Many phone enthusiasts love the Samsung Galaxy Note line. We(specifically fans of the Note line) have learned to love the Note line for what is different about it, and because it can do so much more than any other device. Note fans don’t buy phones for sexy looks, even though we don’t mind a good looking phone, we buy the Galaxy Note because it has the best display, quickest processor, removeable battery, more standard memory than most devices with the option to add expandable memory, maximum RAM, great camera, and that super useful tool called the stylus. Quite simply, Note fans look to buy the best device they can get their hands on, and we are even willing to pay up to almost a thousand dollars. I am sure all of these reasons don’t apply to each and every Galaxy Note fanatic, but they apply to most.
Samsung Note fans are well educated phone users. Please don’t take this as an insult if you are not a Note fan, because I am sure you are educated too. But typically, Note users have tried many other devices. If Note fans have $800-1000 to spend on one device, they want to make sure they get their money’s worth by making sure the other devices are inferior.
Personally I found stock Android to be boring on the Nexus 6, and even though the Note 4/Note Edge is a large device, the Nexus 6 is just unwieldy. The Moto X, Xperia Z3, HTC One M9 are all great phones in their own right, but they are too small and their displays do not match up to the Note. The G line from LG is great, until about two months pass and then you’re stuck tons of software and hardware issues. All around, the Note is just the best phone you can get.
Samsung made a bold move with the Galaxy S line by focusing on build design rather than functionality. Samsung Galaxy devices have always had great build-quality, but they were never the best looking phones. I argue that real Samsung fans don’t care as much about the looks as much as we care about functionality. Proof is in the sales. The S6 is already discounted because people who want “good looking” phones own iPhones or HTC Ones.
There are a lot of first time Samsung buyers, like Josh Noriega, who finally bought a Samsung, because of the S6 Edge just being “sexy”. Of course, he knew the S6 was loaded up with the latest hardware, so the “sexy” factor is what put him over the hump to buy a Galaxy device. And I do agree with Josh, the S6 is damn sexy, especially in blue, as well as that green which is not sold in the US.
Samsung decided to abandon its most loyal fans on the S6 and take on Apple head to head. When Galaxy Note users first saw the S6, we had a feeling of, “Samsung won’t do the same thing to the Note line” because we always considered the Note line to be sacred. The Galaxy Note line carved its own path, so to divert it down the “sexy” path would never be in Samsung’s best interest, or so we thought…
Knowing the things we know through leaks, images, renders and benchmarks, we can make an assessment if we should buy the next iteration of the Samsung Galaxy Note. Please keep in mind, Samsung may surprise us all and give us exactly what we are looking for on August 13. Let’s get into the comparisons on what we know so far.
All leaks point to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 arriving in the same fashion as the Galaxy S6 with “premium” materials. From images, expect the frame to be metal with a glass front and back panel. Everyone appreciates a good looking phone. But not if it means the back panel is not removable, thus eliminating the ability to swap batteries. For many people, this isn’t a big deal, but for me it is a buzzkill. One of my favorite features, as basic as it seems, it having the ability to swap batteries. It takes 20 seconds to go from 0% power to 100%, and extra batteries are cheap these days. Plus, Note users use their phones much more than the average user which means our battery cycle life is reached faster, and we like to have efficient batteries that maintain a full charge.
The Note 4, in my humble opinion, had the perfect build. The metal frame was a huge upgrade over the Note 3’s plastic frame. The plastic frame on the Note 3 wasn’t a big deal, but the fake chrome chipped off relatively easy and looked ugly. The Note 4 on the other hand, had a painted metal frame, which felt incredibly strong and it also had a removable back plate for my favorite feature of the swappable battery. Even though the plastic cover felt cheap when it was removed, it felt solid once locked back onto the phone. In addition, if a Note 4 user wanted to put on an official Samsung case, you could remove the back cover to replace it with the new case, effectively helping to keep the phone slim. Or you could throw on a wireless charging cover in place of the back panel.
Note 4 back panel
Result – Note 4 design wins.
Note 5 – Exynos 7422 Octa-core processor with 64-bit processing and 4GB of RAM
One of my favorite features of the Note is that it is always released at the end of the calendar year. The Note is the phone that gets the latest processor which is typically used in flagships the following year. With the Note line you always know you will have a powerhouse processor and the Exynos 7422, an upgrade over the Galaxy S6’s 7420, should set the standard for all processors going into 2016. The Note 5 has also been rumored to arrive with 4GB of RAM, presumably to help handling added functionality with things like the S-Pen and dual window features. In summary, the Note 5 should be a beast when it comes to processing.
Note 4 – Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 with 32-bit processing and 3GB of RAM
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 is still a powerhouse. I never ran into lag issues until Google released the most unstable version of software, called Lollipop. Remove the Lollipop bugs and the Snapdragon 805 is one of the best processors I have ever used in a device. 3GB of RAM handles multi-window, S Pen functionality, and multitasking with ease.
I live in San Diego and Qualcomm employs thousands here helping our local economy. Even though the Snapdragon 810 was a blunder and was their own fault, I hate to see Qualcomm laying people off. The jobs that were lost locally are now in Korea/China. Kudos to Samsung for creating a better processor, but I’m more than happy with my Snapdragon 805 if that means keeping jobs in the US.
