• Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Review: Should You Buy It?

    The Galaxy S6 has been the main flagship phone for Samsung in the first half of the 2015, but we all know there is a much more powerful phone for the latter half of year. It is the Samsung Galaxy S6 bigger brother, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.

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    Galaxy Note lineup has been consider the real flagship for Samsung in last few years. However, being the flagship phone it must have flagship design and specs, but does Note 5 deliver it all? As a Note 4 owner, I am too eager to find out! The appearance of the Note 5 carry on the new design language from the s6, but compare with the s6, Note 5 did not receive any complaint for the design. First, I think probably because people hoping Samsung should have given the Note 5 distinctive look, second the Note 4 already has the metal chassis so there is not big surprise that Note 5 include this design as well. The Note 5 may have familiar face, but if you look hard enough you can tell the bezel is much smaller than the Note 4, which is defiantly following the trend of small bezel and big screen. But if you can get pass the design problem, I still find the Note 5 an elegant device. The new design language from S6 and s6 edge definite break the vicious cycle of the Design for Human, and inject market a freshness and surprise. The front of the phone is still very Note, but the curve back, the glass panel with shiny paint under it and of course the round mental edged really made the Note 5 very disinvite from its past family member. It is not exaggerating that, this is probably the Note that I actually appreciate the exterior design. But, by bringing over the elegant design, the Note also has the nasty features many people have been criticizing, that’s right, the lack of removable battery and of course the SD card slot. A Samsung device without removable battery and SD card slot? Which made this device worthless, might as well spend the rest of the video in silence to mourn for those lost features. Hahaha, how can that be possible, sure losing those features may be upsetting, but there is still a lot of new features that make it worthy. The Note has always be a choice of power user, and yet the Note5 still able to deliver. Powering the device is the Enxynos 7420 14nm CPU, it is same one from the S6, but the performance of the S6 already tells us its processing power. The Note 5 is extremely zippy, everything just flies without any hesitation. You probably don’t even need to worry about what kind of apps or things you like to do on the Note 5. The amazing speed can be contributed by the flash memory inside the phone. With transfer rate close to SSD, it ensure the CPU can have quick access to data it needs to process. This can be one of the reason why Samsung exclude the SD card, because SD card will never match the flash memory’s reading speed. Chances are people will put random SD card and cause compatility issues. But I still not quite convince by this statement. To go along with the powerful processing power, it’s the gorgeous 5.7 inch QHD Super AMOLED display. The screen is exactly the same one on the Note 4, but the color is still saturated and image is still very sharp. And technically, QHD is the main display for many flagships for 2015. Of course, I was hoping to see 4k display, but I don’t think there are going to be many flagship phones using such display until early next year. However, if you think about it, there is still not many content support QHD yet, moving into 4k now will be just a spec race to gain attention. I do believe the the market is still slowing accepting 4k and transition out of FHD. Same as on the Note 4, the display is covered by a curved 3D glass that fused smoothly with the mental edge.Aslo, because the metal edge is much rounder, the phone is a lot more comfortable and easier to grip with bare hand than Note 4. The other major visual/hardware design change is that the headphone jack and speaker are relocated to the button of the phone. Therefore the Note 5 speaker sound will not muffle when placing it down on the table or any flat surfaces. The speaker is plenty loud, the sound quality is decent and has a pretty strong bass for a small speaker. However, the design and shape of the speaker grill at bottom keep reminding my favorite fruit, I keep wondering why? Speaking of audio, the other major upgrade for the Note 5 is support of Ultra High Quality music. Audio chip can convert the regular MP3 or CD file into 24 bit/ 96KHz type file (closer to original sound track). The down side is that you need to use Samsung’s own UHQ headset to enjoy the music in that format. The other hardware upgrade is the one touch fingerprint scanner, which is much practical than the one on the Note 4. This is important because the upgraded scanner not only allow user to unlock the device easier, and it can encourage people to use the mobile payment services such as Samsung Pay which require fingerprint to authorize the transaction. Samsung theme about health and fitness return .The heart rate sensor along with the s-health may not be something really useful for everybody, but if you are an athletic person will find these features useful. I do find the heart rate sensor is much faster than on the Not4, and if you are a selfi lover then the senor can be used as a shutter release. Software wise, Note 5 comes with Android 5.1 Lollipop with Touch wiz on top. The Touchwiz on the older Samsung devices is quite fat and start to lag after a while. But for 2015, it receive a major design overhaul. I personally really like the icons on the Note 5, it does not look cartoonish as the older OS. Most importantly, the TouchWiz finally gets a lot slimmer. Samsung remove a lot of unessacery animation and functions. For example, there is no more those annoying quick tutorial like the old Touchwiz, some built in apps are removed or downsized, such as Sound recording where it only has 3 setting left and the SmartRemote is removed along with the IR blaster. These attempts does made the UI really smooth, launching and existing of the apps transition fluidly. After 3 weeks of daily use, the phone still flies, showing no sign of slowing down. Many features return from the Note 4, swipe to the left you can bring up Briefing which is still limited compare to BlinkFeed from HTC or News from Apple, it puzzle me that why Samsung won’t spend some times to make this app a bit better ? One hand mode, motion controls can all be accessed through the setting menu. As for new apps, the Smart Manager is a useful app that you can monitor the battery life, storage use, memory used and even an anti-virus program in one place. Other than that, much of the app remain the same with some minor tweaks, new features and artistic changes to make them fit in with the new Touchwiz. For example, the S-Planner app will automatically sync the events you have on your email directly into the app and set up a reminder without you press any buttons. Same