Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs iPhone 5 video comparison

by: Bogdan PetrovanOctober 6, 2012

note 2 vs iphone 5

How do you compare two devices that are as different as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the iPhone 5? The simple answer is you don’t. You don’t compare a Ferrari to a Bentley. But what if you have to compare them?

Truth is, many people want to see how the two top smartphones of the moment fare against each other, even if they are polar opposites in terms of… well, everything. With that said, here’s our Galaxy Note 2 vs iPhone 5 comparison, along with a hands-on video review. Enjoy.

Not enough time? Jump straight to the Video Comparison or the Pros and Cons.

Check our full review of the Galaxy Note 2!


galaxy note 2 vs iphone 5 spec sheet


It’s a David vs Goliath story here. The iPhone 5 display’s (while a bit larger than the previous generations) it’s still just four inches, which for many (me included) is simply too small. The Note 2 dwarfs the iPhone, with a 5.5-inch display that brings it close to tablet territory.

What the iPhone 5 lacks in size, it makes up in quality. The Retina display (326 ppi) is super-crisp, accurately calibrated, and bright, while the contrast levels are probably the best in class. If you spend lots of time outside, the iPhone 5 is a good choice, thanks to that high contrast rating for ambient light.

But the Note 2’s display is equally impressive. At 1280 x 720 resolution, the massive HD Super AMOLED panel has a lower pixel density than the iPhone, but it still maintains its crispness. Unlike the Galaxy S3, the Note 2 features a true RGB stripe sub-pixel pattern, albeit an unusual one, with oversized blue sub-pixels. Samsung opted for this unique pattern to prolong the lifespan of the display, because blue sub-pixels generally burn out faster than the other colors.

If you are fan of the super saturated colors rendered by AMOLED displays, you will love the Note 2, while the iPhone 5 has a much better color reproduction. I would say that (unless you love AMOLED) the iPhone has the better display overall, but the experience is marred by its diminutive size.

galaxy note 2 vs iphone 5

Build quality and design

Another tough department to compare, because people either like or dislike a design. For me, the aluminum and glass iPhone 5 looks better than the Galaxy Note 2, but some of you might disagree.

In spite of its massive size, the Note 2 is thin enough (thinner than the original Note) to feel smaller than it actually is. Yes, it’s still somehow cumbersome to use as an actual phone, but that’s the price you have to pay if you want a tiny tablet in your pocket.

Both the iPhone 5 and the Note 2 passed our drop tests with flying colors (unlike the GS3), even if the iPhone 5 boasts an almost indestructible metal case, while the innards of the Note 2 are protected by a thin plastic cover that is prone to popping out. Using a case is still a good idea.

The iPhone 5 loses durability points due to its anodized aluminum cover being prone to scuffing. If you use it without protection, you will eventually end up with nicks and scratches on it.


If we were to judge the two phones solely by their specs, the Galaxy Note 2 would certainly be the winner. It features 2GB of RAM versus 1GB on the iPhone 5; the Exynos 4 Quad processor on the Note 2 is on par with or better than the iPhone’s A6 chip (see the benchmarks in the video). Plus, the Note 2 has some features that are absent altogether from the iPhone 5, such as removable battery, microSD card slot, and NFC.

With that being said, we don’t recommend that you buy your phone based on spec sheets alone. User experience often depends on the integration between software and hardware, and that is where the iPhone 5 excels. Apple’s smartphone also shines in the camera department, which takes nicer pictures than most other phones currently on the market.

If however, you want to be able to use SD cards, or swap batteries, or use NFC, the Note 2 is the way to go. In addition to all this, the Note 2 totes the S Pen, a capacitive stylus that really adds a new level of usability to the device, and allows you to take full advantage of its massive screen.

galaxy note 2 vs iphone 5

Software and ecosystem

Samsung has baked many unique features in the Galaxy Note 2, with an emphasis on the S Pen specific ones. For instance, pulling the stylus out of its slot automatically brings up a notes app, for those times when you need to write something down while talking on the phone (with a headset preferably). Hovering the tip of the stylus over various design elements lets users accomplish tasks easier – for instance, hovering over a folder will bring up a preview of its content.

