One month with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5: A device that may justify my iPhone 6s Plus return

Samsung radically changed the Note design with the Note 5 by removing the expandable storage option and integrating the battery. However, Samsung also pushed mobile technology to the limits while Apple continues to slowly iterate.

My new iPhone 6s Plus arrived Friday morning and I have to say my Note 5, see my full review, is more compelling and the iPhone is in danger of being returned.

Matthew Miller

Apple iPhone 6s Plus: Ten reasons to pick the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 instead

Samsung drastically changed the design of the Note 5 this year and the decision to purchase the new iPhone is made more difficult as a result.

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I passed up my return period for the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 a couple of weeks ago, check out my return date decision post, and have now been using this smartphone for more than a month.

Samsung radically changed the Note design standard by removing the microSD card and removable battery, but the elegant design and optimized performance more than make up for these trade-offs. The Note 5 is the best Android smartphone currently available, IMHO.

I've already posted my top nine reasons to purchase the Note 5 over the Moto X Pure Edition so I won't go into those details again. However, after more than a month with the Note 5 I can confirm that all of those reasons remain valid.

The LG G4, Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ too), and iPhone 6s/6s Plus have cameras that will please everyone. Various testing results from a number of websites have shown that the cameras all perform about the same. The advantage of the Android devices is that serious camera enthusiasts get RAW file support. It's a joy to know that the Android platform has finally caught up with the iPhone in terms of camera performance.

I also can't get over how convenient it is to double press the Samsung Note 5 home button to launch the camera. I thought this was supported on the iPhone, but you still need to swipe up from the lock screen and with the 6s being even faster with TouchID I have to angle my finger so TouchID doesn't work to launch the camera quickly.

My iPhone 6s Plus actually feels a bit too big in my hand with more height (5 mm) and width (1.8 mm) than the Note 5. Given that many people, including myself, often wrap an iPhone in a case the 6s Plus may just be too big.

The S Pen functionality is the key differentiator for the Note 5 and while I did not use it too much in the past, the fact that I can pop out the S Pen and take a quick note on the go with the display off has justified my Note 5 purchase. I work in an environment where voice notes disrupt other engineers so writing quick notes with the S Pen is a major bonus.

Apple continues to leave available technology on the table and I believe it does this so it can launch the next device with that technology. Apple innovates in some areas, but it always seems to hold back a bit. For example, the Note 5 supports both fast cabled charging and fast wireless charging. The new iPhone 6s supports neither technology. Apple will probably include it in the iPhone 7 and state that it invented some new magical charging technology.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has a higher resolution display, fast processor, S Pen technology, ample fast RAM, fantastic camera, enhanced mobile payment technology, amazing design, and more so if I was to purchase just a single device there is no justifiable reason I wouldn't choose the Note 5.

While the Note 5 now has integrated storage, you can also easily connect a microUSB flash drive to transfer or use files so I don't find the faster, more reliabile integrated storage to be an issue. Apple has provided integrated storage, including the unacceptable minimum since 2007, and doesn't provide an easy way to extend that storage capacity.

My three daughters and almost all of my neighbors use iPhones so it is very convenient to use iMessage and FaceTime to stay in touch with them. However, the Note 5 is a technologically better device and my Note 5 is sticking around no matter what I do with the iPhone 6s Plus.


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