Until now, if you were looking for a high-end large display smartphone from Samsung, your choice was limited to the Galaxy Note series. However, that all changed last year, with the availability of the Galaxy S6 Edge+. In 2016, Samsung adopted a different strategy with its new Edge, with the Galaxy S7 Edge featuring a larger display compared to its predecessor, as well as its flagship namesake.
Today we’re pitching against each other the brand new Galaxy S7 Edge and the king of large phones, the Galaxy Note 5. With users no longer wanting for choice, it makes for quite the interesting comparison. We are here to help you find out which device is better suited to your needs, as we take a comprehensive look at the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge vs Galaxy Note 5!
As mentioned, the Galaxy S7 Edge features a larger display when compared to its flagship namesake, with the bump up to 5.5-inches putting it in the size category of the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 5. While there is a slight difference in the display size, the latter does prove to be the much bigger device, courtesy of the fact that Samsung has done a great job with keeping the top and bottom parts around the display of the Galaxy S7 Edge relatively thin.
The Galaxy Note 5 is 3 mm taller and 5 mm wider, which means that there is definitely more of a stretch required when using this device in one hand. The Galaxy S7 Edge is thicker than the Galaxy Note 5 however, but that actually works in its favor, with the camera protrusion on the back not nearly as pronounced anymore.
Of course, there are some noticeable similarities between the two as well, with both devices featuring a premium metal and glass unibody construction, with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 panels found on the front and back of both. Making its way over to the Galaxy S7 Edge from the Galaxy Note 5 are the curves along the sides of the back, which helps the phone nestle nicely in the palm of the hand and helps with grip. That’s particularly important in the case of the Galaxy S7 Edge, which has very little frame to hold on to.
Both devices seen in this review are the darker color options, with the Black Sapphire version of the Galaxy Note 5, and the Black Onyx iteration of the Galaxy S7 Edge. However, the Galaxy Note 5 does have a noticeable blue tinge to it, while the Galaxy S7 Edge is more of a true black, which gives it a sleeker look. The Galaxy S7 Edge also comes with black borders and a darker, less reflective frame, when compared to the shiny silver accents of the Galaxy Note 5, and while this comes to personal preference, we do like the look of the Galaxy S7 Edge more.
All the factors mentioned so far do make the Galaxy S7 Edge appear to be the sleeker device, and that’s without even taking into consideration the gorgeous dual curved edges of its display. There is no real side bezels to speak of here, with the display curving into the frame, creating a screen that seems to be embossed. Even with the screen off, the extra reflections seen as a result of the curved edges makes for a phone that won’t look out of place in a futuristic science fiction movie, and while the Galaxy Note 5 undeniably looks fantastic as well, the Galaxy S7 Edge makes it look like it came out years ago.
Both devices feature Super AMOLED displays with a Quad HD resolution, with the difference in size resulting in the Galaxy S7 Edge coming with a slightly higher pixel density of 534 ppi, compared to the 518 ppi of the Galaxy Note 5. While the difference in pixel density isn’t significant enough to be noticeable, there does seem to be a clear distinction when it comes to color reproduction, with the Galaxy S7 Edge favoring warmer tones. Which you prefer is a matter of personal taste however.
The Galaxy Note 5 gets a little brighter than the Galaxy S7 Edge, but you won’t have any trouble with outdoor visibility with either of these smartphones. Another difference is with regards to the DPI. With the DPI of the Galaxy Note 5 set at 560, you get smaller texts and icons, and a lot more information overall on this display, compared to the Galaxy S7 Edge, with its DPI of 640, which seems like an odd choice, given the almost similar sizes.
The curved sides of the Galaxy S7 Edge do allow for a fantastic display experience. When going back to the Galaxy Note 5 after using the Galaxy S7 Edge for a while, you will feel as though there is quite a distance between the glass you touch and the actual display below it. This could just be an optical illusion that the Galaxy S7 Edge display creates, but the curves do make the screen just feel better. That said, the cooler tones and the higher brightness of the Galaxy Note 5 is what I personally prefer, and along with the lower DPI, its display may still be the one that is technically superior.
Samsung brought Qualcomm back into the fold with the latest Galaxy S flagships, with the Galaxy S7 Edge coming with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, clocked at 2.1 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of RAM. There are versions of the device powered by the Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa processing package as well, depending on the market. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 5 features the octa-core Exynos 7420 processor, clocked at 2.1 GHz, and backed by the Mali-T760MP8 GPU and 4 GB of RAM.
With the Galaxy S7 Edge being the more recent release, it’s no surprise that it brings more to the table in terms of raw power, a fact that can be attested to when looking at the benchmark scores. As far as real world usage is concerned, the Galaxy S7 Edge does load apps a second faster than the Galaxy Note 5, along with better RAM management as well. The memory management issues have still not gone away completely though, but it is seen more often with the Galaxy Note 5.
