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Hands-on review: Samsung Galaxy Note 5

By Greig Strafford
Mon 30 Nov 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has been out for a while, the iPhone 6S Plus is in the wild, and after playing with them both for a while, I’ve still yet to come to a decision - which is the best?

I was allowed to use the Note 5 for a week (which quickly stretched into 2), and I have to say it was bliss to use. I’m not going to be too technical and talk about milliamp hours, PPI and mega tera flops.

I’ll talk about its feel in your hand, how simple it is to use as a work tool, and how it enabled me to do more. Something that the iPhone also does extremely well. However, the Note 5 always seemed to have that little bit extra.

The feel. Having tested the S6 Edge+, the Note 5 feels like the Edge+ turned backwards.

Those rounded screen edges are on the back, and for me feel a lot better than the Edge+. It seems slimmer due to these tapered edges, and is extremely well balanced. It does feel about the same weight as the iPhone Plus, yet much easier to hold.

The screen, oh the screen. Samsung call it Super AMOLED. I call it freakin’ awesome. Maybe over saturated colours are my thing, but I adore that it just pops. The pixels are so small due to it being a QHD screen. It does all the things the iPhone does; fingerprint recognition, 4K video, whiz bang everything really.

Now, just like the iPhone, it prevents you from upgrading the storage or battery. With cloud services, storage is not such an issue anymore, but it would have been nice to whack in a 256GB Micro SD. The lack of a removable battery is also offset by the fast charge capability and wireless charging. Another step ahead of the iPhone, which sits in a power case to keep me going through the day.

The one thing that really raises it up is the stylus. Having tested the previous models, I was amazed at how much it had developed in capability. So much so, that hackers out there are putting the Note 5’s tricks onto their older Notes. I loved that I could take a note instantly - and that handwritten scrawl could then work across apps.

Working on digital media and sites, the Note 5 made it easy to highlight & cut pieces out, comment on images and text, and generally feel like you’re achieving something. With the iPhone, I can take a screenshot, then if I want to really edit it, I’ll shift it to the Macbook and play with it there.

So after all that, why am I still on an iPhone?

Android. It’s good, there’s lots to it I like. There’s also a large amount that I really don’t. Having tested Android on a lesser smartphone, the Note 5 is amazing with its capabilities.

Yet it is always the same with Samsung’s phones. I always wonder what they could do with iOS, but I’m sure their R&D department are developing Tizen every day.

If you’re an Android fan, there is no better yardstick to compare to than the Note 5. It really is that good.

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