This is Samsung’s big screen phone, their fall flagship device which is usually very different from the Galaxy S series, but this year Samsung has brought its two popular lineups closer than ever before and that’s apparent in the design. The Note 5 is an absolutely gorgeous phone.
And it takes its design cues straight from the more mainstream Galaxy S6 family. Both the front and back of the phone are made of Gorilla Glass 4 curling into a midplate molded from 7000 series aluminum. It sure does feel like a premium device but it’s also very fragile making you think that you’re gonna drop it very soon. The glass makes it even worse due to its slippery texture and it’s an absolute fingerprint magnet . There is no way you’ll ever wipe the back free of fingerprints which is why investing a case like this why from UAG is probably your best bet if you want to protect your shiny new phone and add some much needed grip. On the bright side though, the display is Quad HD with a beautiful 5.7 inch Super Amloed panel with a very high pixel density of 518 pixels per inch along with a Wacom digitizer built-in to interpret pen inputs. It’s what we’ve come to expect of displays from Samsung, but you’ll be mesmerized by this stunning screen if you’re coming from almost every other smartphone. Text, images, videos are incredibly sharp with detail and almost everything you see is rich with popping color even if it’s not very accurate but it still is very pleasing to the eye. And the flexibility of AMOLED screens can allow for a dim display at night, and an extremely bright display under direct sunlight. And it’s super narrow bezels makes the Note 5 much easier to hold than any other 5.7 inch device and provides you with a fantastic in-hand feel thanks to the ergonomic curvature on the back. The buttons are extremely tactile and the new S Pen’s click to release action is so cool luring you into using it more. And repeatedly clicking the cap mimics the feeling of a real pen and it’s super addicting. But beware the S Pen will get stuck if you stick it in the wrong way and occasionally it can even get stuck if you insert it in the correct way because the top of the pen can gets caught inside the silo forcing you to use a needle to pry it out. Despite these frustrations, the S Pen remains to be the best feature of the Note and we’ll get into those shortly. The speaker is situated at the bottom edge and it’s reasonably loud with decent sound quality but it’s nowhere near as powerful as HTC’s boomsound but I’ll take it anyday over a rear firing speaker. Unfortunately, the latest iteration of the Note is missing a couple of crucial features long favored by Note users. Gone is the IR blaster so no more controlling the TV or other AV equipment using your phone. And gone is the removable battery and microSD card slot so you’re stuck with the 32 or 64 gigs of on board storage. This might disappoint some long term fans of the Note series but I personally could careless about either of these features as fast charging and fast wireless charging well compensates for the lack of a removable battery. And well a having a microSD card would be nice, I’ve never completely used up all the on-board storage on any phone I’ve owned so 32gigs is plenty for me because I only install the apps and content that I need. But it is disappointing to see popular features like these removed on the Note 5. Fortunately, Samsung has made significant improvements on the software side of things accessed via the new and improved fingerprint scanner. it’s much more accurate and reliable over its predecessor making it just as good if not better than Apples TouchID. Samsung’s new TouchWiz skin atop android 5.1.1 is as fast as ever and it no long bogs down the system even after a month of use and hopefully it can stay that way. And if you don’t like the stock user interface, I have some more good news share. Samsung’s theme store is full of skins that let you customize every single aspect of the UI to your heart’s desire. Multi window is here as always allowing you to run two apps simultaneously is fantastic for productivity. And if you want even more productivity, the S Pen is your best friend. As a new feature with the Note 5, the S Pen can be popped out with a quick click and the Note is instantly ready to take down a memo with no button pressing required. just slip the S Pen back into its silo when you’re done to automatically save the note and return the phone to standby. This is the best kind of new feature. it’s super useful and it’s simple as anything and the same goes for the new built-in PDF reader that lets you sign contracts and other legal forums without having to download additional software you can still use the S Pen for all kinds of doodles sketches and notes to self but to me that’s never been the primary appeal of the stylus. I think the S Pen is at its best when it’s used to annotate existing content as a highlighter for scripts and study guides. As a kind of surrogate finger when the device is in an awkward uncomfortable position. As a markup tools for screenshots and so on. The new scroll capture mode lets you preserve very long web pages as screenshots for later reference convenient for sharing long discussion threads chat logs or a long lists of driving directions. Some of my other favorite S Pen features include Air Scroll, though not supported on all apps, Air View useful in the gallery to view images without actually clicking it and copying and pasting is a breeze with the S Pen. Just hold down the button on the S pen while selecting text and you get the option to select all, copy, share or look it up in the dictionary. Action memo is handy if you want to write something down and complete a variety of actions based on what you’ve written. You can even pin a note you’ve written directly on the home screen. The list goes on and on and it would take a separate video to fully demonstrate all of the S Pen’s impressive features. One thing is clear though, if you want a phone for productivity, you can’t go wrong with the Note. By all indications the Galaxy Note 5 camera is the same one found in the s6 that means a 16 megapixel sensor with an F 1.9 aperture made into an optical image stabilization system and triggered by a double click on the home key. it also means the best photo quality you can find on Android almost without exception it’s not without its flaws because the Note 5 suffers from aggressive oversharpening. For completeness sake we’ve got to mention samsung’s new software features. Live broadcast is similar to Periscope and it lets you stream video on the fly via your own YouTube channel. Video collage is a clever way of squeezing brief clips into a single frame and Raw mode lest you save uncompressed images from more precise editing later on. thankfully you don’t need to use any of those parlor tricks to get the most out of this camera just double-click and shoot. You’re almost guaranteed to get a great result whether it’s a video or still using the primary shooter or the selfie camera. We tested the Galaxy Note 5 on both t-mobile and AT&T in the Greater Hartford market and found the Note 5 delivered solid reception and call quality. and thanks to its slimmer more rounded build, it’s definitely more comfortable and less awkward when it comes to voice calls. The one two punch of the powerful processor and heavy RAM loadout serve the Note well as with every note before it, this one can handle the most demanding of titles with a breeze. Fitness Fans will be happy to hear that Samsung S Health app isn’t going away anytime soon. Take a pulse reading with the heart rate sensor. You tell it how much water and coffee you’ve consumed along with how many steps you’ve taken to get a snapshot of how active you are. The note 5 gave us average battery life usually four to four and a half hours of screen on time per charge which is not bad it’ll get you through a day of light to moderate mixed use it and what’s more if you carry the included fast charger you can top it up very quickly from dead to 25% in just 15 minutes or keep it on a wireless charging pad all day if you’re in office. Although it only has average battery life, nothing else about the note 5 can be called average it’s a premium built smartphone with a jaw dropping display best-in-class camera and a feature set you can’t get on any other device. Now Long term Note fans are disappointed that it lacks the power user features that have always defined the line and that’s understandable. those who say the note 5 is just a big galaxy s 6 with an S Pen is correct. And the thing is it turns out that a big galaxy s 6 with an S Pen is actually a pretty good combination for an awesome smartphone.