It is that time of the year again and Samsung have once again made a big splash in the cellphone market with the all new Samsung Galaxy Note 5. They have more or less stuck to the trend of launching two flagships over the past few years, under the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note series.
In recent times, people have gotten used to the huge screen of the Galaxy Note and its big form factor. It is getting more and more popular among smartphone users and is being welcomed. Traditionally there always have been some differences between the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note series apart from the obvious size differences. The differences largely include design, build quality and often times different hardware components can be found in both of them.
As people are now getting used to large screened smartphones, it is interesting to see what Samsung’s new flagship phone has brought to the table. With a revamped look and feel, and some hardware enhancements underneath the surface, is the Galaxy Note 5 the smartphone you are looking for?
We will answer all of your questions and more in this review of the Samsung Note 5.
The first thing you might look for in a smartphone is probably the look and feel, and the design of the device. I do that and all of the other people do that. If the smartphone isn’t the least bit pleasing to look at, most people will turn their heads. Now looking at the Note 5, it feels familiar and feels like we’ve been here before. Overall the Galaxy’s design and feel remains true to its roots and is recognisable as ever, but the Galaxy Note released this year takes most of its design from the S series, which was also revamped this year.
Offering a metal and glass combination, the device is an absolute joy to look and feel. It’s solid, it’s rigid and it has everything you would need in a smartphone, design wise. As the phone is made up of a combination of glass and metal, the shine and reflection give it a premium look.
This also means that the device can be a finger print magnet because of the use of glass. We can go as far as saying that this is probably the most fingerprint prone Note device yet, a trait which it copies from the Galaxy S6. All in all this fingerprint thing is the only downside that we could come up with in the design department.
Although it’s a smartphone with a 5.7 inch screen, the subtle and smooth curves on the back can really help in gripping this beast of a phone. It is much more than just a blown up Galaxy S6. Better handling is crucial for a phone this big, if you can’t grip it or even hold it properly then what’s the purpose. Though thankfully, the Note 5 does not disappoint in this area. We were able to handle the device with ease and had no problems what so ever with it.
The design of the phone has been totally overhauled but it still retains the little things that we all expect from Samsung devices like all the buttons are in the same place and the fingerprint scanner embedded into the home button up front, which is also the same as before. One improvement in this years Note is the fingerprint scanner. Now the scanner works with a simple touch rather than the swipe, which was found in the previous versions. The scanner now works flawlessly with the improvement.
Then coming around to the bottom of the device where the microUSB port is found, the headphone jack and the speaker grill, as well as the S-pen is found safely and neatly tucked in the bottom right corner.
Even the S-pen has seen some design updates this year, making it sleeker than ever before. You can clearly feel the change when you pop the pen out and this has largely been done to make the pen flush with the body. Yet another change with the S-pen is the click on top, and anyone who uses the S-pen will probably take advantage of that to gather their thoughts between taking down notes etc.
The Samsung Note 5’s design brings one change that is very significant and could affect some of you out there. The back cover is not removable and that obviously means, no expandable storage and no removable battery. These two features were present in previous versions of the Note line-up and it made the Note series the go-to phone for power users alike. Though that is not the case now unfortunately. But even with all this, there might be an upside for the sacrifice. This is by far the most thinnest and most beautifully constructed Note device till date. It looks and feels damn awesome overall and we can vouch for that. It’s the most beautiful Note device we’ve used yet.
The Galaxy Note series and Samsung devices in general have always been praised for their impressive screen technologies, and the Note 5 carries that trend forward. It comes with a gorgeous 5.7 inch Super AMOLED display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution. Can you believe it? 2560 x 1440? On paper, the display might match that of its predecessor but this time the screen has been largely improved on what was already a fantastic viewing experience. Quad HD on such a big display results in an amazing display and an excellent pixel density of 518 ppi. On a 5.7 inch screen, such a high ppi looks literally spectacular.
On the other hand the Super AMOLED technology proves itself once again, allowing for a highly saturated display, extremely vibrant and vivid colours and loads of brightness for comfortable viewing in broad daylight. Although you do have the option of toning down the saturation if you want.
