Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 5 in August 2015, and the Galaxy Note 6 release date will most likely fall during the Summer once again. Some say we will be able to buy the Galaxy Note 6 as early as July, but take that with a grain of salt for now. Even though there are a good few months left until Sammy brings in something new, there already are numerous Galaxy Note 6 leaks out there that try to give a comprehensive description of what we should be expecting from the new power user flagship. Based on these leaks, we’re going to compare last year’s Galaxy Note 5 to the upcoming Galaxy Note 6 to see which areas Samsung might be focusing on improving.
Design – Galaxy Note 6 to adopt a curved screen and back for a comfier feel
The latest rumors about the Galaxy Note 6 describe the upcoming flagship as being in a test phase where a couple of design ideas are being tried and tested. While a flat version akin to last year’s Galaxy Note 5 is being considered, Samsung seems to have listened to the Android community who has been asking for a device with a curved screen and/or a curved back panel to fit more snugly in the hand.
While last year’s Galaxy Note 5 was more on the flat side, this year it looks like Samsung is revising its design approach and might be going with a curved design. Rumors of a curved screen like on the Galaxy S7 Edge and a slightly curved back seem to be most prevalent, so that’s what I think we should expect of the Galaxy Note 6. GSM HelpDesk suggest that the Note 6 will be a singular release, unlike the Galaxy Note 5 which was subsequently followed-up by the Galaxy S6 Edge+. Launching just one massive device with a large screen seems to be enough, especially since Samsung has a wide array of varied devices on offer already.
Changing the design of the Galaxy Note 6 compared to its predecessor presupposes that if a curved back is adopted, the device itself becomes thicker. While that might sound like a step back to some, it would be a good decision in my opinion, because Samsung could fit a bigger battery and even a fancier stylus into the device. Depending on what approach the company takes, the Galaxy Note 6 design could also include waterproof certification like on the Galaxy S7. It would be a great addition and as we’ve seen when comparing the Galaxy S7 to the Galaxy S6, it doesn’t really impact the end price of the device, so I guess that would be the case for the Note 6 as well.
Display – The Note 5 was too small, let’s go bigger
The Galaxy Note 5 display measures 5.7-inches and comes with QuadHD resolution. The majority of users are happy with the AMOLED display and many industry insiders have called the Note 5 display the best on the market. With such a large screen real estate, users can take advantage of many features that come with S Pen and TouchWiz, despite the device being too big for conventional pockets and hands. Samsung included quite a few measures to make one-handed use sorta possible, so we expect the same, but improved features to be present on the Galaxy Note 6.
However, when it comes to the Galaxy Note 6 display, it seems like rumors are pointing towards a slight increase in display size. Apparently, the Note 6 screen will measure 5.8-inches and it might not even be a Super AMOLED panel, Samsung reportedly considering using an RGB screen instead. That would be a huge step forward for smartphones, but I doubt it would have enough benefits to merit the high cost implementation of such a display would bring on. Nonetheless, it seems already obvious that the Galaxy Note 6 display will introduce something new to the Samsung world. My guess would be that the company is going to implement a 4K screen, with the RGB option coming maybe in a year or two. With 4K resolution and a heavy focus on virtual reality apps and games, the Galaxy Note 6 could become the new definition of flagship. At a cost, of course.
Hardware – TouchWiz on the Galaxy Note 6 will be unique
Galaxy Note 6 prototypes being tested by Samsung are supposedly running the company’s in-house Exynos 8890, as well as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 823 SoCs. Although this could change by the time the Galaxy Note 6 release date comes around this summer, it’s pretty likely for the company to launch one Note 6 with their own chipset for the international market and another with Qualcomm’s solution for the American market. We’ve seen this happen with the Galaxy S7, so it’s safe to say the company will once again take this road.
Leaked information seems to have settled on 6 GB RAM and 64 GB flash when it comes to storage on the Galaxy Note 6. The Note 5 was launched with an Exynos 7420 CPU and 4 GB RAM to go with it, as well as variants ranging between 32 and 128 GB internal storage. What these leaks propose seems like a probable course of action for the Galaxy Note 6, the company most likely going for two or even three configurations ranging from 32 GB to 128 GB internal storage. While the Note 5 didn’t offer storage expansion, Samsung has had a change of spirit with the Galaxy S7 and included microSD support up to 200 GB. It’s very likely for them to do the same with the Galaxy Note 6.
