Galaxy Note 4 vs. iPhone 5s: Key Differences

With a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release date now confirmed for October, we want to assist those that might be taking a long hard look at Samsung’s Next Best Thing. We’ve gone hands-on with Samsung’s brand new Galaxy Note and today, we take a look at the key differences between the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 5s.

In September of last year, shortly after the arrival of the Galaxy Note 3, Apple took the stage and announced the all new iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s was and still is the company’s flagship iPhone and it will remain Apple’s top option until the iPhone 6 arrives at some point later this year. iPhone 6 release date rumors currently point to September.


After the arrival of the iPhone 6, the iPhone 5s will remain a top option thanks to a combination of sleek hardware, solid iOS software, and a price tag that’s much more affordable than it once was. However, the iPhone 5s now has some more competition, a new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 that will be taking the place of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in just a few short weeks.

Yesterday, the company unveiled the brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the fourth-generation Galaxy Note, and a device that will join the Galaxy S5 in this year’s battle with Apple’s iPhone 5s and its upcoming iPhone 6.


The Galaxy Note 4 release is coming in October and in these next four weeks, many of you are going to start prepping for its arrival. And one of the ways you’re going to do that is by researching top Galaxy Note 4 alternatives. One of those alternatives is the iPhone 5s, a device that’s still considered to be amongst the best money can buy.


Here, we want to run down the key differences between the Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 5s, all in an effort to help those that are starting to prepare for the upcoming Galaxy Note 4 release date.


Even if you haven’t been following all of the Galaxy Note 4 rumors, it should come as no surprise that the Galaxy Note 4, a device that’s a part of the Galaxy Note series, is in possession of a massive display. Massive displays are hallmarks of the Galaxy Note series and also essential to their experience. More on that in a bit.

Galaxy S5 vs. Galaxy Note 4 display.

Galaxy S5 vs. Galaxy Note 4 display.

The first key difference between the Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 5s is the display. While the iPhone 5s touts a 4-inch Retina Display, the Galaxy Note 4’s 5.7-inch display is much larger and offers Quad HD resolution for crisper and more detail imagery. Here’s how it all breaks down:


  • Galaxy Note 4 – 5.7-inch – 2,560 x 1,440 resolution – 515 pixels per inch
  • iPhone 5s – 4-inch – 1136 x 640 – 326 pixels per inch

Essentially, what this means is that the Galaxy Note 4 will deliver more pixels packed into a small space, which lets it show more detail than an iPhone screen. This is going to be key for those that consume a ton of content or play a ton of games.


Of course, the size of the Galaxy Note 4’s display means that the device is much, much larger than the iPhone 5s. It’s a massive, very noticeable difference and one that buyers will want to be aware of before the Galaxy Note 4’s release in October.


To give you some perspective, the Galaxy Note 4’s form factor is 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm thin and weighs 176g. That’s heavy for a smartphone. By comparison, the iPhone 5s is 112 grams and is just 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm thin. So, the Galaxy Note 4 is wider, longer, and heavier than the iPhone 5s. Not surprising, but a key difference nonetheless.


The size difference means that the iPhone 5s is going to be much easier to use with one hand and far more pocketable. This is going to be key for those of you with small hands and little pockets.

Storage & Battery

The Galaxy Note 4 comes with 32GB of storage space and a microSD card slot that supports 64GB microSD cards for expanded storage. We have a feeling that 128GB microSD cards will work with the Galaxy Note 4. It will also come with 50GB of free storage courtesy of DropBox.

iPhone 5s vs iPhone 6 Video - Lightning

Apple’s iPhone 5s design does not have a microSD card slot though it does come in three sizes, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. This means that users, especially 16GB ones, will need to be much more reliant on the company’s iCloud service.


Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 design also comes with a removable back which means that users can easily swap out the battery if a problem occurs or if the on board battery life isn’t good enough. The iPhone 5s does not come with a removable battery and users are stuck with the stock battery that Apple provides.

Build Quality

The iPhone 5s design blows the Galaxy Note 3’s faux leather design out of the water. And while the Galaxy Note 4 takes a step in the right direction, we still feel like the iPhone 5s’ industrial metal design is superior to the Galaxy Note 4’s.


