Galaxy Note 5 Hands On COLOR AH 02

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

August 14, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

On Thursday, Samsung finally took the wraps off of the Galaxy Note 5. Even though we knew most of what to expect from the many leaks that were going around. Everything is now official. A lot of people are a bit upset about some of the features and specs of the device. So we’re here to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of Samsung’s newest flagship.

Let’s start with the design. For a few years, customers and media have criticized Samsung for sticking with the plastic build, that felt cheap. Well Samsung started to get away from that last year with the Galaxy Alpha and then the Galaxy Note 4. Both having metal frames. We saw the biggest make over with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge earlier this year. Where Samsung gave us a glass back and an aluminum frame. It was quite the looker. In fact, I’m still a big fan of that emerald green back that Samsung had on display in Barcelona. Now with the Galaxy Note 4 last year, Samsung had a metal frame, but it was also a faux leather back. Which I thought was a great idea for the Galaxy Note 4. As it felt more like a notebook, which is what Samsung was going for. I also liked that the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note designs were a bit different. With the Galaxy Note 5, we have the glass back and metal frame, and it looks almost exactly like the Galaxy S6. Normally that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I really liked that Samsung’s two flagship lines had differing designs.

Because Samsung went with this design, that also means no removable battery or microSD card slot. Now, that doesn’t mean that a microSD card slot won’t return with this same design. We’ve seen other OEMs include a microSD card slot while having a non-removable back. Some add another tray like the SIM card tray. While others do a dual SIM tray with the second slot working as either a microSD slot or a SIM card slot. For a while, the staple of Samsung was a removable battery and microSD card slot. Now they’ve gotten rid of it on both their flagship lines. One has to wonder how many will jump ship to another device that has a microSD card slot and/or removable battery. Like the LG G4, HTC One M9, or the Moto X Pure Edition.

Samsung has thrown all of the high-end specs in the Galaxy Note 5. Including the Exynos 7420 processor, which is an 8-core (made up of a quad-core 2.1GHz and a quad-core 1.5GHz) processor that is also 64bit and 14nm. They also added in 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. So it’s a powerhouse, obviously. We also have a 5.66-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display here. Which is just plain amazing. The Galaxy S6 had the same display and won all kinds of awards for being the best display on a mobile device. But there’s one spec that Samsung left out in their presentation. Even after talking about the battery for about 10 minutes. Samsung went on about how they have quicker Qi Wireless charging, as well as Quick Charge. But left out the size of the battery. There was good reason for that. It’s a 3,000mAh battery. Now usually that’d sound like a huge battery, but last year’s Galaxy Note 4 had a larger battery. Now obviously, we’ll have to wait until we get our review unit next week to see exactly how good the battery is. But right now our hopes aren’t too high. That right there boys and girls is the ugly part of the Galaxy Note 5.

Software-wise, there wasn’t much in terms of changes. We’re running Android 5.1.1 here with the latest Touchwiz on top. The only real difference we saw compared to the Galaxy S6 was some new icons. Which actually looked nice. And look more up to date with current design language. Now with Air Command, we’ll have to compare that to the Galaxy Note 4 from last year as the Galaxy S6 doesn’t have Air Command or an S Pen. The Air Command UI was also updated. And looks real slick. It also fits in quite nicely with the overall look and feel of Touchwiz on the Galaxy Note 5.

Overall, the Galaxy Note 5 is a great package. But there’s one more ugly detail. And that is the fact that Samsung isn’t bringing it to Europe anytime soon. Yes, the rumors are true. In Europe, we’re seeing just the Galaxy S6 Edge+ for now. Which is a bit unfortunate. As there are people that would rather buy the Galaxy Note 5 over the Galaxy S6 Edge+. There are also those that would love to have the choice available. It’s a bit of a puzzling announcement, considering the fact that the Galaxy Note line has sold pretty well in Europe. However, Samsung is stating that users in Europe don’t typically use the S Pen. And that’s why they are only bringing the Galaxy S6 Edge+ for now. This could change. As Three UK have started a petition to change that.

The best detail yet of the Galaxy Note 5, and my favorite tidbit from Unpacked. Is the fact that it’ll be in stores next week! Samsung basically pulled an Apple here. Announcing the phone and having it available the following Friday. Typically its around 5-6 weeks later when Samsung finally puts their devices out. Look at the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. It was announced on March 1st, and went on sale on April 10th. This is a big deal because then the hype for the devices don’t die down before they are available. That’s great for Sammy, and should translate into even more sales. Which have been an issue for them this year with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.