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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Vs. Unlikely Competition: 3 rivals

Forbes logo Forbes 31-08-2015 Jay McGregor, Contributor

Samsung’s radically redesigned Note has caused a mini revolt from long-time Note users, if reader comments are anything to go by.

The omission of two small, but device defining, features – the microSD slot and removable battery – has caused all sorts of fuss. Whilst stating that “I’ll never buy Samsung products every again” might be a bit dramatic, there’s no doubt that Samsung will find loyalty hard to come by when the competition is so fierce. And I’m not talking about Apple.

You don’t have to turn to Samsung for the best of Android any more. In fact you don’t have to turn to any of the big name Android manufacturers any more because the ‘low-end’ section of the market is making some damn-nice tech.

How nice? Well, for $700, you can get some cheap alternatives and have a few dollars left over for the piggy bank. Here’s a run-down of how the Note 5 matches up to the cheapest high-end competition.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Image credit: Ian Morris© Provided by Forbes Image credit: Ian Morris

Price: $700

Display: 5.7-inch 1440 x 2560 (2K)

Battery size: 3000mAh (non-removable)

Camera: 16MP rear facing, 5MP front facing camera

Platform: Android with TouchWiz

Features: Best screen in the industry, swish stylus, Samsung Pay, excellent camera

The Galaxy Note 5 brings excellence to almost every department it could. The display is the best in the industry, the camera is one of the best and it has slick, premium design. On top of that is the forthcoming Samsung Pay and a neat stylus that adds more functionality – just don’t insert it the wrong way around.

It’s also one of the fastest devices around, thanks to the Exynos 7420 and a stripped down TouchWiz UI.

In short, the Note 5 covers many bases. But it also lacks the expandable storage and removable battery many seem to crave. It’s also got a smaller battery than the Note 4, which goes against the Note’s long history of long-lasting battery life.

1. Honor 7

Image credit: Jay McGregor© Provided by Forbes Image credit: Jay McGregor

Price: $309 for 16GB model

Display: 1080p full-HD

Battery size: 3100mAh (non-removable)

Camera: 20MP rear facing, 8MP front facing camera

Platform: Android with Emotion UI 3.1

Features: cheap, excellent design, decent camera, expandable memory, dual-sim

The Honor 7’s sand-blasted metal design makes it one of the more attractive devices on this list. Add to that a decent camera (20MP Sony sensor), a fast fingerprint scanner, expandable memory and a dual-sim card slot and you have a very capable handset.

Huawei has crammed in a few extra features worth noting in the Honor 7: such as the ‘social media button’, which is an extra physical button that quickly brings up your social media apps, or whatever else you set it to. There’s also a host of camera features like light-paintings and timelapse built into the camera app, although there’s also some pointless ones too.

This is all underpinned by a speedy device with great battery life.

2. OnePlus 2

The OnePlus 2. Image Credit: Ewan Spence© Provided by Forbes The OnePlus 2. Image Credit: Ewan Spence

Price: $329 for 32GB model

Display: 1080p HD

Battery size: 3300mAh (non-removable)

Camera: 13MP rear facing, 5MP front facing camera

Platform: Android with Oxygen UI

Features: Extremely cheap with high-end components, fast-charging, USB-C, large battery

OnePlus follows up its reasonably successful first act with the predictably named OnePlus 2. It doesn’t have the Note 5’s Super Amoled quad-HD display, it doesn’t have the S Pen or glass rear and front panels.

What it does have is a very capable fingerprint scanner, an impressive 13MP camera with fast autofocus, 64-bit architecture in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor, and a large 3300mAh battery, which is bigger than the Note 5’s 3000mAh. Not to mention the impressive slick design.

The large battery is helped by the fact that it’s powering a lower-resolution display (1080p), which means less battery drain and a longer lasting charge. There’s no removable battery, expandable storage or NFC, but for $329 you’re getting a lot of value for your money.

3. Xiaomi Mi Note Pro

Xiaomi Mi Note Pro. Image credit: Bryan Young© Provided by Forbes Xiaomi Mi Note Pro. Image credit: Bryan Young

Price: $515 for 64GB model

Display: 1440 X 2560 pixels (2K) (515 ppi)

Battery size: 3000mAh (non-removable)

Camera: 13MP rear facing, 4MP front facing camera

Platform: Android with Mi UI

Features: 2k display, slick design, 4GB of RAM, fast charging, exceptionally cheap

Xiaomi Mi Note Pro is an unusual device. The lack of recognisable (on these shores at least) name might cause you to dismiss it offhand, but you’d be foolish to. For $515 you’re getting some impressive kit.

Notably, a powerful 2k screen (which is the same resolution as the Note 5) that’s impressively bright and a slick glass panel design. The Mi Note Pro is implausibly premium for a cheap Android device. Add to that a capable camera (but is nowhere near the Note 5’s) and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor and you have a powerful Note for much less.

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