Samsung Galaxy Note II vs Apple iPhone 5

We embark on the task to compare the Apple iPhone 5 to the Samsung Galaxy Note II fully aware that we are comparing apples to oranges, pun intended. These two, however, are currently the best representatives of what devices iOS and Android are capable of, and this is where the lion’s share of smartphone sales and profits goes, so we ought to set a cage match for your viewing pleasure.


It is very easy to argue for the choice of materials both handset makers had taken. Apple shapes the iPhone towards exuding a premium feeling, as it is also a status symbol or social statement for many. The previous edition was somewhat heavy for its size, because of the all-glass construction, but now with the iPhone 5 we have an amazingly thin and light handset for something made out of glass and aluminum. 

We also finally have an iPhone for those who wanted one, but were on the fence as a 3.5” screen just didn’t cut it for them. The larger, 4” screen of the iPhone 5 is fit into a more elongated device, which is still very palm-friendly, and allows easy operation with just one hand. Nicks and scuffs are the biggest gripes with the usual third-year redesign, and Apple is reportedly cracking down hard on production lines to remedy those teething problems.

The Galaxy Note II, on the other hand, is a behemoth of a handset still, despite its slightly thinner and narrower body than what we had with the original Note. A 5.5” display can’t be fit into anything much smaller, so try before you buy to make sure this thing is for you.

Samsung’s handset is made of polycarbonate plastic, and it is easy to deduce why the Koreans didn’t go with more premium materials like metal or glass - the phone is comparatively light for a 5.5-incher, but still heavy enough for a Note-able presence in your hand or pocket anyway.

The Note II, however, has the design advantage that comes with a non-unibody chassis, allowing you to easily swap SIM cards, batteries, or expand your storage via a microSD slot. It also has that sweet stylus tucked in the lower right corner. 

As for one-handed operation - it is not impossible, as Samsung provides ways to scooch the on-screen keyboard or the dialer, for example, left or right within thumb reach, yet the iPhone 5 can’t be beat here, as we are talking a 4-incher versus one heck of a 5.5” handset.


The 5.5” 1280x720 pixels display on the Note II is the best HD Super AMOLED screen Samsung has produced, meaning that it largely dispenses with the weak points in such screens so far. It sports three subpixels per pixel, ditching the PenTile matrix arrangement, and has warmer colors than previous AMOLEDs. It is also the brightest of the bunch, aiding sunlight visibility.

The Apple iPhone 5’s 4” 640x1136 pixels screen, however, has higher 326ppi pixel density vs the Note II’s 265ppi, and is also much brighter at north of 550 nits yet with lower, 4.6% reflectance ratio. The last two numbers make what is quite possibly the best mobile screen for use outside. Granted, we have phones with up to 1,000 nits brightness, like the Xperia P, or the Nokia 701, but that low screen reflectance of the in-cell touch unit on the iPhone 5 is really appreciated when under direct sunlight, where the Note II fares much worse, even in “outdoor visibility” mode.

As far as colors go, the devices take a different approach, with the iPhone 5 covering almost perfectly the standard sRGB color gamut, whereas previous iPhone were able to present a more limited range. On the Note II we cover a larger range than standard, hence have the typical for AMOLED screens oversaturated, incorrect colors. The AMOLED display can be set in different modes, though, so the colors can be subdued or made even more dynamic than the normal mode, prettifying your movie sessions.

Both phones sport excellent viewing angles, and the choice will come down to which size you prefer to carry around. We admit that the great 5.5” screen that the Note II sports is very tempting when it comes to stylus-induced productivity, and also for long browsing sessions and movie watching, but it is not everyone’s cup of tea, plus a larger display in the iPhone world is something many fans have been clamoring for a good while now, and Apple delivered it to them.



1. Fayeznoor

Posts: 74; Member since: Nov 15, 2011

its like comparing mother to her pre-mature baby ;)

3. Connie.Linghus

Posts: 32; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

You mean comparing a Mother to her unborn iFetus.

