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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Should You Buy The New Phablet? [REPORT]

If You Own A Note 2 Is It Worth Upgrading To A Note 3 For You?

By AJ on September 6, 2013 4:22 PM EDT 0

Credit: Stellist Design
Credit: Stellist Design

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has been launched and will be getting a global worldwide release on September 25 in 149 different countries. The new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a larger phablet than its predecessor and boasts more powerful specs, it will also come at a steeper price. Is it worth upgrading from the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for most users?

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For its part, Samsung has released an official video detailing the features of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch:

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Price:  

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 price will be one of the major factors that will allow users to decide whether it is worth upgrading from the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 price on AT&T will be $299 for a 2-year contract, $35 a month on AT&T Next. T-Mobile will have the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for $199 down and $21 a month for 24 month with a Simple Choice Plan. That will bring the no-contract price of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 at $705 full price with T-Mobile and $725 full price with AT&T. This makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 one of the most expensive phones currently available on the market today.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 price by contrast is much more reasonable, especially now with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 out. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 can be gotten on T-Mobile for a $99 down and $20 for 24 month plan. That would make the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 $579.99 at full retail price a drop from the $629.99 it was before. At AT&T the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 price can be gotten at $299 with a 2-year contract or $34 a month for 20 months with AT&T Next. That makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 full retail price with AT&T $704.99 which is pretty much the same as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. If you use AT&T you would probably be better off with buying the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 unless AT&T follows T-Mobile and gives the Note 2 a price drop.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Design:

Credit: Samsung
Credit: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 design is fairly similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, at first glance both devices look somewhat similar. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the larger device at 5.7-inches compared to the 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but the Note 3 manages to be slimmer despite having a larger display. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 dimensions are 51.2 x 79.1 x 8.3mm and its weight is 168 grams. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is 151 x 80.5 x 9.4mm and weighs 182 grams. So the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is both slimmer and lighter despite being bigger.

Credit: Samsung
Credit: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 really differs from the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in terms of build. While both devices are made of plastic the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 feels more premium and high-end. The plastic doesn't look or feel cheap at all. The back of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has faux leather that is stitched on, while the sides look like burnished metal. When the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is closed it looks a bit like a real notebook. Most users who have played with both devices say that soft leather back on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 makes it easier to grip and more pleasing to touch while removing the common criticism of how cheap and flimsy the plastic body feels. Overall the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is more physically appealing than the Note 2.

Credit: Samsung
Credit: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Specs:

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 specs are naturally superior to Samsung Galaxy Note 2 specs, the main question is are the Note 3 specs that much better that it justifies the hefty price?

Display: 

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 boasts a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED 386 ppi display. This is certainly better than the 5.5-inch Super AMOLED 720x1280 267ppi display on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The higher pixel density on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will make games, streaming and movies easier to watch on the device. Taking into account the phablet capabilities the hardware of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is also a significant improvement.

Credit: Samsung
Credit: Samsung

Processor:

Depending on if the device is 3G or 4G LTE the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be either a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU or 1.9GHz Exynos ocata-core processor. The Snapdragon 800 is needed for the 4G LTE capabilities while the Exynos octa-core is for 3G. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 also boasts 3GB of RAM and starts from 32GB or 64GB storage with microSD expansion options for up to a further 64GB. This gives the device plenty of power and memory for pretty much any imaginable task whether it is games, movies or work.

RAM and Memory:

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 specs are still good, but not bleeding edge hardware anymore. With a 1.6Ghz Exynos 4412 quad-core CPU the processor isn't quite as high end but 2GB of RAM should still be more than sufficient for any task, particularly when taking into account that with the custom TouchWiz UI and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean the Note 3 only really has 2.5GB RAM available. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 also has 16GB, 32GB and 64GB memory options, ultimately it's not a huge deal despite the lower internal memory starting point. Both devices have microSD slots so users can put a 64GB card in there and get at least 80 to 128GB of memory which is more than enough. The two devices are also pretty similar in batter with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 boasting a 3,200mAH battery against the Note 2's 3,100mAh battery though the Note 3 is somewhat more energy efficient.

Camera:

The more meaningful difference between the two devices comes with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 camera which certainly has better picture capabilities. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a 13 megapixel rear camera and a 2.1 megapixel front camera against the 8 megapixel rear camera on the Note 2 and 1.9 megapixel front cameras. The quality of pictures will naturally be better using the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 sensor and camera app, but the Note line of devices aren't primarily camera oriented like we've seen with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom or Sony Xperia Z1 which have major picture capabilities. Most users shouldn't find the camera difference too much of an issue.

