Back when the original Samsung Galaxy Note was launched, it gave birth to a whole new device category: the phablet. Fast forward to today and the flagship Galaxy Note series continues to set the bar for premium phablets, and as a previous owner of the original Galaxy Note and having skipped its previous successors, I was curious to see the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and how far the Galaxy Note series has come along.

Front

Thankfully, I was lucky enough to be invited to witness the local Unpack event of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, as well as the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. Although I did get a chance to spend time with the S6 Edge Plus, let’s take this opportunity to focus on the Note 5 first.

Design

As part of Samsung’s ongoing trend toward creating truly premium devices, the Galaxy Note 5 is a sight to behold. The device is crafted with a matte aluminum frame protected on both sides by Gorilla Glass 4. And despite having to accommodate the S-Pen, it’s also remarkably thin at just 7.6mm, not to mention lightweight at 171g.

Smudgy Back

One thing I really appreciate about the design, aside from the lightweight construction is the curved back, making it easier to hold this massive mother of a phone, particularly when using it with the S-Pen.Of course, the device isn’t perfect. Having Gorilla Glass protect both sides of the device is certainly appreciated, but the glass surface attracts fingerprints and smudging like nothing else. Also, the battery is no longer removable, which seems to be the trend with Samsung’s flagships these days.

Hardware

Being the mother of all phablets, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has one of the best screens you can get on a mobile device. It features a 5.7 inch QHD Super AMOLED display resulting in a pixel density of 515ppi. As if that wasn’t awesome enough already, AMOLED displays like the one on the Galaxy Note 5 are capable of displaying true black and theoretically infinite contrast. Seeing the spec sheet is one thing, but seeing the gorgeous display in real life is another, and it seems that with each generation of the Galaxy S and Note series, the color calibration gets better as well.

Gallery Viewer

Under the hood, the Galaxy Note 5 is one of the most powerful devices to enter the market yet. Navigating through the device is as smooth and buttery as it can get, despite the software bloat. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as it’s powered by a 64-bit 2.1GHz Samsung Exynos 7420 octa-core processor married to a Mali 760 GPU. It’s also one of the few devices to come with 4GB RAM and comes in a choice of 32GB and 64GB variants. Unfortunately, there’s no microSD slot, which now appears to be the norm for Samsung’s flagship devices since the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

S-Pen Handwriting

Of course, what makes a Galaxy Note is its S-Pen and the one that comes with the Galaxy Note 5 is several times better than the one that came with my original Note. The pressure sensitivity of the S-Pen is so good now that it actually looks like my own handwriting. One important thing to note, pun not intended, is that the variant of the Galaxy Note 5 we’ll be getting locally is the Dual SIM model, something many of us will appreciate. After all, many of us have a line with each of the country’s networks, and this feature eliminates the need for a second physical phone.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box with Samsung’s own custom UI running on top that’s been modified to allow for extra S-Pen functionality. I’m not a big fan of Samsung’s bloated software, as even some of the essential features such as folder creation seem to be a bit cumbersome. S-Pen integration is pretty sweet though. Pop it out and a button appears onscreen for you to quickly enable any of the S-Pen’s features.

RAW

Another thing I like is the camera software, specifically the ability to shoot in RAW. RAW retains much more visual information than JPEG, but because RAW is uncompressed, taking a 16mp image would generally result in a 16MB file. Being able to shoot in RAW is typically only seen on DSLRs and other higher end cameras, such as mirrorless cameras, so it’s nice to see it on a flagship like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.

Impressions

Camera App

The Galaxy Note 5 looks and feels more premium than any other device Samsung has come out with, short of the S6 Edge Plus. However, it’s lost a few productive features such as a removable battery and microSD slot, not to mention actually shaving off the battery’s capacity from 3,220mAh on the Note 4 to just 3,000mAh on the Note 5. Still, The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 looks and feels like a well-thought out upgrade and one that should finally satisfy those who have been clamoring for a truly premium handset.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Specs

  • 5.7″ QHD Super AMOLED display (1,440 x 2,560 resolution, 515ppi), protected by Gorilla Glass 4
  • 64-bit 2.1GHz Samsung Exynos 7420 octa-core processor
  • Mali 760 GPU
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB/64GB internal storage, non-expandable
  • 16mp rear-facing autofocus camera with dual LED flash and OIS
  • 5mp front camera
  • 4G/LTE
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou
  • NFC
  • 3,000mAh battery
  • Price: Php36,990 (32GB variant)

About the Author

JM Balicano

Back when I started MobileTechPinoy in 2012, phablets weren't a thing yet. I enjoyed the stares I got from iPhone owners whenever I whipped out my Samsung Galaxy Note at the time. I'm much more budget-conscious these days though and am perfectly fine with using phones from any of our locally brands.

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