Starting with the Galaxy S6 earlier this year, Samsung finally introduced the world to a major design overhaul, ditching plastic in favor of a glass and metal unibody design. The new look was well received by consumers and the media alike, though the change wasn’t without its sacrifices. The new design did away with Samsung staples such as removable batteries, microSD, and removable backs. While many were excited to see the Note series get a similar premium upgrade, others weren’t so optimistic about the idea of losing power user staples.

Although the Note 5 might have left behind some of the same staple features as the Galaxy S series, now that the dust has settled, we can safely call the Note 5 one of the best smartphones of the year, and arguably the most technologically advanced at that. Still, for those that crave microSD, removable batteries, and a removable back, the Note 4 remains a solid choice. While the handset is now a year old, the phone has aged very well and is still more than capable with keeping up with most users needs.

The Note 4 and Note 5 both share a lot of similar DNA, but they also represent two different and opposing Samsung design philosophies. For those that are curious how the two phones stack up against one another, this quick look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 4 is just what you’ve been looking for.

Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in August of 2015, but has been updated to better represent how the two phones compare now that the Note 5 has been on the market for a while. This article could be especially helpful for those considering upgrading to a Note 5, or for those that aren’t sure which member of the Note family better suits their needs.


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We’ve historically always seen a separation in design languages when comparing Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S series and Galaxy Note series, but that is no longer the case with the Galaxy Note 5, with a design that is clearly reminiscent of the Galaxy S6, featuring a premium metal and glass unibody construction. We were happy with the new build quality direction Samsung took with the Galaxy S6, and it’s great to see these aesthetic changes make their way over to the Galaxy Note line. The big difference here is the curves along the sides of the back of the Galaxy Note 5, which not only looks great, but allows for the device to rest more comfortably in the hand.

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With its faux leather backing and metal frame, the Galaxy Note 4 isn’t an unattractive device by any means either, but the switch to the new build material with the Galaxy Note 5 gives it a more premium look, and the latter also feels more substantial in the hand, when compared to the plastic leather texture found with the former. There will be some nostalgia associated with the Galaxy Note 4 though, with its removable back cover allowing for access to a replaceable battery and microSD card slot, features that are no longer available on its successor.

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As far as specific design elements go, both devices are actually quite similar, with both featuring the signature Samsung home button up front, integrated with fingerprint scanners in both cases, along with the volume rocker and power button found at their usual positions on the left and right respectively. Noticeable differences are in the move of the headphone jack from the top and the single speaker unit from the back, with both now at the bottom in the case of the Galaxy Note 5. While front-facing speakers is still the best way to go, this placement is still a better option over the Galaxy Note 4’s rear speaker.

All said and done, these are both very attractive smartphones. While Samsung’s decision to go with more premium materials this time around may turn some fans away because of the associated compromises, at least from an aesthetic point of view, the changes are certainly great.


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Both the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy Note 4 feature 5.7-inch Super AMOLED displays with a Quad HD resolution, resulting in pixel densities of 515 ppi. These displays aren’t far off in terms of quality, but as Samsung continues to improve on their display technology, the screen of the Galaxy Note 5 does seem a touch brighter and more vivid. Both displays allow for a fantastic viewing experience in any case, and there are no losers in this department.

See also:

Best Galaxy Note 5 cases & accessories

May 9, 2017

Performance and hardware

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Under the hood, the Galaxy Note 5 features a few notable changes that should make the device faster than ever. This time around, Samsung decided to favor their in-house octa-core Exynos 7420 processor, and backed by 4 GB of RAM, the processing package of the Galaxy Note 5 should result in great performance and smooth multi-tasking. That said, the Galaxy Note 4, with its Snapdragon 805 processor and 3 GB of RAM is no slouch in the performance department either, and we’ve had no problems putting the device through the most difficult of tasks.

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In other hardware is where some key differences are seen, with the unibody design of the Galaxy Note 5 resulting in a lack of a removable battery and microSD card slot, both features that are available with the Galaxy Note 4. Galaxy Note 5 users will have to depend on only the 32 GB or 64 GB of built-in storage, and along with expandable memory, the Galaxy Note 4 also comes with 32 GB of internal storage available.

