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Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review: A Galaxy S6 Edge+ variant with a stylus

Christopher Minasians Katharine Byrne
18 Jan 2017
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
440
inc VAT

A beautiful screen and excellent performance, but the Note 5 is trickier to hold than its curved edge sibling

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 2.1GHz & quad-core 1.5GHz Samsung Exynos 7420, Screen Size: 5.7in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,440, Rear camera: 16 megapixels, Storage (free): 32GB (25GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 153x76x7.6mm, Weight: 171g, Operating system: Android 5.1.1

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review: Performance

At the heart of the smartphone is Samsung's octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset, the same chip used in the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, as well as the S6 Edge+. This has a 2.1GHz, quad-core CPU for when the phone needs to perform powerful tasks, and a battery-saving 1.5GHz quad-core CPU for less intensive work. It also has 4GB of RAM at its disposal, too, giving it the same specification as the S6 Edge+.

However, despite all four of Samsung's flagships sharing the same SoC, I've seen a wide range of results across the board in our suite of benchmarks. The S6 Edge leads the way in almost every test apart from Peacekeeper, but luckily, the Note 5 isn't far behind, as its Geekbench 3 scores of 1,394 in the single core test and 4,493 in the multicore test put it second in terms of raw processing speed. More importantly, it's just ahead of the S6 Edge+, although the difference is so small that you're unlikely to notice it in everyday use.

Either way, the Note 5 is exceedingly quick. Apps open in a heartbeat and Samsung's TouchWiz interface for Android 5.1.1 feels super slick and responsive. Likewise, with a Peacekeeper score of 1,410, web browsing was silky smooth. Web pages loaded in no time at all and scrolling down pages was as quick and seamless as could possibly be.

The Note 5's gaming performance is equally exceptional, as its 1,528 frames in GFX Bench GL's offscreen Manhattan test equate to an impressive 25fps. It's not quite as fast as Sony's Xperia Z5, mind, but this is still more than enough to handle any type of game on the Google Play Store, as everything from Hearthstone to Alphabear ran perfectly smoothly.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review: Battery Life

Samsung has fitted a 3,000mAh battery into the Note 5, which is the same size as the one in the S6 Edge+. However, despite sharing the same battery, the Note 5 finished our continuous video playback test almost 40 minutes behind the S6 Edge+, lasting 12h 43m with the screen set to 170cd/m2.

This makes it the shortest battery life of all Samsung's 2015 flagship phones, which is disappointing considering its size. It's also rather confusing, as beside the curved edge display everything else on these phones is identical. There's some statistical variation in the test of course, but not enough to account for this much difference. It's possible that Samsung has tweaked the firmware in the intervening weeks but even then that shouldn't have negatively impacted the battery to such an extent in such a simple test.

That said, it's still pretty respectable and should be more than enough to last the day under normal use. Of course, like the rest of the S6 family, the Note 5 doesn’t have a replaceable battery, but it does support fast-charging and wireless charging, making it easy to top-up when you're on the move.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review: Storage

There’s no microSD card slot, so you have to make do with the storage on the phone. There are 32GB and 64GB versions, which should be enough storage for most people, although a 128GB version would have been nice.

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