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iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Specs Comparison

On September 4 we witnessed the official launch of the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung’s latest high-end smartphone, then, in less than a week, Apple debuted the highly-anticipated iPhone 5S, which comes to continue the Cupertino-based company’s legacy.

The iPhone 5S is the successor of the popular iPhone 5 and, just like any other S model in Apple’s portfolio, it looks exactly like its predecessor, but packs a lot of hardware improvements under the hood, along with a new iOS version.

The Galaxy Note 3 comes to replace the highly-appreciated Galaxy Note 2 in Samsung’s line-up and the new phablet developed by the Korean phone maker aims to steal some of the iPhone’s market share in late 2013.

You probably know from our previous versus articles that we will put the two opponents head-to-head in ten rounds: Display, Dimensions, Design, Processor, Memory, Connectivity, Camera, Operating System, Battery, and Price. The winner of a round gets one point and at the end of the battle the smartphone that scored most points will be declared the winner of the battle.

Let’s see whether Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 3 phablet has the likes to compete against Apple’s latest iOS-powered smartphone, the iPhone 5S.

Display

Every single time you grab you smartphone you get to look at its screen, therefore you must love the display of your smartphone.

Just like its predecessor the iPhone 5S comes with a 4-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD display with a resolution of 640 x 1136 pixels and a pixel density of 326 ppi. The Galaxy Note 3 sports an impressive 5.7-inch full HD Super AMOLED display with pixel density of 386 ppi. There are pros and cons for each display unit.

The screen fitted on the Note 3 is more suited for web browsing, gaming, and watching videos due to its size and higher resolution, while the Super AMOLED panel provides great brightness and wide viewing angles, but a not-so-accurate color reproduction and poor performance under direct sunlight. On the other hand the iPhone 5S’ IPS LCD screen also comes with unrivalled brightness, while its size recommends it for single-hand usage.

Unfortunately, on a highly-competitive smartphone market, where most of the high-end handset come with full HD screens, Apple has fitted a sub-HD display on its latest smartphone, which makes the iPhone 5S the loser of the Display round.

Dimensions

The customers are targeting thin and light smartphones and their demand is reflected in the companies’ attempts to make their devices as thin and light as possible.

The iPhone 5S is 123.8 mm tall, 58.6 mm wide, and 7.6 mm thin, being one of the thinnest smartphones on the market, while weighing only 112 grams. Because the Note 3 has to accommodate a significantly larger display, the Samsung phablet measures 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm and has a weight of 168 grams.

The iPhone 5S is slimmer and lighter than its competitor, so it wins the Dimensions round.

Design

Ask anyone what is the best thing about Apple’s smartphones and it will respond that it’s the design and the premium construction of the terminals.

Looking identical to its predecessor, the iPhone 5S continues the design language introduced by Apple in 2010 with the debut of iPhone 4. With sharp edges and rounded corners, the iPhone 5S is a symbol of elegance, making it one of the best looking smartphones on the market (only HTC’s One flaghip can get near iPhone’s looks).

With the Note 3, Samsung wanted to show us that they can build premium smartphones, too. The Korean company decided that it’s about time to ditch the plastics and have a more elegant approach and that’s why you will find faux-leather with fine stitches on the back of the Galaxy Note 3, matching with the S4-inspired aluminium finishings for the edges.

Even though everyone expected the Note 3 to look like a GS4 on steroids, the new Samsung smartphone has a sharper design and a construction that places it in the premium segment. Still, the Galaxy phablet can’t get close to iPhone 5S’ looks, that’s why the Apple flagship wins another point.

Processor

As you probably know, Samsung will launch two Galaxy Note 3 variants on the market, each coming with a different processing unit. The LTE-friendly N9005 features Qualcomm’s mighty Snapdragon 800 SoC based on four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz and Adreno 330 GPU, while the N9000 variant comes with an octo-core Exynos 5420 chipset with quad-core 1.9 GHz Cortex A15 CPU + quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex A7 CPU (for reduced battery consumption) and a Mali T628 GPU.

During the iPhone 5S launch keynote Apple’s reps talked for a whole 10 minutes about the new A7 chipset fitted inside the new handset, as being the world’s first 64-bit processor fitted on a smartphone.

Apple says the new A7 will be twice as fast as the 32-bit A6 chipset of the iPhone 5, but the way the Cupretino-based company markets its new chipset is deceive. The move to 64-bit addresses the amount of RAM (the limit for 32-bit is 4 GB), as the performance improvements brought by the 64-bit architecture are almost zero. I’m not saying the A7 is not two times more powerful than the A6, but it’s not because the 64-bit architecture as Apple is trying to suggest.

Anyway, courtesy of the ARMv8 architecture the A7 will most likely outperform both the Snapdragon 800 and the Exynos 5420 units (even though it has a dual-core 1.7 GHz CPU), so the iPhone 5S wins the Processor round.

Memory

The internal storage dictates the amount of content you can storage on your device, so the higher it is, the better.

As usual, the iPhone 5S comes with three internal storage options: 16/32/64 GB, and beyond that the cloud storage is your only hope. The Galaxy Note 3 packs either 32 or 64 GB of internal flash storage, expandable using microSD cards (up to 64 GB), which can lead to a total of 128 GB of storage.

