Do we have a good one for you today – the powerful ASUS ZenFone 2 with an Intel Atom processor and 4GB of RAM goes up against the powerful Samsung Galaxy Note 5 with its Exynos octa-core processor and 4GB of RAM. Which one of these powerhouses will have the specifications to win this battle? Should the price factor into this decision? These questions and more are what we hope to answer in this comparison.
As different as the ZenFone 2 and the Note 5 are from one another, they do have some things in common. For starters, they are almost identical in physical size, other than thickness where the Note 5 is only 7.6mm versus the 10.9mm ZenFone 2 – even their weights are only 1 gram different. Their displays are also close with the 5.5-inch ZenFone versus the 5.7-inch Note 5, although they use different technologies and resolutions. Both devices pack 4GB of RAM, with the Note 5 using the faster DDR4 variant and they both offer internal memory of 64GB, as well as others. The ZenFone 2 and Note 5 both use a 5MP front-facing camera (FFC) for selfies and video chatting. They both use a 3000mAh non-removable battery for power and both offer fast charging capabilities.
They both have the usual suspects – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (4.0 in ZenFone 2 and 4.2 in Note 5), GPS, are NFC capable and have a microUSB 2.0 port 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.
ASUS ZenFone 2 (ZE551ML)
The ASUS ZenFone 2 fools you the minute you encounter it with its deceptively high-end and brushed metal look – but pick it up, and it is all plastic. We are not saying it feels cheap – it does not – but it is certainly not in the same league of the Galaxy Note 5 or HTC One. Another LG G4 trait they stole is the placement of the rocker switch for the volume – it is on the back of the device, but the on/off button is awkwardly located on the top. It is just not quite as refined as the LG G4. The curved back of the ZenFone 2 does make it easy to hold and explains some of its 10.9mm thickness.
The ASUS ZenFone 2 features a 5.5-inch IPS LCD Full HD (FHD) display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 401 pixels-per-inch (PPI). It goes up against one of the best displays on a smartphone, the Quad HD (QHD) 5.7-inch display on the Note 5 with 518 PPI. The top-of-the-line ZenFone 2 model we are looking at uses a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz and is coupled to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory, although, unlike the Note 5, it does offer expansion by way of a microSD card. This compares to the Note 5's 64-bit Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, 4GB of DDR4 RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage with no room for expansion.
The main camera on the ZenFone 2 is packing a 13MP sensor, autofocus and a dual-tone LED flash…but no OIS. This does provide some decent photo shots, but will not compare to the Note 5's 16MP sensor with quick autofocus, LED flash, large f/1.9 aperture, live HDR shooting and OIS. The ZenFone 2 comes with a large 5MP FFC for social selfies and video chatting…as does the Note 5 with a wide-angle, f/1.9 aperture lens and live HDR shooting. Power for the ZenFone is in the form of a 3000mAh non-removable battery and the Note 5 also uses a 3000mAh non-removable battery – both offer quick charging, with the Note 5 adding quick wireless charging.
This Dual-SIM device is running Android 5.0 Lollipop (soon to get 5.1) along with its ZenUI Skin overlay that has followed the Google Material Design look. It will eventually be available in Osmium Black, Sheer Gold, Glacier Gray, Glamor Red and Ceramic White. Pricing on GearBest for either the Gray or the Red model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage will cost you $336 to $385, although specials are running all of the time.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Samsung made some radical changes in the design of this year's line of flagship smartphones, specifically the Galaxy S6 and Note series – no more plastic, instead we have a solid aluminum unibody with Gorilla Glass 2.5D on the front and Gorilla Glass 4 on the back. In the US, the Note 5 comes in two colors, Black Sapphire and White Pearl. The Galaxy Note 5 is a real beauty with its curved back edges that add a solid build and premium look…making feel like a much smaller device. As usual, Samsung made additional improvements to the S-Pen with an even more sensitive tip and added even more features…it is the defining factor in a phablet for many. A large display is nice, but the S-Pen adds a lot of functionality to this phablet, making it more than just another big screen.
