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Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy Note 5: should you go big or go home?

Whether you're looking to upgrade your old Samsung, or you're jumping ship from another manufacturer, should you go for the Galaxy S6, the latest device in the standard Galaxy S range, or make the big leap to the stylus-wielding Galaxy Note 5 phablet? If you're eyeing up one of Samsung's 2015 flagships, here's what you should consider when making your decision. 

samsung galaxy note 5 galaxy s6 camera 2
The Galaxy Note 5 (left) and the Galaxy S6. Which should you choose? / © ANDROIDPIT
Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy Note 5
$250.00
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Amazon price for Samsung Galaxy S6
$419.99
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Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy S6
$199.97
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Big or small?

The difference in display quality between these devices isn't substantial. Both devices house highly-saturated QHD, super AMOLED displays. Which screen is better for you depends mainly on the size.

There are plus and minus points to both. The Galaxy S6 has the smaller display, and, therefore, a smaller body. Some people, me included, prefer a smaller device because it's easier to hold, and feels more comfortable when you carry it in your pocket. But the larger the screen, the more impressive media content appears, and the more comfortable it is to type on.

samsung galaxy note 5 galaxy s6 front
Both QHD displays are strong, the main difference is in the size. / © ANDROIDPIT

You should also consider how the handsets look. For me, the rounded rear of the Galaxy Note 5 is more appealing than the flat rear of the Galaxy S6. If I were going on aesthetics, the Note 5 would be my choice.

Stylus vs sty-less

The S Pen stylus is one of the defining features of the Samsung Galaxy Note series. It can be used to operate the phone instead of your finger or thumb, and comes with its own set of options in Samsung's Air Command menu, which opens as soon as you remove the stylus from its holder. 

samsung galaxy note 5 s pen 2
The S Pen stylus distinguishes the Galaxy Note 5 from the S6. / © ANDROIDPIT

What can you do with the stylus? You can write notes or messages, and the text will be transcribed accurately into type. You can draw around objects on screen, and save and share your selection. You can link written items to actions in apps such as your email, web browser and maps (it's particularly enjoyable to write down a person's number and then save that number as a contact in your address book). 

The Air Command features and Galaxy Note-exclusive apps provide an experience that the Galaxy S6 simply cannot match. Is this experience essential? No, but it is useful. How useful it'll be for you depends on how you want to use your phone.

Price and performance

The performance of these handsets is comparable, with both devices using the same processor, and though the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has 1 GB more RAM than the Galaxy S6 (4 GB compared to 3 GB), this doesn't automatically mean it's the faster Android phone.

Both devices offer wireless and quick-charging, though neither has microSD card support or a removable battery. Both are up and running with the latest version of Android Lollipop and are due to get Marshmallow very soon, and the cameras are virtually identical.

samsung galaxy note 5 galaxy s6 camera
The camera technology used is largely the same. / © ANDROIDPIT

The Galaxy Note 5 does have a bigger battery capacity however: 3,000 mAh compared to 2,550 mAh, which should make it the longer-lasting device. 

This brings us to the price. The Galaxy Note 5 currently costs around 150 bucks more when you buy it unlocked. However, it's also worth noting that the Note 5 is not available in the UK, so you might not actually be able to get your hands on it even if you are willing to pay the extra.

samsung galaxy note 5 vs galaxy s6 edge camera 1
Is the Galaxy Note 5 worth the higher price? / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy S6: Conclusion

So, the big question is whether the Note 5 is worth the extra cost. If you think the Galaxy S6 is too small, and that it would be much better if it had a stylus, then the Note 5 is for you. It's certainly designed more for business or 'professional' use, because it has wider functionality, particularly where productivity is concerned. 

The Note 5’s bigger display and stylus don't automatically mean it is better, though. If these features don't appeal to you, save yourself some cash and opt for the Galaxy S6, because without them, there isn't much to separate these Samsung flagships.  

We’ll have our full Galaxy Note 5 review online soon, in the meantime which device are you leaning towards? Let us know what you'll upgrade to in the comments. 

Readers' favorite comments

  • Mark Sep 24, 2015

    Shouldn't this be which to downgrade to. Both phones are downgrades from the S5 and Note4 except for processor speed.
    No removable battery or SD card. I will stick with my older models rather than these I phone clones. Plus they are all glass slipperier than eel s..t. My next phone will most likely be the LG G5.

13 comments

Write new comment:
  • Well... I'd prefer the Note 5 and S6 in different ways. My Galaxy Note 5 preferences are the following: Battery life, Software, S Pen. For the S6: Size, Price and Display. Design, Camera and performance don't matter as they are the same. If i was forced to pick one, I would choose the S6.

  • LostWinter 11 months ago Link to comment

    No MicroSD, No Deal!

  • Well, I would prefer the Note 5. But it seems like it is not going to be available in Europe tho :/ Though I think next time I'm going to the store, I would ask if there is any possibility that it can be ordered :P

    • Mark 11 months ago Link to comment

      I am sure you could order one on the internet. Just be careful that it is not region locked that you get the international model or you won't be able to use it. All normal Samsung models are region locked. Personally I think you would be better off with the Note 4. The Note 5 is a down grade except for processor speed, non removable battery and no Micro SD support.

  • Hello Scott ! Could You Explain What Does " Go Big or Go Home" Means?

  • Go big, go home; why not go Zoidberg?

  • the Note 5

  • thank you very good .

  • Larry R. Sep 26, 2015 Link to comment

    I'm thinking about an LG G5, very nice and it has a REMÒVEABLE Battery and an SD slot.

  • Duncan Sep 25, 2015 Link to comment

    Samsung & Apple are expensive. LG G4 seems impressive & well priced, leaks for Nexus 5X & 6P seem to indicate they will compete well vs Samsung too...

  • Mark Sep 24, 2015 Link to comment

    Shouldn't this be which to downgrade to. Both phones are downgrades from the S5 and Note4 except for processor speed.
    No removable battery or SD card. I will stick with my older models rather than these I phone clones. Plus they are all glass slipperier than eel s..t. My next phone will most likely be the LG G5.

    • Jesus Christ I have the s6 so what im about to say will make me seem like an isheep...I'm not, anyway you android fans are the whiniest most demanding people. To there are these magical things call chargers! Portable,wireless,wired, you name it.refering to the storage the fuck are you downloading that takes up 32 gigs? The music doesn't take that much and gaming is just pointless on a tiny screen...I get you want options but honestly you do not need them

  • Go big if you like big phones or phablets.

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