However the most impressive and most noteworthy thing about this panel is the really small, and almost non existent bezel. It’s just so breath-taking to look at and it greatly improves the viewing and handling experience. You could really call this phone the perfect device for everybody. It handles text and writing with a breeze and if you fire up a movie or a game, the gorgeous display will be an absolute joy to look at.
A device this big has to be a powerhouse and the Note 5 certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department. Performance is a high point for this device, much thanks to Samsung’s use of it’s in-house processing which has been optimised for the toned down OS. The Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, clocking in at a whopping 2.1 GHZ and a 4 GB RAM makes for a dreamy performance. The Galaxy S6 had similar specs minus the extra 1 GB of RAM and we all know how great that package turned out to be.
This extremely powerful combination allows for some raw power, strong multi-tasking and just overall goodness which is excellent. It had to be, given the S-pen and all the features this device has to offer.
There isn’t a single doubt about the performance of this device as the phone just simply doesn’t slow down, even with above-average usage. No matter what you do or how many apps you install, or how many games you play, how many videos you watch and how many pictures you take, the Note 5 can handle it all with total ease. Like its predecessors, the Galaxy Note 5 excels where it matters, the performance. The Note line-up has been known to do that every time.
In the hardware department, the Galaxy Note 5 has some similarities with previous iterations. The back of the phone houses the heart rate monitor, right next to the camera, and as expected it works great as ever. All thanks to the new streamlined S-health app, but to be fair you’re probably not going to use this feature that often.
Other than this the device comes with the standard connectivity options, which includes NFC as it will be a part of the much awaited Samsung Pay ecosystem. As expected with an impressive smartphone like this, the call quality is superb and we did not experience any dropped calls what so ever during our testing of the phone.
Now let’s talk about the speaker a bit. The single speaker unit is located on the bottom of the phone but it is placed better than before and provides the quality that you expect from Samsung Galaxy Note devices. The audio can get pretty loud but there isn’t much depth to it. Not to say that the speaker unit isn’t good but it could’ve been much better.
Lately we’ve been seeing the fingerprint reading trend all around and it looks like that it is a thing of the future as many companies are incorporating a fingerprint reader in their devices. Samsung makes this technology work quite well. The scanner can be used for different purposes like setting it up for some web sign-in credentials but most of the time it is going to be used to unlock the phone.
When it comes to the storage, the phone comes with a 32 GB or a 64 GB option and there is no option of expanding the storage. Some users might be put off with this but there are some things to consider in the case of Galaxy Note 5. It uses UFS 2.0 storage technology which can rival the speeds of SSD’s and it maximises the overall performance. So don’t worry about having no expandable storage because the Note 5 covers that up with storage speeds like SSD’s. In our opinion 32 GB would probably be enough for average users and power users can bump that up to 64 GB’s.
On the other hand the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 packs a 3000 mAH battery unit, and we know what you’re thinking. The capacity does seem a little small at first but when we tested the device, it handled a full day of usage flawlessly and without any problems. But you are going to be stretching it if you want anything above a day. Although if the device remains unused a lot, you might be able to squeeze enough juice to last more than 12 hours. That is certainly impressive with such a powerhouse of a smartphone.
Finally comes the camera, and as expected the Note 5 quite literally retains the great quality that we’ve come to know and love. The shooter on this device is basically the same as on the Galaxy S6 with its 16 MP rear lens with a f/1.9 aperture and impressive 4K recording capabilities, and a 5 MP wide-angle front facing camera. It is simply gorgeous. The camera app is really easy to access by just pressing the home button twice, the controls are all too similar with just a few additions like the ability to change the kelvin reading in the white balance which is not present on the S6. The quality is great and crisp, you have a lot of useful modes and manual controls, the colours are great, the focus is near perfect and the shutter speed is quick. What more do you want from a camera? It is a great overall package and we’re very pleased with it.
|Display||5.7-inch Super AMOLED
2560 x 1440 resolution
|Camera||16 MP rear camera with OIS
5 MP front-facing camera
Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS + GLONASS
|Networks||LTE cat 6 300/50|
WPC and PMA-compatible wireless charging
|Software||Android 5.1 Lollipop with TouchWiz|
|Dimensions||153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm, 171g|
|Colors||black sapphire, white pearl, gold platinum|