At today's Galaxy Unpacked event, Samsung unveiled both the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge+: a pair of large phones that share a lot of DNA.
True, one is the successor to Samsung's popular phablet line, while the other is positioned as a super-sized version of its eye-catching curved phone – but truth be told, the dimensions are very similar, the components are essentially identical, and the core software is almost entirely the same across the board. Despite the varying names and backgrounds, they're two of a kind.
Except when they're not. See, the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ do have a few significant differences – even more than the Galaxy S6 and standard-sized Galaxy S6 Edge did. It's why they're branded differently, because despite the vast majority of similarities, a few variations could make these feel like very different devices in your everyday life. So here's a rundown of what to expect.
A weighty difference
Both devices are slimmer than the Galaxy Note 4, but the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is especially so – and it's 0.7mm thinner than the Galaxy Note 5, not to mention 18g lighter. Given the examples of the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, the Edge+ should feel a fair bit slimmer in the hand due to the curved sides.
Certainly, the curves are the most obvious differentiator, since the Edge+ screen slopes on the right and left sides instead of running right up to a slab of bezel. As with the Galaxy S6 models, preference will probably guide you towards one device or the other, although the deeper features unique to each model are worth considering.
The Note 5's S Pen
Shape aside, the biggest functional difference comes down to this: the Galaxy Note 5 has a stylus, while the S6 Edge+ does not. In that respect, the former continues the line's positioning as a phablet aimed at business users, making it easy to jot down notes and get things done. By contrast, the S6 Edge+ is just a very large phone.
It may have been a practical issue, given the combination of a thinner frame and the slopes from the two curves, as there's little room left to store the S Pen. After all, the footprint is much smaller than even last year's Galaxy Note Edge, which did have the S Pen included.
In any case, the Galaxy Note 5's S Pen experience has been significantly improved over last year's, with lower latency for faster, improved handwriting. However, the biggest perk may come with the addition of screen-off note-taking, letting you jot a quick note on the blank screen without waking up the full display. That takes a lot of hassle out of the equation, and makes the process much closer to that of pen and paper.
Like Samsung's previous curved-screen phones, the S6 Edge+ adds a bit of functionality that takes advantage of the sloped sides. For the most part, what's here is exactly what we saw on the S6 Edge, but with the larger display comes a couple of potentially useful enhancements.
For example, along with a column of top contacts accessible from one of the edges, now you can also add a column of apps you want quick access to. It basically splits the difference between the functionality of the S6 Edge and last year's Galaxy Note Edge, but it could be handy. And when you do access a contact from the Edge, now you can get to more functions in a snap – like sending a handwritten note (even without the S Pen, curiously).
Admittedly, none of the Edge features are phone-sellers; we wouldn't tell anyone to spend several hundred pounds on a phone because it has another way to access apps. But if you like the curves, at least you'll find ways to actually use them.
Only one option
For UK-based buyers, perhaps the biggest distinction is this: only the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is actually being sold here. For some strange reason, Samsung has opted not to launch the Galaxy Note 5 here – it'll only start off in North America and Asian territories. Maybe the success of the standard S6 Edge (over the regular Galaxy S6) ended up narrowing Samsung's focus. Whatever the case, it's disappointing.
If you don't mind navigating international storefronts a bit, you may be able to get your hands on an unlocked Galaxy Note 5 to use here – just make sure it's compatible with your carrier of choice. Otherwise, Samsung has made this decision for you: the S6 Edge+ is the only one of them you'll see in shops anytime soon.