I have the PH5 along with the Ref 3 linestage. I was thinking about the Ref phono pre but, in a side by side comparison the PH5 was so close I couldn't see spending the considerable extra money. There is a very big difference between the PH5 and the PH3SE, a very big improvement. I don't see much use in the cartridge loading via the remote. Since most people now use MC cartridges the loading is not as important as it was with MM cartridges. I am currently using a Lyra Titan and can discern no differences in switching from one loading option to another.
For the price, I don't think you can do better. I didn't do a side by side comparison to the PH5 and the Aesthitix Rhea, seems like that would be the likely other phono stage to compare it with. And, even the Rhea is much more expensive.