Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs. Galaxy Note 4

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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Galaxy Note 5 (left) and last year's Note 4

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The Galaxy Note 5 is the first version of the stylus-toting phablet that has an all-premium build. Let's see how it compares to last year's model, the Note 4.

Size

No major differences in height and width. The Note 5 is a hair shorter and 4 percent narrower.

Thinness is a big step forward for the Galaxy Note 5. It's 11 percent thinner than the Note 4.

Weight

Weight is only a minor upgrade, with the Note 5 measuring 3 percent lighter.

Build (frame)

Both phones have aluminum frames, though the Note 5's has a more Apple-like design, with its bottom edge (just like in the GS6) looking more than a little influenced by the iPhone 6.

Build (back)

This is where the premium factor comes in, as the Galaxy Note 5 switches from faux leather (plastic) to a beautiful Gorilla Glass 4 back with sloped edges.

Colors

Samsung is selling the Note 5 in four different color options this year.

Display size

No changes here, as the new model sticks with the same large 5.7-inch display we saw in last year's model.

Display resolution

Resolution also stands pat, with incredibly sharp Quad HD resolution.

Display type

Samsung always uses AMOLED panels in its flagships. They give you rich colors, deep blacks and great contrast.

S Pen

It wouldn't be a Galaxy Note without an S Pen. The stylus in the new model looks and feels a bit more premium than the Note 4's pen, but the new version's metallic-looking finish is still plastic.

Click-out S Pen

To unsheathe the S Pen in the Note 4, you have to dig your fingernails into ridges on the end of the pen. It isn't exactly a chore, but it also feels a little less than 100 percent seamless.

In the Note 5, just push in the cap on the pen and it will pop out enough that you can more easily pull it out from the phone.

Processor

The Note 4 was a fast phone when it launched, but the Note 5 should have zippier performance, thanks in part to its octa-core Samsung Exynos processor – the same chip found in the Galaxy S6.

RAM

The Note 5 also gets a RAM upgrade.

Storage

Both handsets ship in 32 GB and 64 GB options.

MicroSD

But the Note 4 is the better choice for storage, as Samsung dropped the microSD slot from the new model.

Camera megapixels

The Note 4 has a very good camera, but the Note 5 gets the same excellent cameras found in the Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge.

Physical camera shortcut

Like on the GS6, you can double-tap the Note 5's home button to launch its camera.

Camera aperture (rear)

The Note 5's camera has slightly wider aperture.

OIS

Both handsets' rear shooters have Optical Image Stabilization.

Battery

The new model has a slightly lower-capacity battery, but that doesn't mean it will have shorter battery life.

Fast charging

When using the stock cable, both handsets can juice up quickly from a nearly-dead battery level.

Wireless charging

The Note 5 has wireless charging built-in, but it also has a new fast wireless charging feature that can juice up the phablet from 0 to 100 percent in about 2 hours.

Samsung Pay

When Samsung Pay launches, the Note 5 will let you use your phone as a wallet – not only at NFC terminals (like Apple Pay) but also at standard credit card readers.

Fingerprint sensor

The Note 5 has the same touch-based fingerprint sensor found in the GS6 (similar to the one in the iPhone 6), while the Note 4's sensor requires you to drag your finger across the home button.

Heart rate sensor

Both handsets have heart rate sensors on their backsides.

Keyboard cover

Samsung is launching a new BlackBerry-like keyboard cover that slides onto the Note 5.

Gear VR compatibility

When the "full consumer" Gear VR launches, we'd be surprised if the Note 5 wasn't part of the fun. But right now, it's left out of the Oculus-powered virtual reality party.

The Note 4 works with the original version of the Gear VR, which has a wider field of view than the GS6 edition, but – much more significantly – has overheating problems. Long term, we'd bet on the Note 5 being the much better bet for VR.

Screen-off notes

The new Galaxy Note has a nifty feature that lets you scribble notes on its black screen after pulling out the S Pen (a trick that's only practical on AMOLED displays). It lets you jot down thoughts without even waking your phone's display.

Multi-page screenshots

Have you ever wanted to grab some content on a Galaxy Note that couldn't fit on one screen? The Note 5 lets you do that, capturing things like long documents or entire web pages.

Software

Both phones have Android Lollipop at their cores, with Samsung TouchWiz on top, but the Note 5 will likely stay up-to-date longer than the Note 4 will.

Release

The Galaxy Note 5 launches alongside the Galaxy S6 edge+ this month. The Note 4 has been around since last October.

Starting price (full retail)

Prices on the year-old Note 4 vary a bit, but the Note 5 is launching at around the same price points we've seen for every Galaxy Note.

Just remember that most people won't need to throw down US$750 at once; some carriers still offer on-contract pricing (usually starting around $300) and installment plans that let you pay the full price over two years.

For more, you can check out Gizmag's full reviews of the Galaxy Note 5 and last year's Note 4.

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