Do we have a good one for you today – the popular Samsung Galaxy Note 4 goes up against the new Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The old school Note 4 goes up against the new Note 5, a new redesign from the inside out. The Galaxy Note 5 is very new, but at the same time, these two devices are more alike than they are different. Gone is the faux leather backing, the removable battery, the expandable memory as the Galaxy Note 5 ushers in the new glass and metal era with a non-removable battery and fixed internal memory options.
Both devices are almost identical in physical size, with the Galaxy Note 5 coming in just slightly smaller, thinner and 5 grams lighter. Both phones have an aluminum frames although the Note 5 is a little more sculpted and curved in the back, making it easier to hold. The 5.7-inch Super AMOLED QHD is the same on both devices meaning the resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 518 pixels-per-inch (PPI). Both have the mandatory S-Pen, but there is something about the Note 5's S-Pen that just looks and feels better and it is spring loaded so it pops out when pressed in. Both devices ship with 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, but the Note 4 allows for expansion and the Note 5 does not. Both devices use a 16MP main camera, but the Note 5 has the S6 upgrades and will take better pictures than the Note 4. Both devices have a fast charge option using their stock cable. Both the Note 4 and the Note 5 have access to fingerprint security, but the Note 4 uses the swipe method and the Note 5 uses a more reliable touch method. Both have the heart rate sensor and both run Android Lollipop, although the Galaxy Note 5 will probably stay up-to-date longer.
Of course all the usual suspects are there – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC and a microUSB port 2.0 for charging and data transfer.
Please take a deliberate look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the "View Full Comparison" link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each individual device in greater detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
There are certain devices that have a loyal following, and that would certainly apply to the Galaxy Note series. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 improved over the Note 3 in every department – from the display, the build, to the processor, the camera and even the S-Pen. Even its past critics, liked the improved metal frame and trim along with faux leather back panel, making it even a more premium looking device with a build quality that feels great in your hand.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 sports one of the best displays that DisplayMate has ever tested. It is a 5.7-inch beauty with a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and a whopping 515 pixels-per-inch (PPI) – however, it looks like that torch may be passed on, once again, to the 515 PPI display on the new Note 5. The Note 4 is running the excellent 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor clocked at 2.7GHz (US market). With the new Galaxy Note 5, Samsung made the bold move to use their own 64-bit Exynos 14nm octa-core processor and so far it seems to have paid off. The Note 4 packs 3GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot for expansion. The new Note 5 uses a much faster 4GB of DDR4 RAM and a faster flash memory that they developed, but offers no room for expansion past the 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of built-in storage.
The Note 4 has an excellent camera with a 16MP sensor, autofocus, LED Flash and added in OIS+ and Live HDR shooting – the Note 5 builds on that and increases the aperture to f/1.9 for even better low light shots and increased the camera and focus speed. The Note 4 has a 3.7MP front-facing camera (FFC) with a wide-angle lens for excellent group selfies and conference style video chats. The Note 5 ups the size to 5MP and adds the f/1.9 aperture and Live HDR for better low-light selfies. The 3220mAh battery will last you all day and its Quick Charge feature is always available, although the smaller 3000mAh battery on the Note 5 is said to last longer and has built-in wireless charging as well.
As far as additional features that the Galaxy Note 4 possesses over the Note 5 – it maintains a removable battery, expandable storage and has a built-in IR Blaster. It is currently running 5.0 Lollipop and is available on all major US networks. It will cost you about $300 on a two-year contract or about $650 off-contract, depending where you purchase the device.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 follows in the same design footprint as the new Galaxy S6 – beautifully curved metal frame with Gorilla Glass on the front and the back with a non-removable battery and no microSD card. The new Note 5 is the same sized display, yet is slightly smaller and with the curved sides it is much easier to hold and work with one hand than the previous Note 4.
The Note 5 uses the same 5.7-inches Super AMOLED QHD display found on the Galaxy Note 4 with the usual tweaks that Samsung makes in each rendition. Samsung decided to pass on the usual Snapdragon processor and used their in-house 64-bit Exynos 7420 octa-core processor with four cores clocked at 1.5GHz and four cores clocked at 2.1GHz and it is the first smartphone to use the 14nm technology. This is a much more advanced processor than the 32-bit Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor. The Note 5 is packing 4GB of DDR4 RAM versus the 3GB of DDR3 RAM in the Note 4. The Note 5 should come in a 32GB, 64GB or 128GB variants with no room for expansion, whereas the Note 4 comes in 32GB or 64GB models with room for expansion via a microSD card.
The main cameras are both 16MP, but the Note 5 inherits the improvements from the Galaxy S6 model – faster startup, faster focus, larger aperture at f/1.9 and better software – and it will take some of the best pictures found on a smartphone. The Note 5 also has a larger 5MP FFC with the f/1.9 aperture and wide-angle and Live HDR selfies and video chats. This compares to a smaller 3.7MP FFC on the Note 4. The Note 5 has a smaller, non-removable 3000mAh battery, but it has quick charge and quick wireless charging capabilities. The Note 4 has a 3220mAh battery with quick charge, but early test show the Note 5's battery lasts longer.
The Galaxy Note 5 has a much better fingerprint sensor, Samsung Pay capable, a much more sensitive S-Pen with added features giving it even more functionality, more flexibility with longer documents, live broadcasting of your videos and will have an optional slip-on physical, BlackBerry styled keyboard. It is running Android Lollipop 5.1.1 and will cost you $300 on a two-year contract and about $700 – $750 outright.
…And The Winner Is…
This comparison is a mixed bag – both devices are excellent in build quality and functionality. I put the Galaxy Note 5 in the winners circle because when it comes to the processor, the DDR4 RAM, including the extra GB, the faster USF 2.0 internal memory, the main and FFC are superior, the bottom mount speaker is better, the Note 5 has Samsung Pay and quick wireless charging built in. The Galaxy Note 5 wins hands down in the specifications department, so I am picking it as the winner of this comparison.
The problem with picking the Note 5 is that several of the Note 4's favorite features are missing – the removable battery and expandable storage. There are many that would trade the Note 5's 64-bit processor, 1GB of faster RAM or faster UFS 2.0 memory and glass back to keep their removable battery and storage cards. If you fall into that category, you may see the Note 4 with more options and the winner.
Looking at both models, the improved fingerprint sensor, the 64-bit octa-core processor, the ability to handle Samsung Pay, better camera and wireless charging is enough to convince most users of the Note 5's superiority. The days of removable batteries and expandable storage may be gone from Samsung for good – Apple has dictated that for years and they sell a lot of smartphones.
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