Instead of a full on plastic design like the Galaxy S5 or Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Note 4 features metal that wraps around the entire frame. This is not faux metal, it’s actually metal.


The soft textured back cover is extremely nice, durable, and easy to grip with one hand. It’s not a huge step up from the design found on the Galaxy Note 3 or Galaxy S5 but it’s a step in the right direction.

Fingerprint Sensor

Both devices some with fingerprint sensors for added security and convenience though the two sensors don’t work the same way. As we’ve pointed out, the Galaxy Note 4 comes with the same fingerprint sensor as the Galaxy S5, a fingerprint sensor that we think is inferior to Apple’s.


Samsung’s swipe-based fingerprint sensor is difficult to use with one hand which makes it far more inconvenient than the iPhone 5s’ Touch ID fingerprint sensor that only requires users to put their thumb on the home button.

UV Sensor & Heart Rate Sensor

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 comes with an array of sensors including a heart rate sensor and a brand new UV sensor that ties into Samsung’s S Health 3.5 application and provides UV level readings.

The Galaxy Note 4’s UV Sensor will do everything from help you avoid a sunburn, premature skin aging and with action, it could help reduce your risk of skin cancer. The heart rate sensor will keep track of your pulse during exercise or normal activities.

Apple’s iPhone 5s comes with sensors of its own but it doesn’t have a heart rate sensor or a UV sensor on board.

S Pen

The Galaxy Note series comes with two very unique features. The first is the larger screen that we pointed out earlier. The other is the Galaxy Note’s S Pen, a bundled stylus that allows you to write and draw on the screen and take advantage of powerful applications.

The Galaxy Note 4 will be coming with a new and improved S Pen. Samsung’s made some significant changes to this year’s S Pen including increased sensitivity on the Note 4 screen to make the note taking experience on the Galaxy Note 4 feel more like writing on paper. More sensitivity also leads to better looking text from handwriting.


Samsung’s also made some significant improvements to the S Pen’s built-in applications including, Air Command, S Note and Voice Memo, and more. The iPhone 5s does not come with an S Pen nor is it compatible with Samsung’s S Pen. This feature is one that you absolutely need to take a look at before buying. Some people absolutely love the S Pen while others don’t find it to be necessary.


One of the Galaxy Note features that Samsung has absolutely nailed throughout the years is multitasking. The Galaxy Note series’ large screen is perfect for TouchWiz’s assortment of multitasking features including Multi-Window View, a feature that the company has souped up with the Galaxy Note 4. To get some idea of how Multi-Window View works, take a look at the Galaxy S5 video below.

Multi-Window View, at its most basic level, allows users to run multiple applications on screen at the same time. With the Galaxy Note 4, Samsung has made some admirable changes including the ability to access applications in full, split or pop-up screens. Galaxy Note 4 users will now also be able to reposition apps on the screen with just one swipe.

As we’ve pointed out, iOS 8 rumors point to split-screen multitasking for the iPad but those rumors also suggest that the feature may not be ready in time for the iOS 8.0 release this fall. We also haven’t heard anything about this feature for the iPhone which means that we may not see this feature emerge for the iPhone 5s.

Apple’s multitasking just can’t compare to the multitasking on the Galaxy Note 4 and this is a key difference that potential buyers will want to keep in mind going forward.


U.S. carriers failed to announce official pricing for the Galaxy Note 4 though we can tell you that the Galaxy Note 4 will be much more expensive than the iPhone 5s. We’ve put together a rough sketch of the Galaxy Note 4 price in the United States but nothing is concrete and firm, at least not yet.

iPhone 5s

The Samsung Galaxy Note series usually is priced at $299.99 on-contract. Thanks to a contest at T-Mobile, we’ve determined that the Galaxy Note 4 could cost around that much when it arrives later this year. $299.99 or not, the Galaxy Note 4 will almost certainly be more expensive than the iPhone 5s which is already priced at $99 and below at retailers around the U.S.


Finally, while the iPhone 5s is available on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon and a number of smaller pre-paid and regional carriers, the Galaxy Note 4 is only going to come to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. That’s it. Not a lot of choice there but the Galaxy Note 4 is a niche smartphone and smaller carriers don’t seem to want to gamble on it.