Samsung last month unveiled there much awaited successor to the renowned Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The device much like its predecessor packs in top notch specs with a shift in design language. The device is available in two variants based on storage, the 32GB variant is available for a price of Rs 53,990 whereas you gotta spend 6k more for the 64GB variant. So let’s find out if Samsung Galaxy Note 5 continues the reign of the note series over the phablet market in our Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Review.
The device comes in a pretty compact white colored box with minimal graphics over it. The front of the box has nothing except the name of the device and the storage printed on top, behind you have some quick specs, while the sides depict the marketing information. Once you open the box you have the device right on top. Further digging in you’ll find the usual paper work, a sim tray opener, a 2Amp adaptive fast charging adapter, microUSB 2.0 cable, a pair of flat wired premium earphones with silver plated 3.5mm pin, a pair of extra ear buds, extra nibs for the S-pen and the tool for removing the nibs from the S-pen.
Design and Build
Note 5 takes its design cue from its younger siblings S6 and S6 Edge and thus it’s completely forged out of glass and metal. Note 4 was made out of high quality plastic and metal and had a metallic ring around it while Note 5 still has that metallic ring but the plastic on the back has been replaced by glass. Both the sides are protected by Gorilla Glass 4. So overall a very premium looking device and at the same time a fingerprint magnet. The device weighs around 171gm and is 7.6mm thin.
The front of the device features a 5.7 inch Super AMOLED screen with a whooping 2K resolution. The front as well as the back are protected by Gorilla Glass 4. Above the display you have the 5MP wide angle front facing camera, earpiece, sensors and notification LED light. Below the display lies the typical Samsung styled physical home button in between the capacitive keys. The physical button embeds in the fingerprint sensor. On the left side you have the separated volume rocker, while on the right resides the power button. On top you have the nano Sim card slot and the secondary microphone. Down below lies the 3.5mm jack, microUSB 2.0 port, speaker grill, mouthpiece and the S-Pen slot. Note that the device doesn’t takes a microSD card i.e. no expandable storage, also it has a non-removable battery. Behind you have the 16MP camera module with OIS support. The camera is accompanied by a LED flash and a heart rate monitor. Below the camera lies the Samsung branding. One major good aspect of Note5’s design language that you won’t find on any other Samsung’s flagship devices is the curved edges on the back side which sort of helps in gripping the phablet. Overall ergonomically, design-wise, built quality wise, look wise and almost in every possible department this device is ahead of its predecessor.
The device sports one of the best displays out there in market. The 5.7 inch Super AMOLED screen packs in 1440 x 2560 pixels accounting to about 518ppi of pixel density. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 4. The viewing angles on this device are almost unmatched, you can possibly view the screen at about 180 degrees with no discoloration.
The device runs on the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with Samsung’s trimmed TouchWiz over it. The device is among the top birds to taste Android Marshmallow once it makes a debut. In our RAM test we found that about 2GB of RAM was free when no apps were running in background, although that’s a little on the lower side but then 2GB of free RAM is enough to handle multitasking up to extreme levels. The TouchWiz skin on this device resembles the one on the S6 and S6 Edge meaning you have no unnecessary in-house tools and third party apps. The app drawer consists of default Google apps, a few third party apps including the Microsoft Office Suite and some social media apps. If you don’t want any of the third party apps you can now even disable them.
The device is powered by the in-house Exynos 7420 chipset that includes quad-core Cortex-A53 and quad-core Cortex-A57 CPUs clocked at 1.5GHz and 2.1GHz respectively. It also includes Mali-T760MP8 GPU. The device is boosted with 4GB of RAM and comes in with an on-board storage of 32 GB or 64GB based on the variants you buy. On the 32GB device about 24.79GB of storage was available for the user. The storage cannot be further be expanded.
The sound output via the speaker is loud enough and has perfect amount of bass and treble to it. In the video playback test we found that the vocals as well as the cinematic sounds were very good. The 3D surround sound effects were brilliant as well. So overall a great sounding device.