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While both smartphones feature fingerprint scanners, the touch type implementation found with the Galaxy Note 5 is certainly the one we prefer, compared to the swipe style iteration seen with the Galaxy Note 4. Both devices also comes with heart rate monitors on the back, with the vertical positioning of it on the Galaxy Note 5 making it slightly easier to use.

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Of course, the marquee feature of the Galaxy Note series is the S-Pen stylus, and like previous Galaxy Note devices, the S-Pen itself has also been redesigned and now has a more premium design, that looks a lot more like an actual pen. The Galaxy Note 5 also brings a slew of new features that take advantage of the S-Pen, but it is likely that at least some of these features will also make its way over the Galaxy Note 4 in future updates.

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Not only is the battery no longer removable, but the capacity is also slightly smaller, with the Galaxy Note 5 packing a 3,000 mAh battery, compared to the 3,220 mAh unit of its predecessor. Removing the ability to swap out the battery and reduce the capacity likely won’t fare well in the minds of consumers, but more thorough testing will be required before we can make any final judgments. Both devices do come with fast charging capabilities, and the Galaxy Note 5 also comes with built-in support for both the PMA and Qi standards of wireless charging, while the Galaxy Note 4 requires additional accessories.


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The Galaxy Note 4 features one of the better smartphone cameras around, courtesy of its 16 MP rear shooter with OIS, which is overshadowed only by the current crop of Android flagships, and produces clear, well-balanced shots both indoor and outdoor. It also comes with a 3.7 MP front-facing unit that works well for most users and covers their selfie-taking needs.

The Galaxy Note 5 also comes with a 16 MP rear camera, that is very similar to what is found with the Galaxy S series flagships, and also packs a 5 MP front-facing camera with a wide angle lens. The camera of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are widely regarded as some of the best in the business, and that story should continue with the Galaxy Note 5 as well, and we can’t wait to put this camera through its paces.


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The Galaxy Note 5 runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with the latest iteration of TouchWiz on top, and this version will also soon be rolling out to the Galaxy Note 4 as well. The more toned down version of the TouchWiz UI is a contributing factor to the smooth performance of the device, but that doesn’t mean that it is particularly lacking in features, that take advantage of the new S-Pen.

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On the Galaxy Note 5, when the display is switched off, you can now use the S-Pen to capture a memo and it also comes with a revamped Air Command menu, which blurs most of the screen, and actually looks really good. The S-Pen also comes with a new Scroll Capture feature that lets you capture an entire page (and not just what’s visible on the display) and annotate it using the S-Pen.


Wrap up

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So there you have it for this quick look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 4! With a more robust and substantial design and premium build quality, upgraded processing package and hardware, improved S-Pen stylus, and better software experience, the Galaxy Note 5 is certainly a worthy successor, but Samsung fans will certainly wax nostalgic about the removable back cover, replaceable battery, and expandable storage that are available with the Galaxy Note 4.

As for which you should buy? The Note 5 is the obvious choice if you want to be on the bleeding edge of tech. For those that are looking to save some money, or who can’t live without some of the missing staples removed from the Note 5, the Note 4 still remains a great choice however.


Joshua Vergara
Writer, blogger, and videographer - Josh is a former support technician that learned much about technology by fixing everyone else's. On the side, he wrote and performed spoken word, maintained his own personal blogs, and began his own video podcast. Now, he's here at Android Authority looking to put it all together!
  • Bishop

    The Note 4 will be my last Samsung phone. A 3,000 mAh battery, 64GB max storage, non-removable or expandable. Removal of the third mic, now down to just 2 mics and no IR Blaster. Pretty much the same camera sensor as the Note 4, just the improved version the GS6 got. A blown up GS6 really. The GS6 Edge + is the only interesting thing to come out of this, for those that just want the look. They can make it as pretty as they want, I’ll look elsewhere when I need to buy a new phone. Shame that Samsung brought the “pretty” design of the GS6 to the Note line. I was hoping the S Line would be the pretty phone for the masses and the Note would continue to be for the power users, but oh well. I’m a fan of tech, not the company.

