This is a really special comparison – the Samsung Galaxy S5 flagship, just released this Spring versus the 'Big Daddy' of Samsung, the Galaxy Note 4, which many consider Samsung's true flagship. Both devices are really flagships, just in a different category – the Galaxy S5 is their high-end smartphone and the Galaxy Note 4 is their high-end Phablet…see how simple that was? There is always a tension between the two device owners because the best of the previous Galaxy S series (S5 in this case) ends up on the next Galaxy Note model (Note 4 in this case) and the Note will also have additional upgrades, like the Snapdragon 805. So bragging rights keep going from one series to the other and each group enjoys their six months of glory.
The main differences between the two series is the display size and the S-Pen – the Note series has a larger screen, blurring the boundaries between smartphone and tablet…hence the term, Phablet. The S-Pen belongs only to the Note series along with the software to utilize the stylus, again, a tablet-like utensil. The reception of the Galaxy S5 was lukewarm at best, but the longer it was on the market, the more its qualities were appreciated – we tend to judge on the external looks first…like the "bandaid" style back rather than the fine specifications. Samsung was hellbent on not allowing that to happen with the Galaxy Note 4…and it looks like might have somewhat succeeded.
There is really very little that these two devices share other than their Samsung name. There a few items that are common – 16MP on the camera, speaker on the back, fingerprint scanner and heart rate sensor.
Check out the Specifications below and and really compare them side-by-side…then we will take a look at each device on an individual basis and point out their strengths and weaknesses. After that, I will pick the winner based on specs and execution.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The Galaxy S5 has a slightly smaller display – 5.1-inches versus 5.7-inches – but the real difference is the resolution with 'only' Full HD on the Galaxy S5 or 1080p. It looks beautiful and there is a lot of debate on whether the QHD display of the Galaxy Note 4 is overkill. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core clocked at 2.5GHz with 2GB of RAM and most models have 32GB of storage…with the processor and RAM slightly less than the Note 4. You can add up to 128GB of additional storage with a microSD card – the Note 4 only lists up to 64GB, although some have tried the 128GB size and the Note 4 recognized all of it. The main 16MP shooter is the same but they added OIS in the Note 4, and the 2MP Front-Facing Camera (FFC) is a little less than the 3.7MP on the Note 4. The battery is a respectable 2,800mAh.
The design is an improvement over the Galaxy S4 – the Galaxy S5 just has a nicer feel in your hand and the infamous dimpled back makes for a firm grip and a very nice looking smartphone. It was not what many of the critics were looking for or even expecting, but after the 'dust settled,' we are seeing many very happy Galaxy S5 owners, especially those coming from the Galaxy S3 on their two-year upgrade. It is a solid device that you cannot go wrong with – read our full review here.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The long wait is over and the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has finally been announced at IFA Berlin and we have had a couple days to write about the device and look into its pros and cons. While it is hard to tell the Note 3 and Note 4 apart from a distance, if you hold them in your hand you will notice the difference immediately – the Galaxy Note 4 has a little better feel because of the full metal frame surrounding the device and this will be apparent when comparing the Galaxy S5 to the Galaxy Note 4. The Note 4 is a little heftier all the way around and it has a great solid feel in your hand – Samsung chose not to share the dimpled back of the Galaxy S5 with the Note 4, but went back to the faux leather and stitches look of the Note 3.
The first thing you will notice when you turn it on is that big, beautiful 5.7-inch QHD display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 are about 515 PPI – this quite a leap in specs from the Galaxy S5's 1080p display. Many will argue that it is not worth wasting those extra pixels, but most of the noise comes from those that own a 720p or 1080p device. We can especially see why Samsung bumped up the display when we look at the Note Edge – the small 'side screen' needs that extra sharpness to be read easily. After you get past the display you will notice the speed of newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor clocked at 2.7GHz, backed up with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which can be added too via the microSD card slot.
The Galaxy S5 and Note 4 may both have the same 16MP main camera, but the Note 4 finally has OIS built-in to give us those stable pictures we have been begging a Samsung device to provide. The Note 4 also steps it up a notch over the S5 with a 3.7MP FFC. The battery is a hefty 3,220mAh and with the new power conscious processor and other refinements, Samsung claims that the Note 4 will consume 7.5-percent less power than the Note 3 and they also added a Quick Charge feature that will allow you to charge your battery from zero to 50-percent in only 30 minutes. There are a few changes made that I do not like and need to make 'note' of here: Samsung moved the speaker from the bottom (where it should be) to the back and Samsung chose to regress to the microUSB 2.0 from the 3.0 on the Note 3. For copying large data files from your PC to the Note 3 was much faster using version 3.0 rather than v2.0.
…And the Winner is…
This should really come as no surprise that I picked the Galaxy Note 4. I had to go with the QHD display – which not only kills in the pixel area, but Samsung also used what they call a 2.5D curved Gorilla 3 glass…the net effect is to lessen the glare and make it easier to see outside. The Note 4 is only a little larger phone, has better processor, a much better GPU, and more memory, an S-Pen and additionally – useful software for utilizing the S-Pen. If you don't like the pen, then leave it tucked away in its silo and enjoy the larger Super AMOLED QHD display and faster device. If you don't want to spend the extra money, then get yourself the Galaxy S5 and enjoy.