Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: which is best?

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4
Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: which is best?

Samsung's become one of the most interesting smartphone firms, and its Galaxy handsets have won deserved applause - not least our coveted Best mobile phone in the world award.

The Samsung Galaxy Note is its latest, and perhaps its greatest, handset. So how does it compare to Apple's iPhone 4? There's only one way to find out...

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: Operating system

The iPhone 4 has Apple's venerable iOS, which is weeks - possibly even days - away from being updated to iOS 5. The Samsung Galaxy Note has Android 2.3 Gingerbread with Samsung's own TouchWiz user interface on top, and we wouldn't be entirely surprised if the Note gets Ice Cream Sandwich when that version of Android ships.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: processor

The Galaxy Note has a 1.4GHz dual core processor, while the iPhone has a single core 1GHz A4 processor.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: touchscreen

Both devices have touchscreens, although the Galaxy Note also has a pressure sensitive stylus. The Samsung has a 5.3" WXGA delivering 1280x800 at a density of 285ppi, while the iPhone has a 3.5-inch screen offering 960x640 at 326ppi. The Samsung, then, is much bigger without being much blockier.

Samsung galaxy note

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: storage

Both devices are equally pitched here, offering a choice of 16GB or 32GB of flash storage.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: memory

The iPhone 4 has 512MB of system memory and the Galaxy Note has 1GB, which should make tabbed browsing and other memory-hungry tasks less clunky.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: camera

The iPhone's 5-megapixel camera has an LED flash and records 720p HD video, and there's a second VGA camera on the front for video chat. The Galaxy Note has an 8MP rear camera with LED flash capable of 1080p HD video and a 2MP front-facing camera.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: connectivity

The iPhone has 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and 3G HSDPA/GPRS/EDGE connectivity, while the Galaxy Note offers faster HSPA+ (21Mbps compared to the iPhone's 7.2Mbps), 802.11a as well as b/g/n, and Bluetooth 3.0. The Galaxy Note also offers USB connectivity, and there will be a 4G/LTE version for US customers.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: dimensions and weight

The iPhone 4 is 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm and weighs 137g. The Galaxy Note is 146.85 x 82.95 x 9.65mm and weighs 178g. The iPhone's clearly lighter, but it's a good bit smaller too.

Samsung galaxy note vs iphone 4

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: talk and standby times

Samsung hasn't published talktime figures yet but the Galaxy Note's battery is a 2,500mAh job compared to the 1,420mAh battery in the iPhone 4, so we'd expect the bigger battery to compensate for the energy demands of that enormous screen. The iPhone 4 delivers up to 7 hours talktime on 3G and up to 300 hours standby.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPhone 4: which is best?

We have a clear winner, and it isn't an iPhone. The Samsung Galaxy Note has a faster processor, more system memory, a higher resolution screen with near-Retina pixel density, better cameras and better connectivity.

Samsung galaxy note

There are a few caveats, though. The first is real-world battery life - despite the bigger battery, that enormous screen could prove to be an energy-sapper - and the second is how comfortable the Note is to hold. Five inches isn't big in tablet terms, but it's awfully big for a smartphone.

It's worth mentioning too that the iPhone 4 is nearing the end of its life as Apple's flagship: the iPhone 5 is mere weeks away, and while we're not expecting anything revolutionary we'd still expect a major speed boost and a whole bunch of tweaks. Will that be enough to depose Samsung as the Smartphone King? Ask us again in October.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.