Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Samsung’s Note series remains the benchmark for large-format Android phones and with this latest addition to the line, the Note 5 remains phablet flagship for Google’s mobile operating system. Available in 32GB and 64GB storage configurations, the Note 5 sports the same kind of metal and glass construction as its smaller cousin, the Galaxy S6. While this has pleased the sensibilities of many users and critics, it’s also drawn the same kind of criticism as the S6; namely the battery is sealed and data storage is not accessible for expandability. Being able to swap out batteries on the fly and adding additional storage with microSD cards used to be a draw for Samsung’s devices. The companies new design of its flagship phones have drawn comparisons to Apple’s iPhone and for some users this is not something they see as a positive change.
Users generally agree that the Note 5’s new 16 megapixel camera sensor is an improvement over the performance of the Note 4’s camera, shooting in 4K at 30 frames per second; the increased video resolution makes data storage even more important. Curiously enough, Samsung has not added a 128GB storage option to keep up with the added demands of the format. Samsung’s also baked its own live/life-streaming app into the phone, known as Live Broadcast. If you’ve used Meerkat or Periscope, you have the general idea of how it works, albeit only with other Samsung users with Live Broadcast. Photo enthusiasts will also want to take note of the option to output RAW files from the phone, something that is definitely a selling point.
Battery life with normal use will get your through the day, as is par for the course for most smartphones released in the last few years. However, if you’re a dedicated wireless user you may be looking for a wall outlet sooner rather than later; thankfully wireless charging is a built-in feature with this pick. The Note 5’s fingerprint scanner also works better than older iterations of the device and Samsung’s expanded its use to include third-party applications. Samsung Pay is also enabled on this device, and while Apple and Google rely only on near field communications chips (which many retailers don’t support), Samsung also includes magnetic secure transmission, which emulates a credit card swipe for even more usability.
It’s worth noting the Note 5 and Samsung S6 Edge+ are virtually the same phone, down to the 5.7 inch screen size. The Edge includes the additional information displayed on the curved edges of the phone (hence its name); however it doesn’t include the S Pen. Despite the Edge’s additional display, it’s of limited use and the S Pen is what makes the Note 5 a more usable device, especially with the addition of its Screen Off Memo, which makes jotting down quick messages while the device is off.