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Samsung Galaxy Note5 review

8.5/10 AVG.
RATING



8.5/10
Informr score
The Samsung Galaxy Note5 currently has an Informr score of 8.5 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 48 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

What's good

  • Bright and sharp display
  • Snappy performance during all tasks
  • Premium build and appearance
  • Excellent picture quality in almost all lighting situations

What's bad

  • Non-removable battery
  • S Pen novelty wears off after a week
  • No SD slot

While other phone manufacturers have turned their nose up at the stylus, Samsung has fully embraced it with their Note5 smartphone. Of course, Samsung knows a thing or two about a stylus smartphone as all their Note models ship with one. Besides this addition, reviewers consider the Note5 the least distinctive in terms of overall design. In fact, many find it practically identical to the Galaxy S6 as it has completely straights sides, flat face and slightly curved rear. At 6 x 3 x 0.3 inches, it definitely is a large device. Still, experts explain it had an overall slim feeling to it thanks in part to a thinner middle and thicker top and bottom edges. In a departure from its older models, Samsung decked out the Note 5 with metal edges and a glass back. Sadly, experts did notice the glass back attracted fingerprints, but add the issue is easily remedied with a quick wipe.

The reason for the Note5's large size is due to the 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display. With a resolution of 1,440 pixels, it offers an incredibly sharp 518 pixels per inch. As expected, reviewers had zero issues with fuzziness or pixelization. As an AMOLED screen, it offered critics crisp whites, deep blacks and vibrant albeit oversaturated colors. They also praise its overall brightness with Engadget stating, "…the screen is an absolute champ under the sweltering summer sun…I had no problem thumbing through…various photo sets."

To keep the Note5 humming along it is equipped with 4GB of RAM and eight cores: 4 are clocked at 2.1GHz and the other 4 at 1.5GHz. As with other octo-core processors, all eight do not run at the same time. Instead, the more powerful processors only kick in when you use more intensive apps. Reviewers didn't notice any hiccups or lag during basic or advanced tasks and they describe overall performance as "zippy" and "snappy." Despite the Quad HD display and octo-core processor, experts were able to squeeze around 15 hours during their battery draining tests. Of course, this number can change depending on how it is used as things like gaming and connecting to 4G tend to eat up a lot of juice. When you eventually do need a recharge, the Note5 offers two ways to charge – via the standard microUSB or wirelessly through Qi. Unfortunately, the battery is not removable, which turned off some critics. The biggest drawback of the device for many experts is its limited space. It only comes in 32GB or 64GB models with no microSD slot.

The 16MP main camera provided critics with excellent pictures in most lighting situations. Under good lighting, they were able to capture crisp images and fairly accurate color thanks to its fast focus and sensor. Digital Trends did notice oversaturation occasionally, but adds that, "it doesn't happen often…" Under low light situations, experts found the Note5 to beat out even the iPhone 6 providing very little digital noise and plenty of detail.

The most unique part of the Note5 is the S Pen stylus. For ease of access and use, there's a dedicated chute for the pen and instead of pulling it out you simply need to press the end of the stylus to pop it out. For the most part, the stylus acts pretty much the same as previous models with a couple exceptions. One new feature is the addition of the "screen memo off" setting. This allows you to write directly on the screen when your screen is in "off" mode and any notes taken this will are saved in the S Notes app. Once again, you can also write directly on the screen and save the images you create as PNG files. Unfortunately, experts discovered they could not send these via text and instead had to go through several steps in order to SMS their images to friends. While they note it is fun to use the S Pen, they eventually stopped using it after the novelty wore off.

While the Note5 might not be reinventing the wheel, critics believe it is a solid offering for those looking to upgrade. Tech Radar states, "…the Note 5 is still worth the upgrade. The S Pen-compatible phablet is mightier, and is the one Google Nexus and iPhone 6 Plus need to beat." CNET adds, "The Note5 is a terrific device with strengths in its stylus capabilities and flashy design."


