Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Galaxy Note 2 vs Galaxy S3 - Which should you buy?

When I was asked the question of whether I should buy the Galaxy S3 (that has just been made available in Singapore not too long ago) or wait for the Galaxy Note 2 instead, I found myself a bit mused by the question. All along, I thought that Samsung is fighting a smartphone war against Apple. Never did it come across my mind that they are going to be involved in another epic battle. This time round, there is no enemy. Samsung is fighting its own battle.

The Galaxy S3 was launched amid high fanfare. After few launches, Samsung has finally figured out how to make a big splash out of its product launch. While sales and shipment numbers have been a debatable issue (depending on how one defines sales), the Galaxy S3 is believed to have sold 9 million units at its launch. It certainly looks impressive and it sets a new record Android device launch. Unveiled in July 2012, Samsung reported in September that more than 20 million units have been shipped in just over three months. That makes S3 as the best selling device that Samsung has ever produced and it is an accomplishment comparable to the iPhone success.

While the S3 is still flying high, Samsung made another big bang by unveiling the Galaxy Note 2. If going by the Apple's playbook that we've seen in the past few years, there really is no urgency for Samsung to refresh two of their popular device at almost the same time. But I guess they are really stepping up their game and intend to push Apple as far as they can. Another reason is probably the pressure on them to catch the holiday sales that could help push their revenue and market share even higher. Whatever the reason may be, this is something to rejoice for the consumer, I guess.

With Apple's map app flop, many fans in Singapore join the growing chorus of disenchanted Apple fans worldwide and ready to jump ship and switch to Samsung. (See also: Two words why your next phone should be Galaxy Note 2 (instead of iPhone 5)

If Apple is notorious for providing consumer with little choice, Samsung has taken a different approach. After such a long time consumers are given little choice, the choices that Samsung is offering creates euphoria among smartphone users. When it comes to choices, many are now asking if they should wait for the Galaxy Note 2 or just proceed with the Galaxy S3. Here are few comparisons that would give you a better idea which you should pick.

We know how careless we can be. Even if we are very careful with our phone, there are times when accident happens and we drop our phones. From the few durability exercises carried out by different tech geeks, the winner is clear. Galaxy Note 2 is more durable than S3. Here is one video demonstrating the exercise.

Size and Weight
This is the biggest difference that is enough for most fans to make up their choices. Galaxy Note 2 measures at 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm while S3 measures at 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm. This makes Galaxy Note 2 10% thicker and taller than S3 and 15% wider. The choice is again straightforward. If you are used to sliding your phone into your pocket and you intend to do so, you can rule out the Galaxy Note 2 and go for S3. If you are used to keeping your phone in your bag, the size and heavier weight of the Galaxy Note 2 is not an issue at all. The winner: Depends on your use style.

This is the biggest selling feature of the Galaxy Note 2 compared to other phones available today (including iPhone). If you are like me, love watching the Korean serials while commuting on the bus or trains, the 5.5 inch Galaxy Note 2 display screen is certainly a treat. Otherwise, if your main use is browsing and playing games, there is not a compelling reason for you to go for the Galaxy Note 2. The 4.8 inch S3 display screen is more than good in this case. The winner: Depends on your use case.

Storage & Memory
Both Galaxy Note 2 and S3 ship in 16, 32 and 64GB versions. Both comes with microSD card slot that reads up to 64GB, translating the maximum storage for both to 128GB. But with 2GB internal RAM, Galaxy Note 2 beats S3 as the latter only comes with 1GB internal RAM. The winner: Galaxy Note 2.

Galaxy Note 2 comes pre-installed with Android 4.1 (a.k.a Jelly Bean) while S3 will ship with Android 4.0 (a.k.a Ice Cream Sandwich). Given the popularity of S3, you can rest assured that upgrades will be made available to you, albeit with more hassle. Honestly speaking, the OS difference between 4.0 and 4.1 would not be obvious to the laymen. The winner: Ask yourself if you are a geek or a laymen. In laymen's term, the OS does not make a difference.

Galaxy Note 2 is equipped with massive 3,100mAh battery that by sheer number alone, is clearly higher than the 2,100mAh of S3. However, given Note's massive screen size, it really needs this additional battery capacity which shrinks down the edge that Note 2 has over S3. At this point of time, the talk time for S3 is reported to be around 10 hours while that of Note 2 is still not established. My take is, if you hate charging your phone daily, then you should wait until the benchmark for Note 2 is established before deciding. If you are used to charging your phone before you go to bed, the battery life between the should not make much difference. The winner: No winner yet.

Both Galaxy Note 2 and S3 come from single manufacturer who has probably done enough research of the market. To me, dimension is still the biggest size when you need to choose between Galaxy Note 2 and S3.

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