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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs the Galaxy Note 3: Which Galaxy to choose?

Sterling Keys (translation)
5

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4 are from the same “generation” in the Samsung line, but due to the release of the Galaxy S5, the S4 is much more affordable than its larger Note counterpart. Beyond the size differences and design, however, which one should you pick up if you had the choice? We take a look at both the Note 3 and the Galaxy S4 in this comparison.

kitkat s4 note3
 © Samsung, AndroidPIT

Design

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3 come from two different design generations: the Galaxy S4 has a glossy plastic back while the Note 3 has benefitted from the leather style that Samsung has decided is becoming the standard for their devices. The rest of both devices share the same design choices: frame color, chrome volume and home buttons, and capacitive keys. The aesthetic design choices do become pretty subjective when looking at them side by side.

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The faux-leather backing of the Galaxy Note 3. / © AndroidPIT

When held in your hand, the Note 3 is clearly much more comfortable and grippy than the Galaxy S4 (without a case). The Galaxy S4 tends to become slippery when used for a longer time and/or when you’ve got sweaty hands. The biggest difference in the design side of things is the size of the two devices: the Note 3 display is much larger, but the size is not dramatically different.

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The overall design on the front of both devices is relatively similar. / © AndroidPIT

Display

Just like the Galaxy S5, the Note 3 and Galaxy S4 share the same type of display: coming in with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 Full HD, the big difference between the two is the pixel density. On the Galaxy S4 it comes in at 441 and on the Note 3 it’s 386. While the difference does seem pretty stark on paper, it’s hard to perceive any difference with the naked eye.  Both displays are Super AMOLED and offer very saturated and bright colors with strong contrasts.

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Despite the difference in pixel density, the difference is hardly noticeable. / © AndroidPIT

What strikes us as the big difference between the two is just how bright the display on the Note 3 is. While based on the same technology for the displays in both devices, the Galaxy Note 3 comes ahead in this matter due to the unusual brightness.

System

Both the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 are running Android 4.4.2 and are on the list for the Android 4.4.3 update in the coming weeks. The major difference between the two is that the Note 3 sports the S Pen and has some S Pen specific functions and apps. This allows you to manage your smartphone/phablet in a very practical and natural way.

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Despite some specific Note 3 applications, the interfaces on both devices are almost identical. / © Samsung/AndroidPIT

Both devices come pre-installed with Samsung specific apps and widgets, but as stated above, the Note 3 gets a little bit more functionality due to S Pen specific features.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has 2 GB of RAM against the 3 GB of RAM for the Note 3. The difference is particularly significant when it comes to running demanding applications or videos. However, at the moment, the S4 is able to run all available applications with no issues. The Galaxy Note 3 is a beast when it comes to performance as benchmarks classify at or near the top for all Android devices and thanks to the extra boost in its RAM allows for a little bit more future proofing that should see it in the long run against the Galaxy S2.  As well, the Note 3 is USB 3.0 Compatible while the Galaxy S4 is compatible with USB 2.0 and below.

One thing to note, although it doesn’t have much of an effect on performance, is that the S4 comes in two varieties with different processors: a version with the quad-core Snapdragon 600 and another with the Exynos 5 Octa processor.

Camera

While information regarding the exact sensors in the S4 and Note 3 isn’t exactly known, both cameras have almost identical performance on paper.  For photos, they both sport the same camera software and options, allowing capturing images of similar (excellent) quality. In video mode, the Note 3 pulls ahead with its ability to shoot in 4k, much like the Xperia Z2 which was just released.

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Photos on the Note 3 and S4 offer the same quality. As well, the camera software is identical. / © AndroidPIT

For the Galaxy S5, it seems Samsung has put a quite a bit of effort and reworking into it, making it perform leaps and bounds above the Note 3 and Galaxy S4.

Battery

The Note 3 sports one of the larger batteries out in the wild, coming in at 3200 mAh and it uses it well: despite a larger display and processor, it uses it well and is able to keep on going. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is nothing to laugh at, with a battery coming in at 2600 mAh and the ability to take a full day of use with no problems/need for recharging throughout the day.

Tech Specs

  Samsung Galaxy S4 Samsung Galaxy Note 3
System Android 4.4.2 Android 4.4.2
Display Super AMOLED, 5.1-inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 441 ppp Super AMOLED, 5.7-inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 386 ppp
Processer Exynos 5 Octa,  Snapdragon 600 Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 2.3 GHz
RAM 2 GB 3 GB
Internal Storage 16/32/64 GB + microSD 32/64 GB + microSD
Battery 2600 mAh 3200 mAh
Camera 13 MP (rear), 2 MP (front) 13 MP (rear), 2 MP (front)
Connectivity HSPA, 4G, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB 2.0 HSPA, 4G, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB 3.0
Dimensions 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm
Weight 130 g 168 g
Price $430 $549

 Conclusion

If the issue of price is excluded, the Galaxy Note 3 is easily the device you should be choosing if you’re looking in the performance department.  While coming in with a larger package, it feels more ergonomic in your hands with its faux-leather backing.  If size and price do come into play and you’re looking for something more compact and to get more bang for your buck, consider the Galaxy S4. While definitely not the leader in this comparison, it holds its own against many other devices currently available. However, with the imminent release/announcement the next device in the Note line, you can bet that the Note 3 will start to see a decline in price shortly. 

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Comments

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    Caspar Wrede 2 months ago Link

    Love it

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  • Erin Jimenez 2 months ago Link

    I have the Galaxy S4 and I love it... but as soon as I can I'm upgrading to the Galaxy Note 3

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  • Liquidfire3D 2 months ago Link

    All my friends with S4s won't stop playing with my Note 3. Can't blame them I love my N3.
    *admin edit: links are forbidden*

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  • Clive Richards 2 months ago Link

    I had an S2 and an S3 before - decided not to go for the S4 as I saw nothing significant in it - I went eventually for Galaxy Note 3 for the larger screen and although the first one developed a problem - the retailer replaced it with a new one which is fine. I am getting around 2 days battery life on moderate use which is three times better than my S3 so am very pleased with the device. It is very responsive and the fastest android I have ever owned. I don't find the size a problem and it is much better for viewing non mobile webpages and videos - I couldn't go back to a smaller screen now. I just wish Samsung would make all the "added value" apps removable as quite a few add no value to me and just take up space.
    I also wish that there was a recognised method of rooting the device without voiding warranty - it is my phone so I should be able to do what I want with it.

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