When Samsung first sent me the Galaxy Note 5 to review, the first comparison I wrote up was with the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 is a year old now and it still outperforms many of the top of the line Android flagships, so it seemed fair to write up a comparison before I get my hands on the iPhone 6S, which is coming in a couple weeks.
There’s another phone that’s well over a year old that’s still completely relevant, which is the Nokia Lumia 930. Microsoft is going to release two new flagship Windows Phones next month, but the Nokia Lumia 930 is still an awesome phone.
To go off on a bit of a tangent, all year last year, I would tell people that any of those phones being released would be fine for well over two years. After all, these are still mobile devices. A 2.2 GHz or 2.5 GHz quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor with an Adreno 330 GPU with 2 GB of RAM is going to be relevant for a long time.
Now, we see hexa-core and octa-core processors with phones with 3 GB or 4 GB of RAM, which is completely unnecessary, especially the massive amounts of RAM. No Android app takes advantage of 4 GB of RAM, or even 3 GB of RAM, since the massive majority of Android devices have less than 2 GB of RAM.
Nokia Lumia 930 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Specs
|Nokia Lumia 930||Samsung Galaxy Note 5|
|CPU||2.2 GHz Quad Core Snapdragon 800||Octa-Core Samsung Exynos 7420, 1.5 GHz Quad Core ARM Cortex-A53, 2.1 GHz Quad Core ARM Cortex-A57|
|Display||5″, 1080p, 441 ppi, AMOLED||5.7″, 1440p, 518 ppi, AMOLED|
|Body||137x71x9.8 mm, 167 g||153.2×76.1×7.6 mm, 171 g|
|Camera||20 MP, 4992х3744, 1.2 MP Front||16 MP, 5312×2988, 5 MP Front|
|Video||4K – 30 fps, Front 720p – 30 fps||4K – 30 fps, 1080p – 60 fps, Front 1440p – 30 fps|
|Focal Length||26 mm||28 mm|
|Storage||32 GB||32/64 GB|
|RAM||2 GB||4 GB|
|Battery||2420 mAh||3000 mAh|
There’s not a whole lot of sense in comparing the specs here. They run two different operating systems, so they both require a different amount of resources. We can dive a little deeper when we look at benchmarks.
Nokia Lumia 930 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Display
Samsung is renowned for having the best displays on their devices, and that’s generally true; however, there are some myths that we should clear up.
Samsung started using 1440p displays with the Galaxy Note 4. In fact, the Galaxy Note Edge was 1440p+, which is 2560×1600. This additional resolution doesn’t make the screen look any better. On a display that small, it’s impossible to tell the difference between 1080p and 1440p.
Contrary to popular belief, there is more to a display than resolution. It’s sort of like how there’s more to a camera than megapixels and there’s more to a processor than cores and GHz. These are things that tech enthusiasts know, but it doesn’t really go beyond their core beliefs and they tend to think that the other important factors really only make a marginal difference. For example, a tech enthusiasts realizes that there’s more to a processor than cores and GHz, but they won’t believe that a dual core processor could outperform an octa-core processor because fundamentally, they do believe that cores and GHz are the most important factors.
The fact is that once the pixel density of a display crosses a certain threshold, resolution doesn’t matter anymore, just like the resolution of an image. Apple believes that this pixel density is 326 ppi on a phone. I tend to agree with them, but I think that something around 400 ppi is better for those with super duper eyesight.
One factor that effects the quality of a display is LCD vs OLED. With an OLED display, some pixels can be turned off, so you get truer blacks then with an LCD, which is entirely backlit. OLED displays also produce more vibrant colors.
There are disadvantages to OLED displays as well, as they tend to burn out quicker, they have burn-in problems, and such. There are two kinds of OLED displays: P-OLED and AMOLED. This is beyond the scope of this article, but you just need to know that AMOLED is better and doesn’t have as many of the above disadvantages. Also, both of the phones we’re talking about use AMOLED displays.
We can also note that while AMOLED displays degrade over time, a phone is something that you only keep for two years, so it’s not a problem that you’re likely to have. You might notice a problem if you had, say, an AMOLED TV, which you would keep longer.
Samsung is also really awesome at things like color accuracy, which is the most important factor in a display. Take the HTC One M9, for example. It uses a 5″ 1080p IPS LCD, which should be just fine, but the color balance is so off that anything white looks like it has a green tint.
Photos tend to look amazing on the Galaxy Note 5, which is one of the reasons that people tend to believe that Samsung has the best cameras. It’s because the display makes everything look so good.