as on the s6, the Touchwiz now has access to wide variety of theme, but you don’t have the flexibility as the one on the HTC Sense 7. And yes, the good old mutiwinow is still available, allows you to work on different things simtinously. After a recent system update, the ram management is improved, I will not get any reload unless I open more than 7 apps. Even there is a reload, the reload speed is quite fast compare to my older Samsung devices. On the bright side, the 4GB ram can sure that the phone will not slow down when you open lots of apps. Other than a big screen, the s-pen is probably what makes the Note 5 really unique among sea of big screen devices. The s-pen has received improvement as well, the tracking point has been updated to 240 per second, and the input delayed has improved the 74 ms from 98 ms on the Note 4. The pressure point decrease to 10 grams, this can pretty much simulating the pressure human put on real pen and paper. As a person who use the s-pen a lot, I can defiantly feel the changes. These improvement really made the writing experience the best yet. The appearance of the s-pen does not change too much since the Note 3 era, but the s-pen on the Note 5 ditch the straight lines pattern design, adopt a smooth surface and a glossy coast of paint. These changes actually made the s-pen more comfortable to hold for longer period of time. Also, the s-pen on the Note 5 has an auto-ejection mechanize which allows easier access for those who has big hands. When ejecting the s-pen, the familiar Air Command window return. But, the menu however receive a complete design changes, where it prioritized the most used app such as Action memo, screen write and smart select. Also, this version of the air command allows you to add up to 3 apps you can access through Air Command, but it will not be any good if the apps cannot incorporate S-pen. Also, if you eject the s-pen while the screen is off, you can directly access a quick memo to write things down without unlocking. The action memo allows you to write things down, and use the link to action to access more advance features. Screen Capture receive a neat update called Continue Capture. For example, you can screen capture a long webpage in one take from start to end. The screen shots will be combined into one image file, save you time and effort for navigating around to look for separate images. Smart Selection allows you to crop any content on the screen to save into scrapbook, and if the content is from a website, you can directly access that website by clicking on the saved image in the scrapbook. Camera on Note 5 still remain the same 16 MP shooter from Note 4, but it does have some hardware improvement. Such as f1.9 aperture (it is f2.4 on Note 4) and a digital stabilization on top of optical image stabilization. This is a powerful tool because the digital stabilization on the Note 5 will instruct the camera to take 3 pictures quickly to compensate for the hand shake, but the auto-focus speed is relative the same. Since the Note 4 is really fast already, there is no concern here. Under good daylight, the outdoors pictures exposure, and color reproduction are pretty spot on, same goes to the interior with good lighting. However, Note 5 being a successor does have some improvement. First, the much bigger aperture allows Note 5 to take those depth of field shot you just cannot on Note 4. Secondly comparing the photo by Note 4 and Note 5, when zooming in you can clearly tell the camera on the Note 5 can retain details better than the Note 4.Third, the processing speed is much faster on the Note 5. And lastly, the low lights is what set these phone apart. Under same environment, Note 5 clearly surpass Note 4. The Note 5’s picture have much less noise and the subject is much better lit.The reason being the shutter speed can be even slower because of the digital stabilization and OIS can keep the camera still, while to bigger aperture allows more lights to hit the camera sensor than Note 4. Mode wise Samsung introduce 2 new mode live broadcast and Pro Mode. Live broadcast mode is essential allows you to live stream with your Note 5’s camera on YouTube, and with live streaming becoming very popular, it is a neat addition. Pro Mode is Samsung’s way saying manual mode, which allows you to have full control of the camera setting, but I am pretty sure the auto mode can satisfy your photography need. Front camera also receive modest update, the MP has being upgrade to 5MP and has digital image stabilization to ensure those annoying hand shake while taking selfi or videos can be eliminated. Same as the front camera, you can have accessed to wide variety of mode including live broadcast. Video wise you have access to all the quality setting, from VGA all the way to 4k. But unfortunately the 4k video still limited to 5 minutes per shot, I think it might be something to do with the file size. Front Camera on Note 5 can shoot up to QHD, which same as on the Note 4. As always, you can download more shooting mode on Samsung Store. The battery capacity for the Note line up has always been on the trend of getting bigger, but to many people’s surprise the Note 5 has a 3000mha battery which is smaller than the Note 4. After using it for 3 weeks, the phone can easily last a full day of me streaming YouTube Videos, browsing internet and gaming. If I use the phone just to check social Medias, emails and read news occasionally then I can have around 30% of the battery left after whole day. The battery life overall is same if not better the Note 4 with bigger battery. Of course, if you are running low on battery, Samsung made the charging easier with wireless charging that can give a full charge in 2 hours instead of 3 on the S6. However, I do believe it is more practical with the wall charger, you can get 50% charge in 30 minutes and full charge in an hour. If you don’t have access to the charger, then battery saving mode and ultra-power saving mode are your best friends to stretch out the battery life longer. No matter what others say, I still think Note 5 is a successful device. It may not have the big wow factors compare to its predecessor, but the improvement Such as low light performance of the camera, better s-pen, cleaner Touchwiz, ultra-fast flash memory to allow much faster access of data and of course shorten wireless charging time. These are the features a Note 5 users encounter daily, which are big improvement from Note 4. You can complain that Note 5 is still using same processor as S6, and offering similar user experience. But with Samsung’s own Exnoys 8890 still in development and Snapdragon 820 not ready till end of 2015. Samsung did what it is most logical to do. The Exnoys 7420 did not disappoint on the S6, it certainly did not for the Note 5, and I believe Note 5 is still an exciting and capable device for 2015. What do you think of the Note 5? Do you think it have enough changes and improvement for 2015 standard? Leave your comments down below, and I will see you guys next time.

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