- Non-removable battery
- S Pen novelty wears off after a week
- No SD slot
While other phone manufacturers have turned their nose up at the stylus, Samsung has fully embraced it with their Note5 smartphone. Of course, Samsung knows a thing or two about a stylus smartphone as all their Note models ship with one. Besides this addition, reviewers consider the Note5 the least distinctive in terms of overall design. In fact, many find it practically identical to the Galaxy S6 as it has completely straights sides, flat face and slightly curved rear. At 6 x 3 x 0.3 inches, it definitely is a large device. Still, experts explain it had an overall slim feeling to it thanks in part to a thinner middle and thicker top and bottom edges. In a departure from its older models, Samsung decked out the Note 5 with metal edges and a glass back. Sadly, experts did notice the glass back attracted fingerprints, but add the issue is easily remedied with a quick wipe.
The reason for the Note5's large size is due to the 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display. With a resolution of 1,440 pixels, it offers an incredibly sharp 518 pixels per inch. As expected, reviewers had zero issues with fuzziness or pixelization. As an AMOLED screen, it offered critics crisp whites, deep blacks and vibrant albeit oversaturated colors. They also praise its overall brightness with Engadget stating, "…the screen is an absolute champ under the sweltering summer sun…I had no problem thumbing through…various photo sets."
To keep the Note5 humming along it is equipped with 4GB of RAM and eight cores: 4 are clocked at 2.1GHz and the other 4 at 1.5GHz. As with other octo-core processors, all eight do not run at the same time. Instead, the more powerful processors only kick in when you use more intensive apps. Reviewers didn't notice any hiccups or lag during basic or advanced tasks and they describe overall performance as "zippy" and "snappy." Despite the Quad HD display and octo-core processor, experts were able to squeeze around 15 hours during their battery draining tests. Of course, this number can change depending on how it is used as things like gaming and connecting to 4G tend to eat up a lot of juice. When you eventually do need a recharge, the Note5 offers two ways to charge – via the standard microUSB or wirelessly through Qi. Unfortunately, the battery is not removable, which turned off some critics. The biggest drawback of the device for many experts is its limited space. It only comes in 32GB or 64GB models with no microSD slot.
The 16MP main camera provided critics with excellent pictures in most lighting situations. Under good lighting, they were able to capture crisp images and fairly accurate color thanks to its fast focus and sensor. Digital Trends did notice oversaturation occasionally, but adds that, "it doesn't happen often…" Under low light situations, experts found the Note5 to beat out even the iPhone 6 providing very little digital noise and plenty of detail.
The most unique part of the Note5 is the S Pen stylus. For ease of access and use, there's a dedicated chute for the pen and instead of pulling it out you simply need to press the end of the stylus to pop it out. For the most part, the stylus acts pretty much the same as previous models with a couple exceptions. One new feature is the addition of the "screen memo off" setting. This allows you to write directly on the screen when your screen is in "off" mode and any notes taken this will are saved in the S Notes app. Once again, you can also write directly on the screen and save the images you create as PNG files. Unfortunately, experts discovered they could not send these via text and instead had to go through several steps in order to SMS their images to friends. While they note it is fun to use the S Pen, they eventually stopped using it after the novelty wore off.
While the Note5 might not be reinventing the wheel, critics believe it is a solid offering for those looking to upgrade. Tech Radar states, "…the Note 5 is still worth the upgrade. The S Pen-compatible phablet is mightier, and is the one Google Nexus and iPhone 6 Plus need to beat." CNET adds, "The Note5 is a terrific device with strengths in its stylus capabilities and flashy design."