Galaxy Note 5 is the final piece of the puzzle in Samsung's flagship
smartphone line-up. The company announced it back in August, along with
the Galaxy S6 Edge+ (Review | Pictures), and it is now available for purchase in India. So,
what's changed in the Note 5? Is it a significant enough upgrade to jump
ship from your Galaxy Note 4 (Review)? Let's find out.
Look and Feel
has kicked it up a notch in the aesthetics department as the Galaxy
Note 5 borrows many design cues from its stylus-free siblings. The phone
looks premium, and is on par with the HTCs and Apples of the world.
Samsung uses 7000-series aluminium and Corning Gorilla Glass 4 for the
construction, which lends the Note 5 a sturdy, yet attractive feel.
Unlike the Galaxy S6 Edge+, whose screen curves around the sides, the Note
5 has a more subtle curved back. This leaves you with sides wide enough to grip comfortably so there's less chance of it
slipping from your hand. It's also easier to reach the power and volume
The front is dominated by a gorgeous 5.7-inch QHD Super
AMOLED display. Colours are punchy and text is sharp. The screen is also
very legible under direct sunlight. We did notice a mild purplish hue
towards the bottom portion of the display on our test unit, which is
only visible against white or grey backgrounds. We could fix this to an
extent by switching from 'Adaptive display' to 'AMOLED photo' or 'Basic'
in the settings app, but it didn't get rid of it entirely. We're hoping this is an isolated incident
with our test unit.
The Nano-SIM tray is placed on the top while
the headset socket, Micro-USB port, speaker
grille and the S Pen silo are all on the bottom. Samsung has devised a
more civilised way of ejecting the S Pen by pressing the head to pop it out. This simply lets you pull the stylus out easily
instead of having to pry it out with your fingernails. Around the back, we
have a 16-megapixel camera and a cluster with the LED flash and
heartrate sensor. Gone is the ugly faux-leather texture of previous models, which is now
replaced by glass.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 comes with a charger, data cable, SIM ejector tool, headset and extra tips for the stylus.
Specifications and Software
hardware and software are practically identical to what we saw in the Galaxy S6
Edge+ (Review) so we won't spend too much time on those aspects. We will however
talk a bit about the revamped S Pen and the software associated with
Let's start with the stylus. It's still made of plastic and
is easy to use but the metallic finish around the main button and the
top lend it a more polished look. Pressure sensitivity is similar to
that of the Galaxy Note 4, which makes it a great tool for artists.
The major change lies in Air Command - the S Pen's software companion.
You can set it to activate as soon as the pen is ejected if you like.
Features such as Action Memo, Smart Select and Screen Write are displayed
with colour coded icons instead of a black-and-white carousel like in previous versions. This makes identifying them simpler. You can also choose
to add up to three additional stylus-friendly apps to Air Command for quicker access.
Action Memo lets
you quickly jot down notes; Smart Select lets you crop a portion of the
screen for editing, sharing or saving; Screen Write lets you take screenshots and even lets you grab full-length
captures of Web pages with the 'Scroll capture' feature. This is super
useful when you want to share an entire Web page as a single image. 'Screen off memo' is another
new addition which lets you take notes without having to switch the
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is an absolute beast in the performance
department. The interface is slick and heavy apps and games are no
trouble for this smartphone. The octa-core Exynos 7420 processor and 4GB of RAM
ensure everything runs smoothly. The new SoC is also a big upgrade over
last year's Galaxy Note 4, which had the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC.
The performance difference is best reflected in AnTuTu, which threw up a
score of 68,277, compared to the 46,678 we got on its predecessor.
Gaming does tend make the phone quite warm, which gets uncomfortable
after a bit.
The volume from the speaker is loud and audio is
relatively clear and distinct. We like that Samsung has moved the
speaker from the back of the phone to the bottom as the new layout doesn't muffle the
sound when the device placed on any flat surface. The S Pen works as advertised and
is a useful tool for your artistic pursuits. A big note of caution
however - no matter what you do, do not try to push the S Pen into its silo backwards as it will get stuck, and forcing it out could damage the
detection mechanism permanently. Samsung warns users about this in the
manual, but when was the last time you read one of those for any reason?
If you've had the misfortune of doing this, you might not be
able to activate Air Command automatically or use the 'Screen off memo'
feature any longer.
Camera performance is very good and the app offers a
Pro mode as well as the new Live Broadcast feature. Images are detailed
and low-light performance is good, letting you have some fun with long
(Click to see full size picture)
The Galaxy Note 5 performed well in our video
loop test too, lasting 16 hours and 32 minutes. This is more than what
we got from the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, despite them being pretty
similar in terms of hardware. With regular use, you shouldn't have a
problem going a couple of days before needing a charge.
32GB version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 retails for Rs 53,900, which
makes it better value compared to its curved-screen sibling. Plus, you get the useful stylus which will add
more value to your life as compared to a curved screen. The Galaxy Note 5
is a very good iterative upgrade over previous Galaxy Note models, and if you're in
the market for a phone with a stylus, this is your best bet. However, should you
ditch your Note 4 for the Note 5? Certainly not. Samsung has made some
very good improvements such as the stronger aluminium body, more powerful
processor, improved S Pen features, but has also cut down
on a couple of important ones along the way.
You forfeit the luxury of expanding the
onboard storage, there's no IR blaster, and the battery is a bit smaller
(although that doesn't seem to impact real-world usage by much). You'll also have to be extra careful while re-inserting the S Pen as placing it the wrong way could cost you dearly.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 in pictures