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Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Note 5: is it time to upgrade?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 was released in August 2015, making it around 2 years old. If you have one of these devices, you're likely to be considering an upgrade now. But, since the Note 7 met an unfortunate fate and won't be re-released in the US, you should instead consider the more powerful Samsung Galaxy S8+, with its top of the line specs, 6.2-inch display and elegant design. Find out in our comparison whether it offers enough for you to consider upgrading, despite lacking an S Pen.

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Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy Note 5: design and build quality

The Galaxy S8+ recalls the symmetrical bodies, thin frames and curves of the Note 5 and Note 7, but takes a big leap forward in terms of design. The Note 5 is flat on top with rounded edges only on the rear, which makes it ergonomic, but not as strikingly modern as the S8+ with its bezel-less display and curved glass on the front and back. The build quality of the Note 5 is also nowhere near as seamless as the new S series flagship, as it lacks any waterproofing. Unlike the Note 5, the S8+ has IP68 certification for resistance to water and dust, a USB Type-C port, and an iris scanner.

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The Note 5 and its S Pen in action. / © ANDROIDPIT

The home button has been removed from the S8+ in favor of virtual buttons, and the fingerprint scanner has moved to the back of the device next to the camera. The Note 5 comes with an S Pen stylus that fits into a slot on the bottom of the device, while the S8+ lacks a stylus entirely.

samsung devices
The Galaxy S8+ has no home button. / © ANDROIDPIT

The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is a bit bulkier and heavier than the Note 5, but it has a considerably larger screen. The S series flagship's 6.2-inch display compared to the Note 5's 5.7-inch one makes a big difference when trying to be productive. The dimensions of the Note 5 are 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm, and the dimensions of the S8+ are 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm. Both devices are comfortable to hold and the S8+ weighs in at 173 g compared to 171 g, which isn't much of a weight gain.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy Note 5: display

While we're on the topic of screen size, it's necessary to note that the S8+ has a larger display than most phablets on the market, not just the Note 5. At 6.2 inches, the Super AMOLED display was crisp in our full review. This is no surprise, as it has a pixel density of 530 ppi. The aspect ratio is 18.5:9 and the resolution is 2,960 x 1,440.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 with S Pen / © ANDROIDPIT

The resolution and pixel density of the Note 5's 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display is less, at 2,560 x 1,440 and 518 ppi. The Note 5's display is not curved like that of the S8+, and thus does not have edge functionality. The S8+ is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, which should protect against 80 percent of drops from a height of up to 1.6 meters according to Corning, while the Note 5 is protected with Gorilla Glass 4, which can withstand drops from 1 meter up to 80 percent of the time.

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The S8 and S8+ / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy Note 5: software

The Galaxy Note 5 shipped with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, but received the upgrade to Marshmallow early last year, and now all major US carriers offer the Nougat update for the device. The new Galaxy S8+ ships with Android 7.0 Nougat, of course, so the only major software differences come from the Note 5's S Pen, and the S8+'s as yet untested Bixby AI assistant and its aforementioned virtual navigation buttons.

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The S8+ has a virtual home button / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 5 technical specifications

  Samsung Galaxy S8+ Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Dimensions: 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm
Weight: 173 g 171 g
Battery size: 3500 mAh 3000 mAh
Screen size: 6.2 in 5.7 in
Display technology: AMOLED AMOLED
Screen: 2960 x 1440 pixels (531 ppi) 2560 x 1440 pixels (515 ppi)
Front camera: 8 megapixels 5 megapixels
Rear camera: 12 megapixels 16 megapixels
Flashlight: Dual-LED LED
Android version: 7.0 - Nougat 5.1.1 - Lollipop
User interface: TouchWiz TouchWiz
RAM: 4 GB 4 GB
Internal storage: 64 GB 32 GB
64 GB
Removable storage: microSD Not available
Chipset: Samsung Exynos 8895 Samsung Exynos 7420
Number of cores: 8 8
Max. clock speed: 2.3 GHz 2.1 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy Note 5: performance

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is a 2015 device - it's as simple as that. It comes with the Exynos 7230 octa-core processor, and in our review of the device, we experienced some lagginess when relaunching apps as well as apps closing in the background when more than four were open. For a device that's meant for productivity, this is a real disappointment as it makes multi-tasking a headache. Given that it has 4 GB of RAM, the performance should be better. The Note 5 comes in three variants with perfectly adequate internal storage, 32, 64 or 128 GB, which is lucky as it has no Micro SD card slot.

On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ has a performance that really shines. It comes with two processor variants, with the Snapdragon 835 being the one offered in the US. It is in another league entirely in terms of performance, and multi-tasking is a breeze. In our review, there were no hiccups or slowdowns with the home screens, apps, websites or games. The Galaxy S8+ comes with 64 GB of expandable internal storage and 4 GB of RAM. It lives up to what we expect from a 2017 device and blows the Note 5 out of the water.

Opinion by Brittany McGhee
It is worth upgrading to the S8+ for its superior multi-tasking performance alone
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Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy Note 5: audio

The mono speaker of the S8+ could be a little louder, but the call quality was very good in our test of the device. The Note 5's mono speaker quality is fine once you adjust the equalizer settings, but nothing special, as with the call quality.

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The headphone jack and unexciting mono speaker on the S8+. / © ANDROIDPIT

The headphones are another story. Samsung acquired Harmon Kardon in Fall 2016, and the audio experts there developed the headphones supplied with the S8+. The results are exceptional: clear pitch, lots of bass and no rough noise at high volumes. The Galaxy Note 5 came packaged with unremarkable headphones, on the other hand.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy Note 5: camera

The S8+ has a better front camera than the Note 5, with 8 MP and auto focus, compared to the Note 5's more standard 5 MP.