    • 007

      I agree withcha, I’m sticking with my Note 4.Other than improved processor ,No Reason to Rush out For da Note 5

    • SnakeSplitskin

      keep your Note4 and keep on whining that you won’t be upgrading. And let’s face it, you really are whining. Us Note 5 owners will still be laughing at you. You’ve got lag issues anyway and it’s only going to get worse if you try to run Marshmallow. So go ahead and bash Samsung and the Note 5. On a brighter note, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to swap a battery to keep that laggy older software experience and features going all day long. Priorities.

      • DBS93

        Ahahaha. Sir, please, stop that. Your comment is pathetic. Are you done bragging on your note 5? Hahahahaha ridiculous…

        • SnakeSplitskin

          Not yet! It’s still an awesome phone!

      • Bishop

        Lol at commenting on such on old comment about an old device. This topic would have been relevant a few months ago when the Note 5 first came out.

        • SnakeSplitskin

          Hahaha, lol. Yes, Bishop, you are totally right. I didn’t realize my mistake until after I posted it. I forgot that AA likes to retread its old articles and hence I forgot to check when the posts were originally posted. My bad if I offended anyone as my comments are unnecessary. As for it being pathetic (@ DBS93), hell no. Notice I’m not bragging on anything specific to the Note 5. My whole point was to draw attention to the whining which seems to be for the sake of whining and nothing else.

      • Badelhas


      • Jonathon Rios

        Two idiot’s who bought into samsung fighting with each other lol you both made the wrong choice.

        • SnakeSplitskin

          Let me spare you some precious time. Please take your a$$ back to Apple. Why you detoured over to Android with your foul stench I have no idea. Perhaps you thought Apple was a bad choice after owning how many iterations of Iphone? But you go ahead and enjoy your 6P with its shattering camera visor or whatever you call it, it’s inconvenient fingerprint sensor which requires you to pick up your phone off the desk just to view notifications and its overall lack of feature because it is, afterall, vanilla android. You’re just another idiot from Apple who made the wrong choice to comment on AA.

          • Jonathon Rios

            My last name isn’t Apple first off. Second I only owned an iPhone for 1 year and it was the iPhone 4. My current phone is a Note 4 on Verizon that is currently trying to get hot enough to explode since 5.0.1. And the poor design choices of not just Samsung but ALL 2015 phones have been really poor. Battery life was sacrificed in every major flagship this year, including iPhone. I tried a Moto X 2015 but the poor camera made me send it back. Go back to fighting with that other idiot. I hate phones.

          • SnakeSplitskin

            YOu hate phones so much that you had to come to AA to grace us with your “I hate phones” attitude. No one cares.

          • Jonathon Rios

            I hate phones.

          • SnakeSplitskin

            “I like lamp”

      • Everybody will be laughing at you when your Note5 battery starts bloating. It will be as soon as 6months from now.

        • SnakeSplitskin

          lol. yes, the man with the crystal ball knows all. You’re funny. You were so smart that after experiencing “bloated/swollen” batteries (your words) in your Note 3, you just had to go out and buy the Note 4 having full faith that you’ll still encounter the battery issue. Given that the swappable battery you’ve been having a problem with is different than the battery installed on the Note 5, I don’t believe we’ll have to worry about swollen battery syndrome (if it even exists). Truth is, 6 months from now I’ll still be happy with my Note 5 and you’ll be trying to sell your Note 4 on Ebay. So yeh, I’m still laughing at you.

          • Sorry to inform you that Lithium-Ion batteries are the same technology that has been around for some time. It is gum-like flexible. And a little wet. If there is a technology in between that can differentiate it, it’s just the method of how it is packed.
            Anyway, it’s not all about the battery that made Note5 unappealing to me – IT IS MAINLY THE………..Dropping of the IR BLASTER.

          • SnakeSplitskin

            Your reasoning would imply that all of these Lithium-Ion batteries that use the same technology will all bloat. Clearly batteries are differentiated by how the technology is implemented. Are you trying to say that the internal non removable battery is implemented the same way as the replaceable batteries? Don’t be a sucker. And I’m so sorry that you can’t buy a newly released phone anywhere that has an IR blaster. I suppose you won’t be buying any new smartphone…ever.

