Samsung’s S Pen writing utensil, and sure enough, there’s one located in a slot on the lower right of the phone.
The Galaxy S6 might be the everyman’s smartphone from Samsung, but the Note line has always represented the pinnacle of Samsung’s smartphone lineup, and it carries a lot of weight on its shoulders.
The Note 5 is still at the top of the heap of Samsung’s lineup, but perhaps surprisingly, Samsung has recycled a lot of what we saw in the Galaxy S6. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: the S6 brought along a speedy processor, great display, and outstanding camera, and all of those things are present in the Note 5. The Note 5 also gains the S6’s design and materials, including a glass front and rear and a solid metal frame. But fans of the older Note phones will quickly notice that this step up in design and materials didn’t come without cost: the removable battery and microSD card support are gone, as is any sort of waterproofing.
The Note 5’s camera is the same 16-megapixel unit with OIS as found on the S6, and its 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display has the same quad HD resolution. The screen is the same size as the Note 3 and Note 4 — apparently Samsung has settled on 5.7 inches as being the right size for its Note phones — but the overall dimensions of the phone are smaller in every way compared to last year’s phone. It’s ever so slightly shorter, narrower, and thinner than the Note 4, and that’s evident when you pick it up and try to navigate it with one hand. The ergonomics are also aided by the curved back, which makes it easier to rest the phone in your palm. The Note 5 is still a large phone, without a doubt, but it feels less like one than ever before.
The glass back does make the device slippery, however, and it’s extremely prone to collecting fingerprints, regardless if it’s the white or black color. Otherwise, the Note 5’s design and build quality are just as high-caliber as the S6.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Note if it didn’t have Samsung’s S Pen writing utensil, and sure enough, there’s one located in a slot on the lower right of the phone. The new S Pen is longer and nicer than prior ones, and Samsung says it has improved the pressure sensitivity and writing performance over older models. There are a handful of new features too, such as the ability to pull the pen out of its cave and instantly start writing on the display without turning it on for quick notes.
The rest of the Note’s software should be familiar to anyone who’s used a recent Samsung: it’s Android 5.1 Lollipop with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface and customizations on top of it. A couple of new features include the ability to live stream video from the camera app to YouTube and an improved app for connecting and managing the phone with a PC.