Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Galaxy S5

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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S5

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With last week's announcement of the Galaxy Note 4, the Galaxy S5 has a new big brother. Maybe you're torn between the two? Let Gizmag lend a hand, as we compare the features and specs of Samsung's flagship phone and flagship phablet.

Size

The Galaxy S5 isn't a small phone by any stretch, but the Note 4 is still much bigger. To be precise, it's 9 percent longer, 8 percent wider and 5 percent thicker than the GS5.

There are lots of perks in buying a phablet, but if you plan on carrying either of these handsets in your pocket, the Note 4 will be the one that really make its presence felt.

Weight

Both are fairly light for their respective sizes, but the Galaxy S5 is 18 percent lighter than its big brother.

Build

The Galaxy Note 4 has a faux leather (plastic) backing that's nearly identical to the finish we saw on the Note 3 (minus the faux stitching). This time around, though, Samsung threw in a metal band running around the device's edge. The equivalent band on the GS5 is a metallic-looking plastic.

The GS5's finish feels a bit like pleather, but its dimpled texture has it looking a bit more like a Band-Aid. I find that both phones' finishes, though, feel comfortable in hand.

Colors

We're looking at four color options for each handset.

Display (size)

This is the Note 4's biggest advantage, as it gives you 25 percent more screen area than the GS5 does.

This was the first Galaxy Note that doesn't have a bigger screen than its predecessor. And while that might be a missed marketing opportunity, it's also hard to argue that the Note 4 needs anything bigger than this huge 5.7-in slab of Gorilla Glass.

Display (resolution)

This might be the Galaxy Note 4's biggest upgrade, as it jumps from 1080p into the land of Quad HD. Both screens are extremely sharp, but my eyes can usually appreciate the denser pixels in Quad HD displays.

Display (type)

Like pretty much every Samsung flagship, both handsets use Super AMOLED screens. They're known for their deep blacks, rich colors (sometimes surreally so) and high contrast.

This also makes the Galaxy Note 4 the first Quad HD smartphone or phablet that uses Super AMOLED screen tech.

Stylus

Apart from size, this is one of the biggest differences between the two. The Galaxy Note has a stylus, which you can conveniently stash inside the phone when you aren't using it. And Samsung says that the Note 4's S Pen has double the pressure sensitivity of the Note 3's pen.

Fingerprint sensor

The Note 4 joins the GS5 in having a swipe-based fingerprint sensor in its home button.

Water resistance

The Galaxy Note 4 borrowed several features from its little brother, but water resistance wasn't one of them. The GS5 can sit in 1 m (3.3 ft) of water for half an hour, and live to tell the tale.

Heart rate monitor

The Note 4 does join the GS5, though, in having a heart rate monitor on its backside. It lives just below its camera

Camera

Speaking of cameras, the Note 4's has the same pixel count as the GS5's. Apart from its slow launch time, the GS5's camera is pretty damn good – so this will likely be a strength for the new Note as well.

OIS

The Note 4's camera does have at least one leg up on its smaller sibling's, though, with its Optical Image Stablization.

Battery

The Galaxy Note series has always had good – if not great – battery life. And with all that room to cram in a bigger battery, I suppose it makes sense.

With over 3.6 million pixels in that Quad HD display, though, we aren't going to make any assumptions. The LG G3, for example, only has what I'd call "solid enough" uptimes. For what it's worth, though, Samsung is saying that the Note 4 will have longer battery life than the Note 3 did.

Ultra Power Saving Mode

This is my favorite software feature that Samsung has cooked up: Ultra Power Saving Mode can keep you on the grid when your battery is on its last leg.

It essentially turns your device into a glorified feature phone, with a bare minimum of available apps. That may not sound too appealing, but the 24 hours of uptime that it can squeeze out of just 10 percent juice? Well, that makes for a nice backup plan.

Fast charging

The Galaxy Note 4 is compatible with Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0, which lets the Note 4's battery go from 0 to 50 percent in "about half an hour."

This could come in handy in a pinch. Say you forget to charge your Note one night, and you wake up to see a nearly-dead phablet. With Fast Charging, it sounds like you'll be able to charge it up enough to get through the day before leaving for work.

Technically the GS5's micro USB 3.0 cable lets it charge faster than other micro USB cables, but it isn't the same as the Quick Charge 2.0 (from empty or near empty) that the Note has.

Infrared

Like most recent Samsung flagships, both devices have built-in IR blasters. They let you turn your phone into a remote control for your TV and cable/satellite box.

Split-screen multitasking

Both the Note 4 and GS5 have Samsung's Multi-Window approach to multitasking. On the Note 4, though, it's tied to the recent apps button. On the GS5, you hold down the Back button to activate it.

One-handed mode

On both phones, you can swipe your finger back and forth, from the edge of the screen, to active One-handed Mode. It immediately shrinks your screen down to a size that's convenient for one-handed use. This is especially handy on a gargantuan screen like the Note 4's.

Virtual reality

The Note 4 is the only device that's compatible with Samsung's upcoming Oculus-powered Gear VR headset. I tested it at the Note 4 launch event and, apart from the bland content they were demoing, the experience was almost identical to using the Oculus Rift.

I suppose you could use the GS5 with Google Cardboard, but it's a developer tool and not (yet) aimed at consumers.

Storage

The Note 4 gives you higher storage options. Both devices have microSD slots.

Processor

The Note 4 has the more updated Snapdragon processor, though I can't say I ever found performance to be even remotely troublesome on the GS5.

Also note that this image only deals with the LTE variants. The HSPA versions of both phones have octa-core Exynos CPUs.

RAM

The Note does come out ahead in the RAM department.

Software

Apart from a few different features (many of which we just covered), the software is going to look very similar. Both run Android 4.4 KitKat with a healthy dose of Samsung's TouchWiz UI splattered on top.

Release date

The Galaxy Note 4 is set to launch on October 17. The GS5 has been around since April.

Starting price (off-contract)

Samsung also hasn't announced pricing for the Note 4, but the safe money is on the same price points that we saw for the Note 3 last year. That would mean US$700 full retail for the 32 GB version.

Starting price (on-contract)

Likewise, if we're looking at the Note 3's original price points, then $300 is the on-contract mark to expect from the Note 4. Big screens and high-end components don't come cheap.

For more, you can check out Gizmag's full reviews of the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S5.

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