Later this year, many iPhone 5 users will be coming off contract looking for a new smartphone. While the iPhone 6 is certainly going to be tempting, there will be some other top tier devices vying for attention as well. One of those devices should be the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, a rumored successor to the Galaxy Note 3, and a device that iPhone 5 upgraders are already thinking about as we head into the fall.
Nearly two years ago, Apple delivered one of its most successful mobile products of all time. The iPhone 5 arrived back in September 0f 2012 and it landed with a number of big time changes including a redesign, LTE data speeds, the new Lightning dock standard, and a beautiful 4-inch Retina Display that its successor, the iPhone 5s, uses as well. The iPhone 5 was one of the biggest smartphone launches in history and unsurprisingly, consumers around the world bought into Apple’s new product.
Believe it or not, the iPhone 5 is turning two years old this year and that means that those who bought the device on release day or shortly thereafter, are going to be coming off contract. Many iPhone 5 owners have started weighing their options ahead of the fall and rightfully so. Picking out a brand new smartphone is a difficult, and costly, endeavor.
While iPhone 5 users likely have their eye on the next iPhone, currently dubbed iPhone 6, there are others that are taking a look outside of Apple and outside of iOS. One of the devices that consumers keep coming back to is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung’s rumored successor to the Galaxy Note 3, its 5.7-inch flagship.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rumors have been rampant, to the point that many Galaxy Note 4 features have begun to firm up ahead of launch. And because they’ve firmed up to that point, we’re able to take an educated look at how the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 should stack up next to some of the top competition. We’ve taken an early look at the Galaxy Note 4 next to the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy Note 3 and now it’s time to shift over to the iPhone 5.
Apple no longer sells the iPhone 5 so this comparison is aimed at those that are thinking about upgrading later this year and want to absorb as much information as possible before making a decision.
Keep in mind, while none of this is definitive, it should help consumers get a feel for what to expect from the matchup later on this year.
Key Design Differences
When the iPhone 5 arrived back on the scene back in 2012, it was in possession of one of the best smartphone designs of all time. The design, comprised out of aluminum and glass, exceeded expectations and was a giant step up from the iPhone 4s which was made from glass and plastic. It also helped that it measured just 7.6mm thin and weighed just 112 grams. The iPhone 5 design was so good that it’s still relevant today.
Samsung still hasn’t been able to match Apple’s build quality. We’ve seen it take some steps in the right direction over the years but its plastic devices simply cannot keep pace with Apple’s metal designs. Here is how we described the difference between the iPhone 5s, which uses the iPhone 5’s design, and the Galaxy Note 3 design:
Despite the strides Samsung made with the Galaxy S4 design, the Galaxy Note 3 arrived with a love it or hate it plastic leather back, complete with fake stitching on the edges. Some users like this and thanks to thinner bezels and a thinner overall design, but next to the iPhone it’s clear the iPhone 5s is on a different level.
Visually the iPhone 5s and Galaxy Note 3 are close enough to think of as equals, but the tactile feel of the iPhone 5s is what separates them. The aluminum and glass of the iPhone 5 deliver a premium feel that the Note 3 doesn’t match. For users that don’t hide the iPhone 5s away in a case, this is a big benefit for the iPhone 5s.
Fortunately, the Galaxy Note 4 probably won’t look like the Galaxy Note 3. Samsung, unlike Apple, changes its designs every single year. And typically, we see noticeable improvements.
Rumors suggest that Samsung could ditch plastic and shift to premium materials for its designs but the company keeps its designs under lock and key and the Galaxy Note 4 still hasn’t leaked out.
Galaxy Note 4 leaks have continually hinted at a brand new design. A Samsung executive recently said that the device would be coming with a “new form factor” but did not elaborate on the exact changes. This “new form factor” could potentially be the three-sided display. Rumors point to two different models, one with a flat display and one with a curved display.
We’ve seen rumors point to a IP67 certification (dust and water resistant), a feature that’s on board the Samsung Galaxy S5 but isn’t found on the iPhone 5 design. iPhone 5 users looking for this kind of protection can only obtain it through the use of a case.
Galaxy Note 4 Design rumors also continue to point to a fingerprint sensor, a feature that would deliver added convenience and another layer of security. This is another design feature found on the Galaxy S5. And while the iPhone 5s comes with a fingerprint sensor embedded in its home button, the iPhone 5 does not take advantage of this technology.
Larger, Better Galaxy Note 4 Display
The iPhone 5 uses the well known 4-inch Retina Display with 16:9 aspect ratio. Without question, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 should have a larger display than the iPhone 5. And that’s exactly what rumors are telling us.
A recent shipping manifest from Zauba, discovered by SamMobile, appears to confirm the 5.7-inch screen size of the Galaxy Note 4′s display. This is the same size as the Galaxy Note 3′s display and much larger than the 4-inch display on the iPhone 5.
Furthermore, a User Agent Profile string for a SM-N910A, presumed to be the AT&T version of the Galaxy Note 4, recently showed up on Samsung’s website with a QHD display on board. Samsung recently installed a QHD display on a Korean variant of the Galaxy S5 so the feature does make a lot of sense.