TouchWiz is a love it or hate it kind of thing, but not when it comes to the Note 4 and Note 5. Users of these phablets came to love the small, yet significant extra features that Samsung included and the company will most likely direct extra focus towards the development of their UI for the Galaxy Note 6 launch. Improved palm rejection, new stylus commands and actions, new buttons on the stylus itself, new remotely activated TouchWiz shortcuts, new productivity- and multitasking-oriented properties should all make an appearance in the next version of Samsung’s own UI. Although Android N is already kind of available in its developer preview, it is unlikely for Google to release the new OS before September, so the Note 6 will most likely come with Android 6.0.x or 6.1 Marshmallow on board. The Android 6.1 update is rumored for a June launch, so if Samsung does indeed launch the Galaxy Note 6 in July or even August, it will most likely come with the latest installation of Google’s OS.
Another incremental update that Samsung is supposedly considering is USB Type-C. The new port is becoming the norm and the Galaxy Note 6 will most likely adopt it at its launch. USB Type-C has benefits when it comes to charging and data transfer speed, as well as a reversible connector users don’t have to fiddle with. However, seeing as Samsung is pushing wireless charging more and more, some even saying the company is planning to phase out wired connections for smartphones, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if microUSB 2.0 was still present on the Note 6.
The fingerprint sensor is pretty much a given, as is the heart rate monitor. I’m not sure if the health tracking part of the Galaxy Note 6 will get any improvements, but the fingerprint sensor should become even more reliable than it already is on the Note 5 and GS7.
Camera – It’ll be good, but not better than the GS7 camera
The Galaxy Note 5 continues to be a great camera-phone, surpassed however by the Galaxy S7 and its great autofocus capabilities. The Galaxy Note 6 camera will most likely be the same as the one in the GS7, seeing as almost all users regard it as the best camera on a smartphone – that is until they get their hands on the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus, which have dual Leica cameras. While the Note 5 was launched with a 16 MP camera with f/1.9 aperture, OIS and autofocus and a 5 MP camera up front, the Galaxy S7 comes with a 12 MP camera with f/1.7, phase detection autofocus and OIS, and a better 5MP camera with f/1.7 aperture. I think the rumors about the Galaxy Note 6 replicating the Galaxy S7’s camera setup are plausible and we’ll most likely see maybe some minor improvements.
There is the possibility of Samsung introducing dual cameras on the Galaxy Note 6, going down the road Huawei is on. Having a similar setup to the Leica lenses on the P9 would definitely give the Note 6 an advantage over the competition, as long as autofocus remains as fast as on the GS7. Moreover, a front-facing flash could also be introduced, seeing as it’s also becoming a pretty popular feature around the world.
Battery – Big chassis, big battery
The Galaxy Note 5 comes with a 3000 mAh non-removable battery, featuring wireless charging and fast wireless charging. The handset gets pretty good battery life, although most people agree the Note 4 did a bit better in the long-term. When it comes to the Galaxy Note 6 battery, I mentioned earlier that Samsung might make the handset a bit thicker and curvier. Well, that would leave room for a substantially bigger battery and rumors corroborate that claim. Most agree that the Galaxy Note 6 battery will measure at least 4000 mAh, which ties into the supposition that Samsung will be employing a 4K or an RGB display.
Fast wireless charging is definitely going to be part of the mix, but the battery itself could be even bigger than 4000 mAh in the end. If the company goes with RGB screens, the handset is going to need a lot of power so it would make sense to sacrifice a bit of design in favor of longer autonomy. Samsung has also been toying with new battery technology, but there’s little evidence as to how far they’ve progressed. It could be that by the time the Note 6 becomes official, Samsung masters a new battery tech that could keep the phone alive for more than 3 days in a row. That would be a definite selling point many, many, many smartphone users would be interested in, despite having the option of wireless and fast charging.
Conclusion – Galaxy Note 5 vs Galaxy Note 6 equals incremental upgrades
All in all, the Galaxy Note 6 and Note 5 will most likely be very different, yet very similar. Samsung is expected to make incremental upgrades, like refining the design to allow for a bigger battery to facilitate more autonomy, water resistance, a higher resolution display for better VR experiences, a revamped software to cater to new options (maybe even 3D Touch, by the way), an improved stylus with more buttons, more storage, a microSD slot and an improved camera setup on the front and back of the new phone. I’m curious to see how the company approaches design this year, but the hardware part is easier to speculate about since we more or less know what to expect from hardware manufacturers. We still have a long time to wait until anything official is announced about the Galaxy Note 6, so take this with a grain of salt. These are the rumors about the handset so far, but I’ve also a wishlist that some of our readers might empathize with, although I do think I’ll be revising it soon enough, Leica and all that jazz.
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