Operating system
Android
Processor
2.1 GHz
Screen Size
5.7"
Camera
16+ MP


What the Critics Are Saying...


Digital Trends

Samsung is still the king of phablets, but the gap is closing. When it comes to value for money, the Nexus 6P and the OnePlus 3 are tempting alternatives. The S Pen is the Note 5’s killer feature, and the main thing that sets it apart from other big phones like the LG G5 or the iPhone 6S Plus....

- Malarie Gokey, Digital Trends
Reviewed

Last year Samsung clearly suffered something of a crisis of confidence. While we liked both the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy Note 4, they felt like uninspired sequels to more innovative products. Though the Note 4 showed some flashes of Samsung’s future direction, this year’s crop—from...

- TJ Donegan, Reviewed
Expert Reviews

While the stylus was a nice touch, in our experience you see a lot of people with Note handsets and rarely are they wielding it. The big draw of the Note-series then was its big screen and not it's name-giving pen. That said, it's a pity that Samsung aren't bringing this model to the UK yet, as not...

- Katharine Byrne, Expert Reviews
Android Guys

I really think highly of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 in more areas than not. I admire its beauty and think it has incredible hardware specs that set the bar for other manufacturers. Its camera, S-Pen and display are second to none. But Touchwiz and Samsung’s poor record of updating software make...

- Derrick Miyao, Android Guys
G Style Magazine

Even with its deletion of external storage and swappable batteries, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is still a gem of a phone to use. Its speed and functionality has increased seemingly thanks to these hardware removals and also the additional strengths of RAM and processing power are concerned. Usage of...

- Jason Million, G Style Magazine


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Quick view

Screen Size
5.7"

The Samsung Galaxy Note5's screen size is 5.7 inches with 1440 x 2560 pixels resolution.

Processor
2.1 GHz

There is a Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa core 2.1 GHz processor (CPU).

OS

The phone runs on the Android 5.1 Lollipop (Update Available: 6.0 Marshmallow) operating system (OS).

Camera
16+ MP

You can take photos with the phone's onboard 16+ megapixel camera.

There is also a secondary front facing camera with 5+ megapixels resolution.

Storage
32/64 GB

Internal memory is 32/64 GB. No external card slot is available for expansion.

Battery
3000mAh

The phone is powered by a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion), 3000 mAh battery. Samsung's performance ratings are 1680 minutes, 780 minutes Wi-Fi surfing.

Galaxy Note5 Specs

Overview
Release date August 21, 2014
Regions available USA, Canada, United Kingdom
Mobile / Cellular Data
4G/LTE
Networks
GSM:
850/900/1800/1900 MHz
UMTS
LTE
Data:
GPRS, EDGE, HSUPA, HSPA+, LTE
SIM card size
Yes
Dual SIM No
Operating System Android 5.1 Lollipop (Update Available: 6.0 Marshmallow)

