Mobile Technology

iPhone 5s vs. Galaxy Note 3

iPhone 5s vs. Galaxy Note 3
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Apple iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Apple iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy Note 3
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The Note 3's battery holds more juice, but that doesn't necessarily mean longer battery life
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The Note 3's battery holds more juice, but that doesn't necessarily mean longer battery life
For the Note 3, Samsung ditched its glossy plastic backings for a soft faux leather
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For the Note 3, Samsung ditched its glossy plastic backings for a soft faux leather
Each handset ships in three different colors
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Each handset ships in three different colors
Both phones are going to be ridiculously fast
4/23
Both phones are going to be ridiculously fast
The Note 3 gives you 103 percent more screen area
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The Note 3 gives you 103 percent more screen area
The iPhone 5s' Touch ID fingerprint sensor might be its killer feature
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The iPhone 5s' Touch ID fingerprint sensor might be its killer feature
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Apple iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy Note 3
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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Apple iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The Note 3 sports an infrared blaster, that lets you change channels on your TV with your phablet
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The Note 3 sports an infrared blaster, that lets you change channels on your TV with your phablet
The two premier companies in mobile hardware take two different approaches to local file transfers
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The two premier companies in mobile hardware take two different approaches to local file transfers
Apple's M7 motion processor should help fitness apps and accessories log data without killing your battery
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Apple's M7 motion processor should help fitness apps and accessories log data without killing your battery
The Galaxy Note 3 has an NFC chip
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The Galaxy Note 3 has an NFC chip
The 32 GB Note 3 costs the same (on-contract) as the 32 GB iPhone 5s, but the 16 GB iPhone shaves US$100 off of that
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The 32 GB Note 3 costs the same (on-contract) as the 32 GB iPhone 5s, but the 16 GB iPhone shaves US$100 off of that
The Note 3 triples the iPhone's RAM, but don't mistake this as a red flag for the iPhone
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The Note 3 triples the iPhone's RAM, but don't mistake this as a red flag for the iPhone
The Note 3 lets you run multiple apps side-by-side (including multiple instances of the same app)
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The Note 3 lets you run multiple apps side-by-side (including multiple instances of the same app)
The wild card is Samsung's companion Galaxy Gear smartwatch
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The wild card is Samsung's companion Galaxy Gear smartwatch
The iPhone 5s runs Apple's new iOS 7, while the Note 3 runs the latest version of Android (with Samsung's software layered on top)
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The iPhone 5s runs Apple's new iOS 7, while the Note 3 runs the latest version of Android (with Samsung's software layered on top)
The base Note 3 has more storage than the base iPhone 5s
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The base Note 3 has more storage than the base iPhone 5s
The Galaxy Note's S Pen is a core part of its experience
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The Galaxy Note's S Pen is a core part of its experience
Both handsets take different approaches to voice control
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Both handsets take different approaches to voice control
The iPhone 5s is 33 percent lighter than the Galaxy Note 3
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The iPhone 5s is 33 percent lighter than the Galaxy Note 3
Both phones support 4G LTE, but some regions will receive a version of the Note without an LTE radio (mostly regions that don't have LTE anyway)
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Both phones support 4G LTE, but some regions will receive a version of the Note without an LTE radio (mostly regions that don't have LTE anyway)
One of these things is not like the other
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One of these things is not like the other
Megapixels schmegapixels: it's completely possible the iPhone 5s will take better pictures (stay tuned for more on that)
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Megapixels schmegapixels: it's completely possible the iPhone 5s will take better pictures (stay tuned for more on that)
View gallery - 23 images

Compare any two high-end smartphones, and chances are they'll have a lot in common. There's usually a lot of overlap in screen size, internal components, and feature lists. But the new iPhone 5s and Galaxy Note 3 are about as different as two top-tier "phones" (if you can even call them both that) can be. Let's put the two side-by-side, compare their features and specs, and see what happens.

Size

One of these things is not like the other
One of these things is not like the other

See what we mean? These phones live on opposite ends of the size spectrum. The Galaxy Note 3 is 22 percent taller, 39 percent wider, and nine percent thicker than the iPhone 5s.

In fact, the difference is big enough that "phone" probably isn't the best description for the Note 3. The Galaxy Note series ushered in the term "phablet," and that portmanteau has never seemed more appropriate than when it's sitting next to the iPhone 5s.

Weight

The iPhone 5s is 33 percent lighter than the Galaxy Note 3
The iPhone 5s is 33 percent lighter than the Galaxy Note 3

The Note 3 is a whopping 50 percent heavier than the iPhone 5s. You get a lot of perks in exchange for those extra ounces, but you'd be foolish to think this giganto-phone won't make its presence felt in your pocket.

