Although the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the Apple iPhone 5 appear to be very different, there are enough similarities between the two to make choosing difficult. Both have attractive features, but the choice should come down to how you will use the smartphone and your comfort with the respective operating systems. Depending on what cellular carrier you use some features may not be available.
We will begin with the specifications the two handsets share. Unofficially, both sport the latest Corning Gorilla Glass. This means that it is very difficult to scratch these phones while drops are most likely going to be an uneventful occurrence. Both phones are capable of utilizing the 4G LTE networks (if available) and have a Wi-Fi hotspot feature. You may share your cellular data connection with other devices that may not be a part of your cellular plan. Both are able to access any Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n access point so cellular data is conserved.
Both cell phones feature an 8 megapixel camera to take photos and record 1080p quality video. The Galaxy Note II allows you to take a photo while recording a video while the software on the iPhone 5 has been extremely well received for its 40% improved picture-taking speed.
Both support the latest Bluetooth standard that improves battery life while using hands-free devices. An important note here is that the Samsung has an NFC chip included while Apple has forsaken this tech with the iPhone 5 iteration. Galaxy Note II users will be purchasing products from vending machines as Near-Field Communication soon takes hold commercially.
Now for some very important differences. The Galaxy Note II is very, very technically powerful. With a pressure-sensitive stylus and a larger screen, the extra "oomph" one gets with more processors and RAM helps recognizing handwriting and creating multimedia a snap. The iPhone is now slouch either, but it simply does not need as much power without stylus input available.
While Apple provides a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera for Facetime calls, Samsung ups the ante with a 1.9 Mpx solution. Both handsets allow 720p video capture using these cameras. The Galaxy Note II may appear more detailed at times while using this feature, yet the display on the iPhone makes up for this somewhat. The Note's 5.5" screen dwarfs the 4 inch on the iPhone 5. Both phones feature 720p quality picture, but the pixels (the little dots that change color in the display) are closer together in the Retina display. This makes the picture look sharper to most, but the tradeoff in screen size and a slight reduction in screen resolution may not be worth it for some consumers.
Summing up; if you've already had experience with Apple, you will most likely want the latest handset from them. However if your work requires you to sketch, take lots of notes in extreme or unpredictable environments, and produce presentations, the Galaxy Note II is the phone for you.