Compare Android Smartphones

Processor Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa core 2.1 GHz
Internal Storage 32/64 GB
RAM 4 GB
ROM No
GPS Type A-GPS
Hearing Aid Compatible Yes
TTY/TDD No
Noise Cancellation Yes
SAR Head: 1.14 W/kg
Body: 1.27 W/kg
Languages English
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included USB Power Adapter, Manual, Headset, Data Cable, Stylus
Power & battery
Battery Type Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Battery Capacity 3000 mAh
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging Yes
Fast Charging Yes
Video Playback Time Up to: 900 minutes
Internet Use (Wi-Fi) Up to: 780 minutes
Internet Use (Celluar) Unknown
Talk Time Up to: 1680 minutes
Standby Time Up to: 14 days
Physical Characteristics
Design type Bar
Multi-Use Smart Phone / PDA Yes
Material Aluminium
Colors White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Silver Titanium
Dimensions [H x W x D] 15.3 x 7.6 x 0.8 cm (6 x 3 x 0.3 in)
Weight 171 grams
Water Resistant / Waterproof Unknown
Rugged design No
IP Rating No
Display / Screen
Type Color
Technology Super AMOLED
Colors 16.7 million
Resolution 1440 x 2560 pixels
Pixel density 518 pixels
Size 5.7 inches
Secondary Display No
Sensors Ambient Light, Proximity, Motion / Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Digital Compass
Graphics Yes
Themes Yes
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock Yes
Multi-Touch Yes
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Additional Display Features Capacitive touch screen
Input / Navigation
Sleep / Wake Key Yes
Home Key Yes
Mute Key No
Input Type Touchscreen
Navigation Type Touchscreen
Predictive Text Entry Yes
Physical keyboard No
Voicemail Key No
Any Key Answer No
Voice Commands Yes
Keypad/Screen Lock Yes
External Volume Control Yes
External Media Playback Controls No
Fingerprint Sensor Yes
Call Management
Wi-Fi Calling Yes
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) Yes
Contact List Capacity Depends on system memory
Multiple Numbers Per Contact Email address, Other fields
Contact Groups Yes
Auto Answer No
Voice Activated Dialing Yes
Photo Caller ID Yes
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser Yes
Email Client Yes
Email Protocols POP3, IMAP, SMTP, Microsoft Exchange
Additional Email Features Gmail
Messaging SMS, MMS, Google Talk
Push-to-talk (PTT) No
Connectivity
USB Micro-USB 2.0
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth 4.2
Bluetooth Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, OPP/FTP, HID, HFP, HSP, PAN
Bluetooth Audio Codecs SBC
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
WiFi Encryption No
Mobile Hotspot Yes
WiMAX No
Memory Expansion Slot No
PC Synchronization Yes
TV Out No
DLNA Support Unknown
NFC Yes
Data Tethering Compatibility Yes
Java Applications No
Brew Applications No
ECML / Digital Wallet Yes
Camera
Main Camera
Aperture
Unknown
Resolution
16+ megapixels
Multi-camera
No
Zoom
Yes
Flash
Yes (LED)
Additional Rear Camera Info
Auto focus, Effects, Face detection, Geotagging, Image stabilization, ISO, Multi-shot, Panorama, HDR, Metering, Exposure
Video Recording Formats
3GP / 3GPP, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4, WMV, ASF, FLV, AVI
Video Recording Parameters
Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels)
Front Camera
Resolution
5+ megapixels
Zoom
Yes
Additional Front Camera Info
No
Video Recording Parameters
Audio / Video
Audio Playback Yes
Audio Formats AAC, AAC+, AMR, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, eAAC+, MIDI, MP3, M4A, OGG, WMA, WAV
Radio No
Video Playback Yes
Video Playback Formats 3GP / 3GPP, ASF, AVI, FLV, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4, WMV
Streaming Video Yes
External Speakers Yes
Headset Jack 3.5mm
Custom Ringtones Yes
Vibration Alert Yes
Downloadable Ringtones Yes
Ringer ID Yes
Haptic Feedback Vibration Yes
Speakerphone Yes
Apps
To-Do / Task List Yes
Calendar Yes
World Clock Yes
Alarm Yes
Stop Watch Yes
Timer Yes
Calculator Yes
Currency Converter No
Weather Yes
Stocks No
Maps Yes
NotePad Yes
Voice Memos / Recorder Yes
Games Downloadable
Apps Downloadable
Included Software / Apps -
More
Additional comments Other Names (AKA): Samsung Galaxy Note 5

S Pen Optimized Features: Air Command (Action Memo, Smart Select, Image Clip, Screen Write), S Note, Snap Note, Direct Pen Input

Additional Sensors: Barometer

Additional Features: ANT+, Multi Window
Related Links Manual (PDF)
Samsung Galaxy Note5 Reviews
Where to buy Samsung Galaxy Note5
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