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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.

One of the best cameras on the market

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The Note 5’s rear-facing 16-megapixel sensor is one of the best on the market. Credit: Florence Ion

Like the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, the Note 5 is an Android phone with a camera that you can rely on in any situation. It features the same camera sensors, including a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 5-megapixel front facing one.

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This puppy was too cute not to snap a photo—with my finger in the corner! 

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The Galaxy Note 5 also performed on par with its predecessors in our lab camera tests. 

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The Note 5 has particularly wonderful low-llight performance, made better by the fact that the phone now features manual shutter speed controls, up to 10 seconds.

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And unlike the last generation Note 4, the Note 5 won’t drown out your subjects with the rear-facing flash.

Samsung didn’t just copy and paste the camera sensor from the Galaxy S6 and leave it at that; it tossed in some neat new tricks in the camera app, including the ability to select the shutter speed. This can lead to professional-looking night time shots, though you’re limited to a 10-second exposure.

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The stars weren’t out, but I was able to get some of that night time atmosphere light with a 10-second exposure. You can see the indoor light lighting up the top of the umbrella in the left-hand corner. Typically, this picture would have come out pitch black.

I went more in-depth with the new camera features in the Note 5 here, including its YouTube streaming functionality and all of its new manual settings. It’s convenient having the features you’d use with a third-party app baked right into the native camera app.

Can your Palm Pilot do this?

I’m going to skip over Touchwiz here because it’s exactly the same as what’s on the Galaxy S6: it’s lighter, it’s blue, and it comes preloaded with a suite of Microsoft apps that you can’t delete. You’ll notice in my photos that I loaded the Google Launcher on my review unit after a while because I like having Google Now permanently affixed to the left of the Home screen. I still have to contend with the garish Quick Settings, but it’s not that bad. Also, Samsung’s been much better about software updates in the last year, so you should be fine with timely Android updates (if your carrier doesn't hold you back). 


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