Perhaps the most impressive software feature of the Note 2 is the multi-tasking mode. You can have two windows open at the same time, just like on your PC. You can watch a presentation and write notes down, without endlessly switching between applications. Multi-window mode is something that we’ve been waiting for a long time in Android, even if Samsung’s implementation needs more work.

popup note galaxy note 2

iOS 6 shines when it comes to ease of use and fluidity. Apple polished its mobile operating system to perfection over the years, and, if you are looking for that, you can’t get any better. However, many users will find the walled garden model promoted by Apple limiting. Android offers more customization options, and more freedom in general.

Another area where Apple has the edge is the ecosystem. While Google has made great progress when it comes to its app store, for movies, music and other media, the iTunes/iOS combo is still king.

Video comparison: Galaxy Note 2 vs iPhone 5

Note: in the video, we mistakenly tested the iPhone 5 camera in HDR mode. The camera is faster when HDR is off.

Pros and cons

Galaxy Note 2 pros

  • The huge screen is great for productive users and media fiends alike
  • Powerful hardware and more features; more future-proof
  • Great for working on the go, thanks to the stylus and the specific apps

Galaxy Note 2 cons

  • Too large and heavy for many users
  • Cheaper build
  • Android updates are problematic

iPhone 5 pros

  • Great build quality
  • Pocketable and lightweight
  • Great ecosystem
  • Simple OS updates
  • Easy to use

iPhone 5 cons

  • Simplistic and dated operating system
  • The display is small
  • Less flexible and less customizable
  • No microSD slot and NFC

Wrap up

The two phones we compared today are simply too different to claim that one is superior to the other. If you are not turned off by the Note 2’s gargantuan figure, it really is the more powerful smartphone. But if you crave  the most polished user experience possible, choose the iPhone 5.

It all boils down to the pros versus cons and what you are willing to sacrifice. You know our choice – what is yours?

  • peters

    The I-turd is no where near comparable to the Samsung Note 2.

    • Myk

      You’re not adding anything to the discussion

      • iPhone vs Android arguments are getting quite old, they both serve their purpose for which the user prefers. This is like a windows vs OSX argument, to each their own

        • True, but I dont think It should be an “argument”. I like my current iPhone, but after seeing the Note2 on sale, Its good to get some comparisons of what its like compared to an iPhone, so I know the pros n cons before I commit to buy. But, I dont agree with “iPhone IS better” or “Android IS better”, so each to their own as you say.

  • NicholasMicallef

    AFAIK all versions of the Note II have 2GB of RAM

  • With all the issues i5 has how is it that i continually see review of i5 versus android products bagging android but praising i5 build quality ?

  • Sdtrmg

    I like how this wasn’t a biased article and how the writter listed decent pros and cons for each.

  • Great article and yes, @8994ce806a7c357a81509f42d8d73a46:disqus I saw it was AndroidAuthority and thought it would blast Apple and be biased, but it was actually very informative! Im still thinking of getting the Note2 thanks to this article tho…However…I will be keeping my iPhone 4 too! Until I see how silly/not silly I look holding such a big phone to my ear to make phone calls ;)

    • Myk

      Meh, a Bluetooth headset is much more comfortable than holding any phone to your head.

      • Vboom

        Comfortable yes but then you become “that guy with a bluetooth headset”
        Currently have the iPhone 5 but love the look of the note 2 as a phablet around the home, like a land line replacement.

        • Myk

          Given the people wandering around with big-arse clamshell headphones on these days, a discreet Bluetooth headset is hardly noticeable.

