Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy Note 3: What Buyers Can Expect

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is still an extremely powerful smartphone and it comes armed with a increasingly cheap price tag. With a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release now confirmed, Galaxy Note buyers are starting to weigh their options and here, we want to take a look at what prospective Galaxy Note 3 buyers should expect from the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Last year, on September 4th, Samsung announced the all new Galaxy Note 3, a successor to the popular Galaxy Note 2 and a device that arrived with a number of big time upgrades including a new design, improved software, a better camera, a larger higher-resolution display, a faster processor, and an assortment of other tweaks and changes that made it the better smartphone. That was almost a year ago.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is getting older, there’s no question about that, but that doesn’t mean that it’s no longer a solid option. Its hardware has held up, its software has been updated to Android 4.4 KitKat, and the Galaxy Note 3’s price is in decline. We’ve talked to more than a few people that are considering it as their next smartphone.

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In particular, we’ve heard from a number of people that are curious about the Galaxy Note 3’s successor, a device that’s currently called the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Earlier this week, Samsung confirmed the Galaxy Note 4 for arrival and it will be replacing the Galaxy Note 3 in just a few short weeks. Needless to say, anticipation for the Galaxy Note 4 is at all time high.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen Galaxy Note 4 rumors firm up and we’ve made some early comparisons to several devices including the Galaxy Note 3. Here, we want to explore those rumors and offer up some predictions of our own. Here’s how we expect the Galaxy Note 4 to match up with the Galaxy Note 3 in key areas when it arrives later on this year.

Release Date + Price Drop

Earlier this week, Samsung confirmed the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 launch date for September 3rd. The confirmation comes thanks to a new invite that beckons the media to an upcoming Unpacked event in New York City on September 3rd. The Unpacked event, which teases a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release, will take place just six days before Apple is expected to launch its new iPhone 6.

Samsung will be hosting its Unpacked 2014 Episode 2 launch event in three separate cities including New York City, Berlin, and Beijing. The United States, Europe and China are all key battlegrounds for smartphone manufacturers and it appears that Samsung is going to be taking the fight to the iPhone 6 in those regions in particular.

The Galaxy Note 4 launch date will come just days before the iPhone 6 launch.

The Galaxy Note 4 launch date will come just days before the iPhone 6 launch.

Galaxy Note 4 release date rumors have pointed to a quick arrival in an effort to take on the iPhone 6. Rumors have singled out the week of September 15th as a possible launch window for the Galaxy Note 4 though that remains unconfirmed. We are fully expecting the Galaxy Note 4 to be released in September and would not be surprised if Samsung produced an incredible turnaround in an effort to compete with the iPhone 6.

So what does this mean for the Galaxy Note 3? Well, expect the Galaxy Note 3 price to drop across carriers and across retailers as soon as the Galaxy Note 4 arrives. We’ve already seen AT&T drop the Galaxy Note 3 price ahead of the Galaxy Note 4’s arrival but we expect widespread cuts once September rolls around. This is going to be key because we expect the Galaxy Note 4, with all of its bells and whistles, to be priced in around $300.

New & Improved Design

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 faux leather plastic design was better than the Galaxy Note 2’s glossy polycarbonate plastic design but it’s still not our favorite and doesn’t come close to the designs found on the HTC One or iPhone. The Galaxy Note 3’s design, minus the SD card slot and removable back, was one of the Galaxy Note 3’s perceived weaknesses so we expect Samsung to make a change with the Galaxy Note 4.

That’s not a hard thing to predict. Samsung always tweaks and changes its designs. No two Galaxy Note’s or Galaxy S’ have been exactly the same and we aren’t expecting anything different from the Galaxy Note 4. So what will be different?

Rumors out of Korea suggest that the Galaxy Note 4 could come with a metal frame though without evidence, those rumors are flimsy. We don’t expect Samsung to use polycarbonate plastic or faux leather and we’d be shocked if the Galaxy Note 4 was made entirely out of metal. If anything, we’d expect a combo of plastic and metal, perhaps something similar to the Galaxy Note 4 concept below that combines metal with the Galaxy S5’s nice plastic matte back.

This Galaxy Note 4 concept features a design comprised of plastic and metal.

This Galaxy Note 4 concept features a design comprised of plastic and metal.

What we do know that Samsung is worried about the impact of the iPhone 6 and with its smartphone business in decline, this is the year that the company could finally offer a premium build to appease those that want something better than full blown plastic.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 design rumors also suggest that we’ll see a fingerprint sensor, an IP67 certification (dust and water resistance) and the same four colors that debuted on the Galaxy S5 (blue, white, black and gold). These seem likely at this point given their presence on the Samsung Galaxy S5. We also expect the device to carry a microSD card slot given rumors that it only comes in 32GB form.