I tried a bit of an experiment. I sent one of the photos that I took with the Note 5 over to my Nokia Lumia 930 and asked my girlfriend which one looks better. She actually said that the Lumia 930 looked better. This isn’t a scientific test that proves that the Lumia 930 has a better display, but I think it’s enough to show that you’re not really missing anything with one or the other.
Another thing to note is that there are a lot of disadvantages to a 1440p display, and if you don’t use a Google Cardboard for virtual reality, there are no advantages. One disadvantage is battery life. A 1080p display is 2.1 MP, or 2.1 million pixels. A 1440p display is 3.7 MP, or 3.7 million pixels. Each pixel is a lightbulb (in a sense, but not really, but if it helps, yes). 3.7 million lightbulbs uses quite a bit more power than 2.1 million.
The battery issue can be managed. Some 1440p phones, such as the Nexus 6, handle that power terribly. Others can handle it.
One issue that has still not been handled well by any phone is the drain on the GPU that those extra, useless pixels cause. Games tend to stutter and such. If there was a real benefit to 1440p, I’d say that to some, it’s worth the trade-off, but there are no real benefits.
Nokia Lumia 930 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Design
I have always been a huge fan of the design of the Nokia Lumia 930. In fact, that’s why I fell in love with the device. The Nokia Lumia 930 was originally the Nokia Lumia Icon. It had a black or silver metal frame, with a matte black or matte white plastic rear cover, respectively. That was February, 2014. It was only available in black and white because it was exclusive to Verizon and Verizon eats babies.
In June, 2014, Nokia released the Lumia 930. The Lumia 930 came in the two models as the Icon but without the dirty Verizon model. It also came in two new models with a silver metal frame and either a green or orange plastic rear cover. They were beautiful phones.
The Nokia Lumia 930 that I have is none of the above. Later last year, Microsoft released limited edition models of the Lumia 930 with gold colored metal frames and either a matte black or gloss white rear panel.
I think it’s fair to say that the Nokia Lumia 930 is the best looking Windows Phone to date. Well, that’s my humble opinion.
Samsung has never been very good at design. We can look back at years and years of ugly, plastic phones that were sold by cheap, petty, and childish marketing shots at Apple.
This year at Mobile World Congress, something interesting, even amazing happened. Samsung released the Galaxy S6. For the first time, Samsung had produced a beautiful phone. Clearly, they had taken a long, albeit overdue look in the mirror.
The Galaxy Note 5 follows the same design trend as the Galaxy S6. It has a metal frame and a metallic glass rear panel. The color I have is called gold platinum and it is a stunning phone.
The interesting thing is that the Galaxy Note 5 is basically a Galaxy S6 with a larger screen and a pen. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is basically a larger Galaxy S6 Edge. The newer models – the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ – have 4 GB of RAM where the original Galaxy S6 models used 3 GB of RAM, but to be fair, it’s going to be years before smart phones even start to take advantage of that extra RAM.
In short, these are two beautiful phones. They’re stunning, in fact. Which one is designed better is certainly going to be a matter of preference.
Nokia Lumia 930 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Software
The Nokia Lumia 930, along with the Nokia Lumia 630 and Nokia Lumia 635, launched alongside Lumia Cyan, the firmware update that came bundled with Windows Phone 8.1. Since then, they’ve been updated to Lumia Denim, which is the firmware update that came bundled with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1.
This is really going to come down to whether you prefer Windows Phone or Android, and comparing the two is well beyond the scope of this article, but it’s worth talking about a bit.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 runs TouchWiz, which has evolved quite a bit along the years. TouchWiz has a reputation of being bloated. In fact, TouchWiz became so bloated that it started a movement that got people to begin favoring stock Android. Android skins got a bad name, despite their being some really good Android skins that actually enhance the Android experience, such as Cyanogen OS or HTC Sense.
Like I said, Samsung’s show at Mobile World Congress was amazing. It’s not just because they finally started thinking about design, but because they also toned down TouchWiz in the Galaxy S6. It’s like they spent the last year listening to feedback. Crazy.
It’s actually really interesting how Samsung toned down TouchWiz. The Camera app is a really great example. They stripped down the Camera app, taking out a lot of useless features; however, they kept those features around as downloadable plug-ins, in case anyone did want them.
It’s interesting to compare Windows Phone and TouchWiz, because while TouchWiz has a reputation of being very heavy and bloated, Windows Phone has a reputation of being very light and fast.
