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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2: 5 Things to Know



In just a few days, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will finally land on shelves in the United States after several weeks of anticipation. And while many have already made the choice to buy the Galaxy S4, plenty of others are still trying to decide whether they want to buy the Galaxy S4 or if they want to buy another top of the line smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

While the Samsung Galaxy S4 has already started arriving on doorsteps in the United States for those that pre-ordered, the device still has not appeared on physical or online shelves for immediate purchase. And while tons of consumers have already ordered the device, clear from the inventory issues that have driven back release dates, plenty of others are still trying to decide whether to order or not.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is an extremely tempting smartphone as it boasts all the bells and whistles of a modern day superphone. It comes with a 5-inch display that boasts 1080p, a speedy quad-core processor that is top of the line at the moment, a 13MP camera that is up there with the best of them, a solid durable design that has many perks, the most current version of Android and an assortment of powerful software features courtesy of Samsung.

It’s also going to be available on the 4G LTE networks of an assortment of carriers in the United States including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon, making it a prime choice for those upgrading or those signing a new contract. Despite its superphone status, the Galaxy S4 isn’t the only intriguing smartphone on the market.

In fact, there are plenty of high-end options out there, including Samsung’s very own Galaxy Note 2, a device that is also both unique and alluring to those looking for a device.

The Galaxy Note series is Samsung’s compliment to the Galaxy S series and the most current device is the Galaxy Note 2, a 5.5-inch, quad-core powered beast that sports a bundled stylus called the S Pen. It’s a device that has gone on to sell millions around the world and for good reason. It’s a fantastic smartphone and one of the best Android devices on the market.

Many consumers are likely sizing up the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S4. However, beyond just the pure specifications, there are some things that interested buyers should know in regards to how the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 match up.

Here now are five of the most important things to know about the match up between the new Samsung Galaxy S4 and last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 2 phablet.

Galaxy Note 2 Isn’t That Much Bigger

While the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is indeed a massive smartphone, sporting a large 5.5-inch display, the Samsung Galaxy S4 actually isn’t that much smaller than Samsung’s device, a device that is often referred to as a phablet because it combines features of both a tablet and a smartphone.

This year, Samsung upped the display of the Galaxy S series to 5-inches, larger than the 4.8-inch display that was on the Galaxy S3. The comparison below shows just how the Galaxy Note 2’s design matches up with the Galaxy S4. While the Galaxy Note 2 is indeed bigger than the Galaxy S4, it does not dwarf it like it does other smartphones, the iPhone 5 in particular.

The Galaxy S4 compared to the Galaxy Note 2.

The Galaxy S4 compared to the Galaxy Note 2.

The point is, while the Galaxy Note 2 may be marketed as this massive beast of a smartphone, the Galaxy S4 is not small at all and potential buyers should know that before buying.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy Note 2 vs. Galaxy S3 vs. iPhone 5 vs. Nexus 4.

Samsung Galaxy S4 with the Galaxy Note 2 to the right of it.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is, however, both lighter and thinner than the Galaxy Note 2.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Will Get Android 5.0 First

In May, Google will be hosting its annual developer conference, Google I/O, where it’s rumored to be announcing its upcoming Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie software update. Thus far, that remains unconfirmed and we still aren’t sure what the features of the update are. There is one thing that we can be sure of when it comes to Android 5.0 though.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will beat the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie and based on past update timelines, it will beat it decisively. The Galaxy S4, which runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, will likely be the first Samsung device with the new software on board. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which is still on Android 4.1, will likely be upgraded first to Android 4.2, then to Android 5.0.

Don't believe the latest rumor that Android 5.0 is delayed.

The Galaxy S4 will likely beat the Galaxy Note 2 to Android 5.0. By a good margin too.

As we have pointed out many times, U.S .carriers are extremely slow to Galaxy Note updates so even when the Galaxy Note 2 does get Android 4.2, U.S. variants will be far behind their foreign counterparts. That means that Android 5.0 will likely come at a date far off in the distance.

That said, those who like being quick to updates will want to know that about the Galaxy Note series and look much more closely at the Galaxy S4.

1080p Is Great, But Isn’t a Deal Breaker

One of the big and highly touted feature coming to Android smartphones this year is 1080p resolution which is also accompanied by high pixel-per-inch counts. This means that content whether it’s a movie or the web will look as sharp, rich and crisp as it ever has on a smartphone. The Galaxy S4 possesses a 1080p display, the Galaxy Note 2 does not. And we don’t think that’s a deal breaker.

We’ve had a chance to spend quite a bit of time with both displays and we enjoyed them both. The Galaxy S4 display is going to offer the better looking content thanks to its new technology, but it doesn’t exactly knock the Galaxy Note 2 out of the park.

The Galaxy S4 display features better resolution than the Galaxy Note 2's, but it's not a deal breaker.

The Galaxy S4 display features better resolution than the Galaxy Note 2’s, but it’s not a deal breaker.

