Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4



After a year of being on top of the Samsung food chain, the Galaxy Note 4 finally surrendered the throne and got succeeded by the newest S Pen-boasting phablet in the high-end Note lineup. Without the shadow of a doubt, the Note5 can be easily crowned as the most advanced and feature-packed smartphone Samsung has released to date, and from the looks of it, it will most probably retain that role for some time.

However, unlike previous battles between the old and new generation of Samsung's products, the Galaxy Note 4 is not ready to part with the top spot that easily. Despite the Note5 is the newer and more advanced device, the older Note still has a few key features that might stop some users from upgrading or jumping on the Note 5 train.

Is this truly the case? Is the Galaxy Note5 much better than the Note 4 and is it worth upgrading to the newest super phablet in town? Let's find out!


It's hard to take eyes off the exquisitely-designed Note5, which overshadows the Note 4 by a fair margin

Tailored in accordance with Samsung's new design trend that was introduced along with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge earlier this year, the Galaxy Note5 is a very good-looking “sandwich” of glass and metal, intertwining together to create a nice and premium design. It won't be an overstatement to say that the Galaxy Note5 is easily one of the better-looking handsets we've seen of late - Samsung really did much better with the design aspect this time around.

On the other hand, we have the Note 4, a device that was also lauded for its departure from Samsung's “plastic fantastic” design language short of a year ago. It was one of the first Samsungs to employ an aluminum frame with subtly chamfered edges, although still complemented by a plastic back cover. While it is not as head-turning as the Note5, the Note 4 certainly has a charisma of its own.

Even from a distance, it will be downright easy to distinguish that these two are made by Samsung. The fronts of both parties employ the time-tested and classic design language of the company, characterizing themselves with a proudly-exhibited hardware home button and pretty decent screen-to-body size ratio (an aspect in which the Note5 wins yet another solid victory). Alas, the Note5's glass back is a fingerprint magnet, which is not something to like, but that's the cost of using such a nice and shiny material.

Moving on to the side frames, one of the things that are first noticed are the Note5's separated volume buttons, whereas the Note4 employs a single-piece volume rocker. Another noteworthy difference is the placement of the 3.5mm audio jack – top of the phone for the Note 4 and bottom positioning for the Note5.

Size-wise, the Note5 is noticeably thinner and more elegant than its predecessor. But it's not only thinner, it's also a smidgen shorter and not as wide, making it distinguishably svelter. While both feel well in the hand, it's more comfortable to handle the Note5.

While it can't boast looks as exquisite as those of the Note5, the Note 4 has other aces up the sleeve – it might be a bit larger and heavier, but it has a removable rear cover and battery, which are two of the several features the Note5 doesn't employ. Still, both phablets proudly come with S Pen styluses and fingerprint readers embedded in their home buttons (touch-based for the Note5 and swipe one for the older device); we also have a bunch of biometric sensors at the back of both devices, but we'll talk about these later on.

Samsung Galaxy Note5

6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches

153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm


6.03 oz (171 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note4

6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches

153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm


6.21 oz (176 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note5

6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches

153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm


6.03 oz (171 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note4

6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches

153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm


6.21 oz (176 g)

See the full Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Samsung Galaxy Note4 size comparison or compare them to other phones using our Size Comparison tool.


We have mostly similar Super AMOLED displays on both, but the Note5 has the upper hand in terms of overall quality

Samsung did not change the core specs of the display on the Note5 much: the Note 4 boasts, it comes with a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screen which has a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, while its successor is equipped with slightly smaller, 5.67-inch display, which has the same resolution. While both are pretty sharp, the Note5 has the upper hand on paper – with an estimated pixel density of 518ppi, the new phablet has a screen that is just a smidgen sharper than the Note 4's 515ppi one. A most negligible difference, that is.

From the looks of it, the Note5 has an almost identical display panel as the Note 4, just slightly tweaked, but mostly similar in terms of exhibited qualities. This is not a bad thing – the Note 4 came with one of the more accurate AMOLED displays we've seen, making it appear quite true-to-life if viewed in its “Basic” mode.

While maximum & minimum brightness and color temperature remain mostly unchanged, Samsung has got down to fixing the gamma of the display. While the Note 4 exhibited lower gamma levels at higher grayscale readings, which means that the brighter areas of the image appeared brighter than they should have been (we measured gamma levels under 1.8 at the lowest reading), the Note5 has fixed this issue to some extent – the gamma levels hardly ever dropped below 2 and never climbed above the ideal reading of 2.2.

