samsung galaxy note 5 vs lg g4 quick look aa (8 of 10)

Samsung’s impressive Galaxy Note series has long helped to solidify the company’s position at the top of the mobile market, often boasting the best specifications and cutting edge technology ahead of everyone else in the flagship market. This year’s Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ mark a change in design language as the company transitions over to its Edge display technology and premium glass build materials, but has has this new focus affected Samsung’s lead in smartphone hardware?

Let’s delve into the specifications to see how Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 stacks up with other 5.5-inch plus handsets, and see if it still offers the premium edge that customers have come to expect from the Note series.

 Galaxy Note 5LG G4OnePlus 2Moto X Style (Pure Edition)ZTE Axon
Display5.7-inch AMOLED
QHD (2560x1440)
5.5-inch LCD
QHD (2560x1440)
5.5-inch LCD
1080p (1920x1080)
5.7-inch LCD
QHD (2560x1440)
5.5-inch LCD
QHD (2560x1440)
SoCExynos 7420Snapdragon 808Snapdragon 810Snapdragon 808Snapdragon 810
CPU4x 2.1GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
2x 1.8GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.4GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2.0GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
2x 1.8GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.4GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2.0GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
GPUMali-T760 MP8Adreno 418Adreno 430Adreno 418Adreno 430
RAM4GB3GB3GB/4GB3GB4GB
Storage32/64GB32GB16/64GB16/32/64 GB32GB
MicroSDNoYes, up to 128GBNoYes, up to 128GBNo
Unlocked PriceTBA$540$329$400$499

Beginning with the big selling point, the large 5.7-inch display. Unchanged from the size and resolution of last year’s Galaxy Note 4, the Note 5 still offers plenty of screen real estate to get to work on. However, 5.7-inches isn’t really considered all that unusual these days, with larger phones like the Nexus 6 and Ascend Mate 7 offering 6-inch displays and a number of more “regular” smartphones popping up at the 5.5-inch mark, such as the G4 and OnePlus 2.

This year, QHD has become the default resolution for larger smartphones, where the extra pixels actually make the most sense. This display clarity is no longer reserved for the very top tier, with more cost effective smartphones from Motorola and ZTE now matching the Note 5 in pixel density. The exception at this size this year is the OnePlus 2. That being said, Samsung’s AMOLED technology is pretty much the best in the business when it comes to color reproduction, so there is more than just pixel count to consider here.

Moto X Style Hands On-73

Cutting edge display and camera technology can be bought for under $500 these days.

Moving on to processing power, Samsung’s Exynos 7420 from the smaller Galaxy S6 range reappears in the Note 5. This is still the best performing chip in benchmarks this year thanks to Samsung’s compact 14nm manufacturing process, which also benefits power consumption. The GPU is probably the most important difference when compared to other phones, and the ARM Mali-T760 MP8 offers up some extra grunt over the Adreno 430 and should be notably faster than the Snapdragon 808’s Adreno 418 when it comes to pushing out pixels for high resolution gaming. When it comes to day to day performance, all of the smartphones listed above offer a smooth experience.

Samsung has also bumped the RAM count up to 4GB from last generation’s 3GB. Samsung is not alone in offering 4GB of RAM in a large smartphone form factor, but honestly this isn’t something completely worth basing a purchasing decision on. Even the sometimes troublesome Android Lollipop runs perfectly smoothly with 3GB of RAM.

All is good so far with the Note 5, but when it comes to storage options, some consumers are bound to be disappointed. Although the handset packs in familiar 32 and 64GB storage options, the move over to a glass back means that, just like the Galaxy S6, the Note 5 has abandoned the popular expandable microSD card slot. The 3,000mAh battery is also now unremovable as a result, which may prove to be an inconvenience for those who make heavy use of their Note handsets for work.

samsung galaxy note 5 vs lg g4 quick look aa (9 of 10)

You’re going to have to look elsewhere if you’re after a large phone with a microSD card slot and a removable battery.

As for other features, Samsung has packed in a considerable number of extras with the Note 5. Starting with the camera, the same 16 megapixel rear sensor makes it way over from the Galaxy S6, which we certainly don’t have any complaints about. However, the camera in the LG G4 is similarly impressive and the higher resolution sensors in the Moto X Style and Play are said to rival the Galaxy S6 as well. Samsung’s lead appears to be slimming here too.

Up front, there’s a familiar 5 megapixel camera, which is pretty much the standard these days. Other smartphones actually feature higher resolution sensors on the front, which may be a better choice if you are an avid selfie snapper.

 Galaxy Note 5LG G4OnePlus 2Moto X Style (Pure Edition)ZTE Axon
Camera16MP rear
5MP front
16MP dual rear
8MP front
13MP rear
5MP front
20.7MP rear
5MP front
13MP dual rear
8MP front
Battery3,000mAh3,000mAh3,300mAh3,000mAh3,000mAh
LTECategory 6Category 6Category 6Category 6Category 6
Fast Charging?YesQuick Charge 2.0NoQuick Charge 2.0Quick Charge 2.0
Wireless Charging?Qi & PMAQi (optional cases)NoNoNo
Fingerprint Scanner?YesNoYesNoNo
Dimensions153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 mm151.8 x 74.9 x 9.9 mm153.9 x 76.2 x 11.1 mm154 x 75 x 9.3mm
Weight171g155g175g179g175g
Unlocked PriceTBA$540$329$400$499

The Note 5 retains a fingerprint scanner, which means that the smartphone will work with Samsung Pay, when it launches in the US next month. Only a small number of larger smartphones feature fingerprint scanning technology. The Mate 7 and OnePlus 2 are cheaper alternatives, but Samsung perhaps offers the better software here.

Fast charging technology is also present, but most other smartphones work with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 tech for the same sort of result. Wireless charging remains the one area that Samsung is ahead of the competition, but this is probably the one feature that many consumers are likely to overlook.

Of course, the beloved S-Pen remains Samsung’s biggest feature advantage over its competitors and the Galaxy Note 5 boasts a few new additions to make better use of the accessory. If you are after a phone with a stylus, the Note 5 is still probably your best bet.

samsung galaxy note 5 vs galaxy note 4 quick look aa (13 of 16)

In summary, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is a flagship smartphone in every regard, as we would expect. That said, the series now appears to have morphed into just a larger version of the Galaxy S6 with S-Pen features, and some consumers are going to miss those old microSD and battery features. Furthermore, there are now a range of other smartphones with similarly impressive specifications that, perhaps most importantly, cost considerably less than Samsung’s latest handset. Making a decision has never been tougher in the 5.5-inch plus segment of the market.

What are your thoughts about Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5? Impressed or not?

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