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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Hands-on, First Impressions: The Phablet Refined?

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 07

We go hands-on with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5!

After all the leaks, Samsung’s newest entry to its big-screen phablet family is finally here. The Korean electronics firm officially took off the wraps off of its newest phablet at New York last night, and this morning we’re taking a closer look at their newest baby, the Note 5. Traditionally Samsung’s S and Note family of phones have always had a distinct design language that was unique to each line, but after last night’s unveiling it looks like that line is getting blurred.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 specs

  • Exynos 7420 octa-core processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display, 2560 x 1440 resolution
  • 32/64GB of storage
  • 16-megapixel rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop, TouchwizUI
  • 3000mAh battery

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 02

Initial Impressions: Feel a bit like the Galaxy S6, for better or for worse

Last year Samsung began experimenting with metal frames and glass bodies, and today the last vestiges of their all plastic and faux leather design have been erased with the Note 5. Like we said earlier, the Note 5 borrows heavily from the design language of the S6 and S6 Edge, so if you didn’t like those phones, then chances are you might not like the Note 5. Interestingly enough, the phone is kind of like a reversed S6 Edge, with the edged side at the back and a rounded rear that allows users to get a better grip on the phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 01

The physical keys are located on the left side of the device, while physical capacitive keys are located on the front, with a home button (that acts as the fingerprint scanner) in the middle. The front is dominated by the absolutely beautiful 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, which has the same resolution as the S6 and S6 Edge, namely, QHD. Just like the display quality on their previous phones, the Note 5’s display is absolutely gorgeous, with deep blacks, punchy colors and excellent viewing angles.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 04

As far as hardware goes, the Note 5 has the same specs as the S6 and S6 Edge (noticing a pattern here yet?), though the device gets a slight RAM bump at 4GB. Unfortunately, Samsung has axed the microSD expansion slot as well as the removable battery on the Note 5, just as it did on the S6 Edge, which will annoy many Note faithful. You’re also limited to 32GB or 64GB of storage, with no option for a 128GB model as of yet.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 06

You’re getting the same story when it comes to the camera of the Note 5 – the rear snapper stays at 16-megapixels just like its older S6 brothers, though now the Note 5 has the option to stream directly onto YouTube if you need it to. While Samsung opted to go with the camera that they stuffed in their previous flagship, we’re not going to fault them for that – the S6 and S6 Edge had the best cameras we’ve ever seen on a phone so far this year, and we’re certainly not going to complain if they re-use the same awesome camera.

The star of the show in every Note device has always been the S-Pen, and that’s no different in the Note 5. Samsung’s slightly tweaked the design of the S-Pen and it now feels nicer and heftier, while retaining all the good stuff that the S-Pen’s known for. You can now write directly on the screen of the Note 5 even if the display is off, allowing you to discretely write notes and memos which go directly to the S Note application.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 05

That’s pretty much it. Many users will be disappointed to know that the Note 5 omitted many of the things that they liked with the series (expandable storage, removable battery), but the tradeoff is that you’re getting an overall nicer design that doesn’t reek of plastic.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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10 Comments

  1. Wala na bang mga imagination ang designers ng Samsung? Akala ba nila napaka idiotic ng consumers para di mapansin gaano ka kitid ng concept ng design nila???

    Binaligtad lang ang S6 edge tapos sa palagay nila they can get away with it na???

  2. Guys it’s not just the design. Some buyers will love the simplicity of the design. The value of the phone will be on the specs. If you cannot buy it shut up and be contented on what you have.

    1. it’s not the simplicity of the design that the people here talk about. it is about the “generic” design that SAMESUNG do.

    2. If this successfully sell, then others will copy apple’s style of sealed batteries and no expansion slot.

      You can say to us that there are other choices but if this keeps up, those choices will be wiped out.

      It is just annoying that ppl put up with shit like these.

      Besides people are free to voice their opinions like how you are free to whine about people who whine. lol

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