Additionally, the improved gamma representation results in a much lower Delta E grayscale value — with the ideal measurement being 0, the display of the new S Pen warrior scores 1.94; as we mentioned above, this means that the various shades and hues don't deviate from the perfect readings on the grayscale. Same can be said about its Delta E rgbcmy measurement of 1.32, which means that the display is extremely color accurate. As a comparison, the Note 4 has a Delta E rgbcmy of 1.56 – still great, but not as good as the new star on the catwalk.

Interface and functionality

While both are as feature-packed as it gets, the Note5 brings a reimagined TouchWiz

Ah, the good ol' TouchWiz! Needles to say, both devices employ different iterations of Samsung's home-made Android UI. In a similar manner to the TouchWiz variation that was present on the Galaxy S6, the UI of the Note5 has been slimmed down and streamlined, making it less complicated and more user-friendly. A host of visual changes can be spotted as well – apart from the new stock icons, which are now employing rounded edges and different styling, the UI has also been treated to a slight revamp.

There's a lighter, more colorful Material Design-alike theme all around that can be seen in the stock apps of the phone, like the dialer, contacts, settings, and many other stock ones. While the Note 4 does not look dated in any way, it's noticeably more cluttered than its new rendition.

Functionality-wise, both TouchWiz UIs are similar. Still, it needs to be pointed out that the new version of TouchWiz comes with parallax wallpaper and theme support, with the latter being an easy way to overhaul the UI in terms of looks with several taps.

As usual with Samsung's phablets of the Note lineup, we have an S Pen stylus present on board. The one on the Note5 comes with a neat auto-eject mechanism, but this is not the only new trick in the book – the Note5 S Pen allows you to jot down notes even while the screen is off (you can't do that with the Note 4). The sidekick software menu to the S Pen, Air Command, will now pop up anywhere on the screen when you take out the S Pen, whereas the corresponding feature on the Note 4 is a bit limited in this aspect.

Just as we mentioned earlier in this review, both the Note5 and the Note 4 come with fingerprint scanners that offer an added layer of security. Still, the Note5 has a touch-based one and a swipe one like the one on the Galaxy Note 4. The former option is way more intuitive and less prone to misreading your prints.

Processor and memory

While the Note 4 still packs a punch, the Note5 is in a league of its own

Donning the same chipset that made the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge drool-worthy top-performers, the Galaxy Note5 is certainly not lacking in power. And how could it, provided that we can find a 14nm Exynos 7420 SoC somewhere beneath the glass back of the phone. With four Cortex-A57 cores clocked at 2.1GHz and four Cortex-A53 running at 1.5GHz, aided by 4GB of RAM, there's much to gawk at in the specs sheet of the phone. The benchmarks we ran also clearly show that if you're looking for the most powerful product on the market you certainly need to consider the Note5.

Speaking of power, the Note 4 was a true powerhouse short of a year ago when it made its anticipated debut. Coming with either a quad-core, 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 or an octa-core 1.9GHz Exynos 5433, the Note 4 is mostly humble when you compare it with the performance monsters we have now. It also had 3GB of RAM, 1 less than its successor, which doesn't necessarily mean worse multitasking experience.

Speaking of memory, the Note5 is packing 32GB of of native storage in the base model, with 64GB being available in the more spacious version. Note that it's of the UFS 2.0 type, meaning it's super fast and has respectable read/write speed. Unfortunately, there's no microSD card slot on board the Note5. In the meantime, the Note 4 also comes with 32GB of memory in the base version and it's not of the fast type, but at least it allows its owner to throw in a microSD card inside.

AnTuTuHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note567207
Samsung Galaxy Note441185.33
Vellamo MetalHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note52532
Samsung Galaxy Note41230.33
Vellamo BrowserHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note55476
Samsung Galaxy Note43041
SunspiderLower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note5677.7
Samsung Galaxy Note41087.87
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screenHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note537
Samsung Galaxy Note425.9
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screenHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note515
Samsung Galaxy Note411.2
Basemark OS IIHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note51765
Samsung Galaxy Note41038.67
Geekbench 3 single-coreHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note51431
Samsung Galaxy Note41112.67
Geekbench 3 multi-coreHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note54717
Samsung Galaxy Note43259.67

Internet and browsing

Browsing the web while on the go is a pleasant experience with either phone

With such large, crisp displays, browsing the web while on the go with either Note phablet is a pleasant and productive experience. In addition, the S Pen comes in helpful when it comes to browsing and interacting with the web pages. Performance is top-notch with either device, yet the superior hardware on the Note5 ensures that it will process certain tasks a bit faster.

