Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Galaxy Note 2, your usage decides

It’s probably fair to say that two Samsung smartphones in particular have created the most buzz for the Android platform this year and they are the Galaxy S3 (S III) and the Galaxy Note 2 (Note II). Although we often bring readers comparisons regarding specs and features of devices, one of the things that we try to remind potential buyers is that which one suits your needs best is the right option for you. Today as an example of this we’re looking at the Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Galaxy Note 2. If you’re trying to choose between them it may be that your everyday phone usage will help you decide.

We’ve brought you many, many posts on these two handsets now but if you want a closer look at specifications then you could check out our Galaxy S3 vs. HTC One X+ article here, or our Galaxy Note 2 vs. HTC One X post here. What we really one to focus on here is how either the Galaxy S3 or Galaxy Note 2 might best suit your needs as regards to usage such as making calls, portability, emailing, display use, photography and much more. Before we start we’ll remind you that the Galaxy S3 was released earlier in the year and is now globally available on a wide choice of carriers. The Galaxy Note 2 has been released in some regions, such as the UK but is still awaiting its launch in the US (see more on that here) and again will be available from a variety of carriers.

When we usually look at one phone against another we’re sometimes pre-occupied with processor speed, operating systems, storage and more but it’s easy to forget that day-to-day functions of a phone are just as, if not more important. Pocket-Lint has come up with an oversight of usual activities and we’ll run through some of the key aspects and summarize them here.

What the phone is like to simply make a call with is something that we often overlook and in fact in this respect the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 offer equally good call quality. When tested there was no discernable difference although the sound was very slightly louder on the Note 2. Another factor to consider here is the size of the phones and how comfortable you feel handling it and that’s where there’s a marked difference. The Galaxy S3 dimensions are 136.6mm x 70.6mm x 8.6mm, a pretty average size. However, the whopping display of the Note 2 pushes the dimensions up to 151.mm x 80.5mm x 9.4mm. While the larger Galaxy Note 2 may be great when you’re using the display it may not be as comfortable to hold in the hand for making calls although different people will have different preferences on this.

Moving on to portability and while some will say the Galaxy Note 2’s size makes it more difficult to put in your pocket, in actual fact it should fit most pockets quite easily. Although it looks a lot larger than the iPhone 5 for example, the size won’t be quite as noticeably bigger when compared to the Galaxy S3. Ultimately we’d say both rate highly on the portability factor.

Of course, many of us spend a lot of time staring at our smartphone displays and both of these phones have impressive Super AMOLED screens. Obviously if you’re a heavy user of your device’s display and web browsing then the advantage is with the larger 5.5-inch display of the Galaxy Note 2 compared to the 4.8-inch display of the Galaxy S3. However, for aspects such as emailing and texting the size doesn’t make as much difference. The Galaxy Note 2 also has the S Pen stylus to take advantage of that sizeable display though.

When looking at each phone for emailing purposes the included Gmail and Samsung apps function exactly the same and both offer a responsive and precise keyboard experience. The emailing app does have neat handwriting integration though, which becomes useful as soon as the S Pen is pulled out on the Galaxy Note 2, allowing emails and texts to be written out with the stylus.

As far as camera use goes the display of the Galaxy Note 2 comes out tops for composure and shooting because of its larger viewfinder. The same applies to video capture and playback where the advantage of the full screen on the Note 2 comes into play but for image quality alone there’s not a lot between them. However, the Note 2 does have some additional camera functionality using the S Pen, such as highlighting a frame’s points of interest.

If you use your phone a lot you’ll also want to take the battery power into consideration and while both the Galaxy S3 and Note 2 are likely to last you a day’s use the Galaxy Note 2 just edges it for lasting slightly longer. The battery in the Note 2 is a higher capacity but of course the larger display needs more power. However when Pocket-Lint tested the battery use of each, after hour an hour of HD video the battery life on the Note 2 had only decreased by 3% whereas on the Galaxy S3 it had gone down by 10%.

Finally we look at social media and sharing and again both phones are excellent in this respect and gifted with a great sharing menu. Posting to your favorite social networks is easy using the Galaxy S3 or Note 2 but when looking at social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter, again the bigger display of the Note 2 comes in useful.

Ultimately the Galaxy Note 2’s increased display size will come in very useful for many daily functions when using a smartphone but whether you prefer this will depend on how you feel about holding a more cumbersome device. On the other hand both phones are pretty equal as far as software goes though some might enjoy the S Pen use that comes with the Note 2. The Galaxy Note 2 costs around $100 more than the Galaxy S3 so if you think the larger display is an important advantage then it’s probably worth spending the extra but both are certainly notable smartphones with a lot to offer.

