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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 tips and tricks

The Galaxy Note 5 is an exciting device, and whether you have one or are just reading up on it before you get one, there are a handful of things you need to know that may not be immediately apparent at first. We've already covered the first things you need to do with your Note 5, but for a more advanced lesson, we've rounded up a set of general tips and tricks for using the phone.

Read now: Galaxy Note 5 tips and tricks

Explore the camera settings

Galaxy Note 5 camera interface

The Note 5 has a pretty great camera, and while you can simply press the home button twice and start taking photos, there's a good group of settings that are worth looking at before you take too many shots. Open up your camera and press the settings icon (looks like a gear) to find some of them. Important settings to check out are grid lines, location tags and quick launch (which is on by default). Back in the main camera interface, you'll find more common settings, like picture size, flash and HDR in the sidebar. We recommend turning HDR to "auto" and leaving the flash off.

On the video side of things, the Note 5 is capable of 4K video but is set to 1080p by default in the settings menu. This is done because most of the extra features are disabled when shooting in 4K. If you want to keep HDR video, video effects, software stabilization, pictures while taking video and tracking autofocus, leave the phone in 1080p recording.

Once you have the camera settings tweaked just how you like them, you can know that the next time you quickly launch the camera you'll be taking just the right photo or video.

Switch camera modes for various situations

Galaxy Note 5 camera modes

Aside from the general camera settings, the Note 5 also has various camera modes you can switch to with a press of the "Mode" button in the camera interface. Not all of them are applicable to daily shooting, but a few are really great:

  • Pro mode gives you all the control you'd ever want — manual EV, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and focal points are here, along with RAW capture
  • Panorama lets you take sweeping shots of landscapes. Just hold the phone vertically and steadily to shoot!
  • Slow motion shoots super high frame rate video that can be slowed down selectively in the video editor after capture.
  • Live broadcast puts your video live straight to YouTube — just sign in with your Google Account and start sharing.

Turn on one-handed operation modes

Note 5 one-handed operation modes

The Note 5 is even easier to hold and manage thanks to smaller physical dimensions than the Note 4, but the 5.7-inch display is still a bit on the large side when you're trying to use it with one hand. Samsung has tweaked both of its "one-handed operation" modes in the latest software, but both still aim to make the software adjust when you don't have two hands free.

The first, and most useful, is "Reduce screen size" — with the setting turned on, you can press the home button three times quickly to shrink the screen down to roughly half size and pull it over to one side. You can then shift it between the left and right sides of the screen. The screen will be shrunk and completely functional at the smaller size, only returning to full size with another three presses of the home button or a tap of an on-screen button. It isn't a perfect feature, but the nice part about it is it's completely hidden until you need it.

The other feature is "One-handed input" — with this turned on, many of the input areas on the phone are shrunken and shifted to one side of the phone. Things like the lock screen PIN entry, Samsung keyboard, phone dialer pad and calculator all shift over to the side permanently until you turn the setting off. Considering it isn't as "on demand" as Reduce screen size, we don't really find this mode as useful on the Note 5.

Use a compatible fast charger

Note 5 fast charger

Samsung includes its Adaptive Fast Charging technology on the Note 5, but you'll only see the quick charging benefits if you use a compatible charger. Thankfully it isn't hard to get your hands on accessories that can push more power into your phone, but if you haven't had a phone with this tech before you may need to pick up something new.

The charger in the box with your Note 5 supports Fast Charging, as do any chargers that are branded as compatible with Qualcomm's Quick Charge standard. You can find wall chargers, car chargers and even portable batteries that support this now.

The Note 5 also supports faster wireless charging as well, though at the launch of the phone the only compatible charger is from Samsung itself — this will be more of a "futureproof" feature to have.

Find Quick Charge accessories at ShopAndroid

You always have Power Saving Mode, just in case

Note 5 Power Saving Modes

Even though the Note 5's battery can't be removed, for the most part battery longevity isn't an issue with this 3000 mAh cell. For the times when you have a long day ahead you're likely to spend a little time on a fast charger or with a battery pack, but if you really can't be tied down, remember you always have Power Saving Mode and even Ultra Power Saving Mode available to you.

Power Saving Mode will limit the CPU speed, reduce screen brightness, turn off vibrations and make a few other tweaks to increase battery life without majorly hitting the experience of using your Note 5. Depending on how you're using your phone Power Saving Mode could add 10 or even 15 percent to your battery life, and that's nothing to sneeze at. You can turn it on at any time, or have it triggered automatically at 5, 15, 20 or 50 percent battery level.

Ultra Power Saving mode is for those times where you absolutely have to have your phone on, but battery reserves are getting critically low. You'll have a black-and-white display, limited app use, no background mobile data and slower performance, but it's all about keeping the phone running as long as possible. Chances are you'll find a charger or battery before this mode needs to be flipped on.

The Note 5 has tons of sound and vibration settings

Note 5 sound settings

By default the Note 5 has a lot of sounds turned on, