When Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 1 in 2011 it created a new category in mobile industry – the “phablet” was born. Initially it was met with some skepticism for being the odd lovechild child of a phone and tablet rolled into one. However, this skepticism was soon stamped out as the market eagerly adopted the phablet with more than 38 million Galaxy Note 1 and Galaxy Note 2 sold – 28 million of these were sold last year alone !
Whilst other phone manufacturers have their own phablet devices, Samsung wasted no time in continuing to push the envelop by launching the new Galaxy Note 3.
Today’s mobile communication need have changed. we make and receive far fewer calls and spend much more time with Emails, Instant Messaging and Social Networking. For this, the phablet is a perfect companion. Its large screen and powerful processor that make it ideal for Work mode such as working on large complicated spread sheets and it is equally comfortable to switch into Play mode to watch movies and play games.
However, Samsung does face a problem. The Galaxy Note 2 is such a great device that when I received the Galaxy Note 3 to review, I was rather curious to see just how much it has changed from its predecessor. Should one ditch the Note 2 and replace it with the Note 3 ?
Here are the comparisons between the Note 2 and the Note 3:
The first thing you notice about the Note 3 is the sleek leather back compared to the plastic backing that the Galaxy range has. Even though the backing is actually plastic, the effect is superbly carried out complete with the leather stitching. But it goes beyond just a look. This effect somehow allows the phone to instantly gain a business-like status and it demands respect. Its like holding the Business Class airline ticket.
When it comes to the screen, the Note 3 is 0.2 inches bigger and slightly lighter than the Note 2 which is hardly noticeable unless you compare the two phones next to each other. The Note 3 comes in at 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm weighing 168 g verses the Note 2 which comes in at 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm and weighs 183 g.
The Note 3 now has 1080p Super AMOLED screen with 386 ppi which on paper is a remarkable update from the Note 2’s 1280x 720 Super AMOLED screen with 267ppi. However, even though the specs show a difference, the difference does not translate well to the screen itself and is not that obvious. Even when you hold the devices next to each other, you really struggle to notice the differences.
This is where the Note 3 shines. It has a Snapdragon 800 quad-core 2.3 GHz processor compared to the Note 2 that has Snapdragon Exynos 4412 Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A9. The Note 3 comes with 3GB RAM compared to the 2GB on the Note 2. The extra hardware boost is really noticeable and appreciated especially when playing high-end games and when using the split screen function to preform multiple tasks simultaneously.
Both the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 2 use the S-pen. On the Note 3, there are various improvements to the software and there are more apps in the Playstore that have stated taking advantage of the touch-sensitivity that the S-pen has to offer. The S-pen has been around since the original Note 1 and allows for the “creatives” to draw and sketch as one does on paper. For the rest of us who have a “stick-man-drawing” ability, we can use the S-pen to quickly jot some notes and file them away. On the Note 3 the S-pen has been even more tightly integrated into the device itself and feels very natural when writing or making notes with it. There are “rumours” that these software updates might even make it back to the Note 2 in the future.
When it comes to battery, the Note 3 has a Li-Ion 3200 mAh battery compared to the Note 2’s Li-Ion 3100 mAh battery. Even though there is only a slight improvement on the batter size, the Note 3 seems to last longer than the Note 2. I attribute this to to the advances in the power management software and how the device and processor handle the various requests. With the Note 3 you are ale to get a a full day of work and play without scrambling to look for a USB cable. On that note (excuse the pun) the Galaxy Note 3 does comes with a new microUSB 3 charging port which speeds up the data transfer rate. However, if you don’t have that cable with you, the regular microUSB cable will still do the trick and both charge the phone and transfer data to and from it.
The Note 3 has a 13 Megapixel, 4128 x 3096 pixels rear-facing camera whereas the the Note 2 has an 8 Megapixel, 3264×2448 pixels camera. When it comes to practical quality of the shots, both perform well and give mixed results. In bright sunlight the Note 3 takes a better pic however in slightly shady conditions the Note 2 preformed better. Both don’t do so well in low light conditions. The software features are the same as the Galaxy S4 with Dual Shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, panorama and HDR. Both Note 2 and Note 3 have pretty evenly matched secondary cameras.
To Upgrade or Not ?
If you are a Note 1 owner, there is a distinct reason to upgrade to the Note 3 and you will often find yourself smiling at just how clever and sophisticated Samsung have become with the Note 3 since the original Note 1.
If you are a Note 2 owner, the decision to upgrade to the Note 3 is harder. The Note 2 and the Note 3 have everything that a phablet should have including a a large display with a great processor and a decent battery life. Unfortunately I didn’t get to review the companion Galaxy Gear watch that synchronises with the Note 3 so can not comment if that is a good enough reason to upgrade. However, we are told that the Galaxy Gear will be backwards compatible with the Note 2 soon too.
The cost of the Note 3 is R8999 and the cost of the Note 2 is around R6000. So whilst the Note 3 is an improvement over Samsung’s own Note 2, I could not find a compelling reason to ditch the Note 2 just yet.
Saying all of the above, I know lots of excited fans who cant wait for their contract to end so that they can upgrade to the Note 3 – the fans have spoken !