Moreover, the iPhone 5S is expected to sport 1 GB of RAM (2 GB tops), while the Note 3 is the first smartphone in the world to boast about 3 GB of RAM, making it more suitable for multitasking jobs.

The Note 3 has higher storage capacities and a higher amount of RAM, therefore it wins another round in front of Apples’s latest smartphone.

Connectivity

The 4G LTE networks are present on most of the developed markets, being one of the major selling points of the modern smartphones.

The iPhone 5S connectivity features include, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G LTE, HSPA+, and Apple’s proprietary microUSB 2.0 Lightning port.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 sports 4G LTE, HSPA+, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, NFC chip, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, IR blaster, and microUSB 3.0.

While the infra red port and microUSB 3.0 support are pretty useless, the WiFi ac and NFC support are almost a must-have for any modern smartphone, and, unfortunately, Apple’s iPhone 5S lacks both these features. That’s another point for the Galaxy Note 3.

Camera

We all used our smartphones to take photos at some point and the camera is one of the important elements of a smartphone.

Apple chose to upgrade the 8 MP iSight camera on the iPhone 5, then fit it on the back of new iPhone 5S. The new camera module brings autofocus, dual LED flash, 1/3” sensor size, 1.5 µm pixel size, simultaneous HD video and image recording, touch focus, geo-tagging, face detection, HDR panorama, HDR photo, and 1080p@30 fps plus 720p@60fps video recording.

Galaxy Note 3 has an impressive 13 MP camera with autofocus, LED flash, simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, panorama, HDR, 4K video recording, and  1080p@60fps shooting mode.

Moreover, Note 3’s camera borrows all the cool features of the Galaxy S4, bringing Eraser, Cinema Photo, Sound & Shot, or Drama Shot, plus Dual Shot and Dual Video.

The Samsung smartphone definitely has the better camera here, therefore it snatches another point.

Operating System

Android and iOS are the most popular mobile operating systems in the world and they both come with ups and downs.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 runs the latest Android iteration out of the box, Jelly Bean 4.3, customized with Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX interface. What’s so great about it? Besides expandable notifications, Quick Settings area, DayDream and other features that come with stock Android, Samsung’s UI brings new and innovative features like Multi Window, Air View/Air Gesture, Smart Scroll, Smart Stay, Smart Pause, or Direct Call, plus some Note 3 exclusivities like Action Memo, Scrapbook, S Finder, Pen Window, or S Note.

The iOS 7 is the biggest refresh Apple’s mobile operating system received since its debut in 2007. I can’t help but notice that the iOS 7 looks nice, but it seems like Apple’s engineers have borrowed everything decent from Windows Phone 8 and Android and squeezed it inside iOS. The iOS wasn’t about looks, it was about functionality, and everything its users loved about it it’s now gone.

As Apple has stopped innovating in terms of mobile operating system, this round goes to Samsung’s feature-packed TouchWiz interface.

Battery

You can barely find a smartphone with a decent battery life nowadays, but it’s not the case for the iPhone 5S and the Note 3.

We’ve tested an iPhone 5 last year and it heroically stayed awake from morning until late night while being used moderately to intensely. Apple says that even though it has the same Li-Po 1,570 mAh battery as is predecessor, the iPhone 5S will be more battery efficient. Since we couldn’t get our hands on it, we are estimating a battery life of 24 hours of typical usage.

Last year’s Note 2 was a real battery-friendly smartphone, as it was capable of getting through a day and a half of usage. Note 3’s battery is a Li-Ion 3,200 mAh unit (100 mAh bigger than Note 2’s), but its processors are meant to conserve more energy, therefore expect about two days of battery stamina.

The battery life is phablets’ ace up the sleeve in the battle against regular smartphones, and the Galaxy Note 3 is no exception. Point for the Note 3.

Price

May the cheaper smartphone win!

The cheapest iPhone 5S (16 GB model) has a price tag of $199 with a two year agreement, while the cheapest Note 3 costs $299 on contract. Because the cheapest Note 3 has twice as the amount of internal storage (32 GB) as the cheapest iPhone 5S (16 GB), it would be more fair if we compared <cough> apples to apples.

Therefore the 32 GB iPhone 5S is $100 more expensive than the 16 GB variant, which makes it just as expensive as the 32 GB Note 3. Ladies and gents, we have a tie.

Conclusions

If it reads conclusions above it means we are at the end of the iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy Note 3 battle and that we have to see which smartphone is the winner.

We had a tie round, the Price round, as the cost of the 32 GB iPhone 5S and the 32 GB Note 3 was the same.

The Apple iPhone 5S scored 3 points winning the Dimensions, Design, and Processor rounds, because it’s thinner and lighter than the Note 3, it uses premium materials and has an amazing design, and because of the ARMv8 architecture behind the Apple A7 SoC.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a larger and higher resolution display, has higher amounts of storage and RAM, sports NFC and WiFi ac, comes with a feature-packed 13 MP camera, runs Android 4.3 with TouchWiz Nature UX, and has longer battery autonomy, that’s why it scored 6 points after it snatched the Display, Memory, Connectivity, Camera, Operating System, and Battery rounds.

This is the end guys, the Galaxy Note 3 has won the battle against the latest Apple flagship 6 to 3. But maybe I was wrong about certain rounds of the battle. Please let me know in the comments section.

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