Samsung's first oversized smartphone, the original Samsung Galaxy Note,
was launched back in 2011 at the IFA exhibition in Berlin. The South
Korean company has launched a new Note model at the same show every year
until last year. This year, Samsung unveiled the new Samsung Galaxy
Note 5 at its own Galaxy Unpacked 2015 event in New York where it also
revealed the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. The company hasn't given any
specific reason why the Galaxy Note 5 was launched a little early,
though several reports claimed it to be a move to make sure the new devices are in the
market ahead of Apple's next iPhones.
While we can't say as of now
whether the move has given Samsung a head start against Apple's new
iPhones, due to launch on Wednesday, both the Galaxy Note 5 and the
Galaxy S6 Edge+ have surely made the premium-end segment seem
interesting. As hinted last month at the India launch of the Galaxy S6
Edge+ (First Impressions), Samsung has just launched its new Note-series smartphone, the
Galaxy Note 5, in India. On being asked how it plans to convince loyal
Galaxy Note customers to upgrade to the new Galaxy Note 5, Samsung India
at the launch was confident that the new Note brings plenty of
improvements over its predecessors.
At the launch, we got to spend
a little time with the new Galaxy Note 5. The new Note model will be
available in India in three colour options: Black Sapphire, Gold
Platinum, and Silver Titanium. We got a Silver Titanium model to play
The Galaxy Note 5 is comfortable to hold but is
barely usable with just one hand, thanks to its big 5.7-inch screen. The
first thing we noticed when we held the new Galaxy Note 5 was its metal
frame. Much like the Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, and Galaxy S6
Edge+, the metal rim on the Galaxy Note 5 curves fluidly so that it is
wider on the top and bottom and narrower on the sides. Since the launch
of its Galaxy Alpha smartphone, Samsung has been using metal frames on
many of its premium handsets including the Galaxy Note 4 (Review | Pictures). However, we
can definitely say that compared to its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 5
The usual textured rear panel has been replaced
with an all-glass look. Similar to the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, the
Note 5's body colour is visible through the back panel. The back panel
of the Note 5 is very shiny and reflective, making it hard for us to
photograph it without reflections, something we also pointed out in our
Galaxy S6 Edge review. Despite this, we were confident of using the device without it
slipping, unlike the Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy S6 Edge+ which have very
slippery rear panels.
Samsung's traditional physical home button,
which has now become an integral part of almost every Galaxy device,
sits right below the display, with the fingerprint reader embedded into
its surface. The capacitive Back and Recents buttons sit on either side
of the Home button. The power button can be found on the right while the
volume rocker is on the left.
The placement of the LED flash
accompanied and the heart rate sensor has been changed in the new Note.
Both are now placed next to the camera. In the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, they were
placed right below the camera.The S Pen stylus can be pulled out of a
silo on the bottom of the Note 5, and features a one-click eject
mechanism. The Micro-USB port and 3.5mm audio jack are also on the
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 features a 5.7-inch QHD
(1440x2560-pixel) Super-AMOLED screen with a pixel density of 515ppi,
which is the same as that of the Galaxy Note 4. The display looks bright
with satisfactory colour reproduction. The viewing angles and
visibility under direct indoor lighting were good. The phone is powered
by a 64-bit octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset with four Cortex-A57 cores
clocked at 2.1GHz and four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.5GHz, coupled
with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. Samsung has used its in-house Exynos 7420 SoC in
all of its high-end smartphones launching this year. The Galaxy Note 4
was powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 805 processor.
limited time spent with the handset, we observed that it handled
multitasking and Internet browsing pretty easily without any lag. We
will reserve our verdict on Samsung Galaxy Note 5's performance until we
get a chance to put it through its paces for a detailed review.
company has launched 32GB and 64GB models in India. Unfortunately,
Samsung declined to comment on whether or not there's any chance that
the 128GB model will be available. It was briefly listed by the company following its Galaxy Unpacked event. The Galaxy Note 5
has no microSD card slot, and features a non-removable 3,000mAh
The Galaxy Note 5 runs its own custom UI on top of the
Android 5.1 Lollipop. We were unable to find many of the usual features
of Google's stock Android Lollipop experience on the handset. The new UI
however feels more fresh and light than previous versions of TouchWiz,
which has had its share of controversy in the past.
(Also see: Why Microsoft's Push Into Google's Android Is Good News for Users)
One of the most interesting moves Samsung has made
is the bundling of Microsoft's suite of apps. One can find Office apps
such as Excel, OneNote, OneDrive, PowerPoint, Skype, and Word. Much like
recently launched high-end Galaxy devices, the new Note 5 also offers
consumers 100GB of free OneDrive cloud storage free for two years.
The S Pen stylus features remain central
to the Galaxy Note 5's software. The Air Command option, which pops up
when a user hovers over the home screen with the S-Pen, shows options
for Action Memo, Smart Select, Screen Write, and S Note tools. Users can
add more shortcuts, if required, to the launcher. Most of the apps on
the Galaxy Note 5 looked much the same as on the Galaxy Note 4.
India at the launch stressed heavily on its new Fast Charging
technology, which allows the new Note 5 charge fully in roughly 90
minutes with the regular wired charger, or 120 minutes wirelessly. A
recent test also showed that Samsung devices do charge quickly in short periods of time.
Galaxy Note 5 sports a 16-megapixel rear camera with f/1.9 aperture and
optical image stabilisation, as well as a 5-megapixel front-facing
camera. The camera app on the new Note 5 packs some goodies from the
Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge+, such as the Live Broadcast feature which
allows users to live stream video directly to a connected YouTube
account. Samsung India believes that the new Live Broadcast feature will
find early adopters similar to popular apps like Periscope and Meerkat.
However, the company declined to comment about whether the feature will
be landing on older devices.
In our limited tests of the cameras,
we found the images taken with the Galaxy Note 5 in normal indoor
lighting to be vibrant with proper colours showing up. Low-light shots
also seemed good.
The new Samsung Galaxy Note
5 definitely brings some upgraded innards and slight updates to the UI
compared to its predecessor. One of the most notable differences between
the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note 5 in India has been the pricing.
While the Galaxy Note 4 was launched last year
starting at Rs. 61,500 (with the market price settling at around Rs.
58,500), the new Galaxy Note 5, on the other hand, starts at Rs. 53,900
for the 32GB model. The 64GB Galaxy Note 5 variant will be available at
Rs. 59,900. Both will go on sale starting September 20 in India.
new users, the new lower pricing of the Galaxy Note 5 may be great
news. There doesn't seem to be any reason that Galaxy Note 4 users will
want to go for the upgraded version, but those using previous models in
the series might be tempted. At these prices, the Apple iPhone 6 Plus
(Review | Pictures) remains a tough competitor to the Note 5, and its successor will be even
more compelling if pricing stays the same.