The new Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is truly beautiful phone, but it’s replacing a real heavyweight: the five-star Galaxy Note 3. It’s dumped the fake leather and upped the specs of its predecessor, so is the Note 5 now the best phablet around? Let’s find out in our Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 3 comparison.
Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 3: design and build quality
The Galaxy Note 5 doesn’t look significantly different to the Galaxy Note 3, but it has been to the gym. The Note 3 is 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm and weighs 168 g; the Note 5 is a little smaller and slimmer at 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm and 171 g. The new Note also dumps the fake leather back of the 3, which isn’t a bad thing.
Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy Note 3Best price
Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy Note 5Best price
Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 3: display
The Galaxy Note 5 has a 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display that delivers 2,560 x 1,440 pixels at 515 ppi, and it’s absolutely superb: pin sharp with excellent color reproduction and good viewing angles. As with any AMOLED the display can be a little bright for some tastes, but that’s easy to adjust in each device’s Settings panel. The display is protected by the latest generation of Gorilla Glass, which comes with claims of 80 percent better durability than the glass on some lesser smartphones.
When the Note 3 went on sale its screen was one of the best around, but in this company the 5.7-inch AMOLED with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels at 386 ppi has lost its crown. It’s still a really great screen, but the Note 5 has crammed more pixels into the same space.
Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 3: processor and storage
The Note 5 comes packing an eight-core Exynos 7420 processor with 4 GB of RAM, and it’s backed up with either 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage but no microSD card slot. Samsung hasn’t announced clock speeds yet but the same processor in the Galaxy S6 has four cores at 2.1 GHz and four at 1.5 GHz.
The Note 3 came in two flavors: a quad-core Snapdragon 800 at 2.3 GHz, or an eight-core Exynos 5 Octa at 1.9 GHz. It has 3 GB of RAM and a choice of 32 GB or 64 GB of storage, plus the option to extend via microSD cards, something many users will miss on the Note 5.
Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 3: camera
The Note 5 has a 5 MP front-facing selfie snapper and a 16 MP rear camera with optical image stabilisation. It’s the same camera and sensor as the current Galaxy S6, and that means it’s really good.
The Note 3 camera isn’t bad, but with 13 MP on the rear and 2 MP on the front, the Note 5 has it beaten in the specs stakes, hands down.
Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 3: software
The Note 5 runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with Samsung’s recently slimmed down TouchWiz and will get Android M when the operating system is finished. The Note 3 originally shipped with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but the Android Lollipop update is rolling out to the Note 3 right now.
Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 3: battery
The Galaxy Note 5 comes with a 3,000 mAh battery, and the same power saving and power management features we saw in the Galaxy S6, so hopefully that means all-day battery life. The Note 5 also supports fast charging, which tops the battery up by around a third in 15 minutes. A full charge takes two hours using wireless charging or 90 minutes with a cabled charger.
The Note 3 battery is bigger than the Note 5's – it’s 3,200 mAh – but doesn’t benefit from the newer Note’s more efficient processor and battery saving modes. Like its successor, the Note 3 supports fast charging.
Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 3: early verdict
When we reviewed the Galaxy Note 3 we gave it five stars: the display was – and still is – stunning, the S Pen is handy to have, the performance was excellent and the camera was pretty good too. All that was wrong, we felt, was the design – that fake leather in particular.
So what’s changed? The leather has gone, the performance is better, the display is even more impressive and the S Pen is still handy to have. Samsung has looked at what made the Note 3 so good and found ways to make it even better. It’s a great device and a worthy successor to an already excellent device.
What do you think? Is this the Note you’ve been waiting for? Let us know in the comments.