The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is the only mainstream smartphone with a built-in stylus, but if you don't really need the S Pen, there are plenty of other comparable phablets.


Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review

This is the microSD and removable battery alternative you're looking for

The LG G4 is your best alternative to the Note 5 if you're honestly missing the microSD card slot and removable battery. Samsung left them out of its device, so LG is capitalizing.

This Android phone's display measures 5.5 inches, instead of 5.7 inches, but has a slight curve to the frame that gives it a bit of flexibility. If you drop your phone, it must not break as easily, and that really contrasts with the Note 5 since it's wrapped in glass.

The LG G4's Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor isn't as fast as Samsung's chip, and the battery life isn't as good, despite the perk of being swappable, but it's cheaper than the Note 5. Of course, the LG G5 is around the corner, so be aware of that.

iPhone 6S Plus

iPhone 6S Plus

Apple's first big phone was great, but the iPhone 6S Plus makes the phablet even better. It's the closest rival to Samsung's phablet and true to Apple's nature it's more expensive, both on-contract and off-contract.

As the largest iPhone, it has a lot of good things going for it. A polished build quality, a bright display, Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a new improved camera. Plus it comes running the latest iOS 9 software that gives you the latest Apple functionality. iOS 9.3, now in beta, actually has useful new mid-cycle features too.

There's also the new 3D Touch screen technology that gives you different functionality depending on how hard you press down on the display. Apple has improved a lot on the iPhone 6S Plus and now it's difficult to decide between the 6S Plus and the Galaxy Note 5.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review

Smaller, but just a refined

This is where it all started - well, restarted. Samsung's move from the Galaxy S5 to the Galaxy S6 finally ditched all of the plastic in favor of a premium design. It was a spectacular move.

Much of what we reviewed in the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 appears in the smaller S6. It just sports a 5.1-inch display, 3GB of RAM instead of 4GB and no S Pen.

It too doesn't have a microSD card slot, removable battery and, unlike the S5, isn't waterproof. But if you're looking for the power and design of the Note 5 is a smaller form factor, get the Galaxy S6.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review

Do fancy tapered sides do it for you?

Samsung merged the design of the S6 Edge and the Note 5 to form the Galaxy S6 Edge+, a new phablet with a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display and curved design.

It has the same internal specs and camera as the Note 5, and features new shortcuts tossed in. People Edge and an Apps Edge, for example, are tucked away in the phone's tapered sides. Neither are game changers.

It's missing the S Pen stylus that comes with the Note series and it's more expensive, but it does look a lot cooler than the strictly rectangular phones everyone else carries around.

OnePlus 2

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review

More powerful than the OnePlus One, but only a smidgen more expensive

OnePlus 2 is the more powerful sequel to the affordable surprise hit, OnePlus One. It harnesses the power of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor and up to 4GB of RAM, depending on the variant.

Yes, it has the same 5.5-inch display at 1080p as last year's OnePlus, but the screen is now brighter and the 13MP camera is better, albeit slow to shoot.

Its benchmark scores can't compete with the Galaxy Note 5, but Samsung doesn't come close to the starting price of $329 (£239) for 16GB and 3GB RAM, or $389 (£289) for 64GB and 4GB of RAM.

Moto X Style

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review

Moto X Style, our Pure Edition, has a 5.7-inch display to rival the Note 5

An honorable mention goes to the Moto X Style. This is Motorola's new flagship phone that really acts as the Moto X 2015 in everything buts its official name.

It's a direct competitor to the Note 5 with a large, 5.7-inch display, and while it uses LCD, not Samsung's Super AMOLED tech, it's now quad HD. It looks better than last year's 1080p Moto X 2014.

What's more, at $399 (£359) unlocked, it's much cheaper than the Samsung's phablets, and almost as powerful. Its fully capable Snapdragon 808 hexa-core chip is speedy enough if you don't need the absolute fastest phone available.