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Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 specs: Which should I buy?

Fresh off the success of its flagship Galaxy S3, Samsung unveiled its latest gadget at IFA 2012 in Berlin. The Galaxy Note 2, the second-generation of the South Korean company’s phone-tablet hybrid, offers as many compelling reasons to buy as its S3 sibling, depending on what you’re looking for. In fact, it has been described as simply a larger S3 with a stylus pen. Read on for a closer look at how the two devices stack up against each other specs-wise.

To buy the Samsung Galaxy S3, click here.

To buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, click here.

Size & Weight

The biggest difference between the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S3, and likely what will be a clincher for most prospective buyers, is size. The Note 2 measures in at 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm and weighs 180g, while the S3 is considerably smaller, though only slightly thinner, at 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm. And it’s a lightweight, at 133g.


With a screen size of 5.5in, the Note 2 veers close to tablet territory. The S3, on the other hand, offers up a 4.8in display - certainly not puny, but a great deal smaller than the so-called ‘phablet’. On the resolution front, both devices sit at 1,280 x 720 pixels, though, of course, the larger Note 2’s 267ppi density pales in comparison to the S3’s 305ppi. An HD Super-AMOLED display is used in both, though the Note 2's S-Pen stylus sets it apart from the S3 in terms of screen interaction.

Storage & Memory

The Galaxy Note 2 will ship in 16, 32, and 64GB iterations, and will also be upgradeable through a microSD card slot which can accept cards up to 64GB. That goes for the S3 too, meaning both devices max out at an impressive 128GB of combined internal and expanded storage. Samsung is also throwing in two years’ worth of 50GB cloud storage through Dropbox for purchasers of either phone.

On the RAM front, the Galaxy Note 2 bests the S3, as its 2GB of RAM doubles that of the latter’s 1GB.

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For those who prioritise sheer processing power, the Note 2 delivers with its Exynos 4412 quad-core Cortex-A9 system-on-a-chip clocking in at 1.6GHz. The device will come with a Mali 400 MP4 graphics chip. Those specs run true for the Galaxy S3 as well, though its processor clocks in at a lesser 1.4GHz. Ultimately, though they may appear to be quite close in specs, the Note 2 will likely be slightly more powerful than its smaller counterpart.


Though both devices run a Samsung-customised version of Android, the Note 2 will run on the latest-and-greatest version of Google’s mobile OS - 4.1 Jelly Bean. The S3 is still one step behind, with the last-gen 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. But the S3 is likely to see an upgrade this autumn, with Samsung confirming that 4.1 is coming to the S3 “very soon.”


As for cameras, the Galaxy Note 2 will ship with an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. The S3’s primary camera also offers an 8-megapixel resolution, though its front-facing shooter sits a tick better at 2-megapixels. Both can handle HD video recording.

Though both cameras will certainly do the trick, Samsung’s brand-new Galaxy Camera, also released at IFA, suggests future generations of the company’s smartphones could be packed with much better photo and video performance.


The Note 2’s massive 3,100 mAh battery easily outclasses the S3’s 2,100 mAh one, though that doesn’t necessarily translate into better battery life. The S3 offers a talk time of just over 10 hours, but benchmarks for the Note 2’s battery are unknown at this point.


On the connectivity front, the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S3 are similar - both offer Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), HDMI out via adapters, USB and microUSB support. The Galaxy Note 2, however, supports LTE, which will be a boon for UK customers on Everything Everywhere when the UK rollout of 4G begins here on 11 September.


Details about the Note 2’s pricetag and availability have yet to be confirmed by Samsung, but a leak from Vodafone in Germany suggested the device will cost 640 euros (£508). As for the Galaxy S3, it retails around £500 SIM-free/unlocked, though monthly contract plans will vary from network to network.

Ultimately, both of these devices are impressive - the biggest difference will come down to whether you’re after an all-in-one phone and tablet, as the Note 2 purports to be, or prefer a clear distinction between your smartphone and slate, in which case the S3 would likely be a better choice.

For a closer look, check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.