The device houses a 16MP rear camera and a 5MP front facing camera, both of which are one of the USPs of this device. The rear camera is almost identical to the one on the Note 4, S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus. The front camera has a 5MP sensor which in our opinion could have been bumped up, as other manufacturers even have 13MP modules installed on their devices. Still the 5MP camera is pretty good, it has wide field of view and doesn’t lags at all. The camera UI is pretty similar to the one on the S6 and S6 Edge with the usual modes and settings. We checked out the image and video quality of this device and the results were exquisite. They were very very detailed under enough light and the best thing about this camera is that the image processing engine doesn’t over processes the photos. The saturation and hue are almost perfect but the skin tone saturation is slightly more than what we would have liked. One thing that we noticed in Auto and Pro mode is that the camera automatically applies selective focus which may mean that the camera has the actual feel for depth or it may be due to some software, most probably it is because of the software, but then if it is due to the software then we would have liked the software to work on selective focus in Pro mode only not in the Auto mode. Overall what may be the algorithm behind this the camera does gives brilliant pictures with great emphasis on subject. The videos were sharp not only in the center but towards the edges as well. Even under low light the details didn’t drop up to great levels, the camera does a great job in checking the noise. So all in all in our opinion this is the best smartphone camera available right now in the market, although we’re eagerly waiting for Z5 as it promises a lot on papers.
The S-pen is the major highlight of the Note series. The S-pen now has this click mechanism to draw it out and secure it back in its slot. The S-pen this time has more pressure points and thus is more precise. One great feature of this S-pen is that when you pull it out, when the screen is turned off you can still write on the screen and take a note instantly without any delay. Another cool feature is that when the screen is on and you pull the S-pen out, the screen on the device fade and the Air command menu pops up. The Air Command menu is also totally new, you can add new commands to the menu which was not possible in the previous iteration. Next cool feature is the mode for screenshot, where you can screen shot a whole web page instead of just the frame using the scroll capture option. S-Note suite is also improved in terms of snappiness.
We performed some benchmark tests on this device and the results were as following. In the AnTuTu test it scored a total of 68,230 which is at the top surpassing its younger sibling S6. In the Vellamo Metal test it scored 2489 which right below S6 and Multicore test it scored 2989 which is just above S6. In 3D Mark it scores 1233 where the highest goes up to 2400. In PC mark it scored 5009 which is towards the top. . In Base Mark OS2 and Base Mark X it scores 1307 and 36500 which indeed is pretty high enough. So overall the Note 5 scores pretty high in almost all the benchmark tests.
We tested this device with some of the most demanding games in terms of memory as well graphics like Modern Combat 5, Asphalt 8, Dungeon Hunter 5, Relic Run etc. The device handled almost all the games with ease. The back being made out of glass does heats up but not up to levels of discomfort.
The device draws its juice from a Non-removable 3000 mAh Li-Po battery which is a step down from the 3100/ 3200 mAh battery of the Note 4. However the device supports fast charging and the revolutionary wireless fast charging both capable of charging the device 100% in just 90mins and 120mins respectively.
So should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 5? Well, it has a lot of going in favor of it including the brilliant sound output, great camera, top notch display, great design and build quality. But there are aspects where it should have been better, the first would be the glossy sides may be some coating would have prevented it from being such a fingerprint magnet. Next downside is the absence of a removable battery and microSD card slot. Both of which are subjective as these days the devices are judged on basis of looks specifically thickness for which the above measures were taken. But for many people including us and specifically the target audience who are productivity focus, which tend to use their devices all round the clock, it is not always possible for them to carry chargers with them so non removable battery is a major downside. So in our opinion the S6 Edge Plus could have been the Lifestyle phone and this device should have focused more on productivity then on Lifestyle. Still after all these downsides, Note 5 remains the best productivity focused smartphone in our opinion.
The Note 5 remains the best productivity focused smartphone in our opinion.