The Galaxy Note 5 sports a 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 518 PPI compared to 5.5-inch FHD IPS LCD display and 401 PPI on the ZenFone 2. Samsung carried over its processor to the Note 5 – their homegrown 64-bit Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, the first processor to use 14nm technology. It has four cores clocked at 1.5GHz and four cores clocked at 2.1GHz. This is little more powerful than the 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core clocked at 2.3GHz found in the ZenFone 2. The Galaxy Note 5 is packing 4GB of the much faster DDR4 RAM – the ZenFone 2 uses 4GB of DDR3 RAM. The Note 5 comes with Samsung's new, faster, UFS 2.0 flash memory offering variations of 32GB or 64GB with no room for expansion. The ZenFone 2 model we are looking at has 64GB of internal memory that can be expanded another 64GB via a microSD card.
The Galaxy Note 5's camera is one of the best on the market at this time and uses a 16MP ISOCELL sensor with autofocus, LED Flash, a large f/1.9 aperture, Live HDR and OIS. Samsung increased the FFC to 5MP and they wisely kept the f/1.9 aperture and added a 120-degree wide-angle lens for excellent low-light group selfies and video chatting. The ZenFone 2 uses a respectable 13MP camera sensor for the main camera and a 5MP FFC for selfies and video chatting. The Note 5's 3000mAh battery is the same size used in the ZenFone 2, and it should get your Note 5 throughout an entire day with moderate usage. However, if you run into trouble, the new Samsung non-removable battery can charge up to 4 hours of usage in only 10 minutes. If you are at work or coffee shop that offers charging pads, then you could also use the built-in wireless quick charger for either PMA or Qi formats.
The Galaxy Note 5 has a few other features not found on the ZenFone 2 – it has a fingerprint sensor that is PayPal certified, it is Samsung Pay ready, Android Pay ready and can make payments at any retailer that can swipe a credit card. It includes a heart rate and oxygen saturation sensor for the health conscious. It also has a built-in quick charge and wireless quick charging for both Qi and PMA standards. Last, but certainly not least, it has the S-Pen and all of the software and productivity it adds to the device. It is running Android 5.1 Lollipop and will cost you about $696 off-contract for the 32GB model and $792 for the 64GB model.
…And The Winner Is…
This was another tough one for two reasons – the low price of the ZenFone 2 and the fact that the Note 5, while one of the best smartphones on the market today, is not for everybody. There is no doubt that the Galaxy Note 5 is the clear winner in the specifications department. It has a better build, much better display, more advanced 14nm processor, faster RAM, faster Flash memory, much better camera, a fingerprint sensor that is PayPal certified, Samsung Pay ready, it has a heart rate and oxygen saturation sensors, split-screen multitasking, built-in wireless quick charge and the S-Pen and all of its capabilities. It is probably the most advanced smartphone you can buy, but a 64GB model will cost you about $800. It is well worth the price for its features and technology, but does everybody want or need all of that phablet stuff?
The ZenFone 2 offers a large display, great processor, lots of RAM, expandable storage, decent camera and quick charge for ONE-HALF the price of the Galaxy Note 5! If you just want a big display to play games or watch videos and are not a photo buff, but just use your main camera for pictures of friends or the occasional flower and use the FFC for selfies or video chatting, then the ZenFone 2 could be for you. If you are not interested in your heart rate (as long as it is beating), will never pull out the S-Pen other than to play with the 'clicker' on the end, then the ZenFone 2 could be for you.
My conclusion – the Galaxy Note 5 blows the ZenFone 2 out of the park in specifications and abilities, and if you use all of its abilities and S-Pen functions, then this $800 baby is the winner. However, if you will not take advantage of the Galaxy Note 5's many features and money is a priority – then the ASUS ZenFone 2 could save you $400 and provide you with a great looking and performing smartphone…and I say, go for it.
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