is more than just a standard stylus that lets one write and draw on the screen. While that’s possible, the S Pen can also take advantage of numerous applications including S Note for quick note taking and Air View which allows user to hover the S Pen over content to get a preview. It’s also armed with several multitasking features including Multi-Window View which allows users to use multiple apps at once.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 won’t come with any S Pen or S Pen related software features but we do expect it to be well-equipped. Android 4.4 KitKat is a given at this point as Samsung always puts the latest Android software on its flagship devices. What’s unclear at the moment is what will be on board TouchWiz when the Galaxy S5 arrives.

Samsung has shown that it’s interested in using sensors to ease up on the labors of smartphone use. For instance, the Galaxy S4’s Smart Scroll feature tracks eye movement and automatically scrolls through a page based on that. We would be shocked if Samsung didn’t take this form of automation even further with the Galaxy S5.

In fact, we’re already hearing the there could be a form of Iris-scanning on board that will serve as the Galaxy S5’s version of a fingerprint reader. With the iPhone 5s now using fingerprint technology in its home button, Samsung likely sees a need to play catchup.

So overall, expect the Galaxy S5 to feature a newer version of Android, to build upon the non-S Pen related TouchWiz features found on the Galaxy Note 2 and other Galaxy smartphones, and add some unique features of its own. Furthermore, expect the Galaxy S5 to live a longer life than the Galaxy Note 2.

Those who buy the device now should know that it already has a year of support down. Devices are typically supported for 18 months which means that it has around six months of support left. The Galaxy S5 on the other hand will live on well into 2015, making it a safer buy for those concerned about software updates and for those signing a contract.

Carriers

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was the first Galaxy Note to arrive for a multitude of U.S. carriers. It is currently available on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon though those who are looking for it on a smaller, regional carrier are not going to find one in the United States. Samsung seems content with releasing its Galaxy Note series on major carriers, leaving the Galaxy S to smaller carriers.

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We expect the Samsung Galaxy S5 to follow in the footsteps of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Samsung has shown no signs of slowing down when it comes to carrier selection and now that the iPhone 5s is available not only on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon but U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile as well, Samsung can’t afford to take a step back when it comes to customer choice.

The Galaxy S5 will almost certainly arrive for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon but it should also make its way to smaller, regional carriers, just like the Galaxy S4 did. So, we expect the Galaxy S5 to have a carrier advantage over the Galaxy Note 2 but only slightly.

Price

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 originally started out at $299.99 on-contract but thanks to its age, the price has dipped down to $199.99 on-contract through carriers that still have it available. Those who look a little harder should be able to find it for much cheaper through outlets like Amazon where the Verizon Galaxy Note 2 is a mere $50 on-contract.

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We still haven’t seen anything emerge for the Samsung Galaxy S5 price but we expect Samsung to keep the same $199.99 price tag that smartphone buyers are accustomed to. Apple’s iPhone remains at $199.99 on-contract and we just can’t see Samsung dipping any lower than that. It needs to sell this Galaxy S5 after all. We also don’t see it incurring on the Galaxy Note 3’s price tag of $299.99. If anything, we could see a $50 price bump but again, that seems doubtful.

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Instead, we expect the Galaxy S5 to command $199.99 on-contract for the smallest option, a price that would put it on par with the Galaxy Note 2 price through various U.S. carriers.

Comments

  1. Michael J. Gariti says

    I don’t get the constant comparison to the Note 2. Why don’t they compare to the LATEST release, the Note 3? They mention the N3 once or twice, but then go back to the N2 to do any comparisons. Are the N2 and N3 identical in specs or something? Rabble! Rabble-rabble-rabble!

  2. AcemanX AcemanX says

    Yea I agree, it makes no sense to compare an upcoming flagship model to an older phone that has been replaced by a newer version. They should have compared it to the note 3, currently the world’s fastest phone, they mention price but what, you think the brand new s5, Samsung’s first attempt at 64bit, is going to be cheap? It’ll be as expensive as the note 3, which was $700, with more sensors and an upgraded camera. Personally, I was there for launch day of the note 2 on T-Mobile, I was there for launch day of the note 3, and even after the s5 comes out and bests my note 3, like when the s4 came out and bested my note 2, I will be there for launch day of the note 4 which will at that time be, like it’s predecessors were at their launch time, the most advanced phone in the market. For God’s sake the note 3 had 3, count them, 3 world firsts: 3gb ram, micro USB 3.0, and 4k recording… with more sensors than you could count on your fingers, it even has a freaking barometer, do you know what’s that’s for? It’s for measuring atmospheric pressure… Yea.. incredible technology

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