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Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+

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Aug 13, 2015, 12:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's new flagship phablets are here and they are impressive. They adopt the high-quality design of Samsung's S6 smartphone and toss in a number of compelling new features to help give them their own identity. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+

Note 5 and S6 Edge+ 

The Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ are essentially larger versions of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Like those handsets, the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ swap plastics for high-quality metal and glass. They are crafted gorgeously, but have the same trade-offs we saw with Samsung's standard flagships earlier this year.

Galaxy S6 edge body  

Both the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ have aircraft-grade aluminum frames that wrap all the way around the outer edge of the phone. The metal is chamfered, which creates a high-class look. The frame is sandwiched between two glass panels, made of Corning's Gorilla Glass 4. Where the Edge+ has curved glass on the front, the Note 5 actually has curved glass on the back. The idea here is to help it sit just a bit deeper in your palm when holding it. The phones feel sturdy and strong, but the metal frames (especially on the Edge+) cut into your hand just a bit. The quality is top notch. They are clearly assembled with great precision.

The phones are certainly big. Samsung says that, despite the 5.7-inch screen on both, the overall footprint is smaller than last year's Note 4. Truly, it is a hair slimmer and thinner, which does help the phone feel less awkward to use. The phones beg to be used with two hands — especially the Note 5, which comes with the S Pen Stylus. I'd say they are manageable, but not for people with small hands. They'll fit into pockets, but not small pockets.

As is typical, the front face of both phones is mostly display. The bezels on the Note 5 and Edge+ are super thin. The speaker grill and sensors/user-facing camera are above the screen. Below it, you'll see the oblong home button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner. It is flanked by capacitive back and multitasking buttons. These all worked well. I was pleased with the volume buttons and screen lock button, which are on the left and right edges, respectively. They have a great profile and excellent travel and feedback thanks to the metal design. There is no dedicated camera button.

The displays measure 5.7 inches across the diagonal and boast Quad HD resolution. They look amazing. The Super AMOLED screens are supremely bright, and the resolution is simply fantastic. You can't ask for a much sharper screen. Samsung often boosts colors a bit, and that's the case here. The screens have bright and vivid colors, but they aren't always accurate.

Galaxy Note5 body  

The Note 5's screen is flat all the way across, while the S6 Edge+'s screen curves along both sides. The Edge+'s curved side edges have the same dedicated software features seen on the S6 Edge, which means you get notifications and other content displayed along the side in a thin strip. For example, a quick swipe from the upper right corner will reveal your top five contacts, lined up in a column along the side of the screen. Even better, these contacts are color-coded. When one calls, the side edges will light up with the corresponding color so you know who's calling from across the room.

Edge Screen Features  

The Note 5 has the S Pen Stylus, of course. It is tucked into the bottom edge of the phone, near the speaker, USB port, and headset jack. The stylus is flush with the rear surface and there is no notch to help remove it. Instead, Samsung added a little spring top to the stylus that, when pressed, pops the top out. It's neat. Samsung updated the S Pen software too, which leaves a little controller hovering on the screen whenever the S Pen has been removed. I like that Air Command lets you customize some of the shortcuts available in the little curved control strip.

The Note 5 and S6 Edge+ carry over the two significant weaknesses we pointed out on the S6 and S6 Edge: no removable battery and no memory card support. Those could be deal breakers for some people. The good news is the phones have 3,000mAh batteries that support Quick Charge technology, and wireless charging (both WPC and PMA specs). Samsung boosted the wireless charging capabilities so the phone can reach a full charge in just two hours on its super-charged wireless charger. Oddly, the phones come in only 32GB and 64GB versions; there will be more 128GB version for the U.S.


Samsung loaded Android 5.1 Lollipop on the Note 5 and S6 Edge+, but as always covered it with TouchWiz. The software is more or less identical to that found on the GS6 and GS6 Edge, save for the extra S Pen and edge screen features. The only other standout is HD Broadcast, which lets people push live video feeds to people or to YouTube.

Samsung is using its own processor to power these phones, the octa-core Exynos 7420. The processor is a 64-bit job with four cores at 2.1GHz and four cores at 1.5GHz in what the industry likes to call a big.LITTLE configuration. The phones have a whopping 4GB of super-fast RAM.

