The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 recently replaced the Galaxy Note 2 and joined the Samsung Galaxy S4 on shelves. We expect the Galaxy Note 3 to remain an option well into the new year which means that it will likely be pitted against a new in-house rival, a device that is currently being dubbed, Samsung Galaxy S5. With Galaxy S5 rumors starting to heat up, we want to take an early look at what prospective buyers should expect from their match up.
After several months of rumor and speculation, Samsung confirmed that it would once again be using the IFA trade show to debut its latest Samsung Galaxy Note. In early September, the company unveiled the Galaxy Note 3, its new flagship that would be coming to replace the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, one of the year’s best Android smartphones and a device that finally came to a host of carriers in the United States.
Anticipation was high, given the success of the Galaxy Note 2 and because the device launched right around the time that Apple launched its brand new iPhone, the iPhone 5s. Indeed, the Galaxy Note series has managed to move from niche to mainstream in just a couple of years, and it’s now a smartphone line that consumers weigh against the likes of the iPhone.
Several weeks later, the Galaxy Note 3 emerge from the shadows and landed on shelves in the United States and on shelves all over the globe, joining the Galaxy S4, the device that Samsung had launched to replace the Galaxy S3 all the way back in June. The devices sit at the top of Samsung’s formidable arsenal of devices though the top won’t look that way forever.
Rumor has it, Samsung is in the process of developing a brand new smartphone, a Galaxy S smartphone, dubbed Samsung Galaxy S5. This isn’t surprising given that Samsung has given a new Galaxy S device to consumers every year for several years now. And while it still sits in the shadows, there are certainly some rumors floating around, causing shoppers to keep an eye toward the future.
For those who are looking ahead, here, we take a look at what to expect from the upcoming match up between the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has been out in various regions around the world since the end of September and it has been available in the United States since October. So while it may not seem like, thanks to weeks and weeks of rumors, the Galaxy Note 3 is an extremely new device and it’s one that will be on shelves for most of 2014. It’s not going anywhere.
What this means is that it will outlive the Samsung Galaxy S4 reign atop Samsung’s hierarchy of smartphones. The Galaxy S4, which arrived back in April, is rumored to be getting replaced at some point next year, something that again is likely given that Samsung releases a Galaxy S smartphone every year. Signs point to that device being a Samsung Galaxy S5, the fifth-generation Galaxy S smartphone, and a device that should up the ante in just about every single way.
While we know that a Galaxy S5 will likely be joining the Galaxy Note 3, it’s not clear when it will do so. Rumors point to a launch in January and a release in February, but that rumor hasn’t been confirmed. Galaxy S5 buyers should also recall the many Galaxy S4 launch date rumors that turned out to be false. Point is, nothing is confirmed at this point. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have some idea about to expect though.
In our opinion, the Samsung Galaxy S5’s release window spans across six months, from January to June. The Galaxy S3 arrived in May, the Galaxy S4 in April. So perhaps, the company has been gradually moving it forward. Perhaps not. What we do know is that the company is unlikely to let the Galaxy S4’s first anniversary pass and we don’t think it will wait until deep into summer to launch. That’s too close to a potential iPhone 6 launch.
So right now, we expect the Galaxy Note 3 to be joined by a Galaxy S5 sometime between January and June with a launch happening sooner rather than later.
Let’s get this out of the way first. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a massive smartphone. Yes, Samsung was able to slim down (8.3mm) the form factor and make the device lighter (168 grams) than the Galaxy Note 2 but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a very large smartphone. It dwarfs phones like the iPhone 5s and it even makes the Galaxy S4, a device with a 5-inch display, look small.
Samsung also changed up the design from the Galaxy Note 2 to the Galaxy Note 3. Instead of a Galaxy S4-like design, Samsung instead decided to use a new faux leather like plastic material that gives it a far different look than any other Samsung device. The device also uses a removable back for use with an extended battery and a microSD card slot for expanded storage.
So how might it compare to the Galaxy S5? First things first. Expect the Galaxy S5 to feature a smaller overall footprint. The Galaxy Note 3 will likely make it look small, just like the Galaxy S4. From there, things get a little trickier.
Rumor has it, the Galaxy S5 could be using one of two designs. The first, a metal design, something that Samsung enthusiasts have been shouting about for years. What this means for the microSD card slot and removable back is unclear but it’s possible that Samsung could incorporate both in an effort to keep both sides happy.
There is another rumor, one that suggests that the Galaxy S5 will come with a faux leather back, just like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 design. As we’ve pointed out, we’re not convinced. We just don’t see Samsung using a design from 2013 on a flagship model from 2014. It doesn’t add up. Unless the Galaxy S5 isn’t going to be a top of the line model and there are whispers that have hinted at that.
Samsung, like all companies, tosses around prototypes before it settles on a final design. And unfortunately, as we learned soon after the Galaxy Note 3 launch, those designs can change pretty close to the actual launch. So nothing is set in stone at this point. However, what we can say is this. Expect the Galaxy S5 design to be different in some way. Whether that’s build material, dimensions, or something else, the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S5 will not be exactly the same.
One of the first things that buyers will notice about the Galaxy Note 3 is its massive display which checks in at a whopping 5.7-inches. It’s enormous and it’s a reason why the form factor is so much larger than other smartphones. The Galaxy Note 3 display is also beautiful to look at, thanks to its 1080 resolution, that means 1080 x 1920 resolution, and 386 pixels-per-inch. Content simply looks amazing and the massive display makes watching movies and playing games that much more enjoyable.
