The Galaxy Note line has long been one of Samsung’s greatest assets in the mobile market. While other Android OEMs have made phablets before, Samsung was pretty much the first OEM to ship a high-end device in this segment. Although other Android OEMs have made phablets in the time since, Samsung continues to have a strong hold on this market.

For Samsung, unlike previous iterations of the Note family, the Galaxy Note5/S6 edge+ represents a significant change in design compared to previous generations, integrating many of the design aspects of the Galaxy S6 across the whole family. In many ways, the Galaxy Note5 resembles the Galaxy S6 in a different size. Meanwhile the Note5's companion device, the Galaxy S6 edge+, is effectively a second take on the Galaxy Note5, aiming for a design closer to a large format phone than a phablet as originially envisioned by Samsung. In this case the Galaxy S6 edge+ uses many of the design accents of the Galaxy S6 edge such as the curved display, all the while getting rid of the stylus.

Probably the easiest way to start is by looking at the basic specs. In order to make this easier, the usual spec sheet is below.

 

Galaxy Note 4

Galaxy Note5

Galaxy S6 edge+

SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
4xKrait 450 @ 2.7 GHz
Samsung LSI Exynos 7420
4xA57 @ 2.1GHz
4xA53 @ 1.5GHz
GPU Adreno 420 @ 600 MHz Mali T760MP8 @ 772MHz
RAM 3GB LPDDR3 4GB LPDDR4
NAND 32/64GB eMMC 32/64/128GB UFS 2.0
Display 5.7-inch 2560x1440 SAMOLED 5.7-inch 2560x1440 SAMOLED 5.7-inch 2560x1440 SAMOLED
Dual edge display
Network 2G / 3G / 4G
UE Category 6 LTE
2G / 3G / 4G
UE Category 6/9 LTE
Dimensions 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.3 mm
176 grams
153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm
171 grams
154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm
153 grams
Camera 16MP rear camera,
1.12 µm pixels, 1/2.6" CMOS size,
F/2.2 OIS

5MP F/1.9 FFC
16MP rear camera,
1.12µm pixels, 1/2.6" CMOS size
F/1.9, OIS

5MP F/1.9 FFC
Battery 3220 mAh (12.397 Wh)
Removable
3000 mAh (11.55 Wh)
Non-removable
OS Android 4.4 with TouchWiz (At launch) Android 5.1 with TouchWiz (At launch)
Connectivity 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.1, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, NFC 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.2, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, NFC
SIM Size MicroSIM NanoSIM

The Galaxy Note5/S6 edge+ and Galaxy S6 are definitely different in size - coming in at 5.1" versus 5.7" - but there’s otherwise a great deal of similarity this time around. The Galaxy Note5 shares a number of major components with the Galaxy S6, so the big differences between the two lines this generation will primarily be due to the S-Pen and larger size, along with an extra gigabyte of RAM. However, there are still some notable differences that are worth going over, as Samsung has been able to integrate a few months of lessons learned from the Galaxy S6 into the Galaxy Note5.

Design

The first, and easiest place to start is the design of this phone. If you’re familiar with the Galaxy S6, the Galaxy Note5/S6 edge+ is pretty much identical from a functional perspective. The front face of the phone has the same earpiece, home button, front-facing camera, and various sensors. Flanking the home button will be the two capacitive buttons, which are multitasking and back from left to right. The usual Samsung logo is on top, where the display driver for the display is. The bezel retains the same texture that it does from the Galaxy S6, which causes some interesting reflection effects, especially in the sun. The display also has noticeably thinner side bezels than what we saw on the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy Note 4, which is visually quite impressive but in the absence of palm rejection is pretty close to the limit of minimum bezel size.

Along the side of the phone, the buttons, headphone jack, USB port, and speaker are all placed in the same places as the Galaxy S6, which should help if anyone is transitioning to the Galaxy Note5/S6 edge+ from the Galaxy S6. This means that the USB port is centered on the bottom of the phone, with the 3.5mm headset jack on the left side, and the speaker on the right. The volume buttons are also on the left side and are still as clicky and impressive as they were with the Galaxy S6, with no creep or mush and a clean break when the switch triggers. The power button is similar in feel and placed on the right side of the phone, high enough that you won’t accidentally activate the button when you’re picking up the phone.

The top of the phone has the SIM slot for both variants this time around unlike the Galaxy S6, which had the SIM slot in a different position depending upon which variant you got. Unlike the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy Note 4, neither variant has a port for an IR LED/receiver for remote functionality. The Galaxy Note5 also adds a port for the stylus next to the speaker.