The Galaxy Note 2, while sporting 720p HD resolution, still is capable of providing fantastic looking content and average consumers, especially those that don’t consume a lot of content on their smartphone will be more than happy with the Galaxy Note 2’s display.

Simply put, both screens are gorgeous and the fact that the Galaxy Note 2 sports lesser resolution won’t be a deal breaker for many consumers.

Galaxy S4 Has Galaxy Note 2 Features

The Samsung Galaxy Note series is known for its bundled S Pen stylus which can take advantage of a number of applications including its S Note note taking app. It can also be used to crop things like photos. The S Pen is also able to take advantage of a feature called Air View that allows Galaxy Note owners to hover over content like email for a quick preview. It also arrived with a feature called Multi-Window view that allows owners to split up the screen real estate to run two separate apps at the same time.

And while the Galaxy Note 2 will retain some of its uniqueness, Samsung outfitted the Galaxy S4 with some Galaxy Note 2-like features. Multi-View will be on board the Galaxy S4 but the Galaxy S4 also has its own form of Air View and it doesn’t even require the S Pen.

A sensor inside the Galaxy S4 allows owners to take advantage of Air View without the need for an S Pen. Instead, owners can simply use their finger to hover over content like email for a preview.

Furthermore, Galaxy S4 users can also take advantage of another feature called Air Gesture which allows users to change music or browse the web simple by using hand motions.

So while it won’t have access to S Pen apps like S Note, the Galaxy S4 did steal some of the Galaxy Note 2’s software thunder and those who might have been iffy on using the S Pen might want to look a little harder at the Galaxy S4.

Galaxy Note 2 Will Likely Get Some Galaxy S4 Features

The Galaxy Note 2 will likely get some Galaxy S4 software features.

The Galaxy Note 2 will likely get some Galaxy S4 software features.

While the Galaxy S4 stole and improved on some software features of the Galaxy Note 2, the Galaxy Note 2 will likely get some of the Galaxy S4’s software features on the road. Samsung has confirmed Galaxy S4 software features for the Galaxy S3 and it implied that the Galaxy Note 2 would be getting some at some point as well.

What those features might be is unclear but a safe bet is on the many camera app improvements that Samsung packed into the Galaxy S4 software. Two of the main features are Sound & Shot and Dual Camera which are likely candidates for the Galaxy Note 2 down the road.

This means that Galaxy Note 2 buyers can feel comfortable knowing that their device will get new features, even those found on Samsung’s new flagship.



  1. Bryan

    04/26/2013 at 10:27 am

    However, updates come much quicker for those who frequent xda-developer, regardless of the carrier/manufacturer/Google schedule. In case anyone was put off by the update schedule part.

  2. lolo

    04/29/2013 at 10:24 am

    But that requires someone to root their phone, and let’s face it, the “average user” isn’t going to be swayed by that for updates.

    • Mac

      05/02/2013 at 3:23 am

      Your off by a long shot on this. Every day there are plenty of “average” users learning how to root and install custom roms.BTW…those numbers are climbing. ..not falling.

      • lolo

        05/02/2013 at 5:00 am

        Go up to 30 people on the street, the consensus will be they have no idea what “rooting is”. I’m not off by a long shot. Google it, most people don’t even now what version of android they are running.

  3. jojo

    05/03/2013 at 5:02 am

    The s4 has an octo core…

    • GROD

      05/03/2013 at 7:28 am

      No it doesn’t, still a quadcore snapdragon.

      • SwaT

        05/06/2013 at 7:22 am

        for U.S quadcore only, rest of the world octacore

        • anon

          05/06/2013 at 4:50 pm

          Makes me sad knowing the galaxy s4 is more powerful than my pc…

        • RichD

          05/13/2013 at 1:20 pm

          Technically it is dual quad-cores for non-US based S4’s. One quad is fast and a bit power hungry where the second quad is lower speed and lower power consumption. There is logic in there to put background apps on the lower powered quad.

  4. dougmcc2

    05/11/2013 at 4:02 pm

    So where can I see a side by side for things the typcial user may want to compare?

  5. Sam

    05/12/2013 at 7:18 pm

    Is it possible to use the S Pen or another stylus on the S4?

    I’m planning to buy a new phone and I’m 90% sure I’ll go for the new S4, but I really like the Note’s S Pen. It’s great for taking quick notes imo.

    • insomnical

      05/31/2013 at 6:01 am

      The Note 2 has an extra layer on the screen, just for the wacom stylus. Which the s4 does not have, so unfortunately, no, you cannot use the Note 2 stylus on an S4.

  6. venkateshwar rao

    05/22/2013 at 2:48 am

    what is the best samsung s4 or samsung note 2

  7. jit

    05/29/2013 at 8:58 am

    vote for
    Note 2 with root!

  8. alisha_taylor

    06/18/2013 at 6:27 am

    Is this android phone?

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