As much as Samsung’s ludicrous output often leaves me shaking my head (Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo, anyone?), I have to concede that the South Koreans are responsible for two of the best smartphones on the market.
I speak of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phablet and the spanking new Samsung Galaxy S5, and it gives me great pleasure to pit the two in a bloody fight to the death.
Samsung Galaxy S5: Perforated rear
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Faux leather rear
This one is largely subjective, and personally, we’re not massively turned on by either the Samsung Galaxy S5’s perforated/dimpled rear, or the Samsung Galaxy Note 3’s “faux” leather.
But hey, at several hundred bucks a piece, you’re probably going to want to put your ultra-expensive smartphone in a case anyway.
Samsung Galaxy S5: 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm
While the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 obviously has the larger display, the device isn’t that much bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S5. Indeed, the phablet is less than 1cm wider and taller than it’s younger cousin, and only 0.2mm thicker.
There’s a noticeable difference in weight, however, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 coming in at 168g, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 being a tad lighter at 145g.
Samsung Galaxy S5: 5.1in 1080p Super AMOLED
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 5.7in 1080p Super AMOLED
Both the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 have 1080p displays, though the latter obviously has a slightly lower PPI rating (432 vs. 386), as it’s stretching its two million pixels over a larger display.
Of course, simply stating the size and resolution doesn’t tell the whole story, and it’s worth noting that DisplayMate’s Dr. Raymond M. Soneira reckons the Samsung Galaxy S5 has the best display he’s ever seen on a smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy S5: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor at 2.5GHz
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor at 2.3GHz
The Samsung Galaxy S5 has the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Not a huge difference, but the Samsung Galaxy S5 generally edges the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in benchmark tests.
Samsung Galaxy S5: 2GB of RAM
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 3GB of RAM
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has more RAM than the Samsung Galaxy S5, though the former is very much focused on multitasking magic.
Some had predicted the Samsung Galaxy S5 would touch down with 3GB of RAM, but it seems to get by just fine with 2GB.
Samsung Galaxy S5: 16MP rear camera, 2MP front
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 13MP rear camera, 2 MP front
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 camera is far from terrible, but expect the Samsung Galaxy S5’s shooter to offer – perhaps most noticeably – better low-light performance.
The newer Samsung Galaxy S5 also has the benefit of super-fast autofocus (0.3 seconds – the fastest on a smartphone), while Selective Focus allows users to set the focal point of a picture after it’s taken (the classic example being a person’s face in the foreground, with an intentionally blurry background).
Samsung Galaxy S5: Fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor, water and dust resistance
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: S Pen
The Samsung Galaxy S5 comes with a multitude of features, including a fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor, and water and dust resistance. Again, how much those things matter to you is largely subjective.
It also comes with new Samsung software features like Ultra Power Saving Mode, which turns the display black and white and ultimately looks to squeeze a further 24 hours out of your last few percentiles of battery.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with the S Pen, which can perform all sorts of fancy multitasking tricks like Air Command and Air View.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 obviously benefits from being the newer phone, and pips the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on display, processor and camera.
However, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is an entirely different kettle of fish, and is still the best option on the market if you’re looking for a big-screen multitasking powerhouse.
The winner? Let’s say both.