          • This is my memory of my Note3 battery experience…. At some point once upon a time with my Note3, I noticed occasional heating and quick drain of the battery. This is commonly observed by other Note3 and Note4 users during KitKat days. My main suspect is the Android OS which was still adjusting to the new environment. And this maybe the reason why my batteries bloated that early.

            With the Lollipop which is mainly tuned to the battery issue, I did not notice the same problem again (with my Note3 and Note4). My Note3 has 2 new batteries I bought from Amazon before I gave it to my mother. I hope that with the Android Lollipop already on my Note3, that swelling condition will not happen so soon.

            Note5 will soon be treated with Android M and so expect it should take more better care of your battery.
            In a short optimistic sentence; [I don’t expect you (Note5 users) to experience the same battery issues as I had with my Note3.]

          • Sean Comer

            My lg v10 has an ir blaster and imho is better than my wife’s note 5

          • SnakeSplitskin

            So what’s your point, that you are better than your wife? And I’ll admit, I forgot that there was one phone released with an IR blaster. All the reason everyone should buy that phone….for the IR blaster. right.

          • Sean Comer

            6 months from now the note 5 will be old and the gs7 will be out.

          • SnakeSplitskin

            all 2015 phones will be old when the gs7 comes out. Did you actually have a point?

    • SamsaraGuru

      … “I was hoping the S Line would be the pretty phone for the masses and the Note would continue to be for the power users.”

      But, alas, that presupposes that the people running the show at Samsung possess commonsense enough to not discount, not marginalize, not throw away an already eager market of millions of potential buyers they already had while trying to imitate Apple. A Level of marketing awareness they obviously, stupidly do lack.

    • Jenny

      Samsung Phones like Note 5, S6, S6 Edge and more is now on sale below

  • droidtomtom

    Great quick review.
    Yikes! The anti-Galaxy Note smartphone. Elephants around the world mourn. Fingerprint magnet, no usb-c, no 128GB version, no extSD, puny battery.
    I like the new S-Pen.

  • CarlosSW

    I’m sorry… But Sammy dropped the ball. No 128gb version, no removable battery or expandable memory… Oh but it’s got a glass back you won’t ever see since it’s gonna go in a case. Brilliant. Nice. I’m totally lost as to what my next phone will be. Thanks Sammy. You suck

    • mechris3

      I agree with every single word you say here. I have just heard that the Note 5 is not going to be released in the UK (or not initially anyway). This is not as disappointing to me having seen how it compares with the wonderful Note 4.

      • CarlosSW

        How do they call the nite series the phone for power users yet only have 64gb version? So now I either goto an LG G4, note 4 or the Motorola x play. Great…

    • stilkus

      128gb was not dropped and honestly very few opted for the overpriced storage anyways. you could still buy a usb flashdrive with a microusb port, those things are cheap and very useful. Again for people who don’t appreciate design and hide their phones in covers/protective cases, it’s up to you and for myself I stay alert with my high tech gadgets and only add a screen protector.

    • Zen

      I can work around non-sd and pay for the 64gb, but I can’t fix the battery, and then they make it smaller. That’s an insult. I was exclusively Samsung, but I too have no idea what phone I will buy.

  • STZ .

    :( no removable battery, no sd card slot, fragile glass back, and kinda useless edge. This doesn’t feel like an upgrade. Put all that crap on the Galaxy line, the Note series should be feature rich not all bling with no substance. I just wanted the Note 5 to be a Note 4 with a de-bloated, light touchwiz and the upgraded exynos SOC, leave the rest. I personally like the plastic back on my Note 4, I scratch it… throw it away and get a new one, it cracks? who cares; get a new one. I will just keep my exynos Note 4. It is a sad day for Note fans……. oh and Samsung, call this what it is, a Galaxy S6 Plus + S-pen

  • arcil mendez

    great u guys built an awsome iphone -_-

    • You idiot

      Shut it moron

    • Maurice Daniels

      He is right Samsung will be just like htc by next year

  • Sad day

    Usually I savor every morsel of Samsung Note release info, this time I skimmed it. No 128gb?wtf? Are you purposely trying to shoot yourselves in the foot?? Samsung really sucks now. Rip 2015. I don’t want heat trapping glass back non heat conducting bullshit, ya I want a phone that delivers terrible function over form. Samsung must thinks were all just mindless drones to offer up this turd. I’ve been keeping up with the rumors of this release so I’m a was disappointed long before today. What a mess you’re making Samsung. This must be how the bin Laden family felt of Osama. I actually wish I could get my note 3 back over the 4. It was lighter & stayed ALOT cooler under warm conditions. If you haven’t figured it out yet… I won’t be getting anywhere near the note 5. I don’t even want to hold it.