On the connectivity side, the Note5 and the Note 4 are equipped with formidable arsenals of features on board. The Note5 supports hypothetical data transfer speeds of up to 620Mbps; we also have 2x2 MIMO antennas that reportedly improve the reception of the phone, dual-channel Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, as well as GPS, Glonass, and BeiDou. Sadly, it seems Samsung has dropped support for MHL.

The Note 4, while not as impressively-equipped, is not a slouch in the connectivity department either. Theoretically, it supports download speeds of up to 300Mbit/s and upload of 50Mbit/s. Bluetooth 4.1, DLNA, MHL, GPS, Glonass, and the MirrorLink standard.


It's hard to pinpoint a clear winner, but the Note5 is slightly ahead

We have 16MP cameras on the Note5 and the Note 4, with the one on the new phablet having an aperture of F1.9, contrary to the F2.2 on the older one. There is a bump in the specs of the front-facing camera as well – from 3.7 all the way to 5MP. Interface-wise, both are rather similar; the one in the Note5 is more streamlined and cleaned-up.

Feature-wise, the camera on the Note5 is pretty similar to the one on the Galaxy S6. It comes with Auto and Pro mode; the first only requires you to tap the shutter in order to snap a photo, leaving all settings in the phone's hands, while the pro mode allows you to summon your inner shutterbug and fine-tune the ISO, shutter speed, and other vital camera settings of the snapper. You can also shoot in RAW and, of course, enjoy the rest of the camera features, like HDR, panorama, Selective Focus, Slow & Fast motion, as well as Virtual Shot. The Note 4 also allows you to shoot HDR and panoramic photos; it also has other modes like Beauty face, Rear-cam selfie, Selective focus, Virtual Tour, Dual camera, etc.

Image quality

When it comes to image quality, it's hard to pinpoint a clear winner. On paper, the Note5 should be easily outperforming the Note 4, but we can't wholeheartedly confirm this. Don't get us wrong, the Note5 has a spectacular camera, but in certain scenes the Note 4 performed a tad better.

One of things that made an impression to us was that the Note5 produces photos that are not as saturated as the ones the Note 4 is responsible for. Note5's snaps often exhibit colors that are a bit washed out and sometimes under-exposed when you directly pit them against the same sample taken with the Note 4. Surprisingly, we can say the same about the details – both phones produce pretty detailed and sharp images and are pretty much on par.

In broad daylight, which often exhibits the perfect conditions for snapping a photo, both devices perform outstandingly. In overcast weather, the Note 4 once again surprises by shooting slightly more saturated and livelier photos. When night falls, the Note5 truly shows its true power: it shoots well-exposed photos with a respectable amount of detail, although often a bit colder; meanwhile, the Note 4 snaps warmer stills

When it comes to HDR photos, the Note5 simply rocks and leaves no chance for the Note 4. HDR pictures shot with the Note5 are natural-looking and noticeably more detailed than the Note 4, which often tends to shoot HDR blur-fests. We had no gripes with the macro shots that both phablets produced.

Indoor shots, it would appear, are one of the strengths of the Note5: unlike the Note 4 it tends to produce blurred stills less often. That aside, there are no significant differences between the Note5 and Note 4's camera performance. With the flash on, both Samsung devices also fared similarly.

The Note5 manages to take considerably better selfies with its front camera, exhibiting a much better detail level and colors. The selfie pictures from the Note 4 come off very noisy and cold-looking.

Taking a picLower is betterTaking an HDR pic(sec)Lower is betterCamSpeed scoreHigher is betterCamSpeed score with flashHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note52.1
No data
Samsung Galaxy Note42.8

Video quality

While they produce videos with details aplenty, regardless of resolution (be it 1080p or Ultra HD), the Note 4 still breathes down the Note5's neck. The 4K and 1080p videos the Note5 produces appear slightly colder than the ones coming from the Note 4. At night, we can't help but notice that the Note5 tends to produce slightly overexposed and undersaturated videos.

Despite the comparable amount of details and color reproduction in the recorded videos, the improved OIS of the Note5 affects the video clips in a noticeable and beneficial way. On the Note5's end, we have slightly smoother videos. At night, the Note5 also tends to slightly overexpose the recorded scene, making the whole scene as well as the objects brighter and more discernible, despite burning the highlights.

Auto-focusing speed is a domain that is undoubtedly ruled by the Note5, which adjusts its focus with ludicrous speeds, while the Note 4 needs some extra moments. Additionally, we liked the microphone performance of the Note 4 more, as voices recorded with the Note5 sound ever so slightly distorted, processed, and not as natural as we'd like them to be.


