It’s old against new in our Galaxy Note 7 vs Note 5 comparison, so let’s give Samsung’s two S-Pen-focused smartphones a deep dive to see if the 2016 upgrade is worth buying.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Note 5: design
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is by no means a small phone – it’s still very much a phablet with the same 5.7-inch Quad HD display. It’s just a tiny bit slimmer than the Note 5.
At 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9mm, the Note 7 is a meaningful 2.2mm narrower. That’s a big deal for hand comfort and will reduce the amount of times you almost drop this smartphone juggernaut.
It’s lighter at 162g and sports a curved display, one that’s more subtle vs Galaxy S7 Edge. That reduces false touches and it still looks nifty, as its curved back meets the metal frame at a point.
At 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm and 171g, the Galaxy Note 5 keeps its display straight, but it too has a palmable curved back. Sadly, the older Note 5 isn’t waterproof, while the Note 7 can survive in water at a depth of 1.5 meters (about 4.9 feet) for 30 minutes or less.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Note 5: display
Believe it or not, the narrower Samsung Galaxy Note 7 size doesn’t mean the screen has shrunk, too. It’s still a 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display with a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution. It’s beautiful.
Where the Note 7 really stands out is with its always-on display. In addition to showing the time and date, it shows Screen-Off memos, too. When the screen is on, it streams impressive Mobile HDR content.
The good news is that if you’re buying the Note 5, it still has a Quad HD screen we considered the best phone display twelve months ago. It’s still really impressive.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Note 5: specs and performance
The newly announced Galaxy Note 7 specs confirm that Samsung’s new phone will be faster, but the Note 5 is no slouch when it comes to performance either.
Both have 64-bit processors, and the US Note 7 has has a Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM, the same specs as the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, LG G5, HTC 10, Moto Z and ZTE Axon 7. The UK version has a Exynos 8890 octacore processor, which has been more powerful in our tests
The Galaxy Note 5 came out in the US and skipped the UK, but it does use an Exynos 7420, the same chip as the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. See the pattern here? The Note 5 saw its big upgrade moment with 4GB of RAM instead of the 3GB used by the S6 and S6 Edge.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Note 5: Android and apps
Thanks to upgradeable software, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and Galaxy Note 5 both run the latest stable version of Google’s operating system: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.
Of course, Samsung overlays its TouchWiz menus onto the handsets, which have gotten a bad rap in years past (Galaxy S5 and before). It’s much improved on both Note phones.
New apps like Samsung Pay made their debut on the Note 5, so you’ll have the NFC payment system in either case. But both are missing Android 7.0 Nougat by mere weeks, if not days.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Note 5: camera
If you care about taking photos, you’ll want a recent phone made by Samsung. Its cameras have consistently beaten the competition, the Note 7 and Note 5 included.
Just know this: the megapixel numbers aren’t very telling here. The Note 7 has a 12MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture on back. The older Note 5 has a 16MP sensor with a f/1.9 aperture.