    • Dan

      Agree with everyone here and I will make a not so bold prediction. The note 4 will outsell the note 5. You wait and see. I could have lives with the non removable battery but no 128 gb option is a deal breaker now I’m going to either get one of the new 128gb SanDisk cards for 59 dollars and carry a note 4 with whopping 160gb storage or go with either a moto x style 5.7 inch or dare I say an iPhone 6s plus.

  • Pez Smith

    It’s good they upgraded the SoC.
    Personally think the new one is better looking than the old.

    • Syndicat Lpe

      I personally dont think so. The design is totally going after iPhone. They try to bring some ifan in the club in believing that samfun wont leave them bcos they have premium look, what they r crying for years.

      • Pez Smith

        Trying to convert iPhone users to Galaxy phones is a fool’s errand.
        But it does improve build quality for Android users. :P

        • DAN, NICOLE Tylij

          Very disappointed in the note 5. I have a Note 3 skipped the Note 4 and waited for the Note 5. Well guess what I will be buying the Note 4. I’m a power user and like the external micro SD slot and the option to swap batteries.

          • Pez Smith

            Europe doesn’t even get that choice. :P

  • Krishna Kiran

    Its a galaxy s6 with a s pen, where is the note? It was supposed to be a power horse, swap batteries if you need, put 128 gb sd cards to have extreme capacities, where is the point of that? That is not a note, that is a bigger iPhone 4 with a stick in its ass

  • Jarrett Zarate

    Why are you comparing a brand new phone with a phone that is about to be replaced in a few weeks?

    • Jennifer L. Anderson

      Because the new phone isn’t as good as the one it’s replacing. No point in upgrading.

  • Choo Choo

    Aesthetics, substantial design and premium build, But after a year your battery will significantly degrade, and there is nothing you can do but watch it slowly die, and then buy a new phone.

  • Noam Winter

    Unfortunately, the replaceable battery and external memory card are not optional for me, and I won’t be buying any handsets from any manufacturer without them, if they are offered by Samsung or anyone else, for that matter. This is non negotiable for me.

  • beri

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway as usual!!

  • BH

    You are certain the new Note 5 will be a best seller? Perhaps for those only wanting fluff and flash. Those wanting the dependable multi-tasking workhorse the Note line always represented will obviously choose the Note 4 or leave Samsung altogether. I know I will be looking at the Note 4 as my last Samsung purchase.

  • k24hybrid

    Nice exterior and 4 gig of RAM, but should have an option of more memory.

  • Jun Yang

    I bet any money some of these people complaining about Samsung entered giveaway for Note 5…. Typical hypocrites

  • Alan Campbell

    They COULD have brought back the USB 3.0 connector of the Note 3, updated it to the new USB 3.1 standard – would have been a market leader. Instead they chose to get rid of more distinguishing features. The only thing left now is the stylus.
    How much cheaper is the Note 4, now that the Note 5 has been released?

  • Fen

    ” With a more robust and substantial design”
    How robust? As in *bust* when the back shatters as you drop it with the sound of a BLING.
    Did the bimbo reviewers of all genders possible, misspell “substandard” in the pursuit of possible company bonus rewards?
    How can *FORM stooping FUNCTIONS* be allowed by writers and readers to go on and on.
    Get a grip and stop this trend of mutual admiration for form over functions.
    We’re looking at you, Techie hooters.

  • Drew

    Solid comparison list. I’m on the fence about the Note in general. I don’t need mega storage all at once, so the only hesitation is battery condition….really, if it maintains well for two years, that’s the margin in question…which, it probably will.
    thanks for the write-up. It’s too early to tell, but the N4 just seems more on-point for the cause.

