Do we have a good one for you today – the ever-popular Samsung Galaxy Note 5 goes up against the new Samsung Galaxy S7. Yes – we realize one is a phablet and the other is not, but why is that a good excuse not to compare them? They are both flat-screened devices, excellent specifications and they both come to us with sculptured metal and glass – but has Samsung upgraded the Galaxy S7 enough to vault it over the Galaxy Note 5 in terms of specifications? The Galaxy Note 5 is armed with its S-Pen and the Galaxy S7 is packing the latest processor and technology. The Note 5 lost its removable battery and expandable memory when compared to its predecessor, but the Galaxy S7 gives us back the expandable memory, although they both retain the non-removable battery. Let's look at some similarities between these two devices before we look at each one individually.
Despite their difference in size and a generation apart, the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S7 do have a few things in common. They both use Samsung's Super AMOLED Quad HD (QHD) display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, although different in size and pixels-per-inch (PPI). All Galaxy Note 5's used Samsung's Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, but the new Galaxy S7 will have either the newest Exynos 8890 octa-core or the newest Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor depending what region you live in. Both have 4GB of DDR4 RAM and both offer a 32GB or 64GB UFS 2.0 memory variant – only the Galaxy S7 offers expansion. While the main camera areas are different, they both use a 5MP front-facing camera (FFC), although it has been improved on the Galaxy S7. They both pack a 3000mAh non-removable battery that offers rapid charge and quick wireless charging. They also have the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC, heart rate monitor, oxygen saturation sensor, fingerprint sensor and Samsung Pay.
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 5
Samsung carried their Galaxy S6 redesign over to the Galaxy Note 5 last year when they rid the device of its plastic and replaced it with glass and metal, however, many power Note 5 owners were upset about the loss of both memory expansion and the removable battery. They ended up with a more premium looking device that was, in their minds, less functional and accommodating. How does it hold up to the updated Galaxy S7?
The Galaxy Note 5 continues to sport the same size 5.7-inch display, although with Samsung's usual tweaking every year, always makes it better than the year before. It has a QHD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 518 PPI and is one of the best displays on the market. This goes up against the 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED display found on the Galaxy S7 with 577 PPI. All models of the Note 5 used Samsung's 64-bit Exynos 7420 octa-core processor with four cores clocked at 1.5GHz and the other four cores clocked at 2.1GHz with their newest 14nm technology. This goes up against the 64-bit Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor or Exynos 8890 used in the Galaxy S7 depending where you are located. The Note 5 packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM as does the Galaxy S7. When it comes to internal storage, the Note 5 and the Galaxy S7 offers either a 32GB or 64GB option of much faster UFS 2.0 Flash memory. The Note 5 offers no room for expansion, whereas the Galaxy S7 offers a microSD card expansion of up to 200GB.
The excellent camera on the Galaxy Note 5 has a 16MP sensor with a fast startup, fast focus, a large aperture of f/1.9 for better low-light photos, Live HDR and great software. The Note 5 also has a 5MP FFC with the f/1.9 aperture and wide-angle and Live HDR for selfies and video chats. This compares to a completely revamped 12MP main camera on the Galaxy S7 that uses Dual Pixels and 5MP FFC. The Note 5 and the Galaxy S7 have non-removable 3000mAh batteries with a quick charge feature as well as quick wireless charging capabilities.
Samsung made its yearly improvements with the S-Pen and gave it more sensitivity and added features giving it even more functionality. The Note 5 itself has more flexibility and can handle longer documents and you can send live broadcasts of your videos. It is running Android Lollipop 5.1.1 with Marshmallow rolling out as you read this. It will cost you about $700 outright for a 32GB model and $790 for a 64GB model.
Samsung Galaxy S7
After last year's newly redesign Galaxy S6 series, changes to the new Samsung Galaxy S7 are more evolutionary in nature. On the outside there only subtle differences, although the insides prove to be a different story. The Galaxy S7 is still a beautiful device with a solid build quality and premium look. Samsung curved the rear sides a bit, much like the Galaxy Note 5, to make it easier to pick up from a flat surface and they put a slight curve on the front top to make it more comfortable to hold up to your ear. However, did Samsung do enough to upgrade the Galaxy S7 to make people want to go out and trade-in their Galaxy S6 or Galaxy Note 5?
The Galaxy S7 has a beautiful 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a QHD resolution and 577 PPI compared to the 5.7-inch Super AMOLED QHD display on the Note 5 with 518 PPI. The Galaxy S7 uses either the new Exynos 8890 octa-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz and 2.3GHz or the new Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz and 2.15GHz depending where you live. The Note 5 uses the Exynos 7420 octa-core processor in all models because Samsung decided to pass on the Snapdragon 810 altogether. The S7 Galaxy and the Note 5 both pack 4GB of DDR4 RAM and offer either 32GB or 64GB of UFS 2.0 memory – but the Galaxy S7 offers room for expansion up to 200 GB via a microSD card.
Samsung really tweaked with the Galaxy S7's camera this year – no longer is Samsung using the conventional 16MP found on the S6/Note 5 models. They moved on to a new Dual Pixel 12MP with a larger sensor that allows it to take in more light and information than the older 16MP sensor. They also increased the aperture from f/1.9 to f/1.7, made autofocus much faster and retained OIS – this all amounts to much better low-light photos. The Galaxy S7 uses a 5MP wide-angle lens, f/1.7 aperture and Live HDR for its FCC. This goes up against the highly rated 16MP camera and a 5MP FFC setup in the Note 5. The S7 and Galaxy Note 5 both use a 3000mAh non-removable battery with quick charge and quick wireless charging as well.
Over the Galaxy Note 5, the Galaxy S7 adds IP68 water and dust protection – great for those beach goers or users that work in dusty environments. The S7 adds the 'always on' display for longer battery life and offers expandable internal memory. The S7 measure 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm, weighs in at 157 grams and available in Black, White, Gold and Silver at approximately $670, although many BOGO and other deals exist.
…And The Winner Is…
Oh my, this is was a difficult decision – while the Galaxy Note 5 is one of my favorite devices, the nod really has to go to the Galaxy S7 as the winner of this comparison of specifications. Even though both the Galaxy S7 and Note 5 have 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 32GB or 64GB of UFS 2.0 flash memory, the Galaxy S7 has much more advanced processors (both CPU and GPU), always-on display, the ability to expand its internal memory, IP68 dust and water repellency and an improved camera area.
The Note 5 does have they larger display and S-Pen – if you like those sort of things, which I do. However, looking at these two devices for the masses, I believe more users will benefit from the better processors and other Galaxy S7 details. If you must have an S-Pen and its capabilities, then the Galaxy Note 5 will not disappoint its owner in any manner, but if you want the latest technology in a daily driver, you should love the new Galaxy S7.