Design

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is a sleek, attractive device that makes using a stylus cool and useful again. Samsung has also achieved design gold by making the S Pen storable inside the device itself. With a secure place to keep it, I’ve managed to not lose it over the last six months. Furthermore, accessing the S Pen is as simple as giving the spring a push to release and then slide it out. Putting it back is just as easy. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a known flaw with the S Pen storage cavity; it’s sized in a way that allows you to insert the S Pen backwards. When that happens the S Pen can get stuck inside and in some cases, when it is finally ejected, damage has been done to the spring mechanism. Samsung addressed this consumer concern by noting that one should insert the pen properly. Well duh, but I did see someone mention kids on one of the forum threads. It’s actually a mistake that anyone can make, especially kids. I remain cognizant of what I am dong when inserting the S Pen to ensure that it’s done correctly. If you choose to become a Note 5 owner, you should too.

Measuring 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm, it’s smaller than a traditional phablet but large enough to enjoy just about anything on the screen. The curved, metal unibody has a thin profile and feels good in my hand.

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Performance

Note 5 performed well. Multitasking and switching between apps was a breeze. I set the device to perform updates automatically which never interfered with my ability to use it when I wanted. I used an unlocked version of the device in two countries (UAE and USA) and even in flight with no problems. I was always able to access and connect to available networks. I switched SIM cards too (du, AT&T and T-Mobile). I was surprised to find that the Note 5 is not dual SIM; not a deal breaker at all but one of those cherry-on-top kind of features.

Battery

Prior to using the Note 5, my primary device was an iPhone 6 Plus so the switch certainly improved my battery life situation. Note 5 features a 3000 mAh fast charging battery. As a heavy social user who checks my email frequently, in between push notifications, a fully charged battery lasted all day, from around 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. I would then charge up at bedtime. It took about an hour and a half to charge using the wired charger that comes with the phone and about two hours using a third party charger. When the Note 5 launched Samsung loyalists were upset that the battery was no longer removable – a feature that’s been added back to the newest Galaxy 7 releases. However, it hasn’t been a detrimental loss because the battery life you get with the stationary battery is more than sufficient.

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Display

Note 5 features a 5.7” Quad HD Super AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 (518 ppi). Images are vibrant and crisp.

Software

Out-of-the-box Note 5 runs Android 5.1 (Lollipop). It comes with Google apps preinstalled which pretty much act as my device manager. I can’t say there was much bloatware with the exception of something called Papergarden that I never used.

In terms of software highlights, I really appreciate the apps intended for use with the S Pen. First, there’s Screen Write which automatically takes a screen shot when opened and enables you to write on it. This was particularly useful for marking up layouts during my editing process. I’ve said it before; I’m a mobile user so the more tasks I can complete using my mobile, the better. S Note is great for jotting down things especially if you prefer handwritten notes and lists but the Action Notes feature is what I like most. It allows you to set actions for text in your notes – it’s like setting a hyperlink but instead of always opening a web browser, you can specify other functions like email, contacts, and phone. Once an action is set, it opens the appreciate app when the text is clicked.

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I noted above that being able to store the S Pen inside the phone helps you to better keep up with it but what about the times when it’s accidentally discharged from the phone? Samsung gives you a host of settings to accommodate that. I’ve experienced times where I dropped the device and didn’t know the S Pen was out until I looked at the lock screen and saw a notification. Alerts, vibration, sound effects – they all help you to keep up with the S Pen.

The Note 5 is plumb with features that support business on-the-go but it’s also built for fun. I’ve handed it over to my 4 year old to keep him occupied. He loved doodling shapes in different colors with different pen tips on S Note using the S Pen. He liked it so much that I’ve even had to turn down requests to draw on mommy’s phone.

Nonnative apps are being configured for S Pen use too. One Note is a must-have app that I depend on regularly and they’ve recently introduced gestures for use when inking with a stylus vs inking with your finger.

Camera

The Note 5 has a great camera that takes brilliant photos (see examples below). Consequently, there are times I’ve left my DSLR at home and relied solely on the Note 5 to take photographs at events. The device features a rear 16 MP camera with smart OIS and real time HDR. It also has a 120 degree wide angle, 5 MP front camera.

Like most cutting edge smartphone cameras, it can be used in different modes. However there are two modes that really stood out for me. Live Broadcast which allows you to broadcast and share live videos on YouTube. It provides you with personal live broadcasting service to connect with YouTube Live Events with just a tap on the icon. The first time you use it, you must sign in and complete a two step verification process. First, you must enter your mobile number. (Two Youtube accounts can be verified per mobile number per year) Then, the service sends a verification code to your mobile via phone call or text. Now, here’s what impressed me the most. When the verification process required me to enter my mobile number, it was already populated. And after I chose to receive the verification code via text message, it came through within 15 seconds, and once received, the verification code was pre-populated too. Because the setup process was so intuitive, I basically had to select one radio button and hit the ‘NEXT’ button twice to get started. Samsung has made live streaming from the device’s camera just as seamless as using a third party app like Periscope.

GIF mode is my absolute favorite mode. With video content on the rise, adding a direct method for making short, animated clips to share online was a shrewd move. But, there is one glitch. Even though the mode shows several apps that GIFs can be shared to, mine only seem to work on Twitter. I can share GIFs made with the camera publicly and/or in a direct messages on Twitter, but if I attempt to send it to my email or post on Facebook or Instagram it shows up like a still photo. Once this glitch is fixed, GIF mode will be perfect.

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Photo Credit: Rochelle Mae Cervantes

Design The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is a sleek, attractive device that makes using a stylus cool and useful again. Samsung has also achieved design gold by making the S Pen storable inside the device itself. With a secure place to keep it, I've managed to not lose it over…

Samsung Note 5

Design
Performance
Battery
Display
Software
Camera

High Marks

The Note 5 is an excellent choice. Whether you're an artist, mobile business person or enthusiast the Note 5 has features that will support your lifestyle. In the next release I expect to see some of the same refinements (water resistance, removable battery, etc.) that we now how in the Galaxy S7 series.

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