Mobile Technology

Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Early impressions

Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Early i...
The Galaxy Note launched early this year, and Gizmag has the latest model in hand
The Galaxy Note launched early this year, and Gizmag has the latest model in hand
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The Note 5 has a new feature that lets you write notes on its screen before waking the display
1/8
The Note 5 has a new feature that lets you write notes on its screen before waking the display
The Galaxy Note launched early this year, and Gizmag has the latest model in hand
2/8
The Galaxy Note launched early this year, and Gizmag has the latest model in hand
The Note's glass back slopes off on the edges, making for a comfortable fit in hand
3/8
The Note's glass back slopes off on the edges, making for a comfortable fit in hand
The Note 5 has the same display specs as the Note 4: 5.7 inches, 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, Super AMOLED
4/8
The Note 5 has the same display specs as the Note 4: 5.7 inches, 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, Super AMOLED
The end of the S Pen now clicks in and out, making it easier to pull it out of the phone
5/8
The end of the S Pen now clicks in and out, making it easier to pull it out of the phone
The Note 5's design is very similar to the one on the GS6
6/8
The Note 5's design is very similar to the one on the GS6
Sample shot, Galaxy Note 5
7/8
Sample shot, Galaxy Note 5
Sample shot, Galaxy Note 5
8/8
Sample shot, Galaxy Note 5
View gallery - 8 images

Today was launch day for Samsung's 2015 phablets, and after getting our hands on them at last week's launch, we now have them in house. Let's take a quick look at the Note 5.

The Galaxy Note 4 was one of our favorite phones of 2014, but with Samsung's new focus on premium design, the time was ripe for the first fully-premium Galaxy Note.

It doesn't disappoint, with a design that's very similar to the Galaxy S6's. Here, though, the Gorilla Glass 4 back slopes down on the sides – a great choice for the larger phone. It slides right into my palm, the smooth glass announcing that this a high-end piece of gear.

The Note 5's design is very similar to the one on the GS6
The Note 5's design is very similar to the one on the GS6

It doesn't look like there are any changes with the display this year, but that isn't remotely a concern. The 5.7-inch, Quad HD screen looks stunning.

The Note 5 has the same display specs as the Note 4: 5.7 inches, 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, Super AMOLED
The Note 5 has the same display specs as the Note 4: 5.7 inches, 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, Super AMOLED

Another upgrade comes from the S Pen. Physically it feels better in hand: it's still plastic, but has a faux metal finish that feels more solid and fits the phone's higher-end build.

... of course the best way to do that would have been to make the pen out of real metal, but this year we'll have to settle for metallic.

The Note's glass back slopes off on the edges, making for a comfortable fit in hand
The Note's glass back slopes off on the edges, making for a comfortable fit in hand

The pen also has a harder tip, which might sound like a minor upgrade, but it enhances the writing experience, making it feel more like you're writing with a real pen. It also makes it easier to mash the home button with the pen (on the Note 4, the pen felt a bit too flimsy to risk breaking or bending by repeatedly hitting the home button).

So far the Galaxy Note 5's camera looks outstanding (it's probably the same one found in the GS6 and GS6 edge). You can still launch it with a home button double-tap, it fires up insanely fast and takes some terrific shots.

Here are a couple quick samples (unedited, but downscaled to 1,060 px. wide):

Sample shot, Galaxy Note 5
Sample shot, Galaxy Note 5

Sample shot, Galaxy Note 5
Sample shot, Galaxy Note 5

We'll have much more when we run our full review, including battery life tests.

But so far our impressions line up with our thoughts right after the launch event: Samsung upgraded its pen-phablet in all the right ways. Stay tuned for more.

View gallery - 8 images
8 comments
JaxCavalera
Can you access camera apps that take advantage of the Camera 2.0 API? if not then it's a waste of an updated release and considering you can't even mount extra SD cards into this thing.. it's a downgrade not an upgrade IMO. Perhaps if internal storage were increased to 256gb then sure but at a pitiful 64gb this is just such a waste.
ivan4
I hope that is not the recommended way of holding the pen because when I tried to hold it that way it became almost impossible to write with.
Now we need the impressions of the 10.1" note tablet.
Kiss Army
Right Will Shanklin I'm holding you and all the other tech reviewers responsible for ruining the Note range. Yet again we get a lazy review where the only thing that seems to be important to you and your ilk is the 'premium feel' of the latest shiny precious to pass through your hands.
Unfortunately for me and the rest of the real world users Samsung has listened to the 'Reviewers' complaints that the Note range was too 'plasticy'. For your information the vast majority of users put their phones in cases which make the 'premium feel' irrelevant.
In order to cater to the 'reviewers' fetishistic penchant for shiny shiny gewgaws Samsung has had to remove the 2 main features that distinguished the Note range from the All Blinging IPhone. Namely the removeable battery and the SD slot.
I shall now be looking at other manufacturers phones to replace my Note 4. LG is a possibility.
I really hope sales of the Note 5 are dismal and Samsung rethink the Note 6.
Once again Thanks for ruining the Note range.
MANthrax
So "they" have determined the correct screen size for all premium phones to be 5.7"? Little larger please like 6.5" or even 7" is good for me. Many OEM's are sealing the phones like Apple as it generates more revenue since we can't change the batteries nor micor SD. I left HTC for doing it and I'll leave Samsung for doing it as well. I cannot believe even Nexus has gone this route. Lastly I'll don't really care about more mega pixel pictures. If you're able to give me 4K video then I'd like to take "true" 240fps video as well.
Ov42
A couple of days ago, I dropped my NOTE 1 down the concrete stairs in a lecture hall. True to form, it broke into 3 pieces being the phone, the back case, and the battery. 3 different people picked up the pieces horrified until I put everything back together and turned the phone back on. After 4 years of ownership, I finally changed the battery, and the screen still looks like new. Somehow I highly doubt that the NOTE 5 will last as long, or look as "shiny", after years of daily use and abuse. As far as the SD card issue is concerned, I'm okay with no card if Samsung would only put enough memory like 128, or 256Gb.
NL4M
Speaking with my phone carrier - the S5 sells better than the S6 and I would expect the Note 4 to outsell the 5. If you want form over function, buy an iPhoine - if you want function over form, then Samsung USED to be the choice....no longer with their new line.
I may consider a Note 4 when I get a new device -- or maybe something from LG
KeithWright
"Feel" doesn't allow me to replace the battery after a heavy day of use at Disney World. "Feel" doesn't allow my to put in a new SD card once it has been filled with HD video. I "Feel" that I will keep my Note 3.
unklmurray
you know something....I've had to forgo some of lifes little pleasures,because I don''t own a "Smart Phone"...I can't have a "Drone -or-certain Bicycle parts" "just down load the App' you say,I use a Toshiba Notebook with windows 10,I have a FREE google phone with gmail.free unlimited phone/texting,I can video call and do more things than most cellphones no I can't mount it on my handle bars.......