Result – Note 5 wins even though I want to keep jobs in the US. Having more RAM and more speed is always a bonus, especially for Note fanatics.
All rumors are pointing to the Note 5 maintaining the same display. It should still be the same gorgeous Super AMOLED display with 16m colors in 2k resolution. All fans of Samsung know without a doubt that this is the best display you can get your hands on. The colors and contrast ratio are simply jaw dropping. Don’t you love showing off that display to people who think they have the best? You may or may not show it off, but I love showing iPhone fans the Note 4 display. All they can say is “wow”.
There were some rumors pointing to 4k, but until virtual reality explodes, I doubt we will see a phone with a 4k display. Although, I won’t complain if it does arrive with a 4k display unless it drains the battery too quickly.
LG G3 on the left vs. the Superior Note 4 on the right.
Result – Tie
Note 5 – 3000mAh battery with wireless charging, but without removability
According to the leaked packaging images posted at AndroidCentral, the Note 5 should come with a 3000mAh battery. Battery life should be known to manufacturers as one of the most important things we care about. No one likes a dead battery. We saw the reduction in battery size from 2800mAh in the S5 to 2550mAh in the S6. Now we were told this would be okay because the new Exynos processor would be more efficient thus giving us better battery life. This simply was not true in real life.
The S6 has subpar battery life compared to the S5, and that just is not acceptable. Given that the Note 5 is expected to come with a battery marginally bigger than the S5, I am expected battery life to be subpar. Also with the inability to swap batteries, Samsung truly abandoned its fanbase here. I have one word for Samsung: FAIL.
Note 4 – 3220mAh battery with swappability
The 3220mAh battery wasn’t the best battery, but it also was not the worst. On Kit Kat I could make it through a full day without issue. And for the days I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to a charger, I would just bring an extra battery with me. It’s nice knowing I can push my phone as hard as I want, knowing I can get a full charge with a spare battery or two. It’s much better than trying to fit a battery pack on my phone, as a spare battery is quite small and is not an issue to throw in my pocket. Also, after six months of hard usage, I know that my battery efficiency won’t be the same from the first month’s usage. Knowing I can replace my less efficient battery without tearing my phone apart is comforting. It’s also much cheaper than paying Samsung to swap a battery.
Winner – Note 4 by a longshot.
Storage and Expandable Memory
Note 5 – 32GB, 64GB, 128GB variants. Expected to arrive with a glass back and like the S6 will do away with expandable memory.
Samsung did away with expandable memory in the S series, and their reasoning was expandable memory was too slow. They supposedly have a new type of internal storage where the read/write speeds are incredibly fast. I don’t buy it. Samsung went to the Apple model of charging $100 for memory upgrades. If you wanted 64GB over 32GB you had to pay 100 dollars! Samsung’s profits have been hurting, and extracting cash out of your customers through memory upgrades is simply stupid.
Note 4 – 32GB and 64GB models with the ability to add up to 128GB of expandable memory.
Most people who don’t understand us Note fans think we are crazy for wanting so much storage. The reason why we need that storage is because we actually use it! The Note line is the closest Android phone to a computer replacement. In fact, many of us view our Notes as an extension of our primary computers. We need the space. We need it for pictures, movies, documents, and whatever else our heart desires. Yes we use it and yes we need it. If you aren’t a Note fan then don’t judge us for needing so much space.
As you can see, the differences are minimal here. The Note 4 was one of Samsung’s biggest improvements over previous iterations. Simply put, the Note 4 camera was a great camera. Here you can see the Note 5 has a much improved 8MP front facing camera. As much as I don’t care about front facing cameras, I know selfies are a big thing so having an 8MP selfie camera is nothing to balk at. Cameras aren’t simply measured in megapixels though, as different cameras may pick up low-light situations and colors differently. We don’t know much about how the Note 5 camera performs, but I will assume the 16MP shooter on the Note 5 will be better.
Winner – Note 5, but the Note 4 still has a great camera that I am happy with
Summary – Winner Note 4
As much as I can appreciate a better camera, better processor, and sexy design, I cannot sacrifice expandable memory memory and the ability to swap batteries. The Note 4 is still one of the best performers in benchmark tests, and the camera takes great pictures. When I first started thinking about the Note 5, I was hoping it would come with water resistance and dust protection like the S5 had. That would have been a design/build upgrade I would have loved. The Note 5 is marginally better than the Note 4 when it comes down to specs.
Design wise, they are two different phones like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I don’t know what Samsung was thinking when they took away our favorite features on the Note line, but I do know that Samsung won’t be getting my money this year(it also kills me to see Qualcomm people getting laid off). That saddens me because I love the Note and buying the next iteration as it is always the greatest.
Keep in mind, nothing has been official up to this point, but with the amount of leaks I am guessing most are correct. If Samsung does happen to surprise us all, and they maintain the features that we love, I am sure I will get the next Note.
The other question I have is, what happened to the Note Edge? I love my Edge and actually find the edge display to be very useful on my phone.
Either way, I am hoping for the best on Aug. 13th.
Let us know what you think of the next Note in the comments section. We would love to hear what you have to say.