          • Vboom

            Your absolutely right. I am guilty of that one. Not the beats ones though for the record

        • Or if they cant see your bluetooth headset, its “that guy who talks to himself” ;)

    • This is a very funny complaint i hear often i have the note 1 and i have owned the iphone 4 there like chalk and cheese the iphone is a cutsie more girls phone to chat and txt, the note is a portable personal computer a bit like the note is a computer trying to be a phone and the iphone is a phone trying hard to be a computer but until apple can send every attachnent like the note can in an email it just dosent measure up as an allrounder! and as for the big phone to ear thing if i had a dollar for every big set of cans on a young persons ears i would be rich, please dont tell me the headphone cans are more cooler than a note on the ear LOL

  • One problem with the iPhone 5 is that it will have recompression artifacts when playing back videos. Downloads will be 1280x720p. In order to play the images back on the non-standard 1136×640 display (ie, not the MPEG standard 1280×720 720p or 1920×1080 1080i), the image-stream will have to be resized and recompressed to fit the display.

    This will induce recompression artifacts, adding block-artifacts to the video. I was the lead broadband compressionist for Sony Pictures before I retired, and you DON’T want resizing artifacts from going to a weird 1136×640 display resolution (the various mpegs were designed to easily resize 1080i and 720p back and forth for use on either 720p or 1080i home TV displays).

  • “But if you crave the most polished user experience possible, choose the iPhone 5.”
    Yeah and then download google maps after hearing Apple CEO giving you their apology!
    Sharper images and better camera my ass, Also with new feature purple haze!
    Think I will take the Note 2 thanks to replace my old 3GS.
    Here is just a sample of mainly last years phones that take micro USB
    BlackBerry: Pearl Flip 8220, Pearl Flip 8230, Storm 9530, Storm 2 9550, Curve
    8900, Pearl 9100, Curve 8520, Curve 8530, Curve 3G 9300, Curve 3G 9330, Tour
    9630, Bold 9700, Bold 9650, Torch 9800, Style 9670, Bold 9780

    LG: Glance
    VX7100, enV2 VX9100, enV3 VX9200, Chocolate 3 VX8560, Chocolate Touch VX8575,
    Flare, Lotus Elite / Mystique, AX155, enV2, Versa VX9600, Dare VX9700, enV Touch
    VX11000, LX290, Lotus LX600, AX585, Banter AX265, AX300, AX830, AX155, AX310 /
    UX310, UX585, Bliss UX700, Tritan UX840, UX220, LX400, UX300, UX830, VX8610
    Decoy, VX8360, Lotus LX600, Secret CF750, CF360, LX370, Rumor 2 LX265, Lyric
    MT375, Shine II, Ally, Arena GT950, VX5500, VX5600, Rumor Touch, eXpo GW820,
    Cosmos VN250, Fathom VS750, Remarq LN240 / Imprint MN240, Vu Plus GR700, Prime,
    Sentio, GU 295, dLite, GS170, Clout, Encore, Neon II, Optimus S, Optimus T,
    Optimus M, Octane, Quantum, Vortex, Cosmos Touch, Apex, Revolution / Esteem,
    Saber, G2x (T-Mobile), Thrive, Thrill, Genesis, Cosmos 2, Envoy, Enlighten,
    Marquee, 800G, C100, Optimus Slider, DoublePlay, Nitro HD,

    Motorola: MOTO Z6c, MOTO Z9, Zine ZN5, E8, Q9h, RAZR2 V8, RAZR2
    V9, RAZR2 V9m, RAZR2 V9x, Adventure V750, i410, RAZR VE20, Hint QA30, Karma QA1,
    Stature i9, i290, Clutch i465, Rival A455, Entice W766, MOTO i776w, Crush W835,
    Quantico W845, Barrage V860, Droid, CLIQ, CLIQ XT, DEVOUR, BACKFLIP, Brute i680,
    VE440, Renegade V950, Rapture VU30, i890, Debut i856, i296, i1, Droid X, Droid
    2, Droid Pro, CHARM, GRASP, DEFY, FLIPOUT, FLIPSIDE, Citrus, Bravo, ES400, CLIQ
    2, ATRIX 4G, DROID BIONIC, DROID X2, XPRT, Clutch+ i475, i412, Theory, Droid 3,

