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Galaxy Note 5 review: Continuing Samsung's reign as the King of Phablets

Florence Ion | Aug. 25, 2015
Seriously, we didn't think that the Note series could get any better, but it did. This phone-tablet puts even the smaller Galaxy S6 to shame.

If I could credit Samsung with anything, it’s making big phones into a fad for the rest of us. The company basically birthed the idea of a phone-tablet hybrid, and if it wasn’t for the Note series, Apple might not have even considered bumping the iPhone up to 5.5 inches. (You’re welcome, iPhone users.)

With that said, Samsung continues to improve the Note series with every new version. The Galaxy Note 5 is no different: it boasts a beautiful screen, powerful innards—including an extra gigabyte of RAM—and suite of helpful productivity apps to accompany its super precise stylus, the S Pen. If you haven’t considered a mega-sized Android phone until now, the Galaxy Note 5 is the best place to start. It’s so good at everything it does, it outshines the rest of the Galaxy family of smartphones.

A big body, a big screen

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The Galaxy Note 5 is just as sleek as its predecessors, despite its larger size. Credit: Florence Ion

The Galaxy Note 5 looks like a bigger, more professional version of the Galaxy S6. It has the same metal and glass construction, rounded edges, and the barely-there bezel on the sides of the display. But it’s slightly denser and a little heavier to hold, which is especially apparent when you’re actually talking on the phone. As for the S Pen, it’s tucked away inconspicuously on the bottom near the charging port. When it’s docked, it just looks like an extra button.

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The S Pen resides in that small hold on the bottom of the Note 5. Credit: Florence Ion

Samsung slimmed down the Galaxy Note 5 enough so that even smaller hands like mine can have an easier time grasping it. It’s still a pretty big phone, though, so don’t expect something that easily fits in your pocket.

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I don’t feel like I have the tiniest hands in the world with the Galaxy Note 5.  Credit: Florence Ion

Samsung stuck with its usual button layout: a physical Home button with a fingerprint sensor built in, two capacitive navigation buttons on either side (“back” on the right and “recent apps” on the left), a volume rocker on the upper left side, and a power button on the right. If you’ve been a Samsung user for a while, you know this routine already. But if you’re a newbie, you’ll have a whopper of a time getting used to the Note 5’s reversed navigation buttons. I wish Samsung would change the placement of those buttons, or at least leave it up to the users to choose for themselves.


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