Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy S3: What We Know So Far

In just a few short weeks, many Samsung Galaxy S3 owners will be coming off contract. While some will cling to their device, others will be looking at upgrading to something newer and arguably better than the aging flagship. Many Galaxy S3 owners likely have their eyes on the Galaxy S5 but others may be looking past it at the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, one of Samsung’s rumored 2014 flagships.

All the way back in May of 2012, Samsung took the stage at an Unpacked event in London and debuted the Samsung Galaxy S3, a curvy iPhone competitor that debuted with a redesign, a wealth of high-end hardware features and Samsung’s Nature UX version of TouchWiz. Backed by a fantastic advertising campaign, the Galaxy S3 helped propel Samsung to the top of the smartphone world and onto the same pedestal as Apple and the iPhone.

Samsung’s Galaxy S3 sold millions of times over and many of those who bought the Galaxy S3 bought the device when it first came out. In some nations, the Galaxy S3 arrived in late May. In others, including the United States, the Galaxy S3 debuted in June and July. As we approach the Galaxy S3′s birthday, those who signed two year contracts in 2012 are starting to weigh their options and one of those options is likely the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy S3 vs Galaxy S4 - Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will be one of the many tempting smartphone options available to Galaxy S3 upgraders. The device itself remains in the shadows but Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rumors have been rampant thanks to numerous reports and thanks to Samsung itself. Yes, the company has already confirmed the Galaxy Note 4 for arrival.

It’s our job to make sure that upgraders are as prepared as possible and today, we want to take a look at how the rumored Galaxy Note 4 compares to the Galaxy S3 right now.

This comparison aims to help set the expectations of current Galaxy S3 owners as we head deeper into the year and closer to Samsung’s inevitable announcement. Here is what current Samsung Galaxy S3 owners (and prospective Galaxy S3 buyers) need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

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Design

When the Samsung Galaxy S3 first arrived, its design was lauded by consumers, and the media, because of its curved plastic design. The design, which Samsung said was inspired by nature, features rounded edges and a glossy polycarbonate back. While it wasn’t as nice as the design on the iPhone 4s, it was comparable at the time.

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It wasn’t just the curves either. It came with a microSD card slot, removable battery, and a form factor that weighed just 133 grams and measured 8.6mm thin. At the time that was thin for a smartphone. As the years have gone on, Samsung has kept microSD card slots and removable backs on board its designs but it has moved away from the cheap polycarbonate plastic.

It’s clear that Samsung has begun to shift away from its glossy, polycarbonate plastic designs. Last year’s Galaxy Note 3 featured a faux leather plastic design and this year’s Samsung Galaxy S5 arrived with a perforated black plastic matte material that is much improved over the design found on the Galaxy S4.

While they may not have an edge on the iPhone design, the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S5 designs are a step in the right direction and we expect this trend to continue with the Galaxy Note 4. In fact, reports and rumors suggest that the Galaxy Note 4 will come with an all new design when it arrives later this year.

The Galaxy Note 4 could look like this.

Rumors suggest that the Galaxy Note 4 could look like this.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rumors point to an assortment of changes. Yoon Han-kil, senior vice president of Samsung’s product strategy team, recently told Reuters that the Galaxy Note 4 will be coming with a “new form factor” when it arrives later on this year. There was no elaboration but rumors suggest that Samsung is considering a few different changes.

One report claims 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. The Galaxy S3 design is durable but it’s not able to fend off dust and water in the way that the Galaxy S5 can. Galaxy S3 users that need that type of protection must utilize a case.

We’ve also heard rumors, which have been fueled by a pair of patent filings, that this new form factor could be dominated by a brand new three-sided display, something that the Galaxy S3 does not have.

Samsung is notorious for keeping its designs under lock and key so the full on Galaxy Note 4 design probably won’t leak until just before the launch event later this year. What this means is that Galaxy S3 owners will have to survive off of the scraps. Fortunately, so far, those scraps paint a pretty interesting picture.

Display

In 2012, the Samsung Galaxy S3′s 4.8-inch display was one of the best on the market. Thanks to 720 x 1280 pixel resolution and 308 pixels-per-inch, the Galaxy S3 offered spectacular looking games, movies and web content. Of course, display technology has improved dramatically since then and 1080p full HD resolution is now the bare minimum for a flagship Android smartphone.

The Galaxy S5 display is brighter and bigger than the Galaxy S3.

The Galaxy S5 display is brighter and bigger than the Galaxy S3.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 keeps a full HD 1080p display but it’s a display that DisplayMate, one of the leading voices on display technology, believes is the best that money can buy. We also think it’s one of the best smartphone displays on the market. We bring this up because the Galaxy Note series usually takes after the Galaxy S. In other words, we could see the same improvements on board the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 when it arrives.

There is a very good chance that the Galaxy Note 4 display will best the Galaxy S3′s. There is also a good chance that the Galaxy Note 4 display could trump the Galaxy S5′s.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy Note 3 -  Screen Quality

Reports state that Samsung is at least considering a QHD display for the Galaxy Note 4. QHD display resolution translates to 2560 x 1440 resolution and that means sharper looking on-screen content. QHD resolution is rumored to be on board the LG G3 and Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Prime so it’s plausible that it could arrive on one of Samsung’s biggest releases of the year.

