Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Review
Display and Multimedia
The Galaxy Note 5 is equipped with a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a quad HD resolution or 2560 x 1440 pixels that’s puts the pixel density to 518ppi. While AMOLED has its advantages and disadvantages from typical IPS panels, Samsung has added a function to change the color temperature of the screen so that greenish hue of white backgrounds or images looks more neutral.
As expected, it’s crisp, vibrant, and has very good viewing angles even when used outdoors. It doesn’t stop there though as Samsung included a few features hidden in the Settings like One-handed operation that allows you to reduce the size of the screen, Smart stay which detects your face with the front camera so that the screen stays on while you’re looking at it, and Screen mode which lets you choose between four different presets that change the screen’s color range, saturation, and sharpness depending on your usage.
Despite the high pixel density, the Mali-T760MP8 GPU managed to breeze thru the graphics requirements of apps and games. This is also evident in the results of the benchmarks we ran on the unit.
The S Pen is the single biggest differentiator for the Galaxy Note 5. It’s implementation has been thoroughly improved with each succeeding iteration and no other handset or phablet in this generation has made it anything close to the S Pen of Samsung.
The speakers at the bottom end of the handset is loud and crisp. We tend to completely cover it with the palm of our hands while playing games like Boom Beach, handling it in the landscape orientation. Samsung has developed its own UHQ upscaler that makes audio playback sound much better with the earphones.
The 16-megapixel camera of the Note 5 is exactly the same sensor they used in the Galaxy S6 (Samsung used two sensors in the Galaxy S6 – the Sony IMX sensor and its own ISOCELL sensor so we believe the Note 5 will most probably use the latter). Just like the S6, the camera barrel at the back slightly protrudes from the surface of the panel (Samsung uses a sapphire glass to prevent the camera lens from accidental scratch) that is paired with a dual-tone, dual LED flash.
Check out the sample photos below:
As expected, camera performance is superb and quality of images are really good. The double-tap on the home button for the camera shortcut is perhaps the most often used function that we really appreciate.
Voice controls include standard commands like “Smile, Cheese, Capture or Shot” for snapping photos and “Record Video” for, well obviously, video recording. You can also set the volume keys to function as shortcut to either shoot video, take photos or zooming in on your subjects.
Video recording can go as high as 2160p at 30fps although we prefer the 1080p at 60fps settings. Slow motion videos are automatically set at [email protected]
Video stabilization is evident in the samples taken and makes the recordings smoother despite shaky hands. Low-light performance is really good even on video.
The photo and video modes have a lot of gimmicky features in them, some more interesting than the others but generally they are there for users to have fun and share on their social networking accounts.
The Note 5 also comes with a built-in livestreaming feature in the camera app that connects directly to YouTube Livestream.
OS, Apps and UI
Running Android 5.1 Lollipop right out of the box, the Galaxy Note 5 runs very smooth and snappy with just a hint of TouchWiz UI customization. In fact, Samsung also built a Themes Gallery that users can download and use with their Note 5 (as seen in previous models as well).
Those who are familiar with the TouchWiz UI will find not much difference coming from the Note 4. Some significant enhancements where done with the S Pen UI though. The screen grid can be adjusted from 4 x 4 icons to 4×5 and a maximum of 5×5 icon, the latter being more optimized due to the large screen real estate.
The most useful interface for the Galaxy Note 5 is with the S Pen. There were a bunch of really practically enhancements.
Our most favorite S Pen feature is the ability to write notes or sketch even if the screen is off. The handset detects if you pop out the stylus and immediately allows you to write on the blank screen.
Check out the video demo we made below:
The fingerprint sensor is integrated into the physical home button and works very well with recognizing our prints despite varying angles of scans.