it’s new toy day today

Well, it was a couple days ago anyway. Bit of a spur of the moment decision it was, and one that was greatly influenced by the cash investment being reduced to negligible. Because of that, & the fact I hadn’t considered this option, I kept my Galaxy S5 as a reserve phone with the background consideration that I may return to it.

Previously I had the Galaxy Note 2, so I’m quite used to where the Note range sits in comparison to the S series.  After the Note 2 (which I sold well) I purchased a new S4 then went up to the S5.

I guess the fact that I didn’t give the Note 3 any more than passing consideration when I bought my Galaxy S5 (in a retail store) shows how happy I’d been with the S4. The Note series has (usually) a faster processor, is +1GB RAM & offers 32GB internal storage vs the 16GB that the phones provide. Plus, of course, the industry-leading screen size that physically defines the Note range.

So Megabyte, he of the “there’s only one thing I want – more” mantra, you would expect, wouldn’t you, that Galaxy Note would appeal quite strongly to him. But I didn’t give the Note 3 any more than passing consideration. You see there’s a hefty premium to pay for the higher-spec hardware – around 50% currently.  PB Tech quote RRP $1148, sale price $1023 for the Note 4 vs RRP $1049 but shelf price $688 for the S5, figures correct as at publishing date.

So the real price difference is $335 over the S5, taking the purchase from under $700 to over $1000. Ouch. Alright then – what do you get for the money? How do Samsung justify this hefty spend?

Note 4                                                  S5                                             Difference
Processor                          Octa core @1.9GHz                        Quad core @2.5GHz            +60%
RAM                                     3GB                                                         2GB                                              +50%
Storage                              32GB + micro                                      16GB + micro                           +100%
Screen size                       5.7″                                                         5.1″                                              +12%
Resolution                       2560×1440 @ 515dpi                       1920×1080 @ 432dpi             +77%

Everybody, meet Note 4. Note 4, everybody.
The investment it would seem, should you compare specification only is required for the upgrade from Full HD to UQHD and the substantial boost in processor performance – the total GHz available is markedly increased – this is this first 8-core processor I’ve owned! It’s also the first time my phone has set a personal benchmark like that.

The extra screen real estate wouldn’t cost a lot, nor the extra internal storage. A solid 1GB more RAM would impact the bottom line slightly, and the real world performance figures more than that.

Otherwise the components are similar/same – 16MPix camera in both although new, fancier software powers the Note’s image snapper. There doesn’t appear to be any difference in the fingerprint ID, WiFi, Bluetooth or any other modules.

Galaxy Notes do have the addition of the S-pen, a seemingly-handy device that I have seen other Notables use with deft aplomb yet quietly ignore myself.

What is majorly different though, is the construction. Samsung have been much-criticised over the years for their insistence on the use of plastic everywhere. I didn’t object to the plastic, I objected to no reflection of cheaper material cost in the retail price. A lower input cost does not necessarily mean lesser quality product. It should however, be represented in the on-shelf retail price. In the case of Samsung’s hugely popular (& highly profitable) Galaxy range, I don’t think that it ever has.

In my experienced estimation, plastic bodies are often a good thing. The construction is light yet tough, Galaxy phones can flex, bend & twist with the rigours of everyday life, as opposed to the supposedly superior but definitely more costly metal chassis with glass panels that is promoted as the correct construction for a phone that occupies the Galaxy’s pantheon.

Try dropping an Xperia. Actually, don’t. You wont need to, the owner already has. This is why they have sticky tape holding the cracked rear screen together. With no flex or give in the stiff chassis, any shock impact will transfer the energy to the rear glass cover or front screen. And we all know what happens then.

Anyway, Samsung have acceded to the critics, delivering what’s almost universally welcomed as “vastly improved  construction” – a chamfered metal frame & chassis. Sensibly, they’ve retained the flexible plastic rear cover with faux-leather texture. This item will absorb shock energy transfers, hopefully saving the gorgeous UQHD LED screen from cracking. The frame itself – exposed anodised metal – will scratch, dent & ding, quickly aging the $1000+ device.

Not only is there a far greater risk of damage by scratching, there’s also the inescapable weight factor. The large, portly Note 4 tips the scales at 176gms at 8.5mm depth. Note 3, itself 8.3mm, was 168gms.

My Galaxy S5 handset is just 144gms and 8.1mm thin.


Couple that extra mass with the almost obligatory protective cover – a full-size padded fold-over type item usually – which takes the naked Note 4 from 8.5mm to a fully-clothed 14mm. See what I’m talking about now? It’s a bit like starting out with GTS Commodore but ending up with a Statesman. Still a nice car, but…

There’s further complications – I, & many other sensible Galaxy users, detest the Samsung TouchWizz interface. It’s a monster. Samsung don’t release an API allowing 3rd-party access to Samsung’s unique hardware features like Touch ID & S-Pen. This holds back the uptake of custom ROMs, of course. So I’m faced with a decision to either put up with bloatware & an ug-er-lee interface or slimmed down Android without access to hardware that I’ve paid for.

Galaxy S5 – slim & lightweight. Wish I could say the same about the OS.

Furthermore (there’s more?) Yes, there is. I dunno why, I really don’t know why, but Samsung (who have their own silicon processor fabrication facilities, they supplied iPhone CPU’s for years) build the same phone using two different processors – Exynos & Qualcomm. Of course Exynos

So,here’s the simplified equation for the analytical purchaser (I’m ignoring frippery such as S-Pen) –

Positive                                                Negative
More RAM                                            Almost double the thickness, does that fit in your pocket?
5.7″ UQHD & 515dpi                        With cover, 250gms weight
Metal Chassis                                     Metal Chassis

Is benefit (UQHD + 1GB RAM) – (double thickness & weight + enforced TouchWizz) > $335?

For those without the leaning toward practical dissection of market-based decisions, the above theoretical equation assumes the  purchaser is locked on purchasing a Galaxy S5, the only other possibility is the Note 4.  In return for the extra 1.6million pixels, a .6″ (diagonal) larger screen & 3GB RAM instead of 2GB, the potential purchaser has to endure a hefty weight increase, ungainly dimensions & suffer the diabolical TouchWizz interface, as well as contribute another 45% of the S5’s purchase price.

As stated earlier, my decision was induced so the cash component can be left out of the decision. Because I knew I could resell for more than the price I paid, my decision was locked in with uniquely different motivation to anybody else’s. And, after all that, I’m still not certain I’m using the right device. My S5 has not gone away, it’s only on holiday. Had the equation above been presented to me when buying my S5, and knowing what I know now, I’d have stuck with the phone, not the phablet.

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