Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2: 5 Key Differences

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is finally here and in just a few weeks, it will be available inside the United States on a number of different carriers. In the build up to the Galaxy S5 release, it will get compared to a number of different devices including the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a device that is not only still available but is still in the hands of a lot of consumers.

After weeks and weeks and weeks of rumor and speculation, Samsung finally announced the elephant in the room. Yes, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is now official and it will be touching down in the United States in April with new hardware and software that Samsung hopes will lure in millions of users.


While the success of the Samsung Galaxy S5 has yet to be determined, what we do know is that the Galaxy S5 will almost certainly be a device that is considered by millions of Americans, not only because of its features, but because of its stature. The Galaxy S series is iconic and recognizable and thus, it’s going to be more than just a blip on the radar.

With that in mind, we’re starting to take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S5 and how it compares to some of the older devices on the market.

Devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 remain options thanks to software updates, fantastic hardware and price tags that get more attractive by the week. Yes, the Galaxy Note 2 will certainly be a Galaxy S5 competitor when the new Galaxy S lands in April.


Older devices like the Galaxy Note 2 are also in the hands of thousands, if not millions of people in the United States. Galaxy Note 2 owners in particular are going to be coming off-contract later this year, looking for a new device. Current Galaxy Note 2 owners would be wise to take a look at the Galaxy S5.


While we haven’t spent enough time with the Galaxy S5 to offer a full comparison, what we can do is offer what we consider to be the five main differences between the new Galaxy S and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. These should help put the devices into perspective for both prospective and current Galaxy Note 2 owners.


As expected, the Samsung Galaxy S5 delivered a brand new design that Samsung hopes will be one of its strengths. Instead of a smooth piece of plastic, the Samsung Galaxy S5 uses a unique perforated pattern on the back cover that Samsung says gives it a modern ‘glam’ look. That’s debatable. What’s not debatable is the fact that it looks entirely different than the smooth and plain plastic design of the Galaxy Note 2.

The Galaxy S5 design includes a removable back with a new dimpled design.

The Galaxy S5 design includes a removable back with a new dimpled design.

The new back cover isn’t the only change found on the Galaxy S5. The new Galaxy S5 comes with a design that is both dust and water resistant, similar to the design found on the AT&T Galaxy S4 Active. This appeals to those that are clumsy or simply want their device to perform in rugged environments. The Galaxy Note 2 does not feature a rugged design.


Samsung’s new Galaxy S also comes with a home button that isn’t just a tool for navigation. No, the Galaxy S5’s home button features a fingerprint scanner that allows users to lock their phone using their fingerprint. It’s an added layer of security and convenience that the Galaxy Note 2 simply does not have.

This change forced Samsung to increase the overall size of the Galaxy S5. It comes with a frame that is both thicker (8.1mm) and heavier (145 grams) than the Galaxy S4. It is not, however, thicker or heavier than the Galaxy Note 2 which comes with a monstrous frame. The Galaxy Note 2’s form factor is 9.4mm thin and weighs 182 grams.


The Galaxy S5 design, because it’s plastic, shares some things in common with the Galaxy Note 2. It comes with a microSD card slot for expanded storage and a removable back cover, just like Samsung’s aging Galaxy Note.


When the Galaxy Note 2 arrived back in 2012, it arrived with one of the best displays in the business. The 5.5-inch display offers 720 x 1280 pixel resolution at 265 pixels per inch, which, back in the day, was considered to be fantastic. And while it’s certainly still decent, it simply cannot match the displays found on newer phones like the Galaxy S5.


Ultra Power Saver mode lets the Galaxy S5 battery last even longer when users only need access to a few features.

Ultra Power Saver mode lets the Galaxy S5 battery last even longer when users only need access to a few features.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is smaller than the Galaxy Note 2’s display, 5.5-inches to 5.1-inches, but it packs a much bigger punch. It brings 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution which offers full HD quality content, something that the Galaxy Note 2 simply cannot offer. This means better looking movies, games, and web.

Samsung has also added a brand new “Ultra Power Saving Mode” to the Galaxy S5 that will not only turn the display to black and white but will also turn off all unnecessary features in an effort to conserve battery life. It’s not clear if this feature will come to the Galaxy Note 2 in a future update but for the moment, it’s unique to the Galaxy S5.


The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 uses an 8MP camera that, again, was solid in its time. However camera technology, like display technology, is moving extremely fast and that’s evident with the changes that Samsung had made to the Galaxy S5’s camera.


Instead of keeping the same 13MP camera sensor found on the Galaxy S4, the Galaxy S5 brings a 16MP camera along with it. The higher resolution isn’t the only major change that the Galaxy S5’s camera brings to the table though.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 camera features three new enhancements and a bigger sensor that should deliver better looking photos.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 camera features three new enhancements and a bigger sensor that should deliver better looking photos.

The Galaxy S5 uses a hybrid autofocus system which means that it uses standard auto focus in addition to phase detection autofocus. This means that the device can autofocus in  up to 0.3 seconds. That’s huge for those that are constantly pulling out their phone to shoot photos. It’s also something that the 8MP camera on the Galaxy Note 2 does not have.

The Galaxy S5′s camera also brings changes to HDR adding advanced High Dynamic Range (Advanced HDR) that should provide better colors and more natural lighting in photos and video.

Here’s the deal. The Galaxy S4 camera was better than the Galaxy Note 2’s and the Galaxy S5 camera appears to be better than the Galaxy S4’s. Something that mobile photographers will want to keep in mind in the build up to the Galaxy S5’s release.

S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 comes with an S Pen stylus. The Galaxy S5 does not. Of course, the S Pen is more than just a typical stylus. Yes, it allows Galaxy Note 2 owners to draw and write on the display but it also comes with a lot more functionality.

For those that aren’t familiar with the Galaxy Note series, it comes with unique software that can be used in conjunction with the S Pen. Applications like S Note allow for quick, efficient note taking. Some of these features can be seen in the video below.

The point is, the S Pen is more than just a standard stylus and those looking at both of these phones will need to decide if the S Pen is truly going to be necessary. For many people, it’s a game changer.


Finally, the last key difference. It’s one that isn’t readily apparent though it’s extremely important to note nonetheless.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is an aging device. Later this year, it will turn two years old, ancient for a smartphone. More importantly, it means that the Galaxy Note 2’s software support will likely be coming to an end soon.

The Galaxy S5 features a pulse meter that can take a user's pulse.

The Galaxy S5 features a pulse meter that can take a user’s pulse.

Samsung likes to update its devices for two years before casting them aside. That means that the Galaxy Note 2 could get one more update after Android 4.4 KitKat arrives later on this year, though, it’s no guarantee. Google recommends 18 months of software support for Android phones and Samsung could certainly decide to adhere to that.

There is also a good chance that because of its age, the Galaxy Note 2 will miss out on a lot of the software features that debuted alongside the Galaxy S5. It could also miss out on potential Galaxy Note 4 software features as well. The Samsung Galaxy S5 won’t have that problem because of how new and powerful it is. It will get powerful updates for years to come.

Those with an eye toward the future will want to keep this in mind.