Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 2: What We Know Right Now

Later on this year, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will turn two years old. When it does, many consumers will be looking at an upgrade. While some might want to hold onto the Galaxy Note 2, others will be looking at picking up a new device and one of those options will almost certainly be the next version of the Galaxy Note, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Back in 2012, Samsung took the stage in late August and announced the new version of its Galaxy Note, a device that was unsurprisingly dubbed Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The second-generation Galaxy Note 2 followed in the footsteps of the original Galaxy Note, a device that launched as a niche smartphone and developed into something much bigger thanks to an impressive set of features and a solid advertising campaign.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 built upon the foundation of the original and added some firepower of its own. A new design, new features for the device’s unique S Pen and an assortment of carrier options were just a few of the reasons why the Galaxy Note 2 was able to successfully replace the company’s first effort.

Of course, that was almost two years ago. Since then, Samsung has released a number of new Galaxy-branded devices including the current version of the Galaxy Note, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. While the Galaxy Note 3 is probably tempting to current Galaxy Note 2 owners, it may not be tempting enough to pay an ETF and get out of a contract.

Later on this year, Samsung Galaxy Note 2 owners who bought the device in the weeks after its release will be coming out of their contracts looking for a new smartphone. And while the Galaxy Note 3 will be one of the options, many Galaxy Note 2 owners have their eyes on its successor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rumors have been rampant in recent weeks as they attempt to paint a clear picture ahead of the device’s eventual launch.

While it’s only April, we’ve started to get questions about the Galaxy Note 4 from friends, family and readers who own the Galaxy Note 2. And while Samsung’s Next Big Thing is still partially in the shadows, there are enough credible pieces of information out to warrant an early look at how it currently, and might compare to the Galaxy Note 2.

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This comparison aims to help set the expectations of current Galaxy Note 2 owners who might be thinking about making a change. It will also help prospective Galaxy Note 2 buyers put things into perspective as we head deeper into the year.

Design

Samsung is notorious for keeping its flagship Galaxy designs locked up tight ahead of launch. It managed to keep the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 out of view until the company announced it on stage at IFA and it was able to keep the Galaxy S5 design a secret up until its launch date at Mobile World Congress in 2014. So, it’s not surprising that the Galaxy Note 4 design has not leaked out here in April. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t heard rumors though.

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will come with a brand new design that is different from the design found on the Galaxy Note 3. We know that because Yoon Han-kil, senior vice president of Samsung’s product strategy team, told Reuters that the Galaxy Note 4 will be coming with a “new form factor” later this year.

Yoon did not elaborate on what the Galaxy Note 4 will look like but it’s safe to think that the device will look different than the Galaxy Note 3 and the faux plastic that makes up its form factor. It’s also safe to assume that the design will be different than the Galaxy Note 2′s glossy polycarbonate plastic design.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy Note 3 -  006-X2

Samsung shifted away from its cheap polycarbonate plastic designs with its past two releases. The Galaxy Note 3 utilizes a faux leather design while the Galaxy S5 shifted to a perforated plastic matte material. Both feel more premium than the company’s previous designs. With this shift in place, it’s hard to see Samsung going backwards. In other words, we doubt that this “new form factor” is going to borrow from the Galaxy Note 2′s design.

Instead, it’s more likely to borrow from Samsung’s newer designs. Rumors suggest that the Galaxy Note 4 will come with an IP67 certification, just like the Galaxy S5. What this means is that it will be dust and water resistant, something that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 can only obtain through the use of a case.

Recent patent filings could hint at Samsung’s upcoming designs.

Recent patent filings could hint at Samsung’s upcoming designs.

We’ve also heard rumors, which have been fueled by a pair of patent filings, that suggest that this new form factor could be based on a brand new three-sided display, something that the Galaxy Note 2 obviously doesn’t have.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 uses technology from the year that it was released which means that it offers users a 5.5-inch 720p display. It’s nice but it’s doesn’t offer Full HD like many of the flagships on the market in 2014.

Back in January, a Samsung executive told Bloomberg that the Galaxy Note 4 could come with a new display type that would allow for better viewing angles. Since then, a series of Galaxy Note 4 rumors have pointed to a “bent” three-sided display that Samsung hasn’t denied. In fact, a recent report suggested that the three-sided display was still in play for the Galaxy Note 4.

Will the Galaxy Note 4 look like this?

Will the Galaxy Note 4 look like this?