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The S8+ has a better front camera than the Note 5. / © ANDROIDPIT

The main cameras of the S8+ and Note 5 are quite different. The S8+'s rear shooter has 12 MP, f / 1.9 aperture and the same dual pixel technology that was introduced in the S7. It shoots sharp images with great contrast. The Note 5's rear camera has 16 MP and f / 1.9 aperture, and has decent exposure in a wide variety of lighting situations. Judging by the results of the photos taken with each, the Galaxy S8+ delivers superior, true to life shots. You can see the images for yourself here:

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The rear camera of the Note 5 / © ANDROIDPIT

The main difference between the Note 5 and S8+ devices' cameras is that when the S8+ snaps a photo, it is actually taking multiple shots and combining them automatically. This multi-frame processing leads to better results without compromising speed.

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The rear camera and fingerprint scanner of the S8+. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy Note 5: battery

The Note 5 has a 3,000 mAh battery and the Galaxy S8+ has a larger 3,500 mAh battery to power its larger screen. Neither battery is removable. Under heavy usage in our test, the Note 5 lasted just over one day - but this can vary in real life depending on software optimizations, screen brightness and individual usage habits. The same caveat applies to the Galaxy S8+, which lasted a full day. The S8+'s fairly average results and the Note 5's slightly better results are offset by their fast charging and wireless charging capabilities to make things a bit more convenient. The Note 5 uses Micro USB, while the S8+ has moved on to USB Type-C.

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The Note 5 has a Micro USB port and headphone jack / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy Note 5: verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is clearly a leap above the Note 5. If you already own the Note 5, the only thing that should be holding you back from upgrading to the Galaxy S8+, apart from the $720 and up price, is curiosity about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 8. The Note series has historically differentiated itself from the high-end S series by offering even larger screens and the S Pen. It has done well at appealing to a professional audience that is willing to pay a bit more for these aspects, but now the S8+ has come along with a 6.2-inch display, a modern, bezel-less design and a host of new features, leaving seemingly little new territory for the Note 8 to explore. An S Pen alone will not be enough to sway potential buyers, so Samsung had better have something really convincing up its sleeve. In the mean time though, you certainly won't regret updating to the Samsung Galaxy S8+ as it offers substantially superior performance.

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Let us know what you think of these devices in the comments.

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  • I realize many users are entrenched in and satisfied with their Note 4's or 5's. Good for them. They won't be spending a lot of money in the near future. But I see no point in all the negativity about the redesigned Samsungs. They are gorgeous, they feel good in the hand. The performance is stunningly good, and the display impressive. I retreated to a Note 5 when I was forced to return the Note 7 which is, IMHO, the best phone they had made up to that point. From my perspective, this review is a balanced comparison, with a mix of objective facts and the reviewer's take on the specs, so why be so snarky? The one statement I would debate is that the S-pen is not enough of factor to sway the prospective buyer. I personally won't go back to Moto phones I owned for years, nor switch to the S8+ because I want the S-pen and its accompanying features. So I will wait to see the new Note 8, but given the potential price tag, I may opt instead for the Note 7 FE unlocked.

  • Matthew 2 months ago Link to comment

    No S Pen? No go....

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  • Karl E 2 months ago Link to comment

    First: Bezel less design .... not really, The S8 just looks bezel free from direct look on the front. Second: Design is mostly an matter of what you like. Third: Is the screen really larger? The S8 is smaller but higher and a lot of content can not use the 2:1 ratio of that display, so I am quite not sure the 5,8 are worth the 5.8 inch? The none curved Display is in my opinion more useful than the curved one, I used a S6 edge plus and it is not that good to have this kind of display edges. All the rest is just a matter of what you need and like. Never the less, I would stay at a Note or wait for the upcoming one.

  • Mark
    • Admin
    2 months ago Link to comment

    The Note 5 was a downgrade from the Note 4 except for a slight increases in processor speed. This article should be is it worth upgrading from the Note 4. I would say absolutely not. The Note 4 is still the best phone ever made by Samsung. It still handles all Apps. These all glass curved display disasters Samsung is putting out is a shame. They are capable of putting out truly wonderful phones. Just wish they would quit with the gimmicks and get back to making great phones again. To all you self proclaimed expert reviewers take your premium materials and shove them. Plastic ( polycarbonate ) is the best and most durable product to make phones out of except maybe for metal which has it's own issues. Glass on the front of a phone is necessary, Glass on the back of a phone is stupidity.

    • LEt me know when the Note 4 can support MST Samsung Pay....

      • Mark
        • Admin
        2 months ago Link to comment

        Itprolonden- it does support it any Samsung device that has NFC does. Have you ever used it? Doubt it since nobody uses it. Quit with the same lame excuse you use every time.

    • Greg1100 2 months ago Link to comment

      What I have been saying for a long time- a lot of reviewers are imbeciles- all they can say is "premium". The plastic back on my Note 4 is nigh on unbreakable, but featherlight. Plus there is grip there, unlike S6, S7 and S8- as slippery as a cake of soap in a hot bath. My Note 4 was £600- I would not use it without a case of sorts, nor would I let it get anywhere near water. Electronics and water is a deadly combination. Edge display is a gimmick, I have used my mate's S7 Edge often- tempered glass screens do not stick well to an Edge screen. Not in the least bit interested in bixby or samsung pay either.

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