Skip to main content

10 things to know about the Galaxy Note 5

Samsung has brought the Galaxy S and Note lines closer together in 2015, with the Note 5 having very similar design to the smaller Galaxy S6 as well as many of the same internals and features. That doesn't mean that this is the same phone as the GS6, though — there's still plenty here to differentiate it, and keep its title as a Galaxy Note. Here's what you need to know.

Read now: 10 things to know about the Galaxy Note 5

It's actually physically smaller than the Note 4

Galaxy Note 5 and Note 4

Despite having the same 5.7-inch screen size as the Note 4, the Note 5 is physically smaller in every dimension. It's actually only a touch bigger than the LG G4, despite having a larger screen. That means the Note 5 is easier to hold in one hand and operate, and it's thanks to the new metal-and-glass design — the only downside is no longer being able to remove the battery.

But let's be realistic, this is still a phone with a 5.7-inch screen, and that means it may cause you issues when reaching to the status bar or using it in one hand. If you absolutely must be able to do everything on the phone without the use of both hands, you may still consider a Galaxy S6

This is the same great camera as the Galaxy S6

Galaxy Note 5 camera interface

There's been no shortage of good things said about the camera experience on the Galaxy S6, and Samsung has brought over that same exact experience to the Note 5. You get a 16MP sensor, but this isn't just about the number of pixels — it has great low light sensitivity, is supported by OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) and a simple camera interface that makes taking pictures quickly and accurately a breeze. Add in the ability to launch the camera at any time with two presses of the home button, and you've got a winner.

The Note 5 does have a few extra camera software features over the Galaxy S6, though — including RAW capture in the "Pro" mode, better software video stabilization, and the ability to set manual shutter speeds — between 1/24000 and 10 seconds — in the Pro mode.

You can do more with the latest S Pen

Galaxy Note 5 S Pen Air Command

Galaxy Notes are known for their S Pens, and the Note 5 builds on this legacy nicely. The new S Pen is roughly the same physically as previous models, but stores fully in the phone and retracts with the click of a button — pretty neat trick. When you take out the S Pen with the screen off you can instantly write on the black screen to take a quick note, and save it to S Note for further editing. You can also still launch Air Command with the S Pen, giving you quick access to apps that work with the pen (plus any other apps you want). There's now built-in PDF annotation as well.

The Screen Write app — compatible only with the Note 5 — also gives you the ability to screenshot multiple screens (like a long list of directions or an online article) and automatically stitch them together for future annotating and reference. All of these little tricks add up to a great stylus experience, if that's what you want or need from your phone.

Perhaps most importantly is the fact that you don't lose S Pen functionality if you choose to go with a third-party launcher. So even if you don't like the look of Samsung's stock offering or prefer to have extra features of another launcher, you can keep using the S Pen as well.

No more swiping: You get a new one-touch fingerprint sensor

Note 5 fingerprint sensor

Samsung started early with fingerprint sensors embedded in the home buttons of the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4, but they were slightly clumsy because they required fully swiping your finger over them. Thankfully with the Galaxy S6 samsung put in a new-and-improved sensor that just required a simple touch, and that new technology is here in the Note 5 as well.

It only takes a minute to train the phone to recognize each one of your fingers — usually your index fingers and thumbs are good choices — and you can use the sensor to unlock your phone, "private mode" for sensitive data, KNOX for full security and several other apps that have integrated with the sensor. It works quick, is super secure, and best of all is easy to manage.

Multitask all you want with 4GB of RAM

Galaxy Note 5 RAM usage

It was a pretty easy guess that phone makers would start to move toward 4GB of RAM in phones, and Samsung has done just that with the Galaxy Note 5. Bumping up from 3GB in the Note 4, you now have just a little more room to work with when it comes to playing intensive games, running multiple apps at once and keeping background tasks active while jumping back and forth between them quickly.

But perhaps most importantly, having 4GB of RAM inside the Note 5 means you have that extra bit of headroom to know your phone is ready for the future. Whether it's bigger and better apps or full software updates, one or two years down the road you can know that you have enough RAM to handle what's coming next.

Though the screen is still 5.7-inches, you can see more

Galaxy Note 5 launcher close-up

Though the screen is still 5.7-inches and 2560x1440 resolution like the Note 4, the Note 5 has a higher screen density that lets more content fit on the same screen. Display density is defined on a system level and tells the phone how to render content to fill each pixel on the screen — in the case of the Note 5 that density is higher, meaning apps, icons, text and content all show up physically smaller on the screen than they do on the Note 4.