Overall the two devices specs aren't so different that a user with a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will have any trouble doing something that a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 user can. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is bleeding edge hardware but the vast majority of consumers will find that they don't make full use of the specs capabilities. When it come to multimedia usage users will find it possible to satisfy all their needs with both devices, perhaps the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will somewhat faster.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Features:  

The features of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are better than the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and may be the main area where users will see meaningful differences in capabilities. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean which shouldn't make too much difference compared to Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean that the Note 2 runs. The Note 2 is going to go straight to the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update that will bring with it comptability with the Galaxy Gear. There weren't many changes or improvements made between the OS updates, it's not till Android 4.4 KitKat that we can expect some big changes. Both devices also use the Samsung TouchWiz UI and the stylus S Pen but the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 UI comes with a large number of features and apps that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 lacks. The Note 3 S Pen has been revamped to include several new features.  

Credit: Stellist Design
Credit: Stellist Design

Air Command: Provides instant access to S Pen features, including Action Memo, Scrapbooker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window.

  • Scrapbook: An easy and functional way to use the S Pen to grab and store videos, photos and clips from Web pages that are linkable back to the original online source.
  • Action Memo: Quickly take a note and instantly take action. For example, call/text/save a contact on Note 3, send an email, look up an address, search the web or add to your To-Do list.
  • S Finder: Allows you to search the entire device (including handwritten notes and settings), connected accounts and the web through key words or handwritten symbols.
  • Advanced Multi Window: Enhanced so users can drag and drop between the two open windows. Multi Window now allows certain apps to be activated at the same time in both windows.
  • Pen Window: Use the S Pen to draw a window, which opens a selection of applications, and then minimize it to hover on any screen as you navigate the device.
  • My Magazine: A visual, personalized interface to get the latest news, social and localized content.
  • Wake-up Command: S Voice is now always on and active, ready for voice input to control your Note.

The new Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch can be used with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but the Galaxy Gear is clearly oriented toward being paired with the Note 3. It will still be a little while before the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and Samsung Galaxy S4 get the updates that will allow them to interface with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch:

New Mobile Experience:

The Galaxy Gear paired with the Galaxy Note 3 intelligently connects and shares information and content between the two devices. The Galaxy Gear and Note 3 innovative connectivity features include:

  • Smart Relay: Quick Glance Notifications alert you of incoming calls, messages, and more on the Galaxy Gear. When you pick up the Note 3, it will intuitively open the appropriate application to save you time.
  • Smart Lock: Youcan set-up your device to automatically unlock or lock Galaxy Note 3 with Galaxy Gear. As soon as you walk outside of a 5-foot radius of your Note 3, Galaxy Gear will automatically lock the smartphone.
  • Find My Device: Galaxy Gear can be used to locate Galaxy Note 3 by remotely triggering the alarm, vibration mode, and even the light, when within Bluetooth range. The Note 3 can be used to locate Galaxy Gear in the same way.
  • Gear Manager: An application to manage and personalize Gear directly from the Galaxy Note 3 - for example, users can change the clock face and customize notification alerts.
  • Pedometer: Keep track of all your steps with the built in pedometer.
  • Easy Set-up: Pair your Galaxy Gear with your Galaxy Note 3 by simply tapping your phone to the Galaxy Gear's charger, which uses NFC to pair the devices via Bluetooth.

In this regard the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 features are clearly what make it a stand-out device and a proper phablet.

Final Word:

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is well suited to performing the role of a phone and tablet, the size upgrade combined with the powerful bleeding edge hardware, the many new features, revamped stylus S-Pen and Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch integration likely make the Note 3 the single best and most powerful phablet available on the market today. It is hard to imagine the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, HTC One Max or LG Optimus G Pro being able to seriously compete with Samsung in terms of capabilities.

Keeping that in mind, if you already have a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 we don't think the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 offers enough of a game changing upgrade to warrant shelling out upwards of $700 for the new phablet. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 can for the most part, do just about everything that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 can aside from the custom features and revamped S Pen. The majority of consumers will never make full use of the Note 3's impressive specs. In that regard you may be better off waiting a while if you already own a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, the Note 3 isn't really a game changer for you. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 stuck to the traditional formula and didn't introduce any new technology like a flexible AMOLED display that Samsung demonstrated during CES 2013. Plus the Note 2 will get the capacity to interface with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

Our recommendation if you already own a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is to stick with it for about another year. The next generation of phones in 2014 are going to start introducing some fascinating new technology that really will be revolutionary. On the other hand, if you don't own a phablet and you want when then put the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on the top of your list. Yes it is very expensive but it blows just about every other phablet out of the water and it is well worth considering.

Check out our other Samsung Galaxy Note 3 coverage below:

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Price: No-Contract Phablet Will Cost Roughly $800 USD According To Foreign Price Leaks [REPORT]

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Release Date: September 25 Launch Confirmed Worldwide With US Carrier Availability [REPORT]

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Specs: Unpacked 2013 Episode 2 Event Confirms Everything You Need To Know About New Phablet [REPORT]

 

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