So the Note 5 doesn’t have expandable storage, nor can users swap out the battery on the go. Bummer, right? While it’s a big miss for power users, Samsung has still delivered a very tantalizing device, one that emphasizes design and experience over (arguably) niche features. How about an improved S Pen? Wireless charging? All here—but that’s not all.
The real question for people will be whether or not the Note 5 is worth upgrading to. If you have a device like the Note 4, probably not; the old device still features a beautiful design, excellent features, and, better yet, microSD support and a removable battery. But go back even further, and then this year’s upgrade starts to become much more desirable.
For the longest time people have been begging Samsung to change up its design philosophy, and it finally did with the S6 and S6 Edge. But it had to sacrifice some key features in the process, which begs the question: Is a Note a Note without microSD support and a removable battery? This is ostensibly a device meant for “power users,” folks who utilize these features because they aren’t available anywhere else.
I’ll let you decide.
You don’t need me to tell you just how great the Note 5 design is, but, I mean, just look at it! It pretty much matches the S6 design, featuring metal edges and a glass back. But it differs slightly with its subtly curved back. And, of course, there’s the new ejectable S Pen. I wouldn’t say that’s a feature per se, but the change can’t be understated. No more yanking the S Pen out with your fingernails.
Samsung is clearly committed to a different design philosophy, one that attempts to match the appeal of devices like the HTC One M9 and iPhone 6 Plus. Aluminum is clearly a material meant to exude “high end,” and the Note 5 just screams premium. We loved the S6 and S6 Edge design, and the Note 5 is no different.
2. S Pen
Speaking of the S Pen, Samsung continues to make improvements to the company’s stylus, making for a much more natural, accurate and enjoyable experience. Previous S Pens have been good, and they’ve gotten better every year. But compared to years past, you can tell that the Note 5’s S Pen has been improved quite a bit.
I don’t just mean functionally; pick it up, and you immediately get the sense that you’re working with something that’s been carefully engineered to offer the best possible writing experience. Jotting down notes and navigating the UI with an accessory has always been a bit weird. The new S Pen gives you a sense that you’re actually connected to what’s being written down—something you didn’t quite get before.
Samsung has also included a few new features exclusive to the S Pen, such as the ability to quickly take notes on the screen from an idle state, which ensures there’s no lag between you and writing down a reminder.
Remember how good the Galaxy S6’s camera was? Samsung essentially took that exact one and put it in the Note 5. You’ll find no complaints from me; the S6’s camera was fast, powerful and produced some excellent results. Note 5 owners will get the same experience, further cementing Samsung as one of the leaders in the mobile camera space.
4. Wireless Charging
Convenience. That’s what wireless charging is all about. While the feature hasn’t been widely adopted just yet, recent breakthroughs will ensure our wireless future arrives sooner rather than later. And you’ll have companies like Samsung to thank for leading the charge. Bonus: the Note 5 also supports adaptive fast charging, giving you more juice in less time.
The combination of these two technologies should alleviate any complaints you have about the lack of a removable battery. The convenience of wireless charging, plus faster charging when you need juice in a pinch. The features have worked out well for devices like the S6 and S6 Edge, and should work just as well in the Note 5.
Earlier this year, Samsung took some big steps toward making TouchWiz a more bearable experience, and in the Note 5, it’s focusing on adding stuff you’ll actually use. Samsung has typically offered redundant features that felt more like bloat, but some of the newest additions are things all Android devices should get.
One of the main ones is the camera has the ability to live broadcast to YouTube. In addition, you can quickly launch apps with the S Pen, sign PDFs and you can save screenshots of entire Web pages. That’s pretty awesome, especially if you want to highlight a specific portion with—what else?—the improved S Pen.
Of course, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and there’s a lot more to love about the Note 5. A lot of focus will be set on the lack of microSD support and a removable battery, but Samsung is still offering a device power users will love. And about no 128GB option? You got me there.