I guess it was going to happen. The Galaxy S3 that my wife has happily used for 3 years has been retired. Battery issues and advancing Samsung technology led to an important decision – Upgrade Time! The new Samsung Galaxy Note 5 arrived over two weeks ago and she loves it. So it is time for a product review. We will talk about all the usual stuff, such as software, camera, battery life, etc. But this review will be realistic in its discussion of what features the Note 5 should have had that I would be missing if it were my smartphone.
What We Like About It
Upgraded S Pen feature
Write on the black screen
What We Don’t Like About It
No SD card slot
No removable battery
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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – Key Features
What are some key features that make the Galaxy Note 5 the premium Android phone of 2016? The stand-outs are the amazing 5.7” Super Amoled display that is so much better than any of its competitors and the 16 megapixel rear camera with 5 MP front lenses. Many of the photos in this blog have been taken by my wife with her new Note 5, which I will compare with my Note 3.
So let us explore these features in detail.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – Under the Hood
The Note 5 is powered by a 1.5Ghz octa-core Exynos 7420 processor with 4GB of RAM. The Exynos 7420 64 bit processor is built by Samsung Electronics and used in the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge+, S6 Edge and Note 5. The Note 4 had the previous Exynos octa-core processor. Obviously, with this grunt under the hood, coupled with 32 GB of storage, we are looking at a phone with serious get up and go. It runs Android 5.1.1 with a non-removable battery. (more about that later).
It uses a Nano-SIM, which was a little inconvenient for us, since we had bought the Note 5 online and the simple SIM transfer from the S3 to the Note 5 was not possible. A drive up to the phone shop got the SIMs changed over with all the contacts on the S3 Micro SIM being transferred over to the Nano-SIM for the Note 5.
Even though a number of users, the writer included, lament the lack of a removable battery, the battery life on the Note 5 is pretty amazing. We are using it every day for camera work, social media, emails, SMS, etc. At the end of the day, there is still 40-50% of the battery life available. It is fast charging, even though it is still using the micro-USB cable. I was surprised that the larger dual USB cable on the Note 3 wasn’t included, but it does mean that charging cables for the Note 8 tablet is interchangeable with all the Samsung devices we own.
Now this is the most amazing feature of the Note 5. It is one of the reasons my wife wanted this smartphone over another model, since the camera was highly rated. Yes the rear camera has a 16MP rear camera and there is a 5 MP on the front. After all, you don’t need the selfies to look better than the landscapes shots you take on the next vacation you take. So I am going to just let you decide what the camera is like. Here are some contrast shots. The ones on the left are what I have taken on my Note 3, while the shots on the right are what my wife took on the Note 5. Same location, same time of day, different hardware.
Plus a few extra photos to highlight the camera’s superior capability.
This is really cool. The S Pen is found on a number of Samsung tablets, as well as the Note 3, 4 and 5 smartphones. I love this stylus technology as it allows you to make note taking so much easier and much more creative. But watch the video below and note how my wife has set up the weekly shopping list on her phone. No more printing out the list and leaving it behind. No, it is all on the S Note and easily adjusted with the S Pen.
S Pen Update:
There has been some brouhaha over the Note 5 S Pen. Samsung have had to make some modifications to the new models since it seems that users were inserting the pen backwards and it was getting stuck in there. This then caused some problems since the gate lever in the S Pen slot breaks when trying to ease the pen out, leaving the Note 5 unable to recognise if the S Pen is in its slot or not. Also, the Air Command feature no longer works, since there is no means of knowing what the status of the Pen is.
Last Sunday, January 24, I was telling my wife about this problem, affectionately known as S Pen-gate. She said, “That takes a special sort of stupidity to do that,” as she tried to do the very same thing and got her S Pen stuck in there upside down. Hmm!
Google searching helped us find a video on YouTube that gave us a step-by-step action plan to release it. It worked but now the ability to write on the blank screen is no more and the Air Command is dead. The S Pen still works and my wife can still do the shopping list as per the above video, so not all is lost. (She hated the Air Command feature anyway, so no big deal.)
Samsung have to this point refused to fix any Note 5 phones that have had the backwards inserted S Pen drama. “Customers should read instruction manuals before using the Note 5 and follow them accordingly,” is the essence of their response. So buyer beware! I love the S Pen but on the Note 5, especially on one a few months old, be careful how you insert it.
Thankfully, this problem doesn’t exist with my Note 3, as the S Pen will only go in point first.
What is there more to say but that Samsung have really hit the high note with this product release. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has really lived up to expectations and that is why so many tech reviewers rate it as one of the top releases of 2015. Despite the issues people have with the battery not being removable or the lack of an SD card storage slot, this smartphone really is an amazing product. Sure, at times I get a little envious that my wife is having so much fun with it, but my Galaxy Note 3 is only a year old and it has all the features that I need in a smartphone.
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Of course, if you have an opinion about what you read in this review, feel free to leave a comment in the box below.