There are a few things that we know for sure, when it comes to the Galaxy S5 display. It will be smaller than the Galaxy Note 3 display. By how much, we can’t say just yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung kept the display between 5-inches and 5.3-inches. We’ve seen Samsung increase the size of the display year-after-year but there will come a point in time where the company will stop. Perhaps that is this year.
It will also come with high-resolution and a high pixel-per-inch count. Rumors suggest that it could improve on the Galaxy S4 display by offering a screen with a whopping 560 pixel-per-inch screen density and resolution at 1440 x 2560. It’s also possible that we could see Samsung’s Youm technology employed. Samsung Youm is Samsung’s unbreakable flexible display and it’s one that is found on the Samsung Round. It’s possible that this will be the first mainstream smartphone to feature it.
So, consumers should, at the very least, expect the Galaxy S5 display to be on par with the Galaxy Note 3’s. And at this point, given that Samsung appears ready to deliver better displays, it could be that it trumps the Galaxy Note 3 display.
Smartphones have features beyond the display and design that should appeal to consumers, even average ones. One of the main components of any smartphone is the device’s camera. The Galaxy Note 3 features a 13MP camera with many bells and whistles and it’s able to shoot photos and video that look good in low-light environments. It’s not a camera that will win the best smartphone camera award, but it’s solid nonetheless.
Another big feature of any smartphone is the processor. The Galaxy Note 3 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor in the United States, a processor that helps it deliver fantastic performance when it comes to things like gaming and multitasking in addition to battery life. It also helps that the Galaxy Note 3 has 3GB of RAM.
The Galaxy Note 3 comes in 32GB form only and it features a massive 3,200 mAh battery that offers solid battery life, even with a massive HD display sucking up battery.
Consumers should expect the Galaxy S5 hardware to trump the Galaxy Note 3’s. First, it’s looking like the Galaxy S5 will feature a new camera sensor. Rumors all point to a 16MP sensor with ISOCELL technology, something that will help it to take even better photos and video in low-light environments. Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) has also been mentioned and that would help to make the Galaxy S5’s camera much much better than the Galaxy Note 3’s. At this point, given the rumors and given the importance placed on cameras these days, expect Samsung to deliver an improved camera.
At this point, rumors have all but confirmed a 64-bit processor for the Galaxy S5, something that would help to increase performance. The processor itself is rumored to be a next-generation Exynos chip which means that we should see increased performance on the Galaxy S5. Rumors point to 4GB of RAM but we’re still not sold and we should, at the very least, see a 32GB Galaxy S5. As for battery life, well, we wouldn’t expect the Galaxy S5 to be significantly worse than the Galaxy Note 3. Battery life is of the utter most importance and there is no way Samsung fails to deliver with its new model.
When the Samsung Galaxy S5 arrives, the Galaxy Note 3 will be running one of two Android operating systems. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, the update it has been running since launch or Android 4.4 KitKat, the update that just rolled out for Google’s Nexus devices and is rumored to be hitting the Galaxy Note 3 at some point in January. The Galaxy S5 will definitely be coming with Android 4.4 KitKat on board, there is no doubt about it. These are Samsung smartphones though and the version of Android isn’t as important as the version of Samsung TouchWiz UI that is on board.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 runs a highly unique version of software thanks to a stylus that Samsung bundles with it. The stylus, called the S Pen, is an ergonomic pen that allows users to not only write and draw on the screen, but take advantage of a number of powerful apps and features as well. From note taking apps to the ability to clip photos,text and video for use with a scrapbook, there are a number of powerful S Pen-related apps that users can take advantage of. And those will be only one of the big differences between the two.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 does not utilize the S Pen but should come with all of the non-S Pen related features that are on board the Galaxy Note 3. That means the enhanced Multi-Window View feature, that means the additions to the camera application. What’s more, is that the Galaxy S5 should introduce some new functionality of its own, Galaxy S devices always do. We also expect the Galaxy S5 to come with new features but we also expect Samsung to have improved some of the features that came with the Galaxy S4.
Keep in mind, the Galaxy Note 3 should get some of the Galaxy S5’s features at some point next year but for some of 2014, at least, much of what’s on the Galaxy S5 should be unique.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is available on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon. The device has not made it to other smaller, regional carriers in the United States and we don’t expect it to.
Samsung’s Galaxy S5 will, without question, come to all five of those carriers. We also expect that it will come to small and regional carriers as well, carriers like C Spire Wireless. Apple has made the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c available on not only the big five, but a number of smaller service providers in the United States as well so that puts pressure on Samsung to deliver. And we expect it to.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 isn’t a cheap device. That’s of course thanks to the bundled S Pen stylus and the sheer size of its high-resolution display. Carriers charge $299.99 on-contract for the Galaxy Note 3, making it an expensive investment up front. Of course, as time goes on, we expect the price to drop significantly though consumers will likely have to buy it through a third-party retailer like Amazon.
As for the Galaxy S5, it doesn’t come with a bundled S Pen or a massive display so it’s price point will likely be lesser than the Galaxy Note 3’s. At this point, there is no reason not to think that the Galaxy S5 will come for the same $199.99 on-contract price that we’ve seen numerous times in the past, especially since Apple kept that price for its iPhone 5s.
If for whatever reason the Galaxy S5 is not Samsung’s premium flagship, then the most we could see it selling for is $99 on-contract. That would put it on par with the iPhone 5c.