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Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs iPhone 4S: Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel

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Whenever a new Android flagship phone is unveiled, everyone who has a smartphone starts comparing it to the latest iPhone incarnation. This is intensified when it’s a Samsung, and it’s really bad now, after the legal showdown. The instant that Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 2, it was weighed up against the iPhone 4S.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs iPhone 4S

It’s obvious that the Note 2 is better than the iPhone 4S, especially considering that the 4S came out last October, and the Note 2 will be out in October 2012 and already trumps the reigning Samsung Galaxy S3 in many ways (which by the way also beat the iPhone 4S in our comparison test from earlier last month). A year in tech is like a geological age, don’t forget. The more sensible question is how much better than the iPhone 4S the Note 2 is. Which is a bit daft. No, we need to see the iPhone 5 to really give the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 a run for its money. Until then, all we can do is browbeat the waning iPhone 4S. Cue evil cackle…

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs iPhone 4s: Display, Design and Form Factor

The biggest difference between the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the iPhone 4S is the screen size. Apple has maintained the same 3.5” screen since 2007, while Samsung has reached for the stars. Well, diverse screen sizes across its range, anyway.

If you’re after a Samsung with a regular screen (and there’s a study that reckons the optimum smartphone screen is between 4 and 4.5”), then go for the Galaxy S3. If you want a mahoosive display, there’s the Note 2, a phablet with a 5.5” screen.

The advantages of a big screen are obvious – YouTube, photos, games and all that. However, a big screen is hard to handle with just one hand – or one pocket. Smaller screens are better for all-round experience and portability, but some may find a 3.5” screen too small to really impress.

Design is also a personal choice, but both the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the iPhone 4S are quite sexy. The Note 2 is like a super-sized version of the Samsung Galaxy S3, measuring 80.5×151.1x94mm. The iPhone 4S has the same design as the iPhone 4, and measures 115.2×58.6×9.3mm.

Resolution-wise, the 3.5” LED backlit IPS iPhone 4S screen has 960x640p and has a density of 330PPI. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has a 5.5” Super AMOLED HD display with 1280x720p and a lower 267PPI density. PPI densities are just one parameter, but the higher the density, the crisper the image.

Processor: The year-old iPhone 4S has the 18-month-old Apple A5 SoC (first used in the Apple iPad 2 back in March 2011). That means a dual-core 1GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, a PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU and 512MB of RAM. This doesn’t mean it’s slow, especially as most iPhone apps are optimised, but it can’t compete with Samsung’s new Exynos 4 SoC.

As was expected, the Galaxy Note 2 uses an overclocked Exynos 4 quad SoC (the same as in the international Galaxy S3), and this has a 1.6GHz quad-core A9 chip and a Mali 400 MP GPU clocked at 400MHz. Along with its 2GB of RAM, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is the fastest smartphone out there.

Camera-wise, the Note 2 and the 4S both have an 8MP primary camera, but there’s nothing like watching your recorded HD videos back on the big, beautiful Note 2 display. Both phones come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB internal storage flavours, but the 4S has no microSD slot, whereas the Note 2 can accept microSD cards with up to 64GB of storage.

Furthermore the Galaxy Note 2 will have Jelly Bean out of the box, but this isn’t the only impressive thing about its software. There have been big improvements made to its S-Pen integration, as well as other tweaks around the S-Pen like being able to hover over a folder to see info without switching screens. There’s also improved handwriting capture and quick command functions. There are more S-Pen features to go into, which we’ll do in another update.

Conclusion: This wasn’t a fair fight. The Note 2 has the latest version of Android, lightning-fast internals and is making much more of the S-Pen than the Note did. It’s a year ahead of the iPhone 4S in every way. If you don’t mind the size, and you want the best smartphone around, the Samsung Note 2 is the only sensible choice.

Mike is the man who reviews gadgets that aren’t mainstream or products that can’t exactly be classified as consumer electronics e.g. portable talking toilets. It’s always interesting to read about the crazy products we have here in Asia that just don’t get as much publicity as they warrant.