The Note phablets have turned out to be some of the most popular devices for Samsung, just behind its 'S' line of flagships. The latest edition in this line is the Note 3, which is arguably one of the best smartphone available right now. It boasts a huge stunning screen, cutting edge hardware, an amazing camera and a buttload of software features. Apart from all these it also comes with a heavy price tag. So those who already own last year's note 2 would want to know if it is worth upgrading to a Note 3? And those who are looking forward to buy a good phablet would also come down to a choice between last year's Note 2 and the new Note 3. So this comparing season, we'll help you decide which phablet you should go for and also see how the Note 3 improves upon its predecessor. As usual we'll be comparing the two on the basis of design, performance, software, display, camera, battery life, storage and pricing and also an additional category of S-pen to see what’s new in the Note's stylus.
Both the Note 3 and the Note 2 have almost identical dimensions with the Note 3 being slightly taller. While the Note 2 has the same glossy plastic back that we have seen on almost all the galaxy device, the Note 3 treats us to a fresh new design with its faux-leather back that adds some grip to the device. It looks like leather, it feels like leather but it’s not leather. It’s still a removable plastic back but one that feels much better than the Note 2's.
The new Note (168g), apart from being slightly bigger, is also surprisingly lighter than the Note 2 (183g). The Note 3 also comes with a thinner bezel but that doesn't make it any easier to use with one hand, that's something you should keep in mind when you're buying a Note. Samsung's 'home' button, as seen on all galaxy devices, is also present here accompanied by the two 'menu' and 'back' soft touch buttons.
Despite the new back panel and a few design tweaks, the Note 3 doesn't feel as premium as other high-end devices like the HTC One Max or the iPhone 5S. However it still is a good update to the design, much better than the Note 2.
Snapdragon 800. That's pretty much all you need to know about the Note 3's (International N 9005) performance. Qualcomm's latest SoC just kills benchmarks. Clocked at 2.3 GHz it can handle the heaviest tasks with ease. It makes switching from the most intensive games to simple tasks like taking a note buttery smooth and amazingly fast. The Note 3 comes with 3GB RAM which is more than enough for everyday use.
If performance is a priority, look no further , the Note 3 is one of the fastest smartphone around.
The Note 2, on the other hand, is powered by Samsung's Exynos 4412 quad-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz and has 2GB of RAM. The previous generation SoC provides comparatively low performance but can handle your everyday tasks with ease. It is overall a decent processor but comes nowhere near the 800 on Note 3.The Note 3 wins here with a huge margin.
The Note 3 runs Android 4.3 whereas the Note 2 still comes with 4.1.2 Jellybean. Both the devices are topped with Samsung's long running TouchWiz UI and are jam-packed with features like Multi-window, Smart Stay, Airview, Smart Rotation etc along with basic S-pen features.
The newer Note 3 comes with a bunch of extra features like Air Gesture and Smart Scroll and also some great new features for the S-pen about which we will discuss later. Note 3 clearly has an edge here with its newer version of Android, bunch of extra features and promise of an update to Android 4.4 KitKat.
Just like the Note 2, this year's Note 3 has seen an increase of 0.2" of screen size from its predecessor.
The Note 3's screen measures at 5.7" with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (386 ppi) while the Note 2's screen measures 5.5" at 1280 x 720 (267 ppi).
Despite being sharper with a million more pixels, the Note 3's super AMOLED screen also produces more real colours, has better viewing angles and better brightness.
The Note 3 sees an increase in the megapixel count from the Note 2 by 5 megapixels. The Note 3 sports a better 13mp snapper as compared to the Note 2's 8mp camera. The camera interface on the Note 3 is borrowed from the S4 which means it has tons of shooting modes like sports mode, surround shot, eraser mode, drama mode and the list goes on. Photos on the Note 3 turn out to be better than the Note 2 being sharper and producing better colours. The Note 3 also performs better under low lighting as compared to the Note 2.
Apart from this, the Note 3 is also capable of 4K video, 1080 video @60fps and 720 video @120fps thanks to the Snapdragon beast inside. The Note 2 can only do 1080 video @30fps. Both phones also sport 2mp front facing shooters capable of fullHD video. The Note 2 has a great camera but Note 3 has a clear edge here.
The Note 3 and Note 2 have 3200mAH and 3100mAH batteries respectively. Battery life on both the devices are almost identical but the Note 3 seems to last a little longer. The difference here is not big. Both the devices perform equally well and should get you through your day.
The S-pen on the Note 3 is almost identical to the one on the Note 2, with some minor design changes. The real difference here is the new set of S-pen features that the Note 3 comes with. There are a ton of new features for Note 3’s stylus which aren’t available on the Note 2. The most important and the most useful of these features would be the Air Command which pops-up a circular menu when you hover the S-pen just above the screen while pressing the S pen Button, providing you with 5 S-pen features that are: Action Memo, Scrap Booker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window. Quick access to all these features is really useful as for many these are the only features that they’ll take out their S-pen for.
Storage and Pricing
Both the Note 3 and Note 2 come in 16/32/63Gb versions and with the option of increasing the storage through an SD card. While the unlocked Note 3 would cost you around $800, you can own a Note 2 for a little more than half of that amount making it a good deal for those who are on a budget.
As we expected the Note 3 outperforms it’s predecessors with a good margin in almost all the fields. It’s much faster, has a better display, a better camera and some neat software improvements. Yes, it is a little pricey and doesn’t feel as premium as other devices in its range but it makes up for it with all the class leading specs and features it comes with. It is overall a great update over the Note 2.
All this doesn’t make the Note 2 a bad device either. The Note 2 still isn’t out of the game completely as it’s a great deal for consumers who are on a look out for a good phablet but on a slightly lower budget. It may not be as fast or have a full HD display like the Note 3 but it still is a great device for the average consumer and can handle their everyday tasks with ease.