When it debuted last fall, Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 was one of the best business phones ever made, with a huge display, powerful hardware and a handy stylus. Now the tech giant has launched the Galaxy S5, an update to its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone that boasts a sharper display and a more powerful processor than the Note 3. But for serious business users, the Galaxy S5 isn't necessarily the better pick. It's slim and powerful, but it lacks some of the Note 3's best productivity-boosting features. Before you pick one, consider these five features.
Galaxy S5:At 5.1 inches, the Galaxy S5's display is even bigger than the Galaxy S4's 5-inch screen. That's a plus for most business users, since a little extra screen real estate can go a long way toward improving productivity. And the Galaxy S5's display isn't just big; it's also bright and extremely sharp. Overall, it's arguably the best display on any current smartphone in terms of picture quality.
Note 3:The Note 3 is a smartphone with a huge, 5.7-inch display. That makes it a hefty device, and that hurts its overall portability. On the other hand, a large screen is a boon for business users who want to use their smartphone to get real work done. The Note 3's big display is more comfortable for basic tasks such as email and Web browsing, and it offers the space you'll need to view or edit documents and spreadsheetsright on your smartphone. And the Note 3's picture quality comes close to matching the Galaxy S5, though it's not as bright.
Winner: The Galaxy S5 sports a high-res display that's virtually unrivaled.
Galaxy S5: Compared with some other flagship phones such as the iPhone 5s and the HTC OneM8 — both of which feature a sturdy metal chassis — the plastic, 5-inch Galaxy S5 could leave something to be desired in terms of visual design. But it stacks up nicely against the Note 3, which boasts a similar plastic case. The Galaxy S5 also features a faux metal trim and a dimpled, textured back. One perk is that the Galaxy S5 is the first phone in the Galaxy line to be water-resistant; Samsung says it can even be dunked underwater and remain functional, thanks to flaps that cover the phone's external ports when they're not in use.
Note 3: Like the Galaxy S5, the Note 3 is all plastic. But the faux leather finish on the back casing — complete with faux stitching — adds a premium touch to the phone's overall feel and visual design. That could be a plus for serious business users who want a smartphone that leaves an impression. Another major addition is the inclusion of a stylus in the Note 3, which slides into a slot on the phone. Just pull it to take notes, draw charts or simply point more accurately. Of course, the biggest design difference is the Note 3's pocket-stretching size.
Winner: It's a tie. Both phones sport similar designs, and whether or not you appreciate the extra bulk of the Note 3 comes down to a matter of your personal preference.
Galaxy S5: The Galaxy S5 is jam-packed with features, but its multitasking functionality is the real highlight for business users. The smartphone supports Samsung's Multi-Window feature, which lets you run two apps at once in a split-screen view. That makes multitasking easier, since you can check your email while browsing the Web or using the calculator app, for example. And the feature is made even more useful on the Galaxy S5, which has a bigger screen than previous Galaxy S smartphones.
Note 3: The Note 3 matches virtually all of the Galaxy S5's software features, including support for Multi-Window multitasking. And it adds some noteworthy software on top of that, including handy stylus applications. Just pull out the stylus from its slot — or hover the tip near the display and press the single button located on its side — to access the compact Action Menu, which lets you jump to one of five useful pen input applications.
One of them is Action Memo, a note-taking app that doubles as a networking tool. The app features handwriting recognition, so business users can use it to quickly capture the phone number or email address of a new contact and save it to their address book. Meanwhile, Scrapbooker lets you capture text and images on your Note 3's screen by drawing around a portion of the screen. Later, you can use the S Finder tool to search for a specific clip.
Winner: The Note 3 matches the Galaxy S5 feature for feature, but its stylus and stylus-compatible apps give it an edge.
Galaxy S5: A PIN on the lock screen can help secure your smartphone, but short passwords can be stolen or guessed. The Galaxy S5 lets you step up your security game with a fingerprint scanner built right into the Home button. To quickly and easily unlock the device, just slide your fingertip over the button, located on the phone's face, near the bottom edge. This extra security boost is a real plus for business users who regularly access private business or client data on their mobile device. Once the phone is on, you can use the fingerprint scanner again to access Private Mode, a hidden folder where you can store your most sensitive documents and messages.
Additionally, Galaxy S5 owners get access to a suite of security features called Knox 2.0. Essentially, it lets you run your business apps in a secure "container" that's separate from the rest of your smartphone to ensure that sensitive data isn't accessed by other applications. Also included is a secure email client, address book, calendar, task manager, notebook, Web browser, document viewer and camera.
Note 3: The Note 3lacks a fingerprint scanner; its home button is just a button. For basic security, Note 3 users will have to rely on the same set of security features that most smartphone users are accustomed to, such as the ability to set a PIN number or swipe pattern on the lock screen.
The Note 3 is compatible with the Knox 2.0 security suite, just like the Galaxy S5. The suite is automatically installed on every Note 3 that is updated to Android version 4.4. Depending on your carrier, the automatic operating system update is either currently rolling out or is set to roll out soon.
Winner: It's hard to beat the security boost provided by the Galaxy S5's fingerprint scanner.
Galaxy S5: Business users who want a speedy smartphone can't go wrong with the Galaxy S5. With a powerful quad-core processor and 2 GB of RAM, it's one of the fastest phones ever. That means you can expect buttery-smooth multitasking and snappy performance overall. The phone also features LTE/Wi-Fi aggregation technology, which lets you download the same file using both networks, resulting in faster downloads. Other hardware highlights include up to 32 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot for expandable storage and a high-capacity, 2,800-mAh battery to keep it going through the end of the work day.
Note 3: On paper, the Note 3 has a slightly slower processor than the Galaxy S5. That doesn't mean the Note 3 isn't a seriously speedy smartphone, with a quad-core processor and 3 GB of RAM. And it comes close to rivaling the Galaxy S5 in actual performance tests. That means the average user won't notice much of a difference, especially for everyday productivity tasks. Samsung also included a huge 3,200-mAh battery in its flagship phablet, so expect it to last until bedtime and beyond. And the phone comes with 32 GB of internal storage as well as a microSD.
Winner: It's a tie. In theory the Galaxy S5 has a slight performance edge, but in practice it's too close to call.
Samsung's two heavy hitters have a lot in common, but a few key features set them apart. If you think that bigger is better, and could make use of the included S Pen stylus, then the Galaxy Note 3 is one of the best business phones ever. On the other hand, if you think phablets are simply too bulky to be practical, the Galaxy S5 delivers one of the most satisfactory smartphone experiences around — even if it lacks a stylus.