With Samsung finally taking the wraps off of the Galaxy Note 5, it's an honest comparison to put it up alongside LG's big device for the year — the G4. Both phones pack big screens, high-end specs and a few neat features that set them apart from each other and the rest of the smartphone pack. Here's a quick comparison of the leading devices from Samsung and LG, read on.
Similar size, dramatically different designs
Looking at both the Galaxy Note 5 and LG G4, it's hard to say there are any borrowed design elements between the two. Samsung has brought its new glass and metal design over to the Note 5 this year, and it has a dramatically different look from the G4. The Note 5 has rounded metal edges around the entire exterior while LG has stuck with rather sharp plastic ones and tighter corners, and the Note has gone with a glass back to stand out while the G4 has either a smooth plastic or leather back, depending on which model you buy.
Of course you'll find a more traditional power and volume button placement on the Note 5 whereas LG has stuck with its back buttons, which flow into a camera pod that hardly sticks out of the back — the Note 5's notably bulges up near the top of the phone. Both phones incorporate curves on the back, with the Note 5 having rounded left and right edges and the G4 having a gentle curve from left-to-right and top-to-bottom.
Around the front Samsung still has its standard physical home button — which includes a fingerprint sensor — along with two capacitive navigation buttons, while LG has gone all-in on software keys. Interestingly the Note 5 is thinner than the LG G4, while also being the same width and just over 4mm taller despite having a 0.2-inch larger screen. That means the Note 5 has a better screen-to-body ratio, which is always a good thing.
Both overall designs have their valid principles, but holding both at the same time the Note 5 just feels a bit more comfortable, even when compared to the leather-backed G4 that in itself is nicer in the hand than the plastic model. The sharp edges and tight corners of the G4 hurt usability (yes, even with the back buttons) while the Note 5's curved edges really help it in that area, though both phones are large enough to require some movement in your hand to use them.
Some shared specs, with a few key differences
Both the Note 5 and LG G4 have solid internal specs, but differ on a few key points. Screen sizes are close together at 5.7 and 5.5 inches, with both carrying the same QHD resolution, but the Note 5 is rated at a higher brightness. In terms of processors you get two different approaches, an Exynos octa-core for the Note 5 and a Snapdragon 808 hexa-core for the G4 — but both offer ample power for what you need to do. The Note pulls ahead with 4GB of RAM over the 3GB in the G4, but that's not likely to influence performance much, at least for now.
Of course the Galaxy Note 5 has dropped the removable battery and SD card for expandable storage, two (big) points that the LG G4 still offers. The batteries are the same 3000 mAh size on both phones even though the G4's is removable, but the Note 5 has a slight advantage in that it offers a 64GB internal storage option — you have to add an SD card to get over 32GB on the G4.
The rest of the specs round out very comparably between the two phones, with similar overall camera setups, sensors and networking technology — the one last difference being that the Note 5 has integrated wireless charging.
|Category||Galaxy Note 5||LG G4|
|Operating System||Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, TouchWiz||Android 5.1 Lollipop|
|Display||5.7-inch QHD (2560x1440, 518 ppi) Super AMOLED||5.5-inch QHD (2560x1440, 538ppi) IPS Quantum Display|
|Processor||Exynos 7420 octa-core (2.1GHz quad + 1.5GHz quad)
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexa-core 1.8GHz
|Storage||32 or 64GB, UFS 2.0
microSD card up to 2TB
|RAM||4GB (LPDDR4)||3GB (LPDDR3)|
|Rear Camera||16MP, f/1.9, OIS, phase detection auto focus
4K video, slow motion video
|16MP, f/1.8, OIS 2.0, laser auto focus
|Front Camera||5MP, f/1.9||8MP, f/2.0|
(network bands vary by market)
(network bands vary by market)
|Connectivity||802.11ac Wifi, 2.4/5GHz, MIMO (2x2), 620Mbps
Bluetooth 4.2 LE, ANT+
NFC, Location (GPS, Glonass, Beidou)
|802.11ac Wifi, 2.4/5GHz, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, NFC, Location (GPS-A, Glonass)|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Proximity, RGB Light, Geo-magnetic, Gyro, Fingerprint, Barometer, Hall, HRM||Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, color spectrum|
|Charging||Micro USB 2.0, Adaptive Fast Charging
Qi wireless, Powermat wireless, fast wireless charging
|Micro USB 2.0, Qualcomm Quick Charge|
|Dimensions||153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm||148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3-9.8 mm|
Not much to compare in software
Much like the dramatically different hardware, there isn't much to say in terms of similarities between Samsung and LG's software on the Note 5 and G4. Samsung has refined TouchWiz this year, but it still looks and works basically the same ways anyone who has used a Galaxy phone in the last couple of years would expect. The same can be said for LG, though the visual changes may be more pronounced when comparing way back to the G2 era.
Both phones are running Android 5.1 and have the main features from the platform, but each feature their own headline software features. Samsung has new SideSync 4.0 software for connecting to other devices, along with S Pen apps, a quick-launch camera and of course S Health. LG offers neat tricks like KnockCode and RAW photo capture, but the biggest "feature" of its latest software release is speed and stability.
You'll be most comfortable with the software from the manufacturer that you've used before, and if you hop between the two there's likely to be an adjustment period.