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Smartphone evolution: the Galaxy Note series

Every year, we’re treated to a brand new iteration of smartphones, but it often seems to come and go with lightning speed. With this constant change, it’s easy to forget what our favorite smartphones looked like two or three years ago. Today, we take a stroll down memory lane and have a look at the evolution of Samsung's Galaxy Note series.

Samsung Galaxy Note

The original Galaxy Note first dropped at IFA 2011 and came with a revolutionary 5.3 inch display, a behemoth of its time. Not only that, but it was equipped with a dual-core 1.4 GHz chipset that set new standards and came equipped with a smart pen, something not seen since the Palm Pilot days.  While some considered the Galaxy Note to be almost too big, the device soon proved any naysayers wrong and became a quick commercial success with over two million devices sold after only two months. To date, the original Galaxy Note has sold over ten million units. Samsung took an innovative risk with the Galaxy Note and it’s completely paid off since then.

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The first Galaxy Note. / © Samsung, ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

The sequel was presented the next year at IFA 2012 and it quickly became clear: the Galaxy Note series would be the crowning announcement to come out of the IFA conferences. Samsung enlarged the screen to 5.5 inches and double the number of CPU cores in the device. Above all, the S Pen was further improved and helped established the Note series as the undisputed leader in the market of phablets. In the first three months, three million units were sold.

On the software side of things, Samsung was diligent in taken advantage to the large size of the Galaxy Note 2. They incorporated multi-tasking software to help with split-screen operation and introduced Air View. In addition, the Note 2 followed the new Galaxy S3 in a redesign to the Galaxy series which was also a commercial success.

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The Galaxy Note 2. / © Samsung Mobile, ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

By 2013, the Galaxy Note series was well established and recognized as being unrivaled. The pressure and constraints of the early days were in the past and Samsung was moving full steam ahead. At IFA 2013, the Galaxy Note 3 saw the light of day and this time the design was once again tweaked. With a new angular design and synthetic leather replacing the standard polycarbonate backing, Samsung tried to position the Galaxy Note 3 into a more premium niche. While the design didn’t appeal the everyone, the hardware specs continued to impress as it was the first smartphone with 3 GB of RAM, a feat that has barely been matched by other smartphones today. Continuing without much competition, the Note 3 was again a commercial success for Samsung and sold ten million units in just two months.

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The Galaxy Note 3. / © Samsung Mobile, ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The Galaxy Note 4 is the latest in the line and Samsung has well established a winning formula for this smartphone.  Despite its predecessors having commercial success with big changes, the Note 4 only presents a few new features or design changes. From the outside of the device, it is hard to tell it apart from the Galaxy Note 3. The display size has remained the same at 5.7 inches, the synthetic leather backing is still there, and the angular design remains.

With the Note 4, Samsung made the jump to full 2K resolution and borrowed a few design features from the Galaxy S series including a metal frame and fingerprint scanner.  As well, the display on the Note 4 comes across as extraordinary not just because of the high resolution, but more due to goo color representation, readability in full sunlight and an increased viewing angle. And so, it goes: the Galaxy Note 4 remains relatively unrivaled in its fourth iteration.

androidpit Samsung Galaxy Note4 3
The Galaxy Note 4. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung changed its strategy last year and decided to release its new generation before IFA in Berlin. It was also not sold in Europe either, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of fans across the Atlantic. We hoped this would change, but it unfortunately did not. Samsung preferred instead to sell it in South Korea and the United States, instead selling the Galaxy S6 Edge+ in Europe.

The Notes 5 introduced a sleek design of aluminum and glass. This meant that the battery was not removable, and memory was not expandable. The specs of the Note 5 were great, with 4 GB of RAM, a 5.7-inch QHD display and a quality 16 MP camera. But this was simply not enough to convince many Note 4 owners that it was worth an upgrade, with many instead holding out for the following generation, or looking elsewhere.

androidpit samsung galaxy note 5 16
The Galaxy Note 5. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung decided to launch the Note 7 before IFA, once again, and this time on August 2. This time around, the company will sell it in Europe and it seems that the Note is better than ever. The Note 7 inherits some genes from the Galaxy S7 Edge, among which is the curved display. It maintains a metal and glass construction, so there is also no removable battery. Unlike the Note 5, however, users can expand internal memory via microSD card. The most interesting new feature is an iris scanner located on the front panel, which can be used to unlock the device.