Better Display

The Galaxy Note 3’s display is still great. Its size, 5.7-inches, is great for sharing a movie with a friend on a road trip or flight or playing a game when the Xbox is occupied. The 1080p resolution is still good and games and other content still look gorgeous. That said, we have a feeling that the Galaxy Note 3 display is going to deliver at least two changes.

The top 1080P display doesn't show as much detail as the WQHD display on the lower phone.

The top 1080P display doesn’t show as much detail as the WQHD display on the lower phone.

First, a resolution change. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is rumored to be coming with a large QHD (Quad HD) display. As we’ve pointed out, QHD resolution will offer higher resolution gaming, something that’s key on a device of this size, and it will also sharpen the look of movies, television shows and other content. Those unfamiliar can take a look at our buyers guide below. The LG G3 packs a QHD display and its one of the most impressive specs of on any smartphone right now.

The other change is related to the design. Because Samsung is rumored to be keeping the same 5.7-inch display size, our gut feeling is that Samsung is going to try and make the Galaxy Note 4 more compact than the Galaxy Note 3. One of the gripes people have with the Galaxy Note series is that it’s difficult to use with one hand. Well, unless you have large hands.

We expect the screen size to remain the same but with thinner bezels and some other minor tweaks, we would not be surprised if the Galaxy Note 4 retained a similar screen size inside of a more compact design. Pocketability is absolutely going to be key for Samsung going forward especially if the iPhone 6, expected to have both 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch options, is easy to use with one hand.

The 5.7-inch display is still a great size for the Galaxy Note 4.

The 5.7-inch display is still a great size for the Galaxy Note 4.

Don’t be surprised if the Galaxy Note 4’s display is the best display that Samsung’s ever put on a smartphone.

Supercharged Specs

This almost goes without saying but expect the Galaxy Note 4 to come with a better spec sheet than the Galaxy Note 3. Some of the specifics remain in the shadows but we can, based on rumors and Samsung’s history with the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S, offer some of our own thoughts.

The Galaxy Note 4 will almost certainly come with an improved processor. The Snapdragon 805 appears to be the prime candidate for the United States while we could see a 64-bit processor emerge in other regions. Processing power is essential to the Galaxy Note series because of its focus on multitasking, gaming, and its S Pen stylus. It needs a ton of horsepower.

Galaxy Note 4 Features

If you aren’t a believer in the need for processing power, check out the benefits of the Snapdragon 805 inside the Galaxy S5 LTE-A. We expect better gaming, better battery life, and better multitasking from the Galaxy Note 4.

It’s also clear that the Galaxy Note 4 will come with a better camera. Samsung can’t afford to keep the Galaxy Note 3 camera on the Galaxy Note 4 with the iPhone 6 breathing down its neck, and we’re expecting the Galaxy Note 4 to feature some new sensors as well. The highlight will reportedly be a new UV sensor that could tie into the S Health application and provide readings on UV levels. As we’ve pointed out, it’s a feature that could save your life.

The Galaxy Note 4 S Health app will measure UV radiation and offer education according to rumors.

The Galaxy Note 4 S Health app will measure UV radiation and offer education according to rumors.

The Galaxy Note series has always been a high-performance smartphone and we’re expecting no less from the Galaxy Note 4. If you need a ton of horsepower, the Galaxy Note 4 is probably going to be your horse.

Same Carriers

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is rumored for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. Same as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Don’t expect to see smaller carriers hop on board the Galaxy Note 4 bandwagon.

Software Changes

Expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to come with Android 4.4.2, Android 4.4.3 or Android 4.4.4 KitKat. Android L is still too far off in the distance for a quick release on the Galaxy Note 4.

With the Galaxy Note 3 on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, we expect them to share the overall version of Android. However, we don’t expect them to have the same feature set.

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Samsung always outfits its new devices with new TouchWiz features. In other words, we should see some new S Pen functionality mixed in with some other software that’s not found on the Galaxy Note 3. Here are some distinct possibilities:

  • Smart Fingerprint –  It wasn’t fully detailed but it’s assumed that it has something to do with being able to customize a fingerprint reader for certain actions.
  • Multi Network for Booster –  Could be similar to the Download Booster feature on the Galaxy S5 that combines Wi-Fi and cellular data for faster download speeds.
  • Swipe to Launch Motion Launcher –  Could be similar to Motion Launch on the HTC One M8.
  • Aqua Capture – Possibly similar to the Aqua Mode found on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. Aqua Mode allowed Galaxy S4 Active users to take photos underwater.

These make sense. The company will want to capitalize on the Galaxy Note 4’s unique hardware set in an effort to separate it from the rest of the pack, including the Galaxy Note 3.

Two things about the Galaxy Note 3. First, we expect it to get at least some of what the Galaxy Note 4 has to offer. Second, the Galaxy Note 3 is already a year into its life. Samsung updates devices for two years before kicking them aside. In other words, we expect the Galaxy Note 3 to be killed off a year before the Galaxy Note 4.

Keep that in mind before you sign a new contract with the the Galaxy Note 3.