Samsung’s Youm flexible display technology still hasn’t made it onto a mainstream device like the Galaxy S or Galaxy Note but it did make an appearance on last year’s Samsung Galaxy Round, a device that was limited in scope and was released for consumers in Korea. Whether or not it makes it on board the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is up in the air as Samsung is likely working through a number of different Galaxy Note 4 prototypes.

While that’s up for debate, it’s clear that the display technology on board the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will trump the Galaxy Note 2′s. Why? Think about it. Samsung’s flagship smartphones have moved beyond 720p resolution and now come with support for full HD 1080p. The Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4 feature full HD resolution for movies, games and more.

Samsung’s not going to backtrack which means that those who upgrade from the Galaxy Note 2 can almost certainly count on a higher-resolution display. That’s big given that the Galaxy Note is built for content consumption.

Galaxy Note 3 vs iPad mini 2-5

It’s also possible that we could see a Galaxy Note 4 display that trumps even the Galaxy S5′s. Rumors suggest that Samsung is at least considering a QHD display for the Galaxy Note 4. QHD display resolution translates to 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution and it offers sharper, beautiful looking content.

Samsung hasn’t made its QHD plans a secret and with rival LG expected to launch an LG G3 with a QHD display in the second quarter, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Samsung make a move of its own. Whatever the case may be, Galaxy Note 2 owners should expect to encounter some sort of an upgrade.

Specs

Galaxy Note 2 owners can expect the rest of the Galaxy Note 4′s hardware to outpace their hardware. Every year, Samsung tweaks its flagship hardware to deliver a more powerful experience than the year before.

Galaxy Note 4 specs are said to possibly include a faster processor and LTE-Advanced for faster data speeds. LTE-A offers faster data speeds for compatible devices but it also requires networks to offer the capability. U.S. carriers have been slow to adopt the new technology though Verizon plans to deploy LTE-A by the middle of 2014.

Rumors suggest that the Galaxy Note 4 could come with a 64-bit processor though that isn’t set in stone. The Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung’s latest Galaxy S smartphone, shunned a 64-bit processor in favor of the Snapdragon 801 32-bit processor from Qualcomm.

Processing power has come a long way since the Exynos 4 quad-core processor arrived on board the Galaxy Note 2 so we expect there to be a significant difference between the two. This is crucial given that the Galaxy Note series is built for tasks like multitasking and gaming.

Software

We haven’t heard anything specific about the Samsung Galaxy Note 4′s software but we have heard rumors about Google’s next big Android update. Android 4.5 is rumored to be arriving in July alongside a new Nexus 8 tablet and if rumors pan out, it has a very good chance of being the software that arrives stock on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Samsung seems intent on moving to Tizen at some point but for the moment, the Galaxy Note 4 is expected to be an Android smartphone.

Google may change the look of the stock Android icons for Android 4.5.

Google may change the look of the stock Android icons for Android 4.5.

When and if Android 4.5 arrives, the Galaxy Note 2 will be closing in on its second birthday. Google recommends 18 months of software support while Samsung and other manufacturers tend to offer 24 months. What this means is that an Android 4.5 upgrade is possible but it’s certainly not guaranteed.

The Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4 KitKat update just started rolling out and either it, or this next Android update will probably be the Galaxy Note 2′s last. That’s something that Galaxy Note 2 owners need to consider. While the Galaxy Note 4 should come with the latest software and two years of software support, the Galaxy Note 2 is on its last legs.

Release Date

That’s as good of a comparison as Galaxy Note 2 owners are going to get at this point. Those looking to physically compare the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 probably won’t be able to do so for several months.

Samsung confirmed, multiple times, that it plans to launch the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in the second half of the year. More specifically, executives have pointed to the usual fall slot for its release. One executive noted that the company is once again looking at IFA, the Berlin-based trade show that Samsung has used as the launch pad for all three Galaxy Note models.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy Note 3 -  Cameras

IFA 2014 is scheduled to kick off on September 5th which means that the Galaxy Note 4 could arrive anywhere between September 1st and September 5th. Samsung is known to host its Unpacked events either a day before or on the day of a major event like IFA. The Galaxy S5 launch, for instance, kicked off on the first day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

So while Galaxy Note 2 users would probably love to get hands-on with the Galaxy Note 4 in the near future, that probably won’t happen. Instead, the Galaxy Note 4 appears to be on a collision course with the iPhone 6, another rumored smartphone that is expected to debut in the fall with a much larger display than the iPhone 5s.

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For the moment, this is all we know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Galaxy Note 2 owners who are interesting in the next version of the Galaxy Note would be wise to keep an eye on the Galaxy Note 4 rumor mill but keep expectations reasonable.

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