Galaxy Note 5 Review – Best Smartphone of 2015?


4 years ago, Samsung launched the first big smartphone with its first Galaxy Note Android smartphone. At the time, no one knew that phablets like the Galaxy Note would become popular. In fact, most media outlets called it a ridiculously large phone that’s not going to fit in your pocket. Well, fast forward to 2015 and everyone is using a large phone these days. Even Apple introduced their iPhone 6 Plus to satisfy the people’s urge to use large smartphones. Phablets are like the SUVs of cars and if you want the best SUV, the Galaxy Note 5 is really the best you can buy right now.


Note 5 Design


The biggest difference with Note 5 versus its predecessors is its design. Samsung has opted to go with seamless design with a curved glass back. I feel like they have removed the biggest features like removable battery and microSD card but for those of you don’t care for that, you may love the new Note 5 design.

The Note 5 feels great in the hands also, the curved back does help and the glass feels magnificent. Of course, we highly suggest you to use a case since glass is easily broken and that really offsets Samsung’s focus on design.  Heck, if I use a case, the back of the phone is pretty much useless no matter how beautiful it is. Oh well.

Note 5 Screen


The Note 5 has the same resolution of 2560 by 1440 resolution with an upgraded Super AMOLED screen that’s actually about 10% brighter than the Note 4.  It’s a newer, brighter screen but the resolution has stayed the same.

There’s really nothing bad I can say about the Note 5 screen, it’s certainly the best smartphone screen out there “right now” and Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays are usually 30-40% brighter than its nearest competitors at its brightest setting.

Note 5 S-Pen


The new S-Pen can now be easily clicked then pulled out. Unlike its predecessors, the small clicky change does help you get that S-Pen out quickly and easily. One note though, if you put the S-Pen backwards, it will get stuck and you may break the S-Pen sensor. You can use a plastic film or straw to take it out safely so check out my video tutorial on that if you ever do this by accident.

The coolest features Samsung added to Note 5 this year is the off-screen memos. Pull out your S-pen while the screen is off and you will be able to take notes instantly. I feel like this simple feature will make the Note 5 an excellent replacement for any physical notebooks.

When the screen is ON, you can enjoy the new Air Command that allows you to easily open your S-Pen apps along with your own favorite app shortcuts.

With screen capture, now you can take a screenshot of a long web page, scribble your notes on it, and send it easily to your friends and colleagues.

Note 5 Performance


The Note 5 has Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 Octa-core 64-bit processor. This is hands down the fastest processor in the world right now. It’s over 30% faster in performance over the nearest competitor Qualcomm Snapdraon 805. If you play a lot of games or use apps that use extensive RAW CPU power, the Exynos 7420 will help you do that the fastest and to the fullest. Also, the Note 5 has 4 gigs of RAM and comes out on top of Galaxy S6 as the fastest smartphone on earth.


Antutu scores are off the charts with scores near 70K mark, there’s no other smartphone on earth “right now” that surpasses Note 5 performance. If you absolutely must need the fastest smartphone on earth right now, this is definitely it.

Note 5 Storage


The Note 5’s biggest flaw this year is with its removal of removable battery and microSD card slot. You can buy the Note 5 in 32 or 64GB storage. For storage, this isn’t much but if you use OTG Flash drive, you can offload your storage if you ever go over. It’s not the best alternative to actually having a microSD card slot but sadly Samsung has really sacrified its core features for design. On the bright side, Note 5 possesses UFS 2.0 for its storage giving you 3 times faster read/write speeds than other smartphones. With 3 times faster read/write speeds, games and apps can run much faster.

Note 5 Fingerprint Sensor


Unlike Note 4 which required the user to swipe top to bottom, Note 5 has the new fingerprint sensor so you can easily place your finger on it to unlock your phone. Also, Samsung has introduced the new Samsung Pay, which could possibly be the best smartphone payment system in the world.

Apple Pay or Android Pay both use NFC technology while Samsung Pay supports both NFC and MST technology. MST stands for “magnetic secure transmission”, which allows Samsung Pay to be compatible with any credit card reader with magnetic strip reader, which is pretty much 99% of credit card readers in the world.

In other worlds, Samsung Pay can be used anywhere a credit card is accepted while Apple Pay or Android Pay are limited to credit card readers with speficic NFC support for them. With your fingerprint, it’s now possible to ditch all your wallet and use your phone.

Note 5 Battery


The Note 5 battery is 3000mAh, just a tad than last year. In real world usage, I’ve found the Note 5 battery does fairly well, giving me all day usage in most cases. While Note 5 battery doesn’t last quite long as the older Note 4, it’s got enough juice to last longer than smaller smartphones out there. For those of you who work in cubicles, you just need to have an extra fast charger at work and in your car as quick charging the Note 5 takes only an hour to go from 0 to 100%. And for those of you who are not near wall plugs all day, you can grab a fast charging USB power bank like Aukey’s Fast Charge USB Power bank.

Note 5 also supports world’s first fast wireless charging. I have not tested this yet but I should have a video on it as it’s coming in the mail soon.


Note 5 Camera


The Note 5 has one of the best cameras on earth right now. For those of you who take a lot of photos, the F1.9 lens will give you crisp, detailed photos in low light as much as it’s possible on a smartphone. And with PRO mode, photography junkies will be able to easily tweak the shutter speed, white balance, and ISO. That’s not all!  With RAW mode, you will be able to tweak your photos with Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to have full control over your photos.

Video recording on the Note 5 is a pleasant experience with support for 4K UHD and 1080P 60fps. With stable OIS, you will be able to get better videos than any other smartphone out on the market right now. I have a 4K video test so check that out if you haven’t yet.

Another new feature is the YouTube LIVE mode, which allows you to broadcast LIVE to YouTube in full 1080P HD. I have used this feature many times already and I can tell you the quality is quite good and this alone could be useful for YouTubers and journalists out there.  (Check out my YouTube LIVE broadcast here.)


Note 5 Multi-Window


Don’t forget, Galaxy Note series have better multi-tasking than any other smartphone out there with its multi-window features. You will be able to easily run 2 apps side-by-side along with floating window that you can activate by swiping from top-right or top-left. For people who need productivity of a desktop on a smartphone, the Note 5’s multi-window features make it possible to have a dozen windows open at the same time.

Overall, the Note 5 does has its faults like no more removable battery, micro-SD card, and flawed S-Pen design but if you ask me which is the best smartphone on earth right now? It’s still going to be the Galaxy Note 5 because clearly there’s nothing better yet. We just hope Samsung adds the removable battery and micro-SD card for Note 6 next year or I will be spanking them again.  Hey, maybe you like being spanked, bad girl Samsung.

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Max Lee

Max Lee is the founder of Max makes Android tutorials and review videos for people who want to get high on Android over at his YouTube channel and Korean YouTube channel.