I’ve had the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 for quite a while. I’ve been using it as one of my main phones. Based on the hands-on time I had with it at launch, and my experience with other Notes, I had an idea what to expect. There were a few changes to the build and design that I had to work with. Since I had quite a few things to review, I did a longterm review of the phone. What did I think makeover Samsung gave the Galaxy Note 5? Read on
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Specs
Display: 5.7 inch 2560 × 1440 Super AMOLED display (518 PPI)
Cameras: 16 Megapixel rear-facing camera (with OIS) / 5 megapixel front-facing camera
Processor / RAM: Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5Ghz, Octacore application processor/ Exynos 7420 /4 GB RAM
Memory: 32GB / 64GB / 128 GB? Internal Memory (no expansion slot)
Battery: 3,000 mAh embedded battery / Fast Wireless Charging
Connectivity : Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi / NFC / MFC
OS: Android Lollipop 5.1 with TouchWiz
Features: OIS / Live Broadcast / Fast Charging / S-Pen capability
Design and Build
The Galaxy Note 5 wen the same route as the Galaxy S6. A unibody build with embedded battery, and no expansion slot. Just think it as a larger Galaxy S6. The Galaxy Note 5 looks a lot sleeker, it’s definitely more slippery, but it looks more premium than the Note 4.
You see mostly screen thanks to the thin bezels. There’s the home button on the bottom, that doubles as the fingerprint sensor. To the left of it you have the open apps button, and to the right of the fingerprint scanner. you have the back button.
You have the microUSB and headphone jack on the bottom. You have the volume buttons on the left side, and the power / standby button on the right side. The back has the rear-facing 16mp camera.
Display and Software
One of the first phones to join the phablet category (maybe the word will go away now) , the screen size is one of the first things that you noticed about the Galaxy Note 5. Things have changed and now large screens are almost the norm. Samsung had to step it up to compete with the other large screens out there. They did a decent job with 5.7 inch screen. Colors are vibrant in true Samsung fashion.
With so many phones coming out with large bodies, the Note 5 no longer looks huge or obnoxious. I like most of the same features on the Galaxy Note 5, that I liked on the Galaxy S6. It’s the features that you help you get stuff done quickly. And by stuff, I mean the things that you do often; such as opening the camera (with a double-tap of the home button), or unlocking the phone via the fingerprint sensor.
S-Pen – The S-Pen is what differentiates this phone from many other large phones. Not only because it has one, but because it works so well. 5 generations in, and the S-Pen keeps getting better and better. Besides the obvious note-taking feature, and air command options such as Action Memo and Screen Write (that we’ve already seen), you can customize the Air Command menu to add 3rd party apps. You can even take scrolling screenshots, which is pretty dope. A nice upgrade to the design of the S-Pen is the click of the top. You click the S-Pen out of the slot, and click it back in. It may seem like something small, but it helps give it the pen feel.
Fingerprint Sensor – I love that you don’t have to swipe the home screen. The fingerprint sensor isn’t super fast on the Note 5, but it’s faster than typing your passcode. It’s hard to go to a phone that doesn’t have the fingerprint scanner after using one that does.
If you are a mobile photographer you will definitely enjoy the 16 megapixel camera on the Galaxy Note 5. You get crazy detail in the pictures. Try zooming in on a clear pic, and for the most part it won’t be too distorted. The camera on the Note 5 isn’t cluttered and no longer comes with all the different “shots”. You can download the different camera shots in the Galaxy Apps Store. I don’t use many of them. I usually only download the “Food Shot” option. For those who enjoy editing pictures with software, you can save pictures as a RAW file.
The front-facing camera still takes decent selfies, although sometimes my face looks very blurred, like I have a ton of make-up on. It’s great for group selfies though. Everyone fits.
I was scared for the battery life of the Galaxy Note 5, due to the size and thinness (also because the Galaxy S6 had a mediocre battery life as well), and because it’s smaller than the Note 4. It wasn’t looking good for me at first, but it performed decently. The phone seems to optimized for use. I made it through the day (with moderate to heavy use) with about 15% to spare. No complaints here. As usual what happens with me, may not be the case for you. I use moderate to low screen brightness, and watch videos sporadically throughout the day. If you’re a battery hog, Ultra Power Saving Mode is for you!
Pricing and Availability
The beautiful gold color isn’t available in the United States. The U.S. has the option of black or white. The good thing about these models, is that you see less fingerprints. Prices vary by carrier. It will start at a minimum of $299 with a 2 year contract. Price will vary along with monthly payments, storage size, and deals of course. You can learn more at Samsung.com
Galaxy S6 edge+ Pricing (Sprint)
|Galaxy S6 edge+ 32GB||Galaxy S6 edge+ 64GB|
|Sprint Lease||$0 down, $30/month||$0 down, $35/month|
|Sprint Easy Pay||$0 down, $33/month||$0 down, $37/month|
|2-year Service Agreement||$349.99||$449.99|
Galaxy Note 5 Pricing (Sprint)
|Galaxy Note 5 32GB||Galaxy Note 5 64GB|
|Sprint Lease||$0 down, $25/month||$0 down, $30/month|
|Sprint Easy Pay||$0 down, $30/month||$0 down, $34/month|
|2-year Service Agreement||$249.99||$349.99|
The Galaxy Note 5 has become one of my daily drivers. I’m not sure if I use it more for work or play since I do use it for note-taking and social media, but I also use it for pictures and doodling when bored. I recommend this phone if you:
- enjoy large screens
- want a phone that makes use of its large screen,
- like wireless charging,
- want a nice camera / are a mobile photographer.
If you don’t enjoy large phones, won’t make use of the S-Pen you might want to look into the Galaxy Edge+. Instead of a stylus, you’ll have curved screens at the edges that help you access contacts and/or apps easily. As for me, I enjoy the Note 5. I use it to take many of my foodp0rn and landscape pictures. If you’re willing to spend the money, and feel that you will enjoy all the bells and whistles of the Note 5; it will be money well spent.