The density works out to be about the same as the Galaxy S6, meaning items on the screen are physically as large as they are on the GS6, but since you have a larger screen you can just show more of those items. So instead of the 5.7-inch display just making things bigger, it gives you more of them.

It's easier to just see than explain, but the end result is very practical — in Gmail or Hangouts you can see a couple more messages in your inbox, in all apps the navigation bars and interface is scaled down to show you more important content, and when the keyboard is open you can see just a little more in the app still.

It honestly takes a little getting used to when coming from something like the Note 4, and may actually cause usability issues for those who bought a Note 5 specifically to see things larger because they have trouble seeing smaller phones. But for most people, this is an upgrade — actually making use of the large display to simply do more.

There's quick charge, both wired and wireless

Galaxy Note 5 quick charging

The Galaxy Note 5's battery may not be removable, but there are more (and better) options for charging it. Samsung's latest fast charging technology will boost your battery quickly when plugged in so long as you have the proper charger (like the one in the box).

There's also wireless charging built-in, and going a step further than the Galaxy S6 the Note 5 supports fast wireless charging on compatible chargers. You can still expect wireless to be slower than an old-fashioned cable, but you just can't beat the simplicity of just placing it on a charger for a quick power-up.

One-handed usability options

Galaxy Note 5 one-handed operation

Samsung has included one-handed usability options on previous Note phones, letting you tweak the software somewhat to make it easier to manage on a large-screened device. The Note 5 has some features still, but they've been changed yet again.

First up is "Reduce screen size," which is activated with three presses of the home button. It shrinks the screen down (proportionately) to roughly half its usual size in a window, and pulls it over to either the left or right side as you choose. The window stays this size until you tap a button to restore it, so you can hopefully do what you need to do while you can reach the whole "screen" area.

Next is "One-handed input," which is a setting that permanently shifts areas of the interface down and to the right or left corner. The dialer keypad, Samsung keyboard, in-call buttons, calculator and lock screen pattern area are all shrunken to be easier to use, and they stay that way until you go back to the settings.

Both features make it a little easier to deal with the large screen, but they're both a little clumsy and are only useful for a handful of interactions with the phone. There are still lots of things that will best be dealt with using both of your hands, or at a later time when you have better control over the phone.

The Note 5 is ready for Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay

Paired up with the launch of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ was the public availability of Samsung Pay, the company's payment solution that lets your phone work for payments via both NFC and MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) at virtually every store that accepts credit cards. The system looks promising, and the Note 5 is one of the handful of devices from Samsung that's ready to go when Samsung Pay launches.

You'll have to wait until the end of September to use it in the U.S., but know that when you get a Note 5 you'll be ready to go if you want to be one of the first to try out the new payment technology.

The Note 5 is pretty expensive

Galaxy Note 5 box

Though the Note 5 shares many design traits with the Galaxy S6, the price is clearly a step higher than the smaller phone as has historically been the case with the Note line. Depending on which U.S. carrier you buy from, you can expect to pay between $700 and $840 for the 32GB model, with 64GB storage costing an extra $100.

That's not cheap, and though the carriers all offer some sort of financing plan to spread out payments over a year or two, the total is still the same — and it's a really high price to pay for all of this shiny metal and high-end tech.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

