Let me start by saying that I have been using Apple’s range of iPhones for 6 years now. I started with the 3GS and have slowly worked my way through the range up until the iPhone 6, which I’ve had for a year. The relationship I’ve had with Apple has been as long as I have been married however, unlike my marriage, I have been yearning for a change. That’s when I noticed a range of very good looking Samsung Galaxy devices which came into the fray, late in 2015.
Samsung have seriously stepped up their game when it comes to the look and feel of their new phones. Previously, I have always felt that this was a key factor that let them down when comparing to other great devices such as Sony’s Xperia Z lineup and of course, the iPhone. Now however, the new glass back and curved edges of the Note 5 sans the plastic of previous generations, have given the phone a radical boost in style and premium feel. The Note 5 is also the only premium phone I have ever used that has a stylus and it is such a winner. The engineering that has developed in this neatly hidden pen gives it a true-to-life feel and allows a touch of ‘old-school-cool’ when making quick notes during meetings or presentations. It’s also the only feature that you can use whilst someone is speaking without necessarily looking rude for doing so.
Hardware such as the camera, audio quality, screen display and battery life are all top-notch and seriously superb. There are some great upgrades on the new Note and the Super AMOLED screen has got to be one of my favourites. Although there are very few downsides to this new super-phone, there are one or two noticeable differences when moving from Apple to Samsung from a hardware perspective. I used the slow-motion feature in my iPhone 6 (240fps) a lot and despite the Samsung having the same feature, it’s not nearly of the same quality as it maxes out at 120fps. It’s not terrible but if you’ve experienced better before, it’s kind of like going from turbo’ed engines to naturally aspirated ones – definitely noticeable. Surprisingly, I found the battery life to be slightly inferior compared to the iPhone 6+, despite it being larger in the Note 5.
So, feature-for-feature and comparing looks & quality, the new Note 5 is a stellar piece of equipment. What I have realised though, is that as an Apple user, it is extremely difficult to remove yourself from the Apple ecosystem. Having the iPhone is effectively the backbone of a well-oiled Apple infrastructure and once you’re properly dialed in, it’s actually a pain if you ever do ‘unplug’ yourself. In my case, despite enjoying some cool Android features that operate straight from the home screen, and a very nicely integrated Google offering, I miss the simplicity of Apple’s iOS. Although Android’s OS 5.1.1, or ‘Lollipop’, is very flexible (unlike iOS) it is also not as stable. It doesn’t happen very often but unless you constantly manage your open apps, the active RAM, or apps running in the background, the Note 5 starts to feel slow and cumbersome. I’m looking forward to the imminent release of Android’s new OS, Marshmallow (6.0).
To conclude, the war between Apple and Samsung (read, Android) is now no longer a hardware race. Rather the differing operating systems are increasing the gap as each system looks to integrate its own range of products, from TV’s to computers to tablets and smart watches. The line in the sand has clearly been drawn and if you want to make the jump to the ‘other’ side, you better do it quickly as it will be too costly once you realise how many of your devices at home or work are actually integrated. For now, I am neutral Switzerland as I have both Apple and Samsung products but each brand makes their own, very convincing, argument to rid one of the other by subtle forms of integration. The choice is yours, but it’s not an easy one to make.
*For a full, detailed & technical review on the new Galaxy Note 5, click here.