We’re interested to find out your views on the Galaxy S3 vs. the Galaxy Note 2. Have you already made a choice between these and are happy with your decision? If you have yet to make a choice, considering your daily usage of a phone rather than merely specs, which do you think you will opt for? Let us know with your comments.


54 thoughts on “Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Galaxy Note 2, your usage decides”

  1. Galaxy note 2 seems a good choice! I’m due for renewal in 2 weeks from T mobile. I currently have an iphone. But sick of it’s restrictions on iOS and especially the new maps. So need to choose between iphone 5 Vs S3 Vs Note 2! Any help would be welcome.

      1. hmm to be honest I thought nokia stopped making mobile phones. But now I just had a look and it seems Nokia doesn’t make software. It’s from Microsoft. I hate microsoft!

        1. Sharpcyrcle says:

          They have completely changed the way everything works. Windows 8, xbox, tablet (surface) and the upcoming completely new windows phone 8 software it is all based on same kernel and has a similar user interface that is beautiful and efficient. and you cant match the ecosystem syncing and and interacting with all of your devices effortlessly. its really worth a look. Ive tried everything apple, android, blackberry, and you just cant beat this. most of the stuff hasnt rolled out yet but the next few months are going to be interesting.

    1. Rachel says:

      I preordered the iphone 5 because I had been looking forward to it for months. Very disappointed with it. I was let down my the longer, but not wider screen and no major upgrades that mattered to me. I am returning the 5 and will be waiting for the note 2 to come out! It will be a nice change:-)

    2. I hope you haven’t got an iphone yet. I’ve been using Android phones since the TMobile G1 (LOVED IT). I’ve used the Evo 4g (ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE), Samsung Intercept (TERRIBLY AWFUL), EVO 3d (Just Okay), etc. After the Samsung Intercept, I was afraid to try another Samsung phone, and since I’d always used android and used the Evo and Evo 3d, I didn’t want to get the Evo 4g lte. I decided to try the iphone and I regret it. I love the simplicity of having everything easily and readily available on each page, but certain tasks such as customizing my own ringtone is completely handicapped on ios because of the ridiculous steps I have to take. Android might not be as pretty, but It’s much easier to complete certain tasks (such as making and changing ringtones). That’s obviously not the only reason though, just one example.

      All in all, the iPhone has been a good phone and has done what I’ve needed it to do, but I can’t to switch back to Android and hope to do so with the Note 2.

      1. Anti_Kimchi says:

        I’ve had a 3G and a 3GS for more than 3 years. I got a Galaxy Y last November. It was my 3G (iPhone) killer because the 3G was jailbroken and running IOS 3 only and very slow. I hated the way Twiter, Meebo & Gmail operated on the Android Gingerbread system. Texting, copy & pasting were so much trouble I sold it in April and kept the 3G. Granted the Galaxy Y is a much cheaper phone than the 3G and really a great phone for its low price. It wasn’t for me. And that there is anti virus software available scares the heck out of me. I want a Note 2… but one that can run IOS 5.1.1.. Winblows phone? Won’t it be subject to the virus probs Windows for PC can pick up? My 3GS is more than a phone. It’s my computer away from home. Pay bills and check other sensitive sites is not a worry.
        Just my 2 cents.
        Anti_Korea for a reason. Have you ever met a KN in Asia? Extremely rude people.

        1. vaibhavguru says:

          baby galaxy y is worst phone samsung made it for beggers who dreams to get a android phone you’ll need to compare with s2 vs 3g then say
          1 min you compare galaxy y vs 3g hahahahaha

  2. jafuuf says:

    i had iphone 3g,3gs, 4, 4s then switch to note 1 i love it do not look at the big screen you will get used to it. you can do so much things with it get note 2 .i can wait tile it comes out.

  3. Graham says:

    Got an S3 which I have been really happy with, my partners about to get the Note 2 after looking at Iphone 5, I think for the money you must be mad to buy the Iphone and she came to the same conclusion

  4. Risky rider says:

    I suggest s3 juz got note 2 but using s3 with itz intelligence can beat everything of s pen
    If u lyk showing off buy note 2
    For self satisfaction s3 iz best

    1. standemancini says:

      At least give the impression of an education and spell correctly. Out of interest, why do you use a ‘z’ in place of an ‘s’? It really is unnecessary and just makes you sound like a muppet.