Depending upon what phone you get, the major difference can end up being the shape of the back cover. While the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S6 both have glass for their back cover, the Galaxy Note5 has a 3D curved glass back cover much like the Xiaomi Mi Note line. This really improves the in-hand feel compared to the Galaxy S6, which felt a bit blocky. The Galaxy S6 edge+ retains the same flat back cover from the Galaxy S6, but feels a bit easier to grip than the Galaxy S6 edge which had an incredibly thin metal rail to hold on to. Both phablets will be fingerprint magnets on the back cover, but due to the use of glass it’s pretty easy to wipe off fingerprints unlike glossy plastic.

Relative to the Galaxy Note 4, the changes are definitely notable. The metal frame of the Galaxy Note 4 was a relatively angular design, with flat sides and chamfered edges. This design made the phablet feel much bigger relative to something like the Note5 or S6 edge+, thanks in part to Samsung further reducing their device thickness with this latest iteration. The back cover of the Note 4 is faux-leather plastic that peels off much like the Galaxy S2's back cover, with a removable battery and microSD slot. The display has the same buttons, but the bezel had a striped design for unknown reasons. Some people might prefer the design of the Note 4, but I suspect most people are going to prefer the design of the Galaxy Note5.

Overall, in the hand I’d still prefer the Galaxy Note5 to the Galaxy S6 edge+, but pretty much either phone has acceptable industrial and material design. I still wish Samsung would work on cleaning up the front of the phone to be a bit more cohesive, but for 2015 the design of the Galaxy Note5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ is actually quite good. Samsung has sought to distance itself from their reputation of Hyperglaze, and with this phone it’s pretty fair to say that they’ve achieved just that. Both phablets have no real ergonomic issues and are generally well-designed, although aesthetically there are some symmetry issues.

Battery Life and Charge Time
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  • Kepe - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    Read the entire page, please. They're comparing the designs of Note 4 and Note5, and that sentence describes the back of Note 4. That part of the review IS a bit confusing, though, but understandable if you concentrate on what you're reading. Reply
  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    You do realise though, that the feature YOU so clearly desire, is not even slightly relevant to the vast majority of smartphone users? That puts YOU in a subset, and therfore, YOU need to look harder when buying a device. The rest of the world, literally, could not care less. You're in the minority dude, pure and simple. Reply
  • hero4hire - Sunday, October 4, 2015 - link

    I have a new Note 5 in box and am still using my Note 4. Microsd is the reason why.

    If I'd paid I would have 100% bought the 128gb version. As it is I'm not sure if I can use it.

    Best alternative is to use another device to Bluetooth to my vehicle. Lack of a microsd option will hurt Samsung. We're not all interested in Knox and corporate security.

    At least make a "virus allowing hacked unsafe dangerous murder bot phone with a death slot" (microsd) as an option. Your 14 arbitrary nearly identicle model selections prove you could do it.
    Reply
  • Kepe - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    If you don't want it, send it to me :p Reply
  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    No it won't... No-one, apart from butt hurt retards like you, give a flying fook about microSD. It's 2015, not 2010, so get with the times grandad. You've obviously never heard of the Cloud for a start. Reply
  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    No-one need microSD these days, unless you are an idiot. The Cloud exists, and is way more useful than local storage on a slow as hell and completely outdated format like microSD. The world has moved on grandad, so maybe you should too!! Reply
  • 10basetom - Saturday, October 3, 2015 - link

    The ability to use the Note 5 as a yellow sticky pad (i.e., write memo from sleep state) is a killer feature that will attract a lot of people, especially past Note users who left. I bought a Note II thinking that it can act as my digital notepad, but I ended up rarely touching the stylus because it was a hassle to claw it out of the silo, unlock the phone, and hunt down the memo app to launch it. With the Note 5's new abilities, I can see myself using the stylus on a daily basis and finally attain that seemingly always out-of-reach goal of having a digital notepad. Reply
  • eeg1 - Saturday, October 3, 2015 - link

    the issue with samsung is not the phone but the horrible customer service which is why i would never buy a phone from them. the power plug of my brand new GS6 did not work. when calling customer service they asked i return the broken one before sending a new one. fine but how am i supposed to work for 2 weeks as they sorted out the issue. and when i complained i was treated like c*ap So much better with Apple. you go in and they fix everything for you on the spot no major Qs asked. I am glad samsung is losing a ton of share in the US. it will teach them to take their customers' hard earned money and loyalty for granted. here is to samsung zero market share. i even changed everything at home (3 TVs) to LG...terrible service Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Monday, October 5, 2015 - link

    Did you really but your phone directly from Samsung? Or are you just another one of those Apple trolls posting your useless scripted BS? Yeah, that was a rhetorical question as we both know the answer to that question. Reply
  • Peichen - Monday, October 5, 2015 - link

    You do know the Apple have 24/7 Apple Store in big cities right? What do you think those stores are for? Just because you are not used to 24/7 face-to-face support doesn't mean it is a bad thing.

    Apple also does cross shipping in case you don't know. You'd have 30 days to ship the bad parts back with the included envelope.
    Reply

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