Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: 10 Key Differences

With a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release date now confirmed for October, we want to assist those that might be taking a long hard look at Samsung’s Next Best Thing. After going hands-on with the company’s brand new Galaxy Note release, we take a look at the key differences between the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3.

At the tail end of last year, Samsung took the stage at an Unpacked event ahead of the IFA trade show in Berlin and announced the Galaxy Note 3. The third-generation Galaxy Note came with a number of upgrades and was quickly deemed a worthy successor to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 that launched the year before.


For a year, the Galaxy Note 3 has ruled as Samsung’s top Galaxy Note option and one of the top Android smartphones on the market. However its now time for the Galaxy Note 3 to pass the torch to something new. That something new is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, a device that arrived in style today in Berlin, Germany.

Like last year, Samsung hosted an Unpacked event ahead of IFA. The company took the stage and announced a number of new products though the star of the show was the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the fourth-generation Galaxy Note and a device that’s going to be taking over as the company’s number one Galaxy Note option.


The Galaxy Note 4 release will be coming in October and in these next four weeks, consumers are going to start prepping for its arrival. One of the ways to do that is researching top Galaxy Note 4 alternatives. One of those alternatives is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. It still has solid hardware and software and as we now know, a more affordable price tag.


Here, we want to run down the key differences between the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note 3 in an effort to help those that are debating between this year’s model and last year’s Galaxy Note.


Even if you haven’t been following all of the Galaxy Note 4 rumors, it should come as no surprise that the Galaxy Note 4, a device from 2014, comes with some major changes from last year’s model. On paper, all of these changes look great but it will be up to you to decide if you want to pay the extra cash for the upgrades.

About those upgrades. The first key difference between the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note 3 is the display resolution. While the Galaxy Note 3’s 5.7-inch display utilizes Full HD resolution, the Galaxy Note 4’s 5.7-inch display offers Quad HD resolution for crisper looking imagery. To get a feel for how QHD compares to the Galaxy Note 3’s display, have a look at the LG G3’s QHD display in action below.


The photo below doesn’t do it justice but the Galaxy Note 4’s display is much sharper than the Galaxy Note 3’s display. This is going to be essential for a media driven device like the Galaxy Note.

Galaxy Note 3 vs. Galaxy Note 4.

Galaxy Note 3 vs. Galaxy Note 4.

QHD resolution is not a gimmick and it’s a feature that we think will be one of the Galaxy Note 4’s biggest selling points this fall.

Build Quality

The Galaxy Note 3’s faux leather plastic design was a step up from the glossy polycarbonate plastic Galaxy Note 2 design but it still couldn’t match the build quality of top devices like the HTC One and iPhone. The Galaxy Note 4 has taken a step in the right direction and its build quality is superior to that of the Galaxy Note 3.


Galaxy Note 3 vs. Galaxy Note 4 design.


Instead of a design language based solely on plastic, the Galaxy Note 4 features metal that wraps around the entire frame. This is not faux metal, it’s actually metal, something unlike the Galaxy Note series has ever seen. The soft textured back cover is extremely nice, durable, and easy to grip with one hand. It’s not a huge step up from the faux leather back but it’s a difference nonetheless.


It’s a little thicker and a little heavier (153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm, 176g) than the Galaxy Note 3 (151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm, 168g) but that’s the price you’re going to have to pay for a more premium build.


The Galaxy Note 3 comes with a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor. The Galaxy Note 4? It will be coming with a 2.5GHz, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, a newer variant of the company’s 800 series.


Qualcomm’s latest processor comes with a number of improvements including a brand new Adreno 420 graphics processor that should help to deliver impressive, fluid gaming on the Galaxy Note 4.


Here’s how Qualcomm describes the GPU inside of it its processor:

The new Adreno 420 GPU in the Snapdragon 805 processor is the first commercial mobile GPU to introduce hardware tessellation and geometry shaders, which provide greater detail for visually stunning, realistic scenes and objects in a manner that requires less memory bandwidth and lower power consumption.

While the differences might not jump right out at you, the overall performance on the Galaxy Note 4 should be better than the overall performance on the Galaxy Note 3.

UV Sensor

The Galaxy Note 4 comes with a new UV sensor that ties into Samsung’s S Health 3.5 application and provides readings on UV levels. As we’ve pointed out, it’s a feature that could save your life.

