Do we have a good one for you today – Samsung's newest phablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 goes up against one of their newest smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. Has Samsung made enough improvements in the new Galaxy S series to pull buyers away from the venerable Galaxy Note 4, or will Galaxy Note 4 users stick with their S-Pen and not be persuaded to cross lines over to the Galaxy S series smartphone…even if it has a little 'curve' to the display. The Galaxy Note 4 helped quiet much of the criticism Samsung received from its Galaxy S5 – will the new Galaxy S6 Edge quiet things even more?
Although these are both some of Samsung's newest devices, they really have very little in common – Samsung changed some very fundamental specifications, such as removing the microSD slot to expand memory and doing away with the once sacred removable battery. Samsung also did away with the Qualcomm processor and went with their own Exynos brand, and while they both use 3GB of RAM, the RAM type went from DDR3 to a much faster DDR4. The same with the built-in flash memory, it was upgraded to their new UFS 2.0 standard and is 2.7 times faster than eMMC 5.0 used in current smartphones, including the Galaxy Note 4. The cameras, although similar were also both upgraded, as was the fingerprint sensor. They both have the usual dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC capabilities, built-in IR Blaster, active noise cancellation, heart rate sensor, quick charge options and a microUSB port v2.0 for charging and data transfer.
Please take a look at the detailed specifications comparison found below – expand it by clicking on the "View Full Comparison" at the bottom and you will get a real sense of how these two devices match up against one another. After that, we will look at each individual device, talk about it, and weigh out some of the pros and cons in an effort to pick a winner for this comparison.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The Galaxy Note series has as loyal a following as you can get, and the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is its best rendition yet. It improved the device in every department – starting with build and the improved metal frame, trim and faux leather back panel, making it a more premium looking device. The display went from FHD to QHD, the processor jumped up a notch, both of the cameras were improved as well as the S-Pen. Most people, even its past critics, approved of the changes.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 sports a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED beauty with a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and a whopping 515 PPI – however, it looks like that torch may be passed once again to the 577 PPI display on the new Galaxy S6 Edge. The Note 4 is running a 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor clocked at 2.7GHz (US market) – the same one used in the Droid Turbo and the Nexus 6. For the new Galaxy S6 series, Samsung made the bold move to use their own 64-bit Exynos 7420 octa-core processor and early test results show that it was the right decision. The Galaxy Note 4 packs 3GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot for expansion. The new Galaxy S6 uses a much faster 3GB of DDR4 RAM and a faster UFS 2.0 flash memory that they developed and built. In another departure, Samsung no longer offers the microSD card slot for expansion in the Galaxy S6 beyond the 32GB/64GB/128GB models that it offers.
The camera really improved over the Galaxy Note 3 by inserting a larger 16MP sensor – keeping Autofocus, LED Flash and ISOCELL technology – but then added OIS+ and Live HDR shooting. The Galaxy S6 series builds on that and increases the aperture to f/1.9 for even better low light shots. The front-facing camera (FFC) on the Galaxy Note 4 increased to a wide-angle 3.7MP sensor and lens for excellent group selfies and conference style video chats, but once again, the Galaxy S6 Edge ups the size to 5MP and adds an F1.9 aperture and Live HDR for better low-light selfies. The 3220mAh battery will certainly last you all day and should you need to extend that time you can use Samsung's UPSM and its Quick Charge feature.
As far as additional features that the Galaxy Note 4 possesses over the Galaxy S6 Edge – the biggest difference is the improved S-Pen with twice the sensitivity and its software and the functionality that it brings to the Note series. It also adds an Oxygen Saturation and UV sensor to the Heart Rate Sensor that they both possess. It is currently running Android 4.4.4 KitKat, however, updates to 5.0 Lollipop are rolling out now. The Galaxy Note 4 is available on all major US networks and will cost you about $300 on a two-year contract or about $700 – $800 off-contract, depending where you purchase the device.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
The new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is a complete rebuild – aircraft aluminum unibody construction with Gorilla Glass 4 adorning the display and the back of the device. It is solid, well-built and premium looking from any angle, and the rounded edges and curved display edges make it comfortable to hold in your hand. Samsung had to make big changes after last year's Galaxy S5 lacked the success of its predecessor and if early reactions are any indicator, the new Galaxy S6 Edge should be a hit.
It sports a 5.1-inch Quad HD (QHD) display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 577 pixels-per-inch (PPI) compared to QHD display with 515 PPI on the Galaxy Note 4. Samsung dropped the Qualcomm processor this time around even for the US market and chose their own 64-bit Exynos 7420 octa-core processor. It has four cores clocked at 1.5GHz and four cores clocked at 2.1GHz. It is packing 3GB of DDR4 RAM, much faster than the 3GB of DDR3 RAM used in the Note 4, and it comes with Samsung's new, faster, flash memory offering 32GB/64GB/128GB models with no room for expansion – a first for Samsung's Galaxy S series.
The camera got its start from the Galaxy Note 4 and then made even more improvements. The 16MP Sony sensor, autofocus, LED Flash, ISOCELL technology, real-time HDR and OIS are all found on the Note 4. But Samsung improved the aperture to a larger f/1.9 for better low-light pictures and dramatically increased the speed – taking less than a second to open and be ready to shoot. The FFC increased from the 3.7MP in the Note 4 to 5MP on the Galaxy S6 Edge, kept the 120-degree wide-angle and also added the f/1.9 aperture and live HDR for excellent low-light selfies. The 2600mAh battery is much smaller than the 3220mAh in the Note 4, but it should easily get you through the entire day. The new Samsung non-removable battery can charge up to 4 hours of usage in only 10 minutes, not to mention they added built-in wireless charging for the first time.
The Galaxy S6 Edge has a louder speaker and is placed on the bottom of the device, it has an improved fingerprint scanner, is ready for Samsung Pay, built-in wireless charging and comes in White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum and Green Emerald. It will be running Android 5.0 Lollipop, and released worldwide on April 10. List price for the 32GB should be around $850 off-contract.
…And The Winner Is…
I am giving the win to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge – its design is bold and certainly upgrades the premium look of the device over the Galaxy Note 4. The curved edges on the display make for easier swiping from left-to-right and right-to-left, at the very least, while also adding some cool functionality.
The new 64-bit Exynos octa-core processor in the Galaxy S6 Edge is also another major contributor to my decision, along with the faster DDR4 RAM and UFS 2.0 flash memory. This combination of all Samsung parts has resulted in an optimization of hardware and software…which as a kinder and lighter TouchWiz influence and more of Google's Material Design incorporated.
The much improved fingerprint scanner, improved camera areas, smaller bezels, wireless charging, improved and faster charging battery, better sounding loudspeaker along with better placement at the bottom of the device. Let's not forget about the built-in access to Samsung Pay which will make purchasing items with you Galaxy S6 Edge easier and available at more merchants. I can understand denying access to the battery and I understand the speed of the microSD card a problem, but I am upset that waterproofing was not made a part of the package.
Another item to take into consideration is the target audience – the Galaxy Note series is an exceptional device, but not everybody wants the S-Pen or that big of display for a daily driver. When you look at it that way, it just seems like the Galaxy S6 Edge is also the right choice for most people.