Another other upgrade could be a “bent” three-sided display. 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. A recent report suggested that this feature was still in play for the Galaxy Note 4.

Recent patent filings show new form factors that Samsung could be playing around with in the lab but they aren’t a definitive look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Could this resemble the Galaxy Note 4?

Could this resemble the Galaxy Note 4?

At the very least, the Galaxy Note 4 should come with a large Super AMOLED Display that’s on par with the Galaxy S5′s. It will be bigger and better than the Galaxy S3′s display.  It’s also possible that the Galaxy Note 4 and its new form factor will usher in a new era of Samsung smartphones. Unfortunately, it’s too early to tell if the “bent” display will materialize.

Specs

Samsung’s Galaxy S3 was at one time considered one of the more powerful smartphones on the market. That’s not the case anymore. While its 8MP camera, dual-core processor, and 2,100 mAh battery are all solid, they cannot match the firepower of flagship smartphones from 2014. Mobile technology is moving fast, leaving devices like the Galaxy S3 in the dust.

Samsung Galaxy S3

  • 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro dual-core processor
  • Android 4.4/Android 4.3
  • 4.7-inch 720p display
  • 2GB / 1 GB RAM
  • 16GB storage options
  • 1.9MP front-facing camera
  • 8MP rear-facing camera
  • 2,100 mAh battery
  • 802.11 a, b, g, n WiFi
  • Regular Home Button

Samsung’s Galaxy Note is geared towards gamers, multitaskers, those that consume a ton of content. It also appeals to road warriors that want to be productive on-the-go Thus, Samsung always equips its Galaxy Note models with a ton of firepower. We called last year’s Galaxy Note 3 Samsung’s most powerful smartphone for a reason.

Rumors point to more of the same from the Galaxy Note 4. The device’s specs are said to possibly include 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.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy Note 3 -  006-X2

To compete with the iPhone 5s and rumored iPhone 6, the Galaxy Note 4 could come with a 64-bit processor though that feature, like the others, still isn’t set in stone. 64-bit processors can handle more memory than 32-bit processors, something that is important for high-performance devices like the Galaxy Note.

An early Galaxy Note 4 rumor suggested that the device could come equipped with a fingerprint reader for added security and convenience. The Samsung Galaxy S5 sports one embedded in its home button. The Samsung Galaxy S3, like the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3, does not.

Software

At this point, we’re not sure what the Galaxy Note 4 software will look like but we’re sure of two things. First, it should feature applications that are related to the device’s S Pen. The S Pen is the stylus that comes bundled with the Galaxy Note. The Galaxy Note 3′s S Pen experience can be seen in the video below.

Second, it should feature some of the things that Samsung delivered with the Galaxy S5 software. The Galaxy S5′s software is focused on health, camera upgrades, and more. Those that aren’t familiar can check out the Samsung Galaxy S5′s software in action next to the Galaxy S3 in the video below.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 was recently updated to Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of Android. Google recommends 18 months of software support before ditching a device and given that the Galaxy S3 is closing in on the 24 month mark, Android 4.4 should serve as the Galaxy S3′s last update.

As for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, it should, at the very least, come with Android 4.4 stock. There is a good chance that Google will announce a new Android update this summer which means that it may come with something different. Unlike the Galaxy S3, the Galaxy Note 4 should get a full 24 months of support going forward.

Release Date

The Samsung Galaxy S3 was released nearly two years ago but it still remains on shelves as a potential option for consumers. We don’t recommend it at this point given that the Galaxy S4 price tag is also extremely cheap at this point. As we’ve mentioned, this comparison isn’t aimed at those who are thinking about buying a two year old phone. It’s about those who currently own the GalaxyS3 and are thinking about upgrading to something new.

Unfortunately, consumers trying to decide between the Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 aren’t going to be able to physically compare the two until later on this year.

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Samsung has all but confirmed the Galaxy Note 4 release for the second half of the year. More specifically, the release should land in the fall. The company historically has used the IFA trade show in Berlin, Germany to launch its Galaxy Note and rumors suggest that it’s at least considering the event for the Galaxy Note 4 launch.

IFA 2014 kicks off on September 5th and prospective buyers will want to circle that date in pencil. As for the release date, Samsung usually releases a device three to four weeks after the announcement date. What this means is that Samsung Galaxy Note 4 may not hit shelves until September or October.

Advice

After absorbing all of that, we recommend that Galaxy S3 owners do a couple of things. First, go and get hands-on with the Galaxy Note 3. The device may not look or feel exactly like the Galaxy Note 4 but we’re not expecting the Galaxy Note 4 to shrink down or ditch the S Pen. The S Pen is one of the things that sets the Galaxy Note apart from other devices and consumers will want to make sure that they’re actually going to use it.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 - Comparison

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Finally, be patient. Keep an eye on Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rumors but don’t settle. There are a number of other big time devices that are either out or in the pipeline and consumers would be wise to keep tabs on those devices as well.

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