It’s newer, it’s shinier, and it’s a Samsung Galaxy Note. That’s just three (out of many) perfectly acceptable reasons for the average consumer to want to buy the brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The new Note has plenty to offer with its 4GB of RAM, 64-bit octa core processor, an upgraded premium design, and improved S Pen functionality. However, if you’re new to the Note game, there are actually still a good number of reasons to consider last year’s Galaxy Note 4 as well.
In this industry it’s not uncommon to be pushed to get the latest and the greatest, but that doesn’t mean that last year’s model is complete trash. The Galaxy Note series has always offered specs and features that were exceptional compared to the competition. As the years go by, it seems like the spec gap between generations of smartphones are growing closer – finding a flagship device that truly bites the dust after just one or two years is becoming an increasingly difficult task, which means that finding good reasons to upgrade from one generation to the next is also becoming difficult.
I would like to clarify that I actually like the Galaxy Note 5. As with any phone, it’s going to receive proper scrutiny, but overall it looks great, the specs are great, and if you’re looking for a phone that’s going to get the most updates from here on out the Note 5 would be the better option. On the other hand, the Note 4 still has some “note”worthy features that didn’t quite make the cut with the Note 5.
First and foremost, absolutely nothing changed about the display. Both models have the same 5.7-inch, 2560 x 1440 AMOLED display, giving them both a whopping 518 ppi. In my article discussing whether the Galaxy Note was past its prime or not, this was actually a positive aspect about the Note – I’m actually really happy to see that Samsung didn’t increase the size of the Note this year. Everything about the screen seems right on the money. However, because there was no change in the screen, the Note 4 is still “up-to-date” in that regard.
Other shared features between the Note 4 and the Note 5 are the 16-megapixel rear-facing camera (although the Note 5 has a slightly wider aperture, resulting in a faster shutter speed), optical image stabilization, fast charging, fingerprint sensors/heartrate monitors, and both running on Android Lollipop (both currently on 5.0).
The reasons to keep the Note 4 in your considerations are actually due to the differences.
While the internal storage capacity differ (the Note 5 offers both 32GB and 64GB, the Note 4 only offers 32GB) the Note 4 has an advantage that Samsung removed from the Note 5: a microSD card slot. This is a dying feature in the industry that many still wish to keep around, and Samsung was, up until this year, one of the manufacturers that seemed to embrace this feature. This change was expected given that Samsung nixed the microSD card slot in the Galaxy S6 earlier this year. The Note 4 supports up to 128GB of external memory.
Another dying feature that the Note 4 exhibits is the removable battery. The advantage here is that if your battery does overheat, get liquid damaged, or has any of the other numerous problems that could happen with a battery, it takes little effort to find a replacement and simply switch it out. It’s also handy for people who burn through the battery before a full day’s usage. Get a separate charger just for the battery, tote around the spare, and switch it out when necessary. Bam, insta-100%! The Note 4’s battery is also slightly larger than the Note 5’s (3,220 mAH vs. 3,000 mAH), but that doesn’t necessarily mean better battery life. Stay tuned for battery life tests in the near future.
There’s also the difference in materials used to house the device, but it’s purely a matter of opinion. The Note 4 uses a metal frame and faux leather backing, to which some may prefer to the premium glass and metal materials used for the Note 5. My only worry about the Note 5 is the glass back being prone to cracks. The design looks sleeker, but a glass back has never been something I considered a good idea for a device that we humans are notorious for frequently dropping several feet off of the ground.
Finally, there’s the matter of the price. The price of the Note 4 will be considerably cheaper than the newer Note 5. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 will start selling at around $700, with the Note 4 can be found for around $550. You’re also going to be able to find a lot of used or refurbished Note 4 devices for even cheaper that will drop in price due to being technically outdated, whereas the Note 5 will likely take a few months before they start popping up.
Overall, I find that both models are worth a look if you’re in the market for a Note. Both Notes cater to different crowds for different reasons, but they both still offer the key features that make the Note great to begin with. The Note 4 may be considered outdated by industry standards, but for most users the phone still holds strong, and still holds on to important classic features that are becoming rarer by the year.