Galaxy Note 5 – Pre-Release Impressions


Pretty much every year I switch out my cell phone…  why?  Because it’s a thing for me.  I like having the latest toy and considering I’m pretty much glued to my phone (ok maybe not that bad), I consider it an investment to have something I would be happy with.

And because I don’t want to give up my awesome unlimited data plan, I’m stuck with always having to buy my phone outright… which actually was never an issue for me since I’ve been doing that for quite some time now (since a lot of times I imported my phones from Europe or Asia).

Current Phone

My current phone is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 on Verizon (yes, I’m in the US… read the About Me for more info on me…)

While it’s a great phone, especially since I do take a lot of notes with it (using the stylus… yes I do write).  The screen size is big and the resolution is awesome for watching videos, playing games and just reading in general.  Battery life was good (more on this later) and with the expandable SD card slot, I never really worried about running out of space.

I say that battery life WAS good because after the phone was upgraded to Android 5.0.1, things went south.  I’m not sure what in the new OS is causing it but after that happened several things aren’t the same with this phone.  Battery life was the first noticable difference, where now I can barely get through a day without having to charge it.  Also since I work in a basement (no, really), signal strength it iffy at times which causes my battery to die even faster.

The other issue I’ve noticed is how some of the messaging and data traffic comes to a stop or a really slow trickle every so often.  At first I thought it was a network carrier issue but no one else had the same issue, even those with a Note 4.  The only way to solve it was to do a cold reset, but that’s really annoying since all of your settings go *poof*.

But other than that, I really like the Note series of phones.  I’ve been admiring them since the first version and finally got one with the Note 3.  So when the announcement of the Note 5 coming out early, I was pretty stoked since I could get the new version of the phone sooner than the usual late September release date.

New Phone

So Samsung had a big announcement on August 13, 2015 to introduce their new flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 5 which was earlier than the normal September announcement date at IFA in Berlin.

Official Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015 Replay

At the event they announced the new Note 5 and the upgraded larger Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.  The Edge Plus to me was neat, but lame at the same time.  They should have just released that at the same time as the S6 Edge so that people had options.  Now you essentially have two similar phones, one with curved edges with no stylus, and the other with no curved edges and a stylus…  Really?

My question is… where’s the Note 5 Edge…  (though, really I’m kidding).  The edged screen is neat appearance wise… but if it’s practical?  To me, not really since there’s no real useful applications yet (other than things that are neat novelty wise).

Ok now back to the new phone I’m getting… the Note 5.  While in the livestream they insisted that they listened to the customers.  I think they did from Note 3 and Note 4… with the Note 5, I was like… wait what?

Now you’re probably wondering, then why are you still getting the phone?  Well, because the utility behind the phone still meets what I want… just some of the features are now gone, but it’s not where I can’t live without those features.

Drawback 1: No SD Card Slot

It’s easier to talk about the bad stuff first, so here goes…  First, they lost the expandable SD card slot…  This really made me disappointed.  C’mon it’s really not that hard to make an interface port for this even with the new design.  Yes it’s slow, but I don’t care… I want to be able to move files around without having to worry about, “crap I’m out of space” since I don’t assume I’m going to have internet connection.

Drawback 2: No removeable battery

Honestly, this one isn’t as bad as the first drawback.  I hardly ever remove the battery… except for when I can’t get the phone to reboot.  Usually I’m somewhere where I can recharge my phone either by USB or with the charger.

But without a removeable battery I just lost some flexibility and options I had, but it’s not a showstopper.

Drawback 3: No USB-C

OK, here’s where my geekiness comes through…  While they said they would use the latest tech, you would think they would include the newest USB-C port.  Granted it’s not that widely used yet, but at least you’d be on the cutting edge.  Oh well, maybe in the Note 6, or at the rate they’re going, the Note 5+.

Positive 1: New Design

Not gonna lie, I loved the way the Galaxy S6 looked.  Yes, it looks like an iPhone, but so what?  The build quality also looked better.  The Note series slowly got better in terms of design as it progressed.  The first note I had, was the Note 3.  It was plasticy… I mean it’s a premium phone but it seemed cheap.  The edges looked metal but it was coated plastic.

The Note 4, evolved very nicely with its aluminum sides making it feel really solid but not overly heavy.  The backing though, was still plastic… and actually even more flimsy than the Note 3.

The Note 5 is supposedly going to be even more rugged and solid feeling.  I’m just worried that because it’s mostly glass now, I have to be even more paranoid if I accidentally drop it… so of course I bought a cover for it already (the popular windowed flip cover; you know the one you can see what’s on the screen and still use the device).

Positive 2: New S-Pen

The new S-Pen functionalities are also really nice.  But why would I write things?  Because, sometimes it’s just faster than trying to type things out (even though I actually do type faster than I write).

With the new writing function where you can write even when the interface isn’t ready, that is just awesome.  It’s useful for me when my boss rattles off something to me and I don’t want to forget it.  Before I would have to wait for the Note app to come up, but now I can just write it on the screen.

Positive 3: Newer Android Release

Considering my Note 4 seems to have gotten more issues after the upgrade to Android 5, I’m hoping for better responsiveness with the Note 5 since it was built with Android 5.1 in mind.

Hopefully there will be less hiccups and such… and if not, then maybe it’s time to move carriers and get a different phone.

Other than that, everything else seems pretty standard.  They did increase the RAM to 4GB up from 3GB and now they’re using their own octa-core chips instead of Snapdragon’s processors… so maybe it’ll be cooler.  Also with LTE Cat. 9 capability it should be good enough for another year.  Not like I would pay for LTE service while travelling internationally (unless it was dirty cheap).

So we’ll see how it goes when the phone comes in sometime in the next week.  Apparently, it should be here in about a day or two since it was already shipped out.

Should be interesting to see if my initial impression matches the impression I have after using it for a day or so.  Samsung said they listened to their users with the new functions… though I really think they went in the opposite direction by taking away the SD card slot and removable battery — but I’m willing to give them a chance to see how it goes…


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