The Galaxy Note 4’s UV Sensor will do everything from help you avoid a sunburn, premature skin aging and with action, it could help reduce your risk of skin cancer. This is all accomplished by reading radiation levels.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 does not come with a UV sensor and it’s not a feature that can be magically added through a software update. It will never get this feature.

Heart Rate + Fingerprint Sensor

Samsung’s new Galaxy Note also comes with a small pulse reader built-in to the flash area on the back of its design. It’s similar to what Samsung did with the Galaxy S5. You can use it and the S Health 3.5 app to take your pulse and track it to see if there are changes over time and to see how your heart rate is at rest and during activity. The video below will give you an idea about how it works.

The Galaxy Note 3 does not come with a heart rate sensor and it will never see one implemented. Tough break for those of you who are into tracking your health.


Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 4 also comes with a fingerprint sensor embedded inside the home button, something that the Galaxy Note 3 does not have. The fingerprint sensor will bring increased security and added convenience to the Galaxy Note 4.

S Pen

The Galaxy Note 4 will be coming with a new and improved S Pen. Samsung’s made some significant improvements to this year’s S Pen including increased  sensitivity on the Note 4 screen to make the note taking experience on the Galaxy Note 4 feel more like writing on paper. More sensitivity also leads to better looking text from handwriting.

Galaxy Note 4 Feature - Smart Select

Samsung’s also made some significant improvements to the S Pen’s applications including, Air Command, S Note and Voice Memo, and more. While some of these improvements could come on board the Galaxy Note 3, we never see Samsung offer up the full feature set for old devices. The Galaxy Note 3 might get bits and pieces but never the whole thing.

The Galaxy Note 4’s S Pen appears to be superior to the S Pen found with the Galaxy Note 3, a key difference that we’re going to explore some more as we get closer to the Galaxy Note 4 release.


The Galaxy Note 4 comes with a 3,220 mAh battery which is only slightly larger than the Galaxy Note 3’s 3,200 mAh battery. The change in battery size isn’t the only key difference that buyers will want to take note of.

Galaxy Note 4 Battery Micro SD card

Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 4 comes with Fast Charging. This feature will allow users to charge the Galaxy Note 4’s massive 3,220mAh battery to half capacity in just 30 minutes. That’s not all.

The Galaxy Note 4 will also come with the Ultra Power Saving Mode that arrived with the Galaxy S5 earlier this year. Ultra Power Saving mode turns the screen black and white and limits app access while still letting you make calls, send texts, use the internet and other features.

The feature is designed to help you make even a 5% of the battery last all night when you can’t get to a charger. With 30% battery life, the Galaxy S5 can last almost 5 days in standby and we should see it offer something similar with the Galaxy Note 4.

These are features that the Galaxy Note 3 simply does not have at least not yet.

Rear Camera

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 camera will come with a 16MP sensor that’s supported by Smart OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). It’s capable of shooting video up to Ultra HD (3840 × 2160) resolution at 30 frames per second. The Galaxy Note 3 employs a 13MP sensor that cannot shoot Ultra HD and does not have OIS attached to it.


We haven’t been able to go hands-on with the Galaxy Note 4’s camera but these new camera features, particularly OIS, should translate into better looking photos and video.

Front-Facing Camera

Instead of a 2MP front-facing camera like the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Note 4 delivers a 3.7MP front-facing camera that supports up to a 120 degree viewing angle and the ability to shoot WQHD (2560×1440) video. That’s an ability the Galaxy Note 3’s front facing camera doesn’t have.


U.S. carriers failed to announce official pricing for the Galaxy Note 4. We’ve put together a rough sketch of the Galaxy Note 4 price in the United States but nothing is concrete and firm, at least yet.


The Samsung Galaxy Note series usually is priced at $299.99 on-contract. Thanks to a contest at T-Mobile, we’ve determined that the Galaxy Note 4 could cost around that much when it arrives later this year. $299.99 or not, the Galaxy Note 4 will almost certainly be more expensive than the Galaxy Note 3.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 is now going for as low as $99 at retailers like Best Buy, a $200 discount from its original price tag. As we move forward, we should see that price start to dip even further as retailers and carriers work to offload their stock.