The Galaxy S6 marked a turning point for Samsung. It was the company’s first flagship smartphone to feature its new super premium design language. Though Samsung ultimately left out a few notable features from the device, it’s hard denying that the S6 is an attractive device. The company ended up bringing over that same design language to the Galaxy Note 5, which turned out to be one of our favorite Android handsets of last year.

Now that the Galaxy S7 is official and Samsung has made some improvements, we thought it seemed fitting to pit these two handsets against one another. Without anymore delay, let’s take a quick look at the Samsung Galaxy S7 vs the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.


Aside from the larger chassis of the Note 5, both of these handsets look quite similar. They both feature an aluminum frame with glass front and back panels, and they both feel extremely nice in the hand. This is thanks in part to the curved edges on the back panels of both phones, which Samsung first employed on the Note 5. We were big fans of this subtle design tweak last year, so we’re happy the change made its way to the Galaxy S line.


The buttons on the S7 and Note 5 are for the most part in the same place as well. The power button sits on the right edge, the volume keys are on the left, and the bottom side holds the 3.5mm headphone jack, speaker grill and Micro USB port. This is one similarity we wish Samsung would have changed this time around. While most other manufacturers are making the switch to USB Type-C, Samsung is lagging behind in this area for some reason. Of course, for many who aren’t ready to make the switch to a new port – and buy all the needed cables for this change – this might not be considered a downside.

And in traditional Note style, the Galaxy Note 5 also comes with an embedded stylus that can be stowed away to the right of the speaker grill.


Up front, the S7 sports a 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display, while the Note 5 packs a 5.5-inch screen of the same type. Both are really bright, clear and provide punchy colors, just like we’re used to seeing on a Samsung flagship. In this case it’s not really worth trying to decide which one is necessarily “better” in quality, rather which size is right for you. If you’re using the device for lots of multimedia consumption and aren’t worried about the bulkiness of the device, you might want to choose the Note 5. Alternatively, the S7 provides a similar display experience while remaining compact enough for the majority of users out there.

Under the displays of both phones sit physical home buttons with embedded fingerprint sensors. Both home buttons look very similar to one another, but the one on the S7 is much more flush with the body of the phone, while the Note 5’s home button sticks out a bit more.

samsung galaxy s7 first look aa-14

Samsung brought back two big features to the S7 that it removed from its previous flagship, and the first of those features is dust and water resistance. The Galaxy S7 is rated IP68 for dust and water resistance, meaning it can survive a small splash or tumble without being rendered useless. The Galaxy Note 5 has no dust or water resistance rating, so you’ll need to do your best keep the phablet away from any type of liquid.

The other big feature Samsung brought back this time around is expandable storage! The Galaxy S7 comes with 32GB of on-board storage. If you need more than that, luckily you can now insert a microSD card up to 200GB for more room. Now, the Galaxy Note 5 may not have room for a microSD card, but it does come in 32, 64 and 128GB storage variants (however, the largest size is a Korean exclusive).


Under the hood, the S7 will sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor if you live in the U.S., and most other variants will likely come with a Samsung Exynos 8 Octa processor. Regardless of the variant, the device will be backed by 4GB of RAM. The Galaxy Note 5 is powered by the Exynos 7420 processor and also backed by 4GB of RAM. Both devices are plenty snappy, but this part of the comparison will be much more clear to us after we spend some more time with the Galaxy S7.


Around back the Galaxy S7 sports a 12MP rear camera with an f/1.7 aperture lens. It also comes with larger 1.4µm pixels, which should allow the camera to take in much more light (approximately 25% more, according to Samsung) than the S6’s camera. The Note 5 has a 16MP shooter with f/1.9 aperture. While you may think more megapixels means a better camera, this isn’t really the case here. The larger pixel size with the S7’s camera will greatly help out image quality, both indoors and out. Both smartphones are capable of taking fine shots, but again, we’re going to wait until our full S7 review to comment on camera performance.


Lastly we have software. The Galaxy S7 is running a heavily customized build of Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Samsung’s Touchwiz overlay on top. The company has made a few visual tweaks to the UI this time around, but ultimately it’s the same interface we’re all familiar with. Samsung just recently released Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Note 5, and so far it’s been pretty smooth. One of the biggest differences between the two is that you have the option to remove the application drawer on the S7, giving it a more OS-like feel. LG also removed the app drawer altogether with its G5 flagship, but this change is optional on the S7.

No matter which way you look at it, both of these smartphones have their positives and negatives. The Note 5 provides a great multitasking experience with a big display, while the S7 provides a more compact, sleek and refined all-around experience. We’re looking forward to reviewing the S7 and revisiting this comparison when we’ve spent more time with the device.

