A huge change from the Galaxy Note series, the Galaxy Note 5 has adopted the glass and metal styling of the Galaxy S6 with a signature S pen stylus and a large 5.7" display. This phablet has a 14nm Exynos 7420 octa-core system chip with 4 GB of RAM. Powered by Android 5.1 Lollipop, the Galaxy Note 5 has a 3000 mAh battery and comes with the option of having 32 GB or 64 GB. This phone sports a great 16-megapixel camera along with a 5-megapixel front facing camera and HD video resolution. The Galaxy Note 5 is available in black, white, gold, and silver.
While there were some fans of the Note 4’s faux leather look, many will be glad to learn that Samsung is going with a slightly different look for the Galaxy Note 5. However, the operative word here is slightly – there’s not all that much about the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 that’s new. Instead, what we have here is an updated version of the Note 4, albeit minus the expandable storage and plus a smaller battery than the Note 4.
The Note 5 is a close relative to this spring’s Galaxy S6, featuring wireless charging, high quality cameras and even the same processor, as well as the fingerprint reader and Samsung Pay, at least for consumers in the US and South Korea. Yes, it has a stylus, but it’s otherwise very similar. Speaking of the stylus, that’s where most of the real changes in the Note 5 can be found. It looks great, yes, but it is very much like the S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+. At the same time, it’s also arguably the most powerful stylus-enabled handset currently available and if you’re new to the Note, there’s a lot to enjoy here.
Where to get the Samsung Galaxy Note 5
The Galaxy Note 5 will be released on August 21 worldwide and is available in black, white, gold and silver (note that color availability may vary by region). The price of the device will also vary depending on the region and wireless carrier, but it will be priced lower than the Galaxy S6 Edge+. US consumers can get the Note 5 from Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and US Cellular in black and white; it should be available from prepaid carriers at some point in the near future.
Specifications and features
Samsung Exynos 7 quad-core processor
4 GB RAM
32 GB/64 GB storage options
Metal and glass construction
5.7” 2,560 x 1440 pixel AMOLED display
6” x 3” x .3”, 6.03 ounces
16 megapixel camera (5 megapixel front facing camera), 4K resolution
Live YouTube broadcasting capabilities
Click-in S-Pen holster
The Note 5’s design is very much like that of the S6, with a flat face, straight sides and a very gentle curve on the back. It’s not as eye catching as the Edge or Edge+, but this is still a very large screen which, thanks to Samsung’s design work on this model, fits more comfortably in the hand than the Note 4. The display is one of the things that users will notice first – Samsung has made a crisp, highly detailed display in a relatively compact package. The Back and Recent Apps soft keys are on either side of the home button (which also serves as a Google Now call button and as a fingerprint reader). As you’d expect, the volume is on the left side, the power/lock button on the right. You’ll find the headset jack, stylus holster and micro-USB charging port on the bottom – unfortunately, there’s no USB-C port here.
The S-Pen has gone through some small changes and Samsung claims that the latest version is more responsive with lower latency, although its functionality remains the same. The stylus can be used to hover over videos or photos for a preview, call up menus and of course, as a pointer and for writing. It can also drag and drop text and do screen captures.
What else is new in the Samsung Galaxy Note 5?
Screen memo: The screen memo feature allows you to create memos even if the Note’s screen is off – you’ll need to enable this feature, since it is turned off by default.
PDF annotation: The S-Pen stylus now allows you to make notes on PDF files by simply writing on them.
Shortcuts wheel: Previously known as Air Command, tapping this icon opens a menu of your most frequently used applications – you can also choose to add up to three apps to this menu.
Improved screenshots: The Note 5 allows you to capture the entire screen when taking a screenshot, so you can scroll through everything you want rather than taking multiple screenshots – and you can also write on the screenshot to add notes.
Operating System and Apps
The Note 5 comes with Android 5.1 (Lollipop) using Samsung’s TouchWiz for integration with Google services like Google Drive, Google Now and navigation. You’ll also find the usual Samsung apps like S-Memo and S-Note, although the latest Note has far fewer preloaded apps than you may expect (there are plenty of optional add-ons available if and when you find you need them).
One of the new features on the Note 5 that’s likely to attract attention is its YouTube broadcasting feature. There’s a 30 second delay before the video makes it to the site (which is a good thing), but this feature seems to be Samsung’s alternative to Periscope.
Something that many users will probably be a lot less enthused about is the lack of expansion slots on the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. It’s available with either 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage, but you’ll probably need to use cloud storage for media files if you tend to listen to a lot of music or watch a lot of video on your mobile device; you’ll also have less of the onboard storage available, since the Note 5’s stylus requires a lot of software to power its features.
Unfortunately, compared to the Note 4, the Note 5 comes up a little short in this department, with a 3,000mAh embedded battery rather than a removable 3,200mAh battery. Due to improvements in the integrated software, this may end up being a wash in terms of battery life (more testing will be needed to know for certain). However, on the plus side, the Note 5 supports both WPC and PMA wireless charging as well as two power saving modes: power saving and ultra-power saving, for those users who really need to make the most of their battery life.
If you do most of your listening to music on your mobile, then you’ll likely be pleased with the audio on the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. It features UHQ 24bit/192kHz audio (opposed to MP3 quality, which is 16 bit/48kHz); if you’re not up on what these specifications mean, suffice it to say that your music and streaming audio are going to sound better, whether on the built in speaker, on headphones or via Bluetooth connected devices like speakers and headsets.
Thanks to a new version of SideSync, media management and syncing is also a little easier, whether you’re sharing with your tablet, PC, TV or other media devices. After setting up the app, you can automatically connect to your devices, drag and drop apps between your PC and phone and answer calls and texts from your PC or Mac (the software you need to do this works with Windows and Mac).
The Note 5 isn’t a radical step forward from its predecessor, but it is still a fantastic mobile device with its own set of strengths (the S-Pen is really starting to come into its own with this version) and weaknesses (limited storage and possibly reduced battery life). It’s a very attractive device with a lot to offer, but you can’t help but wonder if Samsung has set itself up for a fall once a competitor inevitably comes out with a similar device with more battery life and an expansion slot for additional storage. It’s not the leap forward that we saw with the Note 4 compared to the Note 3, but maybe we shouldn’t expect miracles with every new version of the Note. It’s not necessarily a must-have upgrade for Note 4 users who are happy with their device as it is, but if you’re still using the Note 3 or have never used any Galaxy Note device, you’re definitely going to find the Note 5 a huge improvement.
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