By Anirban Ghoshal
South Korean electronics giant Samsung, known for innovation in hardware and user interfaces, recently launched its flagship Note 5 smartphone in India priced at Rs.53,900. Samsung has aimed the Note series at consumers who like productivity on the go and are also in the ‘creative’ business. We got our hands on the device (32 GB memory) and here is what we think of it:
What is good?
The phone, which has curved edges along with a shiny metallic colour finish, has distinct good looks. The built quality is superb and it feels very compact as well. The new advanced stylus also locks into the phone and there is no need to worry about it falling down.
The Note 5 comes with a big 5.7-inch quad-HD Super AMOLED display and there is no complaining about it. Be it work, movies or games, the screen works only to please the consumer.
There is no doubt that Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 processor, combined with a 4 GB DDR4 RAM is a force to reckon with. The phone can easily handle switching between heavy games. It also did not lag while using at least 30 apps at the same time, meaning that using apps like photoshop for a long time should not be a problem. Going by Geekbench 3 scores, the phone ranks top with a score of 1,457 on single core performance and 4,638 on multi-core performance.
The Note 5 shares the same camera DNA as the Galaxy S6. While all modes and aperture control remain the same in the Note 5, which clearly is the best in the industry according to DxOMark tests, Samsung now offers consumers the option to choose aspect ratios of photos, including wide ones. The phone captures good detail in all light conditions. Colour and white balance are reliable and the auto-focus works swiftly. The front five-magapixel camera is also a deal sweetener as it can capture wider selfies and groupies.
The most interesting aspect of the phone is the stylus and other features that come with it. Interestingly, Samsung has integrated the option of using the stylus while the screen is switched off. The phone enters a special mode which lets the user write anything on the screen and save it for later use.
The stylus has also been improved, making it sleeker, comfortable to hold and improving its touch precision. This enables creative people to draw better sketches with greater accuracy. The stylus menu or what Samsung calls the ‘Air Command’ menu has also been improved, allowing users to add shortcuts of most-used apps, including the regular screen write, action memo and S Note functions.
The Note 5 also comes with a fingerprint sensor which secures the phone. Samsung also offers its Knox feature, a new Android-based solution specifically designed to enhance security of the current open source Android platform.
The battery is superb and the fast charging works really well. In spite of very heavy usage, it lasted for over 18 hours which is exceptional. The fast charging comes in handy on occasions when one has just forgotten to charge the phone or wants some extra juice to finish the assignment on hand.
Other connectivity features on the phone remain same with Bluetooth module 4, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct and NFC. The phone, which supports 4G-LTE, can run only a single nano-SIM.
What doesn’t work for the phone?
The phone, due to its metal and glass body, is a tad heavy. Also, the big size could be a problem with pockets. Holding the phone for longer durations could also be a problem which sort of magnifies if one thinks of longer duration of stylus-based usage.
Strangely, the phone sometimes gets heated up on heavy gaming or usage of the Wi-Fi Direct feature, but it cools down fast as well. Heating might be a particular irritant for users.
Also, the phone’s battery drains off a little too quick once the display brightness is turned to maximum.
Verdict: After having used the Note 5, there can be only one conclusion – that it is the most productive Android phone yet. The integration of a good stylus, huge screen, super fast processor and an efficient battery with fast charging make it an all rounder. Basically the phone combines all the good innovations of Samsung put together. In our opinion, if productivity on-the-go is a must, then this device can please any consumer.
Full specifications: 5.7-inch Quad-HD Super AMOLED, 2560 x 1440 (518ppi) display | octa-core (2.1GHz Quad + 1.5GHz Quad), 64 bit, 14 nm processor | 4 GB RAM (LPDDR4) | 32/64GB | 16-megapixel OIS (F1.9) rear camera and five- megapixel (F1.9) camera | 3,000mAh battery with fast charging both on wired and wireless | 4G-LTE | Android 5.1 (Lollipop) | Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 4.2 | NFC.
(08.11.2015 – Anirban Ghoshal can be contacted at [email protected])