Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy S5: What's the difference?

Samsung has announced the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as the much-anticipated successor to the Galaxy Note 3. We've put it head-to-head with the Galaxy S5, Samsung's flagship announced in April.

Keep in mind we've reviewed the Galaxy S5, but we haven't yet reviewed the Galaxy Note 4. Although this guide will walk you through the differences in specs and hardware in an attempt to see which one is really worth your money, true real-world results are still to be determined.

So, which is best, for now: the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or the Samsung Galaxy S5?

Display

The Galaxy Note 4 features a 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 550ppi. The Galaxy S5 features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution and 430 ppi. That means the Galaxy Note 4 has a larger display and a much higher pixel density.

In real life, you won't notice the difference in density, however the difference in size is drastic. Real-world testing might even show differences in vibrant colours and blacks, though that's all very much down to personal preference.

Screen fiends will probably side with Galaxy Note 4 on this one.

Processor

The Galaxy Note 4 features a Qualcomm 805 2.7GHz or Exynos 1.9GHz chipset as well as 3GB of RAM. The Galaxy S5 features a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM.

If simply looking at the spec sheet, the Galaxy Note 4 has the faster, more powerful tech, but then again, testing might prove otherwise. It's worth mentioning however the Galaxy Note 4 features the first 805 we've seen, and that's plenty enough to make the device win this round for now.

Storage

The Galaxy Note 4 features 32GB of on-board storage, with microSD card expansion and we suspect the same Dropbox deal as the SGS5.

The Galaxy S5 features 16GB and 32GB on-board storage variants, with microSD support for cards up to 128GB, and 50GB of free cloud storage through Dropbox for 2 years.

There's little to call between the two: the big difference here is that Samsung has stepped up its game in offering more base storage for the Galaxy Note 4.

Battery

The Galaxy Note 4 features a 3220mAh battery and a power-saving mode, while the Galaxy S5 features a 2800mAh battery that will get you through the day. It also offers power-saving features.

Strictly looking at the specs, the Note 4 has the bigger battery and therefore wins this round. But it also has a bigger screen and a more brawny chipset that'll each weigh heavy on the battery, so the Galaxy S5 could conceivably win this round one day for its ability to last all day.

We're yet to see what impact the display will have on battery life on the Galaxy Note 4.

Camera

The Galaxy Note 4 features a 16MP rear-facing camera (f/2.4 aperture) with optical image stabilisation. It can also capture 4K Ultra HD video. The front camera is 3.7MP (f/1.9 aperture) with a 90-degree wide angle by default that goes up to 120-degree for wide selfies.

The Galaxy S5 features a 16MP sensor with fast 0.3 second capture speed. Like the Note 4, it can capture Ultra HD video. It further offers a range of smart functions such as "selective focus". The front camera is 2MP.

Both are very capable, but the Galaxy Note 4 offers the better camera set on paper.

OS

With both offering Android 4.4 KitKat and TouchWiz, there's a lot that's similar about the Galaxy Note 4 and SGS5 software experience. In some areas, these devices are going to be identical.

However, despite the SGS5 offering some multi-tasking options, the Galaxy Note 4 is the master here, using its huge display to great effect. One new feature lets you minimise open apps into a shortcut for easy access later.

Then there are the range of S Pen features, as well as hardware buttons to make daily productivity tasks simpler. These devices are aimed at slightly different segments, but the Note 4 certainly delivers when it comes to software tweaks.

Build

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 doesn't differ too much from the Note 3, offering a faux leather back. It's nice and grippy however and despite being a big device, it fits nicely into the hands. It feels well built, but still remains light thanks to Samsung's preference for plastics.

The Galaxy S5 is also mainly plastic. It sticks to familiar design, but with a more tactile back for better grip. The big positives are that it is dustproof and resistant in liquid down to a metre in depth (grade IP67), and it'll be available in a range of colours (shimmery white, charcoal black, copper gold and electric blue).

There's little to call between them. Much as we'd love to see Samsung elevate the Note to the absolute premium, like the HTC One M8, that hasn't happened.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 goes bigger and better for just about everything, when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5. It's a new device for a slightly different segment and is sure to retain its crown as the phablet of choice.

The Note 4 has a higher resolution display, but also a new chipset, the latest from Qualcomm if you're lucky enough to get the 805. With 3GB of RAM, it's almost certainly going to be snappier than the SGS5, but we can't say what the impact of these hardware changes will be on the battery life.

One thing we are certain of, however, is that the Note 4 is going to be well received.