Oddly enough, the Galaxy Note 5 loads graphic-intensive games faster, but once in the game, you will see fewer frame drops with the Galaxy S7 Edge. However, the difference in gaming performance is largely negligible, and you will have a great time playing games, or doing anything else for that matter, with either device.
A useful addition Samsung has made with the Galaxy S7 Edge is a new gaming mode, that disables incoming notifications and even locks the capacitive buttons, to avoid any interruptions while gaming.
As is expected from all Samsung phones, regardless of any shift to different build materials, you see the signature tactile home button up front, flanked by capacitive back and Recent Apps keys. In both cases, the physical home button also houses a fingerprint scanner, and while these fingerprint readers may not be the fastest around, they are both fast enough, and very reliable. With the extra power available with the Galaxy S7 Edge, the device scans and unlocks the phone a touch faster than the Galaxy Note 5.
Both devices come with the same bottom-mounted single speaker setup, which continues to not be an ideal position for the speaker, with the speaker pointing away from you, while also being easy to cover up when holding the phones in the landscape orientation. The quality isn’t bad however, and while the sound may seem a little tinny, they do get pretty loud. When comparing the two, the speaker of the Galaxy S7 Edge does seem to be a little quieter and weaker than the Galaxy Note 5.
However, that may be because of the protective coating found with the Galaxy S7 Edge, which allows for an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. This means that the phone can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for as long as 30 minutes without any repercussions. It’s great to see this feature return with the current Galaxy S smartphones, and is another advantage in a growing list these devices have over Samsung flagships from 2015.
One of the most controversial aspects of the new design and build quality of Samsung’s high-end smartphones from last year was the removal of expandable storage. The fantastic news here is that Samsung did make a note of user’s complaints, and brought back this feature with the Galaxy S7 Edge, allowing for up to an additional 200 GB of storage via microSD card. This does mean that 32 GB is the only option when it comes to on-board storage, while the Galaxy Note 5 is available in 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB variants. However, buying a comparatively cheaper microSD card to address your storage concerns, instead of having to fork up a premium for a higher in-built storage option, is certainly the better way to go.
The Galaxy Note 5 does have its own advantage in terms of hardware though, with the availability of an even further improved S-Pen stylus. The S-Pen has become a defining aspects of the series, and every iteration has been better than the last, with more being added on the software side as well to support it. Apart from being able to take notes, crop areas of images, circle things, and more, one of the best new features added this time around is screen-off memo which activates when the S-Pen is removed from is slot, which allows you to quick jot down something even when the screen appears to be off. Not everybody needs an S-Pen, but for those who do, this may be reason enough to pick the Galaxy Note 5 over the Galaxy S7 Edge.
The Galaxy S7 Edge may feature the smaller footprint and only be a touch thicker than the Galaxy Note 5, but Samsung managed to squeeze in a much larger 3,600 mAh battery into it, compared to the 3,000 mAh unit of the latter. The Galaxy Note 5 does feature impressive battery life, with the device easily lasting a full day, with around 4.5 hours of screen-on time. With a larger battery, it’s not surprising that you can get more from the Galaxy S7 Edge, with around 5 hours and 15 minutes of screen-on time and longer than a day with moderate usage. The battery of both smartphones is non-removable, but you get all the extras you may need, including fast charging capabilities, as well as support for fast wireless charging, to have you up and running in no time.
Samsung made a big change in the camera department this year, which may seem unnecessary, given the fact that the camera of the Galaxy Note 5 was widely regarded as the best of 2015. Instead of the 16 MP camera seen with the Note 5, you get a 12 MP unit with the Galaxy S7 Edge, which may appear to be a downgrade, but if there is one thing we’ve learnt over the years, it is that megapixel count isn’t everything.
The megapixel count of the Galaxy S7 Edge may be lower, but the pixel sizes themselves are actually larger this time around, which allows for more light to come through, and create brighter images. The aperture is also lower, with the Galaxy S7 Edge coming with a f/1.7 aperture, compared to the f/1.9 aperture of the Galaxy Note 5. Both come with optical image stabilization, and 5 MP wide angle front-facing cameras.
The main difference that is noticeable is that the Galaxy Note 5 is capable of shooting in the 16:9 aspect ratio at its full sensor size, while the Galaxy S7 Edge is limited to 4:3. As far as the quality of shots is concerned, images captured with the Galaxy S7 Edge seems to be a little bit sharper, with a touch more contrast, making for a slightly better picture overall. More often than not, the Galaxy Note 5 will overexpose a shot a little more than the Galaxy S7 Edge, resulting in the loss of a lot of detail in the highlights. Colors on the Galaxy Note 5 are a little warmer, but that’s a good or bad thing depending on your preference. With a lower aperture, the Galaxy S7 Edge allows for a more extreme bokeh effect, with close images as well.