The Galaxy Note 5 and the S6 Edge+ are great smartphones — if you love phablets. The phones are attractive, well-made, and perform across the board. One of the biggest complaints we had about the S6 and S6 Edge was battery life. Right now, that's my only real concern with the Note 5 and S6 Edge+. Hopefully the higher-capacity battery provides enough juice to get the phones through the day.

They are available for preorder today and reach carrier stores on August 21. Pricing ranges from about $700 to about $900, depending on carrier and exact model you choose. Monthly prices will vary.

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About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.


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Aug 17, 2015, 1:59 PM

A Step Backwards IMHO

Having actually handled a Samsung S6 Edge( ) for a while, I can say it is a step backwards in many ways compared to the previous models.

The only appealing feature is the screen; which is BEAUTIFUL. But the lack of a microSD Card Slot and non-removable battery killed it for me.

And I think there is an error with this write-up. When you wrote "Oddly, the phones come in only 32GB and 64GB versions; there will be more 128GB version for the U.S."

I think you meant that there will be NO 128GB version for the U.S., which is very stupid considering the lack of microSD card support.

Aug 14, 2015, 11:40 AM

Personally I like it...

waay better than the other notes. I didnt even really like samsung before the S6 but it feels great in your hand, like an actual flagship phone instead of a creaky plastic back ZTE, ala every other samsung. And I used to care about a removable battery and micro-SD until I really thought about it.
The memory in the S6 is Blazing fast, in fact it smashes almost every phone out there. However, the S6 would be considerably slower if it had an external memory card, just by querying the slot in normal operation, and how often do I Really physically remove the card?
If the phone wouldnt power on or got dropped in water is about it. Do I really need 32 gigs of bullshit on my phone? Or do you really need your titanium backup file from 6 phones ...
But wait

>>The memory in the S6 is Blazing fast, in fact it smashes almost every phone out there. However, the S6 would be considerably slower if it had an external memory card,

You do realize there is a difference between memory and storage rig...

Aug 15, 2015, 2:02 PM

Won't be buying

Since Samsung has decided to become an Apple clone, I won't be buying the Note 5 or S6. They used to distinguish themselves from Apple by having removable batteries and SD card storage. Not anymore. I'd still buy their other phones that have these features, but not their flagship phones anymore. If I wanted an Apple clone, I'd go buy an Apple phone.

Aug 13, 2015, 4:32 PM

Samsung runs out of idea.

Zpike, you're right, and I agree. Maybe it is time to try Apple next coming phones.
I won't go for Windows Phones or Ubuntu. They are not much aps available.
Whatever I dislike about the Note 5, I absolutely loathe about Apple. I'm not interested in going from bad to worse.

Aug 14, 2015, 2:31 PM

Losing the appeal

I love Samsung, but I am very disappointed by the current design. One of the most attractive features of the phone to me was adding storage as I see fit as well as battery removal. The main reason, among quite a few others that I moved away from ios, was because of this. I understand Samsungs desire to be fluid and sleek, but I as a consumer desire more. Form and Function.

Aug 14, 2015, 11:14 AM

These are very nice indeed, but...

Are they really worth paying twice as much for compared to say the new Moto X or OnePlus 2 which cost about $400 cheaper?

With the other manufacturers upping their game on their devices it's becoming harder and harder to justify this sort of pricing.
I do agree, the Note 5 and Edge are nice, but honestly they priced themselves out of the market. There are many great phones coming out in the sub $500 area with close spec's or to the point its not worth spending hundreds extra. The new Moto X Pu...

Aug 13, 2015, 1:08 PM

Samsung really dropped the ball.

Besides the quad HD screen, I really don't see any reason to upgrade from my Note 3, especially considering I would actually have to give up features to do so. I'm not impressed. Samsung really doesn't understand their customers. The Quad HD screen of the Note 4 wasn't enough to attract away Apple's customers when it included a removable battery and memory card slot. Why should they think a model whose only selling point is a quad HD screen and no expandable storage or removable battery will do anything but drive away existing customers? I was really hoping my next device could be a Note 5, but it looks like I will be looking elsewhere. Maybe it's time to try something entirely different like Windows Phone or Ubuntu.
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