With such crisp and accurate displays, both phones are great for multimedia endeavors

Two extremely accurate, crisp, and large displays? Decent loudspeakers? Well, the Note 4 and Note5 have all. Thus watching videos or listening to music while on the go are rather pleasant affairs on either phone. Similar to the whole UI itself, the Note5 has an audio player that is mostly similar to the one on the Note 4 in terms of features and functionalities, but with a slightly refreshed looks.

Whereas the loudspeaker output of the Note5 is less than the one of the Note 4 in terms of loudness, popping a headset will show you that Samsung has tinkered with the audio performance of its newest toy, aiming to deliver a better experience. In reality, there's no significant and easily-discernible difference between the loudspeakers of the two phones in terms of quality.

Both phones allow you to pop out a video window and watch a video of your choice on top of all other windows, undoubtedly an enjoyable way to watch movies and multitask at the same time.

Headphones output power(Volts)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note50.609
Samsung Galaxy Note40.41
Loudspeaker loudness(dB)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note570.7
Samsung Galaxy Note485

Call quality

Given their flagship status and price tag, it's somewhat logical to deduce that both the Note5 and the Note 4 will offer out-worldly call quality. Well, this is mostly true. While the Galaxy Note5 has a more than decent loudspeaker that has a lot of fidelity and clearness to it, the Note 4 is also potent in this regard, with incoming voices sounding deep and natural.

On the other hand, we had little to no qualms with the microphones of either phablet. Still, we feel like the Note 4 performs better and conveyed our voice in a much more natural manner while still boasting a pleasant loudness, while the Note5 tends to subdue tones a bit, making it a bit hard to discern voices on the other end of the line.


Despite the smaller battery, the Note5 outperforms the older handset

Inspecting the specs sheets shows that while the Galaxy Note 4 sports a 3,220mAh battery, the Note5 comes with a 3,000mAh one.

Despite the downgrade, this doesn't explicitly mean that the Note5 suffers from worse battery life. On the contrary! The Note5 endured for 9 hours and 11 minutes in our custom battery benchmark test, whereas the older and seemingly more potent battery warrior, the Note 4, lasted for “merely” 8 hours and 43 minutes. Undoubtedly, the more efficient chipset and the optimizations that Samsung implemented have given fruition. In terms of recharging speed, the Note5 once again reigns supreme.

You can get a full charge for 81 minutes, while the Note 4 requires 95 minutes to do the very same exercise. It's also worth mentioning that the Note5 is equipped with wireless fast charging out of the box - you need to buy an aftermarket Qi-enabled rear cover for the Galaxy Note 4 in order to make use of wireless charging.
Battery life(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note59h 11 min(Good)
Samsung Galaxy Note48h 43 min(Good)
Full Charge(hours)Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note51h 21 min
Samsung Galaxy Note41h 35 min


Although members of the one and the same product family, the two phablets are both extremely similar and noticeably different from each other simultaneously. While the Note 4 can be safely viewed as one of the most feature-rich phones Samsung has made to date, the Note5 is going down a different, more design-oriented path. With “form over function” kicking in inside Samsung's camp, the Note 4 could be regarded as the last great dinosaur of a dying era.

By saying this we don't want to imply that the Note5 is disappointing – not at all! Actually, we're pretty impressed with the majority of the handset's aspects and Samsung's ability to sail comfortably in waters it has hardly ever ventured into. Still, not just everyone is ready to trade in the plethora of staple features that were present on the Note 4 (like the removable battery and microSD card among others) for the posh design of the Note5. With the Note5 putting emphasis on radically different aspects, one needs to ask themselves whether they're willing to give away the aforementioned features in favor of the better design, better performance, and improved battery stamina.

If the answer is “yes”, then you should certainly consider upgrading. However, if you're not just ready to ditch your beloved microSD card or you usually swap batteries while on the go, then the Note5 might not be that appealing to you.Whatever the case is, the bottomline is clear: the Samsung Galaxy Note5 is a worthy successor to the Note 4 and is worthy of being regarded as one of the best smartphones money can buy you right now.

Samsung Galaxy Note5


  • Exquisite design
  • More compact, with better screen-to-body size ratio
  • Better performance thanks to the superior hardware
  • Better battery life
  • Improved S Pen features
  • Revamped TouchWiz UI
  • Wireless fast charging out of the box

Samsung Galaxy Note 4


  • microSD card slot
  • Removable battery
  • Superior rear camera performance in certain scenes
  • Slightly better call quality

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