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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.

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Samsung features software that calibrates the audio for you to make it sound fuller, richer.

The Galaxy Note 5 brings with it a feature called Ultra High Quality Audio (UHQA), which helps “enhance the sound resolution of music and videos.” In practice, it seems to just enhance the bass of whatever you’re listening to, and it’s not entirely apparent unless you download music or videos directly to your device. I tried it out with Chromeo’s latest album and, like I originally described in my hands-on, it just sounds like someone finally wired the smartphone “stereo” correctly. I’m bummed it doesn’t currently work with streaming apps like Spotify and Digitally Imported, though there is some more third-party support coming soon. Out of the box, Pandora and YouTube are the only apps that take advantage of this new sound-enhancing feature.

Pay with your phone—just not yet

I wanted to mention very briefly that while the Galaxy Note 5 currently support wireless payments with NFC via Google Wallet, the Samsung Pay feature is not live yet. It’ll be in beta this month, and is scheduled to launch in September. When that happens, I’ll be taking it out for a test drive in the real world. Stay tuned.

The King of Phablets

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Your new King of Phablets.  Credit: Florence Ion

Samsung’s phone-tablet hybrid device no longer feels like it’s been made to cater to an elite group of professional smartphone users. It’s for both the business-centric user and the creatives types who want to doodle and dawdle all day with their smartphone in hand. 

I enjoyed the last two generations of Samsung’s Note phablet and I gave them both high scores, but I’m giving the Galaxy Note 5 a slightly higher score because it’s absolutely everything you want out of a smartphone: a fantastic camera, a productivity device, a sketchbook, a digital scrapbook, a boom box, and a portable gaming console. If you’re going to spend gobs of money for the most premium smartphone out there, it’s gotta be completely worth your while, and the Galaxy Note 5 is totally worth it. If Samsung would only cut back on the heavy-handed TouchWiz interface changes and bloatware, it could easily score 5 stars.


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