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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 5s: first look

The Galaxy Note 4 is out and is looking to brawl with the upcoming iPhone 6. The brawl will be especially heated, as Apple is about to introduce a 5.5-inch iPhone for the first time, which means Samsung had only one choice – to bring out the best of its technological and marketing prowess, and hope for the best. While we're waiting, popcorn in hand, to see the two battle for market share, let's see how the new Galaxy Note 4 stands up to the old, but still charming iPhone 5s.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 5s: first look
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 5s: first look
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 5s: first look
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 5s: first look
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 5s: first look

Aluminum David vs Aluminum-ish Goliath.

The Galaxy Note 4 follows after the Galaxy Alpha's interesting character, enriching the mostly plastic exterior with a precisely crafted solid metal frame. The iPhone 5s is a smartphone with an iconic, largely familiar unibody metal design that hasn't seen substantial changes since the iPhone 4 came around in 2010. With the presence of metal and a tastefully designed back panel, the Galaxy Note 4's design definitely comes from a higher standard, but the iPhone's no compromise build and design is still considered the benchmark to beat. Of course, both phones are created to serve different screen dimensions and usage purposes, and we want to say that they both look and feel amazing for high-end devices on their respective categories.

The skinny bezels that frame the Galaxy Note 4's large QHD display are impossible to miss. The iPhone 5s ignored the impending slim bezel trend when it came out last year, but by the looks of it, Apple will catch up brilliantly with the iPhone 6 in this regard.

There's no hiding the fact that the Note 4 is humongous compared to the iPhone 5s. In exact numbers, Samsung's new phablet measures an imposing 6 x 3 x 0.33 inches, 6.2oz (153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm, 176g), while the iPhone 5s is the ultimate in easy one-handed usage at 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches (123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm) and 3.95 oz (112 g). Still, the Note 4's dimensions make for a reasonably compact device in its own class. Samsung went the extra length to produce the most comfortable Note 4 possible, shaving extra weight off its sides and screen bezels.

The devices are available in Black, White, Gold, and Pink for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, while the iPhone 5S comes in Black, White, and Gold. But which phone is the one to bring to the beach? The Galaxy Note 4 is tightly sealed against water and dust, and should be able to survive half-hour underwater dips of 1.5 meters. On the contrary, the iPhone 5S “loves” water about as much as cats do. Waterproofing is yet to come to Apple's beautiful hardware. In terms of sensors, the Galaxy Note features enough data collectors to be useable as a portable weather station, while the iPhone 5S boasts a dedicated motion co-processor along with the garden variety of movement and light sensors.

As an object of differentiation, the Galaxy Note 4 sports its unique S-Pen stylus that fits snugly into its own slot within the device's body. Like the iPhone 5s, it too has a fingerprint sensor for secure unlocking and payments.


The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 brings the pixels, the iPhone – the colors.

Samsung has the habit of using every Galaxy Note generation to showcase the latest in its display developments. And with its mind-blowing 5.7-inch QHD S-AMOLED display with a pixel density of 515 pixels per inch, the fourth is certainly not an exception. Not only is the display razor-sharp, but it touts a fashionably skinny bezel as well, which will help it fill your eyes to the max. The iPhone might feel miniscule when put next to this monstrosity, but the 4-inch LCD display is still very sharp and produces superb colors, brightness, and contrast.


Both phones offer a delightful experience out of the box, but the Galaxy Note 4 is a productivity-oriented device, while the iPhone 5S is just a great smartphone.

Both Samsung TouchWiz and Apple iOS 7 received substantial overhauls, adding more to their distinct visual languages and software features. Visually, both are modern and pleasant to look at. Software-wise, Samsung's ambition has always gravitated around extensive functionality and deeply structured menus, while iOS 7 has practicality and ease of us at its spotlight. When comparing the Galaxy Note 4 and the iPhone 5s' interfaces from a functionality standpoint, a key differentiation is the former's S-Pen features. Note devices make using the stylus a seamless, natural experience for all users that prefer this form of input. The S-Pen is a true Samsung household that is yet to be convincingly replicated by the competition. Additionally, the Galaxy Note 4 supports features such as swipe gestures.

Processor and memory

The Galaxy Note 4 is better prepared for the graphically-advanced games of the future, and more consistent in its operation. The iPhone 5S still runs smooth, fast, and runs the latest games.

Holding on to its cutting-edge approach to the Note devices' hardware, Samsung packed a potent quad-core Snapdragon 805 32-Bit CPU along with 3GB of RAM in the Galaxy Note 4. This is an extremely powerful and energy-efficient configuration that does short work of demanding games and usage scenarios, even with a display that pushes two times as many pixels as 1080p screens. And how does the iPhone 5S stand up to that? Its A7 CPU and 1GB RAM make it very under-powered in theory... yet very powerful in practice, by miracle of its amazing software optimization. However, with its cutting edge internals and huge, gorgeous display, the Galaxy Note 4 is arguably better prepared for the graphically-advanced games of the future and heavy multitasking.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 5s: first look


Both smartphones are terrific cameraphones!

Samsung equipped the Galaxy Note 4 with the latest in its camera technology - a 16MP ISOCELL sensor rear cam. This means it has the Galaxy S5's phase-detection auto-focus, to which it owes its fast focusing speed. It's also graced with optical image stabilization, which is a feature cherished by many. Meanwhile, the front camera is a 3.7-megapixel snapper for your selfie-taking pleasure.

The iPhone still relies on an 8MP rear camera, which takes excellent phones and has a notably uncomplicated interface. The front cam is a sensible 1.2MP snapper. Both phones offer 1080p video recording, but the Note 4 boasts 4K video recording, along with the Snapdragon chipset's built-in photo re-focusing and editing trickery.


The Galaxy Note 4 is an Android powerhouse, and the iPhone 5S is still an excellent phone to own.

What can we say? The Note 4 is an Android powerhouse with excellent looks, bigger and better display, faster hardware, better camera, and a plethora of unique features. The iPhone 5s, however, remains the best 4-inch smartphone you can own today!

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