The really sad thing is that Windows Phone doesn’t have that reputation of being light because it’s so well optimized or anything like that. Windows Phone is so light because it’s lacking features and it lacks support for various hardware components.
For example, Windows Phone 8 only supported one processor, the dual core Snapdragon S4 Plus. The Snapdragon S4 Plus was old when it was being used, which is why all of the original Windows Phone 8 devices became dinosaurs the day Windows Phone 8.1 was released.
Windows Phone 8.1 added support for quad core Snapdragon 200, 400, and 800. For the first time, a current generation low end budget phone would outperform last generation’s flagship. Microsoft seems to like to stay a generation behind when it comes to hardware in phones. Even later this year when Windows 10 gets support for Snapdragon 808 and Snapdragon 810, Android will be using Snapdragon 820.
While Windows Phone has historically been lacking features, Samsung became known as having too many features, such as eyeball scrolling in the Galaxy S4. Just look at the infamous “ribs” commercial and see the kind of useless features they had.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 actually made me, and many others, actually question what they really needed in a phone and started that movement for stock Android.
Nokia Lumia 930 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: The S Pen
I wanted to write a little something about the S Pen here. Microsoft is a company that is renowned for their productivity skills. Even last week when Apple introduced the iPhone 6S, Microsoft came on stage after Tim Cook proclaimed, “These guys are great at productivity!”
The S Pen in the Galaxy Note 5 draws me to the device in the same way that the Surface Pen drew me to the Surface Pro 3. With the Surface Pro 3, you just click the pen and OneNote opens and you start taking notes.
With the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, as soon as you remove the S Pen from the device, a menu opens asking what you want to do. If the phone is asleep when you eject the S Pen, you can immediately start taking notes, just like on a Surface Pro 3.
This seems like a feature that Microsoft would have come up with by now, and I believe that they are planning to have pen support in the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, but for now, if you’re into productivity, it seems Surface Pro 3 and Galaxy Note 5 are a great combination.
I’ve reached out to Samsung asking if there’s a way to change the default note taking app. I would love it if I could use OneNote with that feature.
Nokia Lumia 930 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Rear Camera
Both the Nokia Lumia 930 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 have stunning cameras, but I believe that they have different use cases.
I would refer to the Nokia Lumia 1020 here. Nokia and Microsoft have not as yet made a smart phone camera with any kind of quick focusing. Samsung and Apple use phase detection autofocus (PDAF) to achieve this effect. LG and OnePlus use laser focus.
With a Lumia, you just can’t get quick pictures. Microsoft tried to improve this with Lumia Denim, making it quicker to launch the camera and take a picture. They also added a feature called Rich Capture, which allows the user to adjust the exposure of an image after it’s taken. It’s actually pretty remarkable.
The state of Lumia Camera and the stock Windows Phone Camera app is a bit in flux at the moment. Microsoft didn’t build a lot of extra functionality into Lumia Camera or the stock Camera app. Instead, they built separate apps, such as Lumia Panorama or Lumia Selfie. Microsoft is killing these apps to implement these features into the Windows 10 Mobile Camera app, which you won’t see on your phone for months.
Samsung has lots of features in the stock Camera app. One thing it is really good at is automatic settings, which is really important in a smart phone camera. Let’s face it, 99% of people want to use their smart phone camera to take a quick and beautiful photo of something.
Samsung also has a Pro mode which allows you to adjust manual settings, much like Nokia was praised for with the Nokia Lumia 1020. These days, it seems like all smart phone cameras have manual controls.
Samsung also includes tools for live broadcasting to YouTube, creating animated GIFs, and more. As I mentioned above, there are also downloadable plug-ins, such as Rear Cam Selfie.
Going back to hardware, the Nokia Lumia 930 uses a 20 MP camera and the Galaxy Note 5 is 16 MP. There is no difference between the two. A 4K display is 8.3 MP, so anything larger than that is going to be scaled down anyway.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has a much larger aperture, at f/1.9 and the Lumia 930 has a slightly larger sensor, so it stands to reason that low light performance should be better on the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.
The Nokia Lumia 930 is Pureview. This means two things. One is that the high resolution photo is saved in two ways. You get a high resolution photo that is only saved for cropping purposes. That high resolution images is “oversampled” down to a 5 MP image. I noted that a 4K display is 8.3 MP, but it’s really between 5 and 6 MP when you take your photos at a 4:3 aspect ratio, as you should.