    Nokia: 6205, Intrigue 7205, N97, 1606, 3606,
    Mural 6750, Twist 7705, Sable 3711, Shade 2705, 6350, Slide 6600, E72, E73 Mode,
    Mirage 2605

    Samsung: Exec i225, M240, Rant M540, Messager Touch, Messager
    II R560, Caliber R850, M220, M330, Reclaim M560, M320, Rant M540, Highnote M630,
    Freeform R350, TwoStep R470, Exclaim M550, Code i220, MyShot II R460, Omnia 2
    i8000, Omnia 2 i920, Instinct HD S50, Behold 2 T939, Mythic A897, Flight A797,
    Stunt R100, Strive A687, Reality U820, Seek, Stride R330, Restore, Rugby 2,
    Gravity T, :), Gravity 3, Vibrant, Captivate, Intercept, Epic 4G, Haven U320,
    Fascinate, Mesmerize, Acclaim, Gusto, Intensity II, Eternity II, Flight II,
    T369, Craft, A197, T249, A187, Transform, Freeform II, Focus, Evergreen, M360,
    Continuum, Solstice II, Nexus S, T259, Contour, Galaxy S 4G, Gem, Galaxy
    Indulge, Droid Charge, T-Mobile Sidekick 4G, Infuse 4G, Replenish, Trender,
    Dart, Gravity SMART, Exhibit, Conquer, Chrono, Freeform III, Convoy 2, Factor,
    Admire, Epic Touch, Gravity TXT, Galaxy S II (International, AT&T,
    T-Mobile), Stratosphere, Transform Ultra, Transfix, Exhibit II, Galaxy S 2
    Skyrocket, Focus S, Focus Flash, Captivate Glide, Illusion, Galaxy Note LTE,

    Sanyo: SCP-2500, S1, SCP-3800, Miro SCP-3810, Incognito 6760,
    Katana LX, Katana Eclipse, Innuendo

    Palm: Treo Pro 850, Treo 800w, Pre,
    Pre Plus, Pre Plus (GSM), Pixi, Pixi Plus, Pre Plus 2

    Motorola Nextel:
    i576, i776

    Kyocera: Neo E1100, Melo S1300, Mako S4000, Laylo M1400,
    Domino S1310, TNT, Zio M6000, Torino, S2100

    HTC: Nexus One, HD2
    (T-Mobile), Droid Incredible, EVO 4G, Desire, T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide,
    Wildfire, Aria, T-Mobile G2, Merge, T-Mobile myTouch 4G, Surround, HD7, EVO
    Shift 4G, Thunderbolt, Inspire 4G, Freestyle, Incredible 2, 7 Trophy, EVO 3D,
    HD7S, myTouch 4G Slide, Status, Rhyme, Vigor, Titan, Amaze, EVO Design / Hero S,
    Vivid, Radar, Rezound

    Dell Venue Pro, Cricket MSGM8 / II, HP iPAQ
    Glisten, Microsoft Kin One, Microsoft Kin Two, Pantech Jest I/II, Pantech Crux,
    Pantech Laser, Pantech Pursuit II, Pantech Breeze III, Pantech Breakout, Sharp
    FX, Verizon Wireless Salute, Verizon Wireless G’zOne Commando, Sony Ericsson
    Xperia PLAY, Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10A, Sony
    Ericsson Vivaz, ZTE Agent, ZTE Score, TerreStar Genus, T-Mobile Comet, Huawei
    Impulse, Huawei Ascend, Huawei Ascend II, Huawei M835, Huawei Pillar, Cricket
    TXTM8 3G, T-Mobile Sparq
    But Apple have to be different and take more money!

  • hassan

    samsung takes the number…
    samsung has flawless victory.. iphone is nothing as compared to note2