Reviews : Samsung Galaxy Note 5 - King of Phablets?

December 29, 2015 Reviews Samsung

Phablets, short combination for the terms “phone” and “tablet” and designated as a combination of a phone and a tablet computer, has been here for some time now. It is a device with a screen smaller than a tablet, but larger than regular smartphones, which most has a 4-inch display. Out of all these phablets, one that never fails to catch the attention of big-screen phone lovers is the Samsung Note line, with its large display and inclusion of a unique stylus feature, simply called the S-Pen.

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Fast-forward August 2015, Samsung has released the Note 5, a stunning 5.7” phablet successor the Note 4, which was considered one of the most popular phones of 2014. The Note 5, with its new premium design and improved stylus feature, made fans of the Note line very much excited to get their hands on the phone. European fans, however, were disappointed because the Note 5, as Samsung announced, will not be released in Europe.

Things, however, might take a turn for the better for the fans as Samsung appeared to have changed its mind, as the Note 5 will be expected to arrive in Europe by early 2016, according to rumors. It is also possible that it will be released later this year in order to take advantage of the Christmas buying season. Despite its late advent to European shores, fans over there can still get their hands on this device through import.

Samsung Note 5: Screen, Design and Build

Frankly speaking, the Note 5 is one of the most beautiful smartphones in the market today, far from the usual plastic smartphone designs of its early cousins. Following Samsung's latest change in design and build starting with the Galaxy S6, the Note 5 also has a high-quality aluminum and glass build, giving that premium feel which people have always wanted.

To be specific, the Note 5 is made with Series 7000 aluminum, which is sixty percent more durable than standard aluminum . In addition, it is also lightweight, which is why it is perfect to be used on smartphones. Furthermore, Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protects the front and back of the Note 5, giving an impression of not only beauty but also durability. Gone were the days of faux metal, faux leather and plastic. From the start of the Note line, it can be said that only now Samsung has a phablet of top-tier quality in build.

Measuring at 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm and weighing only 171g, the Note 5 may not seem far from its predecessor, the Note 4, but with its slightly curved edges and back plate, the Note 5 seems easier to hold with one hand and reach the other side of the screen with a finger without worrying about dropping.

Having a 5.7-inch screen, the Note 5 gets all the benefits of a 1440x2560 quad-HD resolution display, with a 518 pixels per inch pixel density and screen-to-body ratio is at 75.9%. Home screen icons look crisp and clean, and its AMOLED screen excels in watching videos. Compared to the Note 4, brightness has been improved and while colors might look oversaturated, the Note 5 has four screen mode options, consisting of Adaptive Display (default), AMOLED Cinema, AMOLED Photo, and “Basic” mode to suit different needs.

Note 5's Internal Specs

While it's good to have a very beautiful phone, the question is: can its performance keep up with its beauty? To start off, the Note 5 has a whopping 4GB RAM, that might seem too much for a smartphone. However, the large RAM actually helps in enabling the Note 5 to run two apps side by side without any noticeable lag. Apart from this, it also means that the Note 5 can keep up with possible RAM-hungry apps in the near future, giving an impression of a future-proof phone.

The phablet possesses Samsung's own Exynos 7420 octa-processor, composed of a quad-core 2.1GHz Cortex-A57 and a quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A53. Its GPU is a Mali-760MP8, which is also used in the Galaxy S6. Perofrmance of the Note 5, based on Antutu Benchmarks show a whopping 69,465 score, far more high than its Qualcomm Snapdragon-equipped competitors, such as the HTC One M9 (51,427), while GeekBench also shows the Note 5's score with 5124. Such results conclude that the Note 5 is a smartphone that can handle almost anything you throw at it, and deserves its premium, flagship status.

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With internal storage, potential buyers have the choice of either 32GB or 64GB; however, the Note 5 has no external memory card slot, which means no room for larger storage options. Samsung made the decision to remove the card slot option similar to the Galaxy S6, but it is unclear as to why.

Camera, battery performance, OS and added features

The Note 5 surpisingly still sports the same back camera features as the Note 4, with 16MP, optical image stabilization, autofocus and LED flash, but with an improved 5MP front camera (Note 4 has a 3.7MP). There is, however, a significant change in processing, as the Note 5 shoots faster than the Note 4, and has better capabilities in low-light. Shooting modes include Collage, Slo-mo, Series, Panorama, Virtual Object, and Youtube Broadcast, where the user can start a live stream directly with just the default camera app.

The Note 5 has a 3000mAh non-removable battery, which some might find unappealing and adding disappointment to the lack of a microSD card slot. To the vast majority of people, this might not pose any problem, but heavy power users might be having second thoughts about a full charge lasting for one day. Despite this, it is good to know that the Note 5 possesses fast-charging technology, with 0 to 100% in just over an hour.

Currently, the Note 5 comes with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop pre-installed, has the fingerprint sensor (similar to the S6) and the standard S Health Apps for tracking health and fitness, along with the mobile Microsoft Office suite. The Note 5's S-Pen gives you access to AirCommand, a feature that offers shortcuts to S-Pen related activities. Aside from this, the S-Pen is also accessed through a push-button end; by simply press down the S-Pen and it simply an amazing piece of gadget. From its premium build and impressive internal specs, to its high-resolution camera, the Note 5 could possibly be hailed the “King of Phablets” in 2015. The only downsides are the lack of microSD card slot and the non-removable battery. Nonetheless, the Note 5 doesn't fail in its quest to impress.