Build

For the Note 3, Samsung ditched its glossy plastic backings for a soft faux leather
For the Note 3, Samsung ditched its glossy plastic backings for a soft faux leather

The new iPhone 5s is built almost exactly like its predecessor, the iPhone 5. With the Note 3, Samsung tried something new, with a soft-touch faux leather finish. It's still plastic, but we're happy Sammy finally ditched the glossy and flimsy build found on most Galaxy devices.

Colors

Each handset ships in three different colors
Each handset ships in three different colors

Each handset is sold in three different colors. The "space gray" iPhone has a black front, while the gold and silver models have white faces. The front colors of the three different Note 3 models match their backs.

Display

The Note 3 gives you 103 percent more screen area
The Note 3 gives you 103 percent more screen area

If you were hesitant about the extra weight and huge footprint the Note 3 will leave in your pocket or purse, then maybe this will change your mind. The Note 3 gives you much more screen real estate: 103 percent more display area, to be exact.

The Note's screen is also much sharper. The iPhone 5s only gives you 35 percent as many pixels as the Note 3 does. Just remember that anything in the 320+ pixel per inch (PPI) range is going to look very sharp. Anything beyond that is more of an eye candy bonus than a necessary upgrade.

Stylus

The Galaxy Note's S Pen is a core part of its experience
The Galaxy Note's S Pen is a core part of its experience

Steve Jobs famously mocked styluses when he pitched the first iPhone in 2007. For a while there, it looked like he had single-handedly eviscerated the stylus, much like he did Adobe Flash and tablets with USB ports.

But the Galaxy Note line makes a great case for the stylus. The phablets' large screens lend themselves well to Samsung's "scribbling in a notebook" theme, and the company threw in a ton of software that takes advantage of the S Pen. It lets you jot notes (with handwriting recognition), highlight areas of the screen to capture, and achieve a greater overall sense of precision no matter what you're doing.

Fingerprint sensor

The iPhone 5s' Touch ID fingerprint sensor might be its killer feature
The iPhone 5s' Touch ID fingerprint sensor might be its killer feature

This is the big differentiating feature in the iPhone 5s. Hiding underneath the home button is a "Touch ID" fingerprint sensor that will learn your unique-as-a-snowflake print. Your fingerprint (and any other print that you teach it to trust) will unlock your phone, but anyone else will need a passcode. It's a great balance of smartphone security and convenience.

Camera

Megapixels schmegapixels: it's completely possible the iPhone 5s will take better pictures (stay tuned for more on that)
Megapixels schmegapixels: it's completely possible the iPhone 5s will take better pictures (stay tuned for more on that)

More megapixels don't necessarily translate to better pictures, so we'd consider this one an "incomplete" until we put both devices' cameras through their paces. We do know that the iPhone 5s' new camera features larger pixels, a new slow-motion mode, and a burst mode that automatically chooses the sharpest shot. Its flash also sports a second LED (branded as "True Tone"), which supposedly leads to more accurate tones.

Companion smartwatch

The wild card is Samsung's companion Galaxy Gear smartwatch
The wild card is Samsung's companion Galaxy Gear smartwatch

The thought of whipping out the gigantic Galaxy Note 3 just to check messages and send texts might sound daunting, but Samsung has an ace up its sleeve. For an extra US$300, you can snag the companion Galaxy Gear smartwatch to pair with your Note 3. It lets you make calls, read notifications, send messages (via voice), snap pictures, run apps, and more ... all on your wrist.

Unless the rumor mill is terribly misguided, Apple will launch a smartwatch of its own at some point, but there's nothing solid on that front yet. Right now you can use the Pebble watch with your iPhone, though its functionality is much more limited than the Gear.

Processor

Both phones are going to be ridiculously fast
Both phones are going to be ridiculously fast

Both devices are going to be ridiculously fast. In fact, we're really past the point of sweating speed differences in high-end smartphones, as their capabilities are beyond the limits of most apps.

The most interesting item here is Apple's shift to 64-bit processing in the iPhone 5s' A7 chip. It probably doesn't mean diddly-squat right now, but it does lay the groundwork for future mobile devices with desktop-like amounts of RAM.

Motion coprocessor

Apple's M7 motion processor should help fitness apps and accessories log data without killing your battery
Apple's M7 motion processor should help fitness apps and accessories log data without killing your battery

Motion copro-what? Well, Apple threw a new M7 companion processor into the iPhone 5s, the sole job of which is to power the phone's motion sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass). This is good news if you use fitness apps or accessories, as they supposedly won't get the usual battery drain that other smartphones give you.