    • I have experienced my Note3 batteries. Both batteries bloated/swollen after 10months. And considering that I swap the 2 batteries periodically.
      I have no regrets having my brand new Note4 a week before Note5 was launched.
      If Samsung want to be winner, then it should think very carefully what Note6 will be like.
      They can fool Galaxy S line users. But no way Note line users can be fooled.

  • StanLee TOOL

    iPhone and Samsung are both employing too much quality control. There’s nothing “nostalgic” about storage. They just want to sell it to you separately, along with battery AND breakable useless edges and WITHOUT waterproofing.

    I just got my superior Note 4 for $200 less than Note 5. I’ll add lenses and attempt to debloat. Plus, additional storage will make it faster.

  • StanLee TOOL

    In 2013, Samsung publicly rolled a working screen up like a cigarette (u tube). Now, multiple components are included in one processor (or whatever). I’m not buying anything after a Note 4, until they finally release the 10 inch screen that folds into a 5 inch phone, which they’ve been bragging about as long as Google with Project Ara (who boasts separate storage as a way of the future, lol).

  • kzmcmn

    I used both of the cellphones mentioned above (now I am using Note 5, I gave Note 4 to my wife after 3-months-usage). Note 5 is far more elegant cellphone ever. Design is perfect, better than iPhone 6 Plus as well. Photo and camera quality is much more higher than it’s precedessors. S pen is much more sensitive (if you push lesser it draws thin lines, push harder thick lines, I mean). Also you can customize the pop-up options for s-pen. You can also customize screen lay-out and increase apps in the screen. To use fingerprint is easier than note 4. You can make folders at the lowest side of the phone, so you can quickly access your most favourite apps (note 4 can hold max. five application). Speaker is under the cellphone, so you can hear and use it easily. Note 4’s speaker is at back cover so, I couldn’t hear if I put the phone screen up (you understand what I mean, my English is not good). 32 gb is very enough for me, so I do not need expandable storage. 4 GB RAM and new processor make this phone perfect (of course for now:), I do not take selfies but 5 MP open wide front camera is good for my wife :) Anyway, if you buy a new one, that must be Note 5. Upgrade, it is your decision but I upgraded and I am contended about it.

    • Maishida

      Um, do you understand that not everyone thinks the same way as you? Many people including myself are very upset about the changes samsung has made, people who have purchased a Note 5 and are fine with how its made will call us who want a powerful phone as the Note 4 whiners. But no, no removable battery which in my experience battery bloating is in fact real, as well as the fact that your paying 800 dollars and dont have the luxury to not have to worry about having to delete important files because you no longer have any space. Samsung is about to lose a big portion of their trusted consumers if they continue this terrible route.

  • I bought the Note 4 one day after the Note 5 was announced. And it was no accident. Seeing what a cripple Samsung made of this Note, I needed an update for my Note 3 that will be able to last until the Note 6 comes, hopefully with all the things the Note 5 so badly lacks:
    – the Note line’s infinite storage with the easy expandability
    – the Note line’s infinite battery life with replaceable batteries
    – the Note line’s durability and easily replaceable back plates
    – the Snapdragon CPU which enable the Note 3 and 4 to wake by voice
    – the IR remote I use constantly: from remotely exposing my DSLR to controlling all my home devices. If you taste the freedom of this, there is no way to go back.

    • I bought my Note4 a week before Note5 launch. I’m happy and no regrets with that decision.

      • BH

        Ditto here. Once the Note 4 receives its OS update it will have all the features the Note 5 has and more

    • Louis Mario Lipp

      I agree. I have a Note 4 and for the past several years have swapped phones at the slightest provocation (every year, that is). I consider the Note 5 a downgrade, for my use.

  • Jonathon Rios

    After how badly owners of the note 4 on verizon have been treated I will never buy another Samsung phone even it’s a developer edition. If I’m not happy with the Nexus 6P when it arrives then I’m going back to apple.

  • No microSD, no removable battery….No thanks :(

  • Louis Mario Lipp

    Is there another pen based phone out there? I’m afraid samsung is sabotaging itself off the market.