As we noted in our LG G3 review, the addition of a QHD display would bring some noticeable improvements to the table, primarily for games, movies and reading. It’s more than just marketing and the video below will give you some idea about how a QHD display would work on the Galaxy Note 4.
The iPhone 5 is getting older but its specs still solid. That said, those that are in need of a more powerful smartphone are probably going to want to think about the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The Samsung Galaxy Note series is always counted amongst the most powerful devices on the market and from what we’re seeing, this device has a chance to deliver a ton of firepower to consumers.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rumors continue to point to a faster processor, perhaps the Snapdragon 805 chip from Qualcomm or a new octo-core Exynos chip from Samsung. Average consumers will appreciate the power that a next-gen chip like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 delivers. After all, battery life, graphics power and high performance multitasking are all at the core of the Galaxy Note experience.
Rumors also point to an upgraded camera, somewhere between 12MP and 20MP, that could come with Optical Image Stabilization. OIS is found on many of Samsung’s top rivals including the LG G3 and Nexus 5 and it’s rumored to be coming with Apple’s iPhone 6 camera later on this year. It’s a feature that the iPhone 5 camera does not have.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is also expected to feature 32GB of internal storage, similar to the Galaxy Note 3, which means that it will almost certainly come with a microSD card slot for expanded storage space. The iPhone 5 does not feature a microSD card slot but comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB form.
We haven’t heard anything about the Galaxy Note 4′s S Pen, the stylus Samsung bundles with it, but there is simply no way that Samsung is going to abandon a feature that helps make the Galaxy Note experience different from the Galaxy S. This is speculative on our part but look for the S Pen to remain a key component of the Galaxy Note series.
The iPhone 5 currently runs iOS 7.1.2, Apple’s latest iOS 7 update. In a few months it should be running the company’s new iOS 8 software that it debuted at WWDC 2014 in June.
iOS 8 is going to look similar to the iOS 7 update that Apple released last year though it will come with minor design tweaks and a boatload of new features including improved notifications and more. iOS 8 will represent the iPhone 5’s second major update which means that it’s one step closer to kicking the can. Apple typically offers three years of software support.
Like Apple, Samsung always outfits its flagships with the latest Android software. For the Galaxy Note 4 that could mean the new Android 4.4.4 KitKat update or perhaps, Android L if it comes out early enough.
Whatever the case may be, the Galaxy Note 4′s software will look and perform much differently than the iOS 7 and iOS 8 updates on Apple’s iPhone 5. This is thanks to Android and TouchWiz, Samsung’s UI.
We have heard about though is that the Galaxy Note 4’s version of Android should be backed by powerful features from Samsung itself. Here is a list of four possible features we might see on the Galaxy Note 4:
- Smart Fingerprint – It wasn’t fully detailed but it’s assumed that it has something to do with being able to customize a fingerprint reader for certain actions.
- Multi Network for Booster – Could be similar to the Download Booster feature on the Galaxy S5 that combines Wi-Fi and cellular data for faster download speeds.
- Swipe to Launch Motion Launcher – Could be similar to Motion Launch on the HTC One M8.
- Aqua Capture – Possibly similar to the Aqua Mode found on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. Aqua Mode allowed Galaxy S4 Active users to take photos underwater.
We’ll almost certainly see some changes to the S Pen software as well.
Galaxy Note 4 Release Date
From the look of things, the Galaxy Note 4 should land right around the time that iPhone 5 users come off contract. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release is all but confirmed for the fall though rumors suggest that it could come a little earlier this year.
All signs are pointing to a launch in and around IFA 2014. We’ve heard September 3rd thrown around and that’s close to IFA’s September 5th start date. At this point, given all of the rumors and the fact that Samsung executives have pointed to the fall, it’s hard to imagine a Galaxy Note 4 launch outside of Berlin, Germany in September.
Samsung has, over the years, tightened up the gap between launch and release. Release dates usually come three to four weeks after a launch which means that we’re looking at either September or October. A recent report claims that Samsung will push the Galaxy Note 4 out, worldwide, shortly after its launch at IFA. That could mean a matter of hours, it could mean a matter of days, it’s not clear.
Those who bought the iPhone 5 right around launch day should come off contract in August or September.
2 Key (Potential) iPhone 5 Advantages
While the majority of this is aimed at those who are looking to upgrade from the iPhone 5, we should point out a few things to those that might be thinking about buying the iPhone 5 or the Galaxy Note 4.
We noted many of the Galaxy Note 4’s potential advantages and here, we want to take a look at two that the iPhone 5 could have over Samsung’s new Galaxy Note.
First, price. The Galaxy Note series is always priced at $299.99 on-contract. We haven’t seen Galaxy Note 4 price rumors emerge but with a loaded spec sheet, we can’t imagine that we’ll see a significant price drop. The iPhone 5 is still sold in a few places on-contract and its price is much cheaper than $299.99.
The other advantage is carrier choice. The Galaxy Note 4 is rumored to be heading to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon but that could be it. The Galaxy Note series historically has been limited to major carriers in the United States. The iPhone 5s on the other hand is available on an assortment of smaller carriers and pre-paid carriers.