The Nokia Lumia 930 also allows the user to save a RAW file. You have the choice of a high resoluton JPEG or a high resolution DNG file, but you can’t save both. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5, like the LG G4, allows you to save a RAW file, but only when using manual settings.
OK, enough of all that. Let’s look at some pictures. Please note that in order to enlarge the images, simply click or tap on them. To view the full size images, there is a link in the carousel.
|Nokia Lumia 930||Samsung Galaxy Note 5|
There are a couple things to note here. Notice how one or two of the photos taken with the Nokia Lumia 930 are a bit out of focus? It was a very windy day when I took these photos. This is the benefit you get from PDAF.
The low light performance is interesting. We can see better on the photos taken with the Nokia Lumia 930, but the photos are much noisier with the Lumia as well.
I also notice that the images taken with the Galaxy Note 5 are a bit oversaturated in some cases, where the Pureview camera in the Nokia Lumia 930 looks more realistic.
Note that I’m not commenting on the butterfly photo. I included it because it’s a beautiful butterfly, but they were taken from different angles, so it’s not fair to compare and contrast them.
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Nokia Lumia 930 – Samsung Galaxy Note 5
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Nokia Lumia 930 – Samsung Galaxy Note 5
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Nokia Lumia 930 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Front Camera
Over the past year, we’ve really seen a focus on front cameras. It’s a movement that really got started by HTC when they used a 5 MP front camera in the One M8. Then, OnePlus did it with the One. Only a year ago, it was very common to see anywhere between a 1.2 MP front camera to a 2.2 MP front camera.
Now, it seems that everyone has a minimum of a 5 MP front camera. As I mentioned earlier, the Nokia Lumia 930 is from before that time, so it does have a 1.2 MP front camera. The interesting thing about the Samsung Galaxy Note 5’s 5 MP front camera is that, like the rear camera, it has an f/1.9 aperture.
I have to say that for a 1.2 MP front camera, the Nokia Lumia 930 is pretty good. To be fair, 1.2 MP is well in excess of HD resolution. I love the front camera on the Galaxy Note 5, but it always bothers me that so many of these Android phones these days have software features that smooth your skin. Of course you can turn these things off, but I just wish it was easier to have a setting that says “take the picture as it is” rather than pulling a bunch of levers.
Nokia Lumia 930 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Benchmarks
If there were one area of this article I would tell you to skip, it’s this part. I’m not a fan of benchmarks. They so rarely provide any insight into the real world usage of a device; however, they are the best tool we have for writing down the performance of a device.
On the same platform, they even serve as a tool for comparing the performance of devices. Unfortunately, there’s really no benchmarking tool that has a feature parity between Android and Windows Phone. AnTuTu and GFXBench are both available on Android and Windows Phone, but they don’t exactly measure the same things.
Let’s look at what AnTuTu shows us.
|Nokia Lumia 930||Samsung Galaxy Note 5|
First of all, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is massively more powerful than the Nokia Lumia 930, but not that much more powerful. 25,948 is a score you would get from a device using a Snapdragon 410. A Snapdragon 410 uses four 1.4 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 cores. A Snapdragon 800 uses four 2.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 cores. Clearly, there is a disparity here.
There doesn’t seem to be as much of a disparity between GFXBench on Windows Phone and GFXBench on Android, so it looks like we’ll be able to run some graphics tests here. Keep in mind that GFXBench on Windows Phone tests DirectX and GFXBench on Android tests OpenGL.
I think it’s a bit surprising, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 outperforms the Nokia Lumia 930 in graphics tests. It’s most likely more of a competition between DirectX and OpenGL. Who knows? What we do know is that the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 performs better in graphics tests.
There’s also a battery test. I use Geekbench 3 on Android and I use WP Bench on Windows Phone. The screen is dark on Windows Phone, and although I’ve never found it to be true, theoretically, a dark AMOLED display saves battery.
As we can see, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 blows away the Lumia 930 in battery tests, but there’s more to the story here. First of all, Geekbench 3 allows you to toggle the dim screen on and off. I used the Note 5 test with the dim screen toggled off.
The really crazy thing here is that when I use my Nokia Lumia 930 as my daily driver (as I usually do), I have no trouble at all getting through the day on a charge. When I use the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 as my daily driver (as I have been for about a week now), I struggle to get through the day with it.
It’s also just surprising. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has a much more powerful processor and a much higher resolution display. I don’t know if these tests run the same way, but the results just don’t make sense.