Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs. S7 Edge: Should you jump off the Note upgrade train?

Samsung's S7 Edge is a refinement over the S6 Edge and offers many compelling features for all Android fans. If you don't use your S Pen, then you should seriously consider the S7 Edge.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

The two best current Samsung smartphones are the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S7 Edge. While there are many similarities between the two, there are also enough distinctions that keep people on separate upgrade paths.

Given the upgrades made by Samsung to the Galaxy S7 Edge, I felt compelled to purchase one. I've have spent the past week trying to decide if the Note 5 or S7 Edge should go on the auction block or if both remain in my arsenal. To let you in on the indecisive, irrational, justification-based mind of a smartphone enthusiast I put together the lists below.

The Note 5 S Pen offers many compelling productivity boosting features while the water resistance, larger capacity battery, microSD expansion card, and edge panels are aspects that make the S7 Edge attractive to buyers. As you consider the Note 5 or Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, here are some of my experiences with both devices that may help you focus in on one of these two Samsung smartphones.

Why choose the Note 5?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 launched in August of 2015 and the current rumors indicate the Note 6 may appear as early as July. If you are currently a Note 5 user and use the S Pen often, then you should probably just hold out for the Note 6. Here are a few reasons that readers may want to choose the Note 5 over the Galaxy S7 Edge:

  • S Pen: This one is obvious. If you see yourself performing some of these S Pen tricks then the Note 5 may be just what you want.
  • Defined edges: The Note 5 is a bit wider than the S7 Edge, but it also has very small side bezels. Thus, it is much easier to hold it in one hand and use the device, while the S7 Edge curved sides makes inadvertent finger activation a common occurrence.
  • Fast integrated storage: The ability to expand your storage capacity with a microSD is probably a compelling argument for the S7 Edge, but in my experiences I have never seen integrated storage issues while microSD cards seem to experience instability for me too often. I am fully satisfied with 64GB of internal storage and would liked to have seen that continue on the S7 Edge.
  • See more on the display: The Note 5 only has a 0.2 inch larger display than the S7 Edge, but it has great screen density. This means you can see more on the Note 5 display than on the S7 Edge. For example, you get a full five rows of icons on the home screen panel, above the bottom launcher row, of the Note 5 and only four on the S7 Edge.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review product and screenshot gallery

Why choose the S7 Edge over the Note 5?

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is now available from all carriers and seems to be selling well, given my experiences at the local carrier stores.

  • Water resistance: I never use a treadmill and prefer to run outside all year long. This means I spend a lot of time out in the rain running and as I get older my phone is going with me more often for safety reasons and to capture photos of interesting sites along my path. The water resistance of the S7 Edge offers a peace of mind that also lets me carry the phone without a bulky waterproof case.
  • Bigger battery: The S7 Edge has a slightly smaller display, but also a battery that is 600 mAh larger than the one in the Note 5. I can get through most of a day with the Note 5, but have seen longer runtime with the S7 Edge. I think it also helps that the S7 Edge has Android Marshmallow and doze while the Note 5 will be seeing that upgrade soon. Tests from various websites show about 45 minutes more screen on time with the S7 Edge.
  • Easier to hold and pocket: The S7 Edge is 5mm narrower and 3mm shorter than the Note 5. The width is quite noticeable and the S7 Edge seems to easily slip right into my front pocket.
  • Inexpensive expandable storage: If you spend a bit more and buy quality microSD cards then you may not ever experience card read/write failures. I do find the ability to add as much storage as you desire to be more compelling than the high price of internal storage.
  • Improved low light camera: The S7 Edge has a lower megapixel camera, but the dual pixel design helps you take better indoor and low light shots. Overall, both devices have excellent cameras and will satisfy most consumers.
  • Always-on display: Similar to what we have seen on Lumia devices for years, the S7 Edge has an option to have information appear on the display when the screen is off. Since I work with clients across the country, having the dual clock on the display with my notifications is handy.

After putting these lists together, it now is much clearer to me that the S7 Edge is probably the better choice for most people. Given that I'm not using the S Pen as much as I hoped, I think my Note 5 will be up for sale soon. What device would you choose and why?

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