Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Review: 5th Time’s The Charm

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 could potentially be a defining moment for the company especially along with the new design language rendered on the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge.  The Note 5 itself has a sleek design and high-end premium appeal which is, likely to drive significant increases in sales – even as it competes with the uber popular and pricey iPhone 6s. The whole new 7000 series aluminum metal body, with Gorilla Glass 4 adds credence to its durability, looks and solid construction. As far the design is concerned, the Note 5 feels very lightweight & offers better grip compared to the OnePlus Two.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Note 5 now comes with S Pen & a 5.7 inch Quad HD display (518 ppi) screen which is a pure delight to use. Unlike other large-screen phones, this one is still good enough to fit comfortably in pocket (it’s very thin) but also big enough to make media look better.

The display is so crisp & bright, it makes all other screens seem dull.

This all marks a clear difference from the Galaxy Note 4, which wasn’t a cheap looking phone & I liked that one too, but after handling the Note 5 suddenly it feels like Note 4 was a bad joke. Honestly. The most shocking part about the redesign though is that it’s actually 5g lighter than its predecessor, even though the materials would imply the opposite. The new build will help it compete with the likes of the iPhone and Nexus which are also made out of aluminum.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Backplate

Downside is, the glass and metal frame does make this phone a bit on the slippery side & very prone to finger prints all over the body. I strongly recommend to get a clear case (or the one you prefer).  You’ll find that your palm tends to interfere a bit on the side of the screen when you are touching on the right side; a case can help mitigate this effect to some degree. Unfortunately, you may find a good deal of frustration here without addressing this issue. From Samsung’s view, the “S Pen” is a supposed answer for this, but honestly, you’ll be doing a lot of interacting with your fingers still. All that being said, get a case.

Frame looks premium but is prone to finger prints. Get a clear case.

The specs themselves have seen some modest improvement from the last generation but are eerily similar to the S6 Edge+. The main differences is the stylus, but let’s face it, the stylus is an awesome add-on. Being a designer, I’ve always been a fond of using the S Pen & trust me, it’s been improved tremendously.

The processor has received an upgrade and you’ll find this iteration is markedly fast compared to the Note 4. It’s been bumped up to a 1.5 GHz octa-core processor along with 4 GB of RAM just to cover all the bases.

This upgrade thankfully, and perhaps surprisingly, does not come at the expense of battery life. In fact, to describe the battery life as anything but stellar would be a gross mischaracterization of the truth. It has hefty life, and in this day and age, that is completely necessary. The 3000 mAh battery may not seem enough from the number itself, but with the kind of battery optimization is being implemented, it worked more than perfectly during my usage. Power saving mode & Ultra power saving mode comes very well to your rescue, when needed the most. Also, I’m glad that, the battery is not removable – which means, the company itself showing great confidence in it & has to be strong so it can last without needing to be replaced before a phone upgrade.

The camera has also received some extra attention and outdoor photos are simply gorgeous. The lighting and details the Note 5 captures are in such high definition using Auto HDR mode; thanks to the 16 megapixels you get this time around even with the default 16:9 aspect ratio – which in other phones is usually reduced.

Camera Modes In Note 5

The selfie camera is equipped with 5 MP & this too comes with Auto real-time HDR capability. It also comes with two more essential features – One is, 120-degree wide-angle which ensures more people are accommodated in a picture & other is, the selfies are distortion-free ensuring realistic facial shape. Like other latest Galaxy series phones, it comes with real-time photo effects – which may not suit everyone.

Selfie Camera. iPhone 5 vs Note 5

With the upgraded processor, sharing these photos is a breeze. The storage hasn’t been tinkered with however, so depending on which version you get, you’ll be able to accommodate varying degrees of media. On the motion side of media, the videos are also as clear and crispy as the photos themselves. You’ll get 30 FPS on 4K resolution and up to 60 FPS on 1080p.

S-pen is of course improving in hardware & software side of things, with every new release. The most convenient of it, is the way it now hooks at the bottom. We can remove it or place it back by press-n-release, which in earlier models was not very convenient.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 - S Pen

S Pen is improved & loads can be created with it. Definitely recommended for creative folks.

Like earlier, the Air Command feature gets activated as soon as S Pen is unhooked & presented with loads of options to start using it. It’s now much easier to work on two apps on same screen & exchange media between them. Honestly, I found it difficult to get used to initially but when you do, it feels like productivity is on steroids. If your phone screen is off & take out the S Pen, you can still start taking notes right away.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Fingerprint Security

Fingerprint scanner worked flawlessly 95% of the times, thanks to scanning multiple parts of the finger. That way if the scanning angle is slightly changed, it still authenticates based on initially collected data.

Fingerprint integration across Android endpoints & using it to authenticate websites replacing traditional password, is a breeze. It also can be used for payments using NFC – which I’m not a big fan in India because we don’t know when & how this will work here. Clearly on the other hand, I was totally disappointed by OnePlus Two fingerprint scanning – which is only useful to unlock the device & feels like the whole technology is underused there.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 comes with hefty price tag. I agree on that but for the first time I think this Samsung phone truly justifies the price tag. Also, I kind of liked their current pricing strategy for premium phones & it makes sense too. Why? Well, let’s keep that topic of discussion for another time. If you’re considering an upgrade, you should get this gem. And if you’re a creative dude, a painter or anything allied then you must get it.

Connect through USB cable to use Side Sync on Windows or Mac. WiFi connectivity is not the best. Good that, the software itself prompts you to do so.

Galaxy Note 5 has tons of advantages & offer tons of things to be done on a phone. The Touchwiz UI is essential on such a feature-packed phone. Having said that, I still don’t understand why the core system itself needs to use 50% of the RAM all the time? Maybe that is the reason why S Pen functions, Side Sync & other critical feature kicks off immediacy. I never faced an issue or a lag in last seven days though. It’s not possible to write about each feature in one article. I’ll be making a series of videos & post them on our YouTube Channel. Do subscribe there to get updates. If you’ve any questions about Note 5, feel free to comment below.


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