Let's be honest, though: Apple didn't throw the M7 in just to boost the popularity of fitness apps and trackers. It's almost certainly going to play a big role in that rumored iWatch, whenever it arrives.

RAM

The Note 3 triples the iPhone's RAM, but don't mistake this as a red flag for the iPhone
The Note 3 triples the iPhone's RAM, but don't mistake this as a red flag for the iPhone

The Note 3 blows away the iPhone's 1 GB of RAM, though we aren't expecting any performance problems on the 5s.

Storage

The base Note 3 has more storage than the base iPhone 5s
The base Note 3 has more storage than the base iPhone 5s

The base model of the Note 3 gives you double the storage of the 5s' base model. It also has a microSD slot, though those are becoming less relevant on Android.

4G LTE

Both phones support 4G LTE, but some regions will receive a version of the Note without an LTE radio (mostly regions that don't have LTE anyway)
Both phones support 4G LTE, but some regions will receive a version of the Note without an LTE radio (mostly regions that don't have LTE anyway)

Of course both devices also support speedy 4G LTE downloads, provided your local carrier has it. There's also a non-LTE (maxing out on HSPA+) version of the Note 3, though it should mostly be sold in regions that don't yet have LTE.

Battery

The Note 3's battery holds more juice, but that doesn't necessarily mean longer battery life
The Note 3's battery holds more juice, but that doesn't necessarily mean longer battery life

Capacities can be interesting to note, but there are lots of other factors that determine actual battery life. Stay tuned for more from Gizmag on the best measure of battery life: some old-fashioned hands-on testing.

Software versions

The iPhone 5s runs Apple's new iOS 7, while the Note 3 runs the latest version of Android (with Samsung's software layered on top)
The iPhone 5s runs Apple's new iOS 7, while the Note 3 runs the latest version of Android (with Samsung's software layered on top)

The iPhone 5s launches with the redesigned iOS 7. Samsung has been keeping up much better on this front lately, as the Note 3 will launch with the latest version of Android, 4.3 (also known as the epic conclusion to the Jelly Bean trilogy). Samsung's TouchWiz UI, as always, makes its presence felt on top of Android.

Local file sharing

The two premier companies in mobile hardware take two different approaches to local file transfers
The two premier companies in mobile hardware take two different approaches to local file transfers

One of iOS 7's big upgrades, AirDrop, should be familiar to Mac owners. The iOS version appears to use a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to establish a connection and transfer files with another iOS device.

Samsung has used its S Beam feature as a weapon against Apple in many a commercial. It uses near-field communication (NFC) to transfer files with any nearby Galaxy device. Here you only need to place the phones back-to-back, and tap on the screen to confirm.

NFC

The Galaxy Note 3 has an NFC chip
The Galaxy Note 3 has an NFC chip

Speaking of NFC, Apple hasn't yet bothered including the technology in any of its devices. And it's starting to look like maybe it never will.

Side-by-side multitasking

The Note 3 lets you run multiple apps side-by-side (including multiple instances of the same app)
The Note 3 lets you run multiple apps side-by-side (including multiple instances of the same app)

This is another perk of having a humongous screen. Samsung's Note series lets you run two apps on the screen at once. In the latest version, you can actually run two separate instances of the same app. This opens the door to things like running two simultaneous chat windows, or popping up a calculator window while you're drafting a message.

Infrared

The Note 3 sports an infrared blaster, that lets you change channels on your TV with your phablet
The Note 3 sports an infrared blaster, that lets you change channels on your TV with your phablet

Like the GS4, the Note 3 features an IR blaster, so you can use your phablet as a remote control for your TV.

Voice control

Both handsets take different approaches to voice control
Both handsets take different approaches to voice control

The iPhone 5s has iOS 7's improved version of Siri for voice control. The Note 3 gives you a couple of native options: Samsung's S Voice (last time we checked, it was inferior to Siri) and Google Now (which we prefer over Siri for its speed and predictive abilities).

If you pick up the Galaxy Gear, it also lets you use a scaled-down version of S Voice straight from your wrist.

Starting price

The 32 GB Note 3 costs the same (on-contract) as the 32 GB iPhone 5s, but the 16 GB iPhone shaves US$100 off of that
The 32 GB Note 3 costs the same (on-contract) as the 32 GB iPhone 5s, but the 16 GB iPhone shaves US$100 off of that

The above standard prices are in US dollars, and they also require you to sign a blood oath, erm, new two-year contract with your preferred carrier. Remember, though, that the Note's US$300 price is for 32 GB of storage, while the $200 iPhone 5s only gives you 16 GB.