The Note 7 has an AMOLED curved display (on both sides) and is 5.7 inches in size. It also has an octa-core processor, 4 GB of RAM and the same main camera that we find in S7 and S7 Edge. It doesn't come cheap, but this is indeed a premium phone – the best of the best.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy Note7 event 5210
The Galaxy Note 7. / © AndroidPIT

Are you a fan of the Galaxy Note series? Let us know in the comments.

With contributions from AndroidPIT editor Jessica Murgia.

18 comments

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  • Well I looked and and I pondered about it and I have to confess I did it I did it I put my bid in for the note 7 yes I admit it. The look the specks and feel of the note 7 was to grt not to. All my temps was there not to, battery not removable is ok I can live with it but yea I feels like this is a grt upgrade form the note 4 and yea it feels worth it . From the ports being protected, to the gorilla glass 5, water protected yea even iris cancer, duel security protection, this could go on and on. Slap a nice case and a screen protector on it like I always do yea this is gana be grt for me this is a note phone the way it should be at tht price pls it's a investment period !

  • I have Nexus 6P. The last Note I had was Note 3. An excellent phone for its time, now Note 7 is a real beauty and I am considering to get it. The only thing I will miss from Nexus is the front speaker. All the colors Samsung have on table for Note 7 are very gorgeous. It will be very hard to choose one because I love them all!

  • There wasn't any Note 6, was there?

  • I am the FAN of Note series. Having Note 5, I am very much satisfied with its performance.

  • My Note 4 still rocks and is still up to spec and speed with what can be thrown at it. The 7 interests me though but it will have to be spectacular for me to change 😊

  • The best of the best, no matter which Note you use. 👌 👍 💚 🎉 📲

  • Finally.. after 3 generations I'm finally ready to go back to the note line

  • Still having Note 4 and happy! :)

  • Sanjai Joseph
    • Mod
    4 months ago Link to comment

    I still have my 5 year old Note 1 working without any lag. My note 1 has better protection, I dropped it on floor as well as on water for more than 30x times, nothing can break it. Still it have Android 6.0 custom ROM. So nothing beats it

    • Good for you! Old Notes are still excellent. I am still using my old Galaxy Note 2, along with a Note 4. Note 4 beats Note 2 in screen display and camera, but Note 2 is still plenty good and I have no problem using it day to day for everything. I hate glass back, so I don't think I can go above Note 4.

  • my favorite series

  • Mark 4 months ago Link to comment

    The Note 4 is still the best of the note series. The Note 5 was a major downgrade it lost the removable battery, IP68 rating, and the Micro SD support. All you gained was a slight processor speed increase, and a glass back that sucks. It makes the phone slippery. The Note 7 has brought back only two features, plus a gimmick. The Note 4 Rules it has it all!!!

    • I do have to say, I think the Note 4 was sort of a pinnacle for Samsung. The Note 5 is 'technically' better, but the Note 4 is just such a good phablet. It's unique. The newer Notes look and feel very similar to the Galaxy S series, which is good...but the Note 4 wasn't like this. It didn't need edges.

    • Galaxy Note 4 never had IP68 rating, although it seems to be built pretty well, so it can survive brief encounter with water. The big thing on Note 4 is the swappable battery, which is a must have for me as I am away from desk much of the day! If Samsung was smarter, they would make Note 7 variant with swappable battery too! And yes I agree glass back sucks, no use except make phone more fragile and harder to service.

      • Mark 4 months ago Link to comment

        Your right my bad on the IP68 rating. I agree they should make a flat screen variant with removable battery, I personally don't like the edge phones. Maybe we will get lucky on the Note 8 or the S8.

    • I'm thinking and thinking do I need to run up a another charge for a grand on a phone or keep my note 4 and I really don't want tht just give me the software already and let me decide this is the suck ass part of android. Let me decide if I need to pay more money for a phone or put it back into my home really is tht to hard for them is it just greed tht they won't let me get the update pls give me a frackng break sorry for the language.

  • It's always been pretty much plain and simple for me since May 2011. Nothing beats Samsung or the Galaxy Note products period they are Android nothing else matters.

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