What are your thoughts? Which would you choose if given the chance? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Check out more MWC 2016 coverage:

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!
  • Aki I.

    “…while the Note 5 packs a 5.5-inch screen of the same type”
    Note 5 is 5.7..unless everyone else has had it wrong this whole time.

    • Diego Kaku

      Joshua Vergara… Always the worst review

    • Travis Matthews

      Samsung Phones are now available for a discount below

      • Rick

        Acctually it’s saying that the screen size is 5.5″ which is true, the phone itself overall is 5.7″. Screen size and phone size are 2 different things.

        • Bradley

          You are wrong. The screen size of the Note line is 5.7″. The phone itself is measured independently of the screen. The size of the iPhone 6&6s plus are 5.5″

    • Doug Rice

      To get that vital spec wrong shows the incompetent research the writer has done, and takes away from validity and value of the piece.

      • Aki I.

        Although I think the quality of writing has went down hill in many blogs, this included, over the past couple years, I wouldn’t call it incompetent research. And considering Josh has done many articles on the Note 5 where he gets the specs right, I’m willing to toss this one up to maybe lack of sleep from travelling. BUT, it doesn’t excuse the obvious lack of proof reading seen on this site and others. My guess would be they run spell check and call it a day.

        • Doug Rice

          Ok…I’ll give him a pass on this one as well. It’s just to get that particular spec wrong speaks volumes regarding his attention to detail. As an aspiring writer, maybe I’m getting a bit to critical. I’ll ease up a bit…just this once. (Lol…)

          • Ben

            Get over yourself mate – he said he screen was of the ‘same type’ – as in super amoled. He didn’t say same size.

          • Doug Rice

            Get over YOUR self…he indicated an incorrect specification. Others see it. He writes for public consumption, open to any and all criticisms. Who are you to tell me anything. Go sit your Aussie-Ass down somewhere, and stay in your own lane!

          • Bradley

            He specifically stated the size of the Note 5 is 5.5″. This is incorrect.

      • Bradley

        I was thinking exactly the same. Missing out on details shows lack of natural knowledge, and provides evidence of the much needed research needed to write such an article. Anyone writing s piece such as this should know the Note line screen size is 5.7, the same it’s always been.

  • AndroidBrian

    Note 6 will be my next phone. Why will Android dump the app drawer? I mean I don’t care, I use Nova launcher and know that option will always be available. Just weird.

    • Eric

      To appeal more to the average user. AKA not people who skulk around on nerdy websites like us. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it togglable, or have something else in mind.

      • Choda Boy

        Why not just have a Basic or Easy mode for the launcher with these things set the way they believe will appeal to the masses and still allow us to use the Advanced mode with all the options?

  • Brandon Powell

    I think I’m holding out for the Note 6 but would love to see some side by side comparisons of the Note 5 vs the G S7 Edge.

    • Pumpkin King

      And this time around the Note may actually be water resistant

    • Sierra Johansen

      Note 6 never got released. They skipped it and released the Note 7.

  • Doug Rice

    Writer, your whole article is worthless if you don’t even know the size of the Note 5 screen! How can anyone take you seriously if you can’t get that simple fact correct. Waste of time.

    • Ben

      Doug Rice – you are a fool. If you don’t like the reviewer, go elsewhere. I’d love to read a review from you. Josh is one of the most respected and well versed reviewers out there. You are a keyboard warrior at best!

      • Doug Rice

        Screw you! The only fool here is the person that defends an incorrect specification written in an article meant for public consumption! I can be here and anywhere else I damn well please. Who are you to say anything about an observation on accuracy. Keyboard warrior? Only you would know that that lame “name-calling” is supposed to mean. Anyway, go fuck yourself, punk!

        • Joseph Cook

          You want to be “an aspiring writer” yet you can’t properly place your comments in a respectable manner. I suggest you delete your comments and your profile, unless you want people to expose your previous aggressive comments. Companies don’t like attitudes like yours.

  • SRQ Sid

    I am wondering which camera, 12mp or 16mp, is better for video, that is, image stabilization, 4K, etc.? Also which camera’s photos would enlarge better? Raw available on both?

  • Deborah

    I like the color metal better on the Note5 (titanium). The S7 has a champagne color to it’s platinum. To me platinum is white gold or silver not yellow gold or pink. I am also undecided about which to choose from because the S7 seems to have a sharper image with it’s camera than the Note5 and it does have a splash resistance factor. Though I’m in love with the Note5 for it’s stylus pen which I think is a great, handy tool to articulate quick notes or comments on the go. WHICH ONE DO I CHOOSE ?! Samsung needs to join both phones into one to make a really impressive device. Maybe the Note6 will be all that I’m looking for! Anyone know when that comes out?