11. redsox420

Posts: 90; Member since: Aug 27, 2012

Abort abort its not going to live past 1 year anyways

38. Jelly_Bean

Posts: 109; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

Its like comparing a dog with Lion :p

39. Hemlocke unregistered

Yes, and it's a shame that Samsung will have to put that dog down after the mauling it just took at the Apple lion's paws.

40. Jelly_Bean

Posts: 109; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

lolzz I said dog to iCrap 5 can't you make out? You are one of those retarded iFans. Tell me honestly is there any comparison between The Beast and iCrap 5?

93. molanjames

Posts: 80; Member since: Oct 11, 2012

Hi @jelly_bean I do not agree with you , you are just trying to d grade Samsung Galaxy Note II , I would say The Galaxy Note II is a huge leap over the previous generation and if any one has galaxy note it would be wise to sell your oroginal asap for an upgrade. according to movaluate’s fair market appraisal , owener could still get $369.00 for his old Samsung Galaxy Note 16GB , which could help pay for the awesome new galaxy note II

43. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

All I know is....whoever mistakes a Note and Note 2 for an iPhone....needs to just go live in a cave somewhere.

47. Jelly_Bean

Posts: 109; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

Then that person needs a life

97. ex_apple

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 17, 2012

iPhone 5 side by side is like a premature ejaculation and fart at the same time. Why can't apple be 100% sure before they pushed it out to the market? All those promises smells like crap now. And yet they still sell it like gold bars. iPhone 5 owners would be pissed off when they found out that it has a glitch in its swiping.

2. Connie.Linghus

Posts: 32; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

That's like comparing a Teeny-TiNy iAnt to a mighty LION. Of course, the iAnt will be lost because it will be using Apple mAps.

4. e.wvu unregistered

Great review, Daniel P. Actually enjoyed reading it! Already preordered the Note II, can't wait to get it in my hands!

6. darkkjedii

Posts: 31614; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Good comment, instead of posting something dumb and childish u simply chose What's best for u. Smart and mature.

28. oying24

Posts: 48; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

i agree..this is the best comment coming from an android user.. mature enough indeed.

54. darkkjedii

Posts: 31614; Member since: Feb 05, 2011


83. richardyarrell2011

Posts: 510; Member since: Mar 16, 2011

Challenge on my friend. Your so soft it's pretty comical. Acting like your about something. Gosh this site is pretty comical with these new trolls showing up daily..

89. jaimeovarela

Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 02, 2011

Says the man with the split mustache.... ???? Jus saying? LOL

8. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

should be getting my hands on a demo one myself this evening,cant wait


Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

Will be buying it in 2weeks time, Sim-Free. Excited.

5. jaimeovarela

Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 02, 2011

prettifying!!!! love the word!! YAY for Note II

9. sheik

Posts: 249; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

"...however, has higher 326ppi pixel density vs the Note II’s 256ppi..." Note II's ppi is 267. A simple calculation will tell that. So correct that mistake Daniel... BTW nice comparision...


Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

Why on earth did they use 267 instead of 300+ This was a major let down.....

18. g2a5b0e unregistered

I like the way you say that as if you'd be able to tell the difference by looking at nothing other than the screen.

58. ddeath

Posts: 170; Member since: Apr 14, 2012

He probably uses the phone 1 inch away from his face so it is a major letdown to him.

21. sheik

Posts: 249; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

As you see, Note II is bigger and heavier than normal smartphones. So we tend to use it from more distance than we use regular small sized phones. which is about 15 inches... So considering that note II has 267 ppi, another calculation will show that it falls beautifully in to the retina category that everyone is going gaga about. Its not a let down, its logic... BTW i love the Sharukh Khan user image you use. Guess you are from India...

24. PhoneArena Team

Posts: 258; Member since: Jun 27, 2006

Thanks, we've corrected the Note II's pixel density information

32. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

^^phone arena team?? hahaha

10. rawdeal

Posts: 21; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

i am using note 2 and i am loving it... truly creative and a mammoth phone...

14. sheik

Posts: 249; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

could you tell me whether the colours are over saturated and look incorrect as said in this comparison? Does texts look sharper?


Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

They don't look sharper, but the Amoled+ kind helps.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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