Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
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.
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.