Camera

Small changes go a long way: despite both having 16-megapixel cameras, the one in the Note 4 is a ‘notable’ improvement, and OIS seems to be the culprit.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes with a 16-megapixel main camera with a single LED flash similar to the 16-megapixel shooter on the Galaxy S5. The big new features in the Note 4 is optical image stabilization, something that is missing on the S5.

The camera on both phones sticks out a bit to form a slight hump on the back of the phone. In terms of optics, both have an f/2.2 aperture lens. We know that the Galaxy S5 has a large, 1/2.6” 16:9 Samsung-made sensor, and we guess that the Note 4 features the same one.

Samsung has traditionally one of the richest camera apps when it comes to manually adjustable settings, and while it retains this functionality in the Note 4, it is not overwhelming you with options right from the start screen. There, you have the basics: a camera switch toggle, HDR option, a settings button, separate image capture and video buttons, as well as a key to access various shooting modes. In order to get into the manual adjustments, you tap on the settings key and then on the dots key. This will grant you access to adjustments like ISO, white balance, metering modes, as well as other options for the photography enthusiast. Interestingly, Samsung has removed a lot of the options in that advanced menu, fitting it on a single non-scrollable list. Options like picture stabilization (aka night mode that uses longer shutter speeds to achieve less noisy night images) and face detection are now gone, as the phone decides when the conditions are right and starts the corresponding mode automatically. The separate burst mode is also gone – just tap and hold the shutter key to start shooting images in bursts of up to 30 frames. The somewhat gimmicky selective focus from the S5 where you could adjust the focus of the image after capture is also gone on the Note 4 (and we can't say we miss it).



When it comes to image quality, the Note 4 is a marked improvement over the Galaxy S5. Images coming from the Note 4 feature impressively sharp and rich detail consistently all across the frame, and the improvement is particularly noticeable when you compare the images directly with those from the S5. Colors are definitely looking good on both, but if we had to pick the nits, we’d say that both err a bit on the cold side.

Indoors, the Note 4 camera has an even bigger advantage over the Galaxy S5. Blurry images with mushy detail on the S5 appears very sharp on the Note 4, and we’d say that having OIS in it is the possible culprit. The tendency for slightly muted, colder colors is present on both the Note 4 and S5 indoor images as well.

You can select different modes for different purposes. You have a night mode that applies longer shutter times for brighter images in low light, but this does not work well when you have objects moving in the frame. Samsung also has a very high-res panorama mode that captures great panoramas, very rich in detail and with seamless stitching.

The front camera is 3.7-megapixel one on the Note 4 for higher-res selfies, and the result is indeed improved with more detail over the 2.1-megapixel shots from the S5.


Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 2.8
2.8
353
273
Samsung Galaxy S5 2.5
3
300
243


Turning over to video recording, both the Note 4 and Galaxy S5 are capable of recording 4K video recording at 30 frames per second and 1080p at 60/30 fps. You can see the same great level of detail from the images in the Note 4 videos, and color representation is nice. OIS adds that final touch contributing to much smoother footage. The Galaxy S5 is also a very good device for video capture with a nice depth to its details and pleasing colors, but if you’re shooting handheld the recordings turn out shaky.



Multimedia

The large size and the brilliant color reproduction make the Note 4 a true beast when it comes to media.

The Galaxy Note 4 is an absolute beast for media: watching movies or browsing through photos is nothing short of a sheer pleasure on the large 5.7-inch display. It’s not just the size, though - the great color accuracy makes pictures look close to their best. In comparison, the Galaxy S5 with all the inaccuracies of its screen makes for a less pleasing media experience.

You have Samsung’s gallery app with its dual-panel layout allowing you to quickly toggle between folders and easier navigate large galleries of images. You can also zoom in and out inside the gallery to see more images. Samsung is bundling an image editor right in, so you can do some basic editing like cropping and filters from within the app.


The video player is identical on the Note 4 and S5, showing you animated thumbnails with previews of videos and once you open a video you can scroll through frames to find the right moment easier.

You have two music players on the Note 4 and S5. The first one is Samsung’s music player with options galore.


With all of this, the Note 4 comes with a disappointingly quiet and tinny loudspeaker. The Galaxy S5 does not have a much classier speaker, but it’s decently powerful, while the Note 4 just lacks that oomph.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 0.41
Samsung Galaxy S5 0.43
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 85
Samsung Galaxy S5 81


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17 Comments

11. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

The Note 4 is kinda like what the S5 should have been, but heck I'll just take both.

12. Carlitos

Posts: 706; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

When you think about it, and put some real thought into it, the Note 4, shouldn't have been what the Galaxy s5 is or was. And the simple answer to that is they are two completely different lines that appeal to two complete different groups of people. One group for the S line, which offers great camera. Great Display, far above average battery and easier to carry and use more on a social daily basis. The Note line is everything the S line was, but simply with beefier specs, and a ton more productivity options, which take completely and absolute advantage of the extra screen. The reason why Samsung is the undisputed King in the phablet market space. And will be for the several years to come, simply because no one else understands that you dont simply increase screen size and not add functionality.

17. snowgator

Posts: 3630; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

I think it is kinda dead set obvious at this point: The Note series is Samsung's flagship line. The Galaxy S series is most likely their best seller still, but the Note series is the Big Boned Phone everyone else is trying to catch. They are putting their best efforts into that line, and the S5 VS. Note 4 is not really that close these days.

8. Dude2014

Posts: 448; Member since: Feb 12, 2014

I never like Samsung phone! However Galaxy S5 changed my mind. I really like real time HDR mode in latest ISOCELL camera since I can't find the same HDR image quality in any smartphones (Nexus 5 and Butterfly has the closest quality but still no match for ISOCELL. Now Note 4 brings next level HDR with its OIS. But hey .. I'm gonna wait for GS6 and hopefully I will buy it as my first Samsung phone ever.

9. Dude2014

Posts: 448; Member since: Feb 12, 2014

*Butterfly 2

7. SayMobile

Posts: 157; Member since: Jan 29, 2014

Army of Two

6. Tobruk

Posts: 10; Member since: May 14, 2011

I kinda compare these two phones to the different classes of star ships in the Imperial Starfleet of the Star Wars universe. The Galaxy S5 reminds me of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer. While, the Note 4 reminds me of the Super Star Destroyer Executor which is the personal flagship of the Lord Darth Vader, the premier command ship of the Imperial Navy.

14. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Lmao dude do you have a girlfriend?

15. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Hoping he's single?

5. snowgator

Posts: 3630; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

I actually would lean to the S5 due to it's more "real life" durability. Other than that- and of course size preference- there is zero reason to not get the Note 4. A better device in every way.

4. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

This is like Goku vs Goku :D

16. luzan

Posts: 6; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

Goku reguler vs Goku super saiyan :P

3. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Waiting for gigaraga's Words Of Samsung Praises.

10. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Best phone of H1 vs. Best phone of H2. Here, your wait is over.

2. hellonerds

Posts: 334; Member since: Aug 27, 2013

Gs5 good for like active outdoor using.. note 4 for casual using.. cant wait to get my note 4 my note 3 will go to my mom using a gs3... big upgrade lol

1. maherk

Posts: 7101; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Note 4, here I come.

13. PunyPoop

Posts: 752; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

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