The difference in quality when it comes to outdoor shots is admittedly quite minor, but all that changes when it comes to indoor and low-light situations, with the Galaxy S7 Edge outperforming the Galaxy Note 5 by a significant margin. While the Galaxy Note 5 starts to shift colors to a less saturated look with greenish highlights and purple in the shadows, the Galaxy S7 Edge creates a much sharper image, with more vibrant colors.
To test out the different qualities, I used both cameras in almost pitch dark conditions, where I could barely see anything. The Galaxy Note 5 managed pretty close to what I could see, with it unable to make out any detail. On the other hand, the Galaxy S7 Edge’s larger pixel size almost allows it to see in the dark. The picture is better in every key aspect, with better colors, more brightness, and a lot more sharpness. The Galaxy Note 5 creates a very dark, purple, and smudgy image, while the Galaxy S7 Edge brightens the shot, and creates a much clearer image.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge camera samples
The same difference can be found when recording video as well. There is a lot more grain in the Note 5’s shot, and when moving into darker areas, you start to lose color and sharpness, while the video remains clear and vibrant with the Galaxy S7 Edge. The Galaxy Note 5 camera seems to hunt around a lot more for a point of focus, and even when it does focus properly, it takes a lot longer than the Galaxy S7 Edge, which will focus almost instantly on objects, to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the action.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 camera samples
The front-facing cameras perform about the same, but the Galaxy S7 Edge is a tad sharper and brighter in dark areas. In normal lighting conditions, there isn’t a noticeable difference though. Overall, the Galaxy S7 Edge camera is a huge upgrade over that of the Galaxy Note 5, especially if you take a lot of shots indoor and in low-light conditions.
With this being one of the latest smartphones from Samsung, it’s unsurprising that the Galaxy S7 Edge is running the newest version of Android, Android Marshmallow 6.0, while the Galaxy Note 5 is still stuck with Android Lollipop 5.1.1 at the moment, even though the official update should be making its way over to users soon.
The new version of Android brings with the latest iteration of the TouchWiz UI on the Galaxy S7 Edge, that looks and performs a lot better, with some minor changes that allow for a far more seamless experience. There have been a lot new animations thrown in that help create a unified feel. The recent apps screen allows for more of the apps to been seen, and the notification pull down has a more toned-down and neutral color scheme. The Galaxy Note 5 has the more silly looking blue and green neon colors, while the S7 Edge is white with light blue accents.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge screenshots
This shouldn’t matter too much though, if you take advantage of the Theme store found on both phones, where you can change these colors, and a lot more, to better suit your liking. Touchwiz is just as customizable on the Galaxy Note 5 as it is on the new Galaxy S7 Edge, allowing for even the icon grid to be resized. The Briefing screen returns to the left of the homescreens, but unlike previous Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy Note 5, the lag has decreased significantly on the Galaxy S7 Edge, making it a lot more usable now.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 screenshots
Each big selling point for these phones come with some nice software features, like the S-Pen, which has its own little menu for getting things done, while the curved sides of the Galaxy S7 allow for swipe-in menus and widgets. The Edge capabilities have been improved a lot as well when compared to what was found with its predecessor, and you can hold a lot more contacts, apps, app actions, and others, in place now. The Edge features may not be as robust as what the S-Pen is capable of, so it comes down to how important or useful you think the S-Pen is, and whether it is something that you will be taking advantage of often.
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||Samsung Galaxy Note 5|
|Display||5.5-inch Super AMOLED display|
Quad HD resolution, 534 ppi
|5.7-inch Super AMOLED display
Quad HD resolution
|Processor||2.1 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820|
Adreno 530 GPU
|2.1 GHz octa-core Exynos 7420
|RAM||4 GB||4 GB|
expandable via microSD card up to 200 GB
|Camera||12 MP rear camera, f/1.7, 1.4 µm pixel size, OIS|
5 MP front-facing wide angle camera
|16 MP rear camera, f/1.9, 1.12 µm pixel size, OIS
5 MP front-facing wide angle camera
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac|
|Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
|Battery||3,600 mAh||3,000 mAh|
|Software||Android 6.0 Marshmallow||Android 5.1 Lollipop|
|Dimensions||150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm|
|153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm
So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge vs Galaxy Note 5! The Galaxy Note 5 is the older of the two smartphones, and is also understandably cheaper right now. There is absolutely no question if you are someone who will find the S-Pen to be very useful, but if that isn’t the case, what the Galaxy S7 Edge brings to the table is better battery life, a better camera, expandable storage, dust and water resistance, a more refined design, and of course, a more powerful processing package. If not for the S-Pen, the Galaxy S7 Edge is definitely the better option between the two, with it bringing upgrades over the Galaxy Note 5 in almost every department.