    2. Sharpcyrcle says:

      note 2 has same os and functionality as the s3 with the added s-pen features (and a few others) superior in every way . If you can handle the size

  5. JWellington says:

    How is the overall feel of the Phone? The S3 has an S4 dual-core and the Note 2 has an Exynos quad-core. Does one feel smoother than the other, or are they about equal?

  6. Dave says:

    The ability to run 2 apps on screen at once means the note 2 wins for me. The battery life is also fantastic despite the larger screen.
    Sent from my note 2 which btw fits into a pocket without issue

  7. As far as I’m concerned, bigger screens are most definitely a good thing. Having seen a Note 1 in the flesh I’m almost certainly going for the Note 2 when my current contract expires. The hardware specs look pretty special too!

  8. Khalid says:

    I think the OCR feature that is lumped with the NOTE 2 is just amazing. My hand writing is awful, yet it was able to recognize it 99% of the time when I tried it at the store where it was on display. I think this is a big feature that your article missed for people who are heavy on email use and taking notes.

  9. yarrellray says:

    I own the Galaxy S3 and it’s a great device the best on the market today. Better than the Galaxy Note 2 it isn’t. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is on a level of it’s own. It’s without question the BEST overall all purpose entertainment device ever made nothing will ever be better than the Galaxy Note 2 during these next 180 days..

    1. Sharpcyrcle says:

      wrong there buddy. Nokia and HTC are both coming out with 5inch devices the HTC is already confirmed to be 1080p, and will make one for android and WP8 nokia likely will be 1080p Clearblack and will have pureview. The S-pen is improved but Im sure the competition knows what there going up against and I bet the devices coming soon (less than 180 days) or not far from it will be stiff competition if not flat out superior

    2. Almajestic says:

      but do u think really note 2 beaten s3.. i think s3 is making unbelievable success. i think that note 2 cant be compared because they r too similiar and also different categories of mobiles. i think s3 represents more the features and that perfect balance between size, performance and overall is awesome. i think note 2 is good but is it really worth? i mean both devices r amazing but everything comes pays its price . like having a bigger screen means its more cumbersome, compolicated mobile. and while still s3 has its own stuff and note 2 also has its own advantages. because normally if u increase a device that size, n integrate tablet features, normally must give something positive

      1. Almajestic says:

        but anyway these devices… both r amazing and i think will make unlimited success for years to come, and with their new versions of course will be too similar and Samsung is already ahead of any competitors by big range.n thats why such unique mobiles from samsung will have always its top value than other rivals for current versions as they are truly represent something far by future… and even after years, with whole new generations of diferent designs… samsung will definitely be on top and have its timeliness value just as apple.

  10. sommerl says:

    Does anyone think the Note 2 will hit the US carriers with
    64 gb of installed memory ? Please don’t say it has a SD card slot, it is not the same .If it does not show up on any US carriers is it the carriers or Samsung that is making that call?

  11. Bruce Turner says:

    Choices, choices, choices… So, AT&T will have the Samsung Note 2 available on 11/9 for a price of $299.00. This has been the direction I’ve been headed but I’m now rethinking due to price. I can purchase a Galaxy S3 for $118.99 from Amazon wireless. Is the difference in screen size, 4.8 vs. 5.5 worth the difference of a 40% or $180.00 premium? I think not but wondering what my Tech & Coffee crew thinks. (I’m also assuming that Jelly Bean will have been rolled out to the Galaxy S3 by my upgrade date of 11/22)

  12. I would rather the Galaxy Note II, only because I have incredibly enormous hands, and I’m really afraid of ending up with a phone too small for me to text on. For a while I have been spazzing out over the Droid Razr M, a truly beautiful phone. But I’m willing to dig out the extra cash to get a phone that will fully fit my needs. I just can’t choose between the Note II or S III. They both offer some pretty awesome features. I also might feel uncomfortable holding that monster of a Note II up to my face. I don’t know, maybe if you guys can post some pictures of people talking on it, to see how it looks next to someone’s ear.

  13. ET says:

    Thanks for the article. I am in the exact same boat having hard time choosing between Note II and S III. Base on daily usage in both personal & work, I will for sure choose Note II now.

  14. Xyz says:

    I got the note 2 and moved all my pix here. The phone freezes when I try to open one of the albums that the note 2 is also saving pix in. It freezes for 5 secs and then goes back alone to home page.anyone has the freezing problem with note2

  15. Tiffanie says:

    Im currently using iphone 4, so bored of the iphone, dont really play games or catching up new apps, but i go on youtube and using internet quite often, im very struggling between these two, which one i should get?

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