I’m not one to usually defend the so-called “brand dilution” that comes inherent with a marketing strategy focusing primarily on “diversity” or “choice”. So you won’t hear me say this often, but rolling out a slightly more affordable, smaller phablet with Galaxy Note 3’s functionality and software perks always seemed like a good idea.
Until Samsung actually put it into practice. Let me rephrase that. Until Samsung put it into practice and priced the Note 3 Neo. But I’m getting ahead of myself here when in fact I want us to all keep an open mind.
What exactly are the similarities and differences between the standard Note 3 and watered-down Neo? Are they noticeable, discouraging? Bottom line, can the Note 3 Neo be a smart buy, or do phablet aficionados still absolutely need to pony up the extra cash and score its uncompromising forefather?
No way to answer the questions other than pitting the two against one another in a cold, objective specs comparison. Here it goes:
Galaxy Note 3 vs Note 3 Neo – design face-off
I know, I said objective and I’m starting off with a deeply subjective bout. But it’s the only one, I promise. Besides, in these two’s case, there’s little to comment on, argue or debate. They look almost identical.
The same overall industrial vibe, same utter lack of curves, faux-leather back, decent plastic polycarbonate build. Granted, Sammy shaved 6 grams off Note 3’s weight, 3 mm off its height and 2 off its width while adding 0.3 mm to the waist. But unless you put them on top of each other and closely examine them for a few minutes, you’ll never notice the subtle contrast.
First department where the Note 3 clearly trumps the Neo. Words are pretty much futile, as numbers seem self-explanatory, so here you go: 5.7-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pix res Super AMOLED with 386 ppi vs. 5.5-inch 1,280 x 720 Super AMOLED with 267 ppi.
Mind you, Note 3 Neo’s panel is no pushover (remember when 720p was the bomb?), it’s just Note 3’s is so much better. Bigger, brighter, more colorful, vibrant and delivering superior viewing angles.
Processing speed, RAM and camera smackdown
You probably expect another duel with a clear victor. Well, believe it or not, it’s not a black-and-white situation. Not at first glance, and not until we get to thoroughly test Note 3 Neo LTE’s hexa-core Exynos 5260 chip.
Overall, in terms of raw performance, the Neo definitely loses, but not exactly by a landslide, as the Note 3 packs a quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU that’s slowly but steadily aging. At the end of the day, what might really settle the contest is the extra 1 gig of RAM on the Note 3 (3 GB vs. 2).
Cameras? It’s a knockout win for the big kahuna, whose snappers tout 13 and 2 MP sensors. Note 3 Neo’s, in contrast, come with 8 and 2 MP respectively.
Software, battery life, connectivity and others
Technically, both phones ran Android 4.3 Jelly Bean upon their releases, so technically, they’re software equals. Whoa, whoa, whoa, not so fast, as the Note 3 is being upgraded to 4.4 KitKat around the world, whereas the Neo… waits. And will likely wait a few more months.
As far as TouchWiz-related perks are concerned, the pair is indeed tied, with Air View, Air gestures, S-Voice and so on and so forth across the board. Battery life? Now that’s a touchy subject. The Note 3 has a 100 mAh edge (3,200 – 3,100), yet its rival/kin may benefit off the inferior resolution and last a little longer.
Unless the hexa-core SoC is a power hog. Not out of the question, so let’s wait for reviews and battery tests. Any other tidbits you should take into consideration? Both handhelds offer S Pen support, LTE speeds (one by default, one optional), microSD storage expansion, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0, so I guess there’s only the USB detail.
No, the Note 3 Neo doesn’t lack USB connectivity, it just swaps Note 3’s high-speed 3.0 for run-of-the-mill 2.0. Not a big deal, but it’s good to know everything beforehand.
Galaxy Note 3 Neo vs Note 3 – pricing comparison
It was never a question of who comes out on top, but by how much and how much is the gap worth. According to Samsung, 100 bucks or so, as the Neo costs roughly $560 in Indonesia, and the Note 3 is available outright at $650 give or take.
So to try to answer my own question, no, the Note 3 Neo is not the smartest buy at $560. But since it’s yet to officially land stateside, there’s still hope. $500 sounds pretty fair to me, anything south would be outright dreamy and unrefusable, so keep an eye on retailers.
Better yet, stay tuned on The Droid Guy. We’ll bring you any and all availability details as soon as they’re outed.