252 Comments
  • Oh well
    G4 it is Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nah, might as well wait for android m devices at this point unless your phone is really hurtin. Not far off at this point
  • LOL, good one!
  • LG's software is crap compared to Samsgungs.
  • Haha this guy. I have no lag on my G4. I had a note 2 for about 3 years and lagged, not a lot, but enough to notice. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Retired my note 4 and canceled my pre-order of the Note 5 ..they lost me with this - wife and I both purchased G4's - nothing bad to say about em at all..then throw in the $100 rebate, all great.
  • The butthurt is strong with this one.
  • Where? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I did the same exact thing. Samsung is on my shit list for a long time. Had a Note 2 for 2 years (it lagged significantly) but really, to me at least, was the first "true' note phone to make a big splash. After 2+ years I bought Note 4, it lagged just as bad right out of the box. I should have returned it right away but I thought it would get better. Long story short I sold my Note 4 at a loss, bought a G4 and love it, no lag what so ever. I'm so over Samsung's laggy phones, I won't be going back to themanytime soon. All that big hardware is useless with no software optimization!
  • I had the note2, 3 and note 4. They all lagged and wondered why other phones like iPhone didnt... never found out why. About 2 month ago I updated my verizon note 4. Never heard this was a big update but it finally fixed the lag issue. Thanks Samsung. Finially! But now they are killing battery replacement and ir blaster so gonna stick with 4 or switch. Ps. Having 12 remotes on one screen is sick. So is the spen for signing documents and drawing. A 6400+ battery means no charging all day long...
  • i've return my G4..
    I love EVERYTHING except battery life, thats why i returned G4.
    so sad, but im glad I returned.
    today i switched to ATT from Sprint for BETTER service.
    i just went with note 5 but my line and 2nd line got each 400 bucks(200switching credit+200 trade in )
  • Hate when morons come here to talk about other phones .This phone is sic and very nice. memory cards and extra batteries are things of the past.Phone comes with fast charging and extra gb if needed.
  • The higher screen density is pretty great, I wanted that on my Note 4.
  • Took a little getting used to coming from the Note 4, but it's a better choice overall. Get more out of the screen.
  • I've never understood why, up until recently, most manufacturers have opted to stick with four columns on their stock launcher despite larger and higher resolution screens. Not to mention seeing more content in general. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's one of the many reasons I replaced the Touchwiz launcher with Smart Launcher Pro 3. Nova Prime is also a great solution to that problem.
  • Changing the launcher doesn't change the DPI of the whole phone. The GS6 and Note 5 have an option to be 4x4, 4x5 or 5x5 grid, that hasn't changed. The DPI changes everything about the phone, not just icon size. It changes how all apps look and work, giving you more content on the screen by scaling down interface elements like toolbars, text and icons.
  • I was just talking about the difference between launcher home screens. Nova Prime/Smart Launcher lets me set the icon size so that I don't have to look at the huge icons taking up so much space in Touchwiz.
  • Have you seen 1DPI? I took a screenshot when I tried it. It's like a tablet. Posted from a metal Nexus
  • No idea what you're talking about.
  • It's an app. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah it is. It can finally take full advantage of the super high resolution display now. I had a note 4 for about a month which I used alongside my current iPhone 6 plus. The note was superior in screen quality when it came to videos and pictures but in things like web browsing and APS the 6 plus looked just the same or in some cases better than the note 4 because the content was better adapted to the display. Posted from my nexus 7 2013
  • Note 5 and Note 4 are using the same screen part number.
  • +1000000000, the dpi is the same on the Note 4 and Note 5. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That unlocked price tho..... Posted via the ONE M9
  • Care to try a full sentence? Posted via the Android Central App
  • That unlocked price though sucks hella bad. My wife would murder me.....literally kill me....if I spent almost $1000 on a phone. That's a nice weekend in Vegas. That's an Xbox and PS3 plus games. That's enough money for other things than just a phone.
  • This.. Haha Posted via the Android Central App
  • how bout a Moto Pure, Moto G and Chromebook?!
  • The bitter taste of poor quality lingers long after the sweet taste of low price is forgotten.
  • The Moto X pure is not of poor quality in any way. It's a high end flagship with a midrange price
  • Motorola lost me as a customer when they took away SIM card slots. Thus my current Note 4. Also why I won't buy a Note 5.
  • I assume that you meant SD card slots... that being the case the new Moto X pure actually does have an SD card slot.
  • well... think of it this way... $1000 is less half the cost a decent Vegas hooker.
  • hey sucks it up lol. who wears the pants anyways. I got my note 4, ps4, new laptop and gta5, bf4, assassins creed unity, and cod AW. CAMERA. and network cards all in the same week. spend some money on yourself. the note 5 is more of an asset
  • I not going to say it's not expensive, but remember this is pretty much a computer in your pocket, what can it not do? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nothing more than the Moto X Pure at half the price, really..
  • It can't make me dinner or have sex with me.
  • Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • It cannot, not lag!
  • Are you married?? And do you work at Amazon?? Who the hell has money for all that in one week and still able to pay rent, groceries, and other things??? Good on you man. If you're single....then stay single....and keep on splurging on yourself.
  • I know right? Once you have kids, those splurges cease to exist! Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Definately the best smartphone's ever built IMO when it comes to hardware, and it'll still be better, more powerful hardware than the iPhone 6s after it launches too. But I will say, if this terrible RAM management continues and the phone isn't able to hold far more than 3 to 5 recent apps in memory, then you're fired Samsung !!!! No excuses. You already unforgivably screwed S6 owners, now get your shit right this time
  • +1 Posted From my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface pro 3
  • My S6 runs just fine Posted via the Android Central App
  • yeah just taking hardware into consideration, definitely the best smartphone there is ... hopefully their RAM management will improve this year.
  • #6 - it's overpriced and maybe worth half what you paid 6 months later..... Posted via the Android Central App
  • All phones are that way though. Posted Via my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 using the AT&T Network.
  • Just like cars... Posted via the Android Central App
  • And hair dryers MIC DROP
  • And wives ***makes sure the coast is clear, hits send*** Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol Posted From my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface pro 3
  • Like you ever had a relationship.. :)
  • He's married. Google knows why kids love the taste of cinnamon toast crunch. And they're willing to sell it to you.
  • I came out of my basement.... Once... Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not iPhones.
  • Just because people pay more, doesn't mean it's actually worth that much. ;) Posted via Android Central App
  • They are worth what someone will pay, not one cent more, which is always more than a used Android. They just hold more resale value, period.
  • Just because you may be able to convince a complete idiot to pay $200 for a $5 hat, does not make that hat worth $200. It makes the buyer an idiot. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You've just convinced me to get into the business of selling hats...
  • No, that makes the hat worth $200, because someone paid it. May be worth it to only that person, but still........
  • Quote of the day LOL
  • That is true. But people pay a lot of money for a lot of things that aren't worth the cost... Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich sold for $28k. People who like Apple see the "premium value" as a social standing.
  • That's because they unlike android have only one manufacturer, you locked into no choice so the phone retains value. Android is flooded with manufacturers. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Uh huh. Okay.
  • Excited for this phone.
  • My question is, beyond the new features for the SPen, does this list of features apply to the GS6E+ i.e. Screen density, raw mode/the other new camera features, etc? Posted via Android Central App
  • Yes.
  • What's this screen density nonsense, the Note 4 and Note 5 have the same exact screen, I am able to fit 12 icons horizontally and vertically on my Note 4 using Nova Launcher, and also scale icons to the size I like, it looks like Samsung is a bit late to the game on this, apparently many people in here have been living in a cave. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Man I wish I could get behind this phone. I love the concept of the Note. Replaceable battery and SD expansion. So we forgoe those and we are left with software. I can't believe how much lag I get on S6 edge. Camera and display are great but that's where it ends. Really wish Sammy could tone TW way down. I just bought Nexus 6 to tie me over until Nexus 2015. Sorry for the hating but with all these hardware specs these devices should fly. They work well for couple days but.... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lag? What is this lag you speak of? Posted via my 1 year old One that's begging to be replaced.
  • When you make a comment like that, you should probably disable the signature first :)
  • ... unless his sig is for the One M8, which does not have memory management issues and can smoothly handle 25 open apps at the same time ;) Posted via the Android Central App
  • But still is begging to be replaced
  • Yep, I own a Oneplus One, and I have no shame. It does truly run smooth, but there are other reasons I want a different device. Posted via my 1 year old One that's begging to be replaced.
  • Once you use a Nexus device, you will understand, until then, don't comment. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm using a Nexus device, have so for almost 2 years and I can still say that anyone who still claims that Samsung devices lag is a troll that is letting bias do the talking and/or hasn't actually used a Samsung device for several years. Posted via Android Central App
  • I have a Nexus 4 and S4. Both actually still run surprisingly smooth. The S4 does lag though.
  • I own both, a Nexus 6 and Note 4, the Nexus 6 is smoother and quicker than the Note 4, sorry there is no way to sugar coat it, not saying the Note 4 is a bad device, but with the same hardware as the Nexus 6 it should be just as smooth and nimble, which it is not, it's TW that is holding it back, also when there is any kind of software update, the Nexus 6 has around 200 apps that need to be updated while the Note 4 has close to 400 "Samsung bloatware". Posted via the Android Central App
  • Had a Nexus 4. Ran smooth, but it was a wall hugger. Glass remained intact though. Posted via my 1 year old