Wrap-up

Yep, these two phones are about as different as can be. Based on this initial look, it looks like the iPhone brings greater simplicity and portability, while the Note 3 packs in more features and strives to be more of a productivity-based companion.

Speaking of companions, the wild card here is that Galaxy Gear smartwatch. We're going to hear a lot about wearable computers in the next few years, and the Gear is the most advanced of its kind to hit the market. Gizmag will have much more to say about these two phones – and the Gear – within the next few weeks, so stay tuned for some deeper dives on that front.

In the meantime, you can satiate your appetite with our hands-on with the Note 3 (and Galaxy Gear) and our comparison of the different iPhone models.

View gallery - 23 images
42 comments
Alex Griffiths
MicroSD slots are becoming less common on Android. Not less relevant.
P17
Samsung + Android: the poor man's Apple and iOS !
Samsung may have a couple of "betters" on the Note 3, but do I really want to pretend I've got a bigger male member when mine is pretty big anyway? What is the point of the Samsung? I pop my iPhone 5 into my shirt pocket, then I kick a ball about with my son, or I can put my suit jacket on with no intrusion. Samsung products look cheap and nasty, using the cheap, tacky look which is synonymous with Japanese/Korean/Chinese design. Americans aren't known for their style either, but Apple have bucked the trend and brought some incredible design and functionality to the mass market.
Lastly, walk into an Apple store and you're treated properly (unless you're some fat, awful woman who wants to scream and shout). You feel like you bought into something special and the Customer Service is second to none. Walk into a phone shop to buy a Samsung and you're just another mug to be fleeced.
Samsung....for the man who has nothing, will never have anything, but likes to think he's arrived!
Inappropriate Response
Apple isn't going to implement NFC but they are using BluetoothBLE in their version called iBeacon
Carl Bowers
Less relevant because of OTG. OTG is awesome. I wouldn't buy a phone without it. Especially a phone with movie watching resolution.
Vikas Vimal
And even with such a hefty lead in terms of number, performance, battery and whatnot, Samsung's Note and its siblings fail to beat Apple's lone contender in terms of hype, sales, profits, looks, fluidity and customer satisfaction, basically almost everything that matters.
hence proving the point " all brawn and no brain ".
3 gigs of ram? wonder if it can also handle xp or 95?!!
Jan Kelley
Great comparison, although the starting price is not correct. The note 3 starts at 199 on T-Mobile with a contract, undermining the 299 you are mentioning...
Robert Niehay
The Note III is a glorified tablet with some phone features, it's difficult to compare two devices with such a different scale of internal real-estate.
However, this article seems to be written to soften the blow to iphone users that their phone isn't technologically better than the Note III. Not that specs are everything...
But, Really? A difference of 1 ghz of processing power per core and 2 extra cores or 600mhz and 6 extra cores isn't a big deal? But 64-bit on a phone with 1GB of RAM and a motion calc chip is? Wha....? It's not necessary to say that "oh, the pixel density is pointless": when you know the point is the watch 1080p material in it's native resolution. Or "we'll wait and see about the camera": when know know it's the same damned glorious camera from the S4 that makes me (as an iphone user jealous).
Look, the iphone is going to have a wonderfully smooth and controlled experience compared to the GNIII, with occasional (constant) crashes from some 3rd party apps. It's okay that it's not better than something larger than some people's home computers. No need to sugarcoat it.
If the article seems a bit unbalanced because one device is outclassing another, it's because the devices aren't in the same class. No need to make the article biased to try to prove otherwise. You pretty much stated that you're comparing a phone with some tablet features against a tablet with some phone features. The tablet (phablet) is obviously going to win everything, except that portability factor. Of course, the iphone is still a pretty big phone.
Juuleekutie DiGraziozz
Well , thanks for the article, the true words always hurt somebody feeling. But no doubt about Samsung gonna beat over Apple pretty soon. Base on my knowledge I have many reason why I don't use Apple product. But one of the reason is I am not "brainwash" by Apple anyway.
Stephen Heaton
Obviously reading views here "mostly" by closed minds of the stereotypical Iphone user.
I have both a Iphone 5 (ios7) and a GS2 (jellybean) and personally prefer the now dated S2!
What a stupid comment that Samsung Android is a poor mans Apple IOS, typical Iphone user superiority complex!
Android running on any of the manufacturers bring far better userbility/ customisation and something that seals the deal for most people that is simply not found in apples regime, FREEDOM!!
Happy to say that my Note 3 is en-route, and as a day to day user of both platforms (ios7 android) this for me is a fantastic upgrade from my S2!
Vu Tran
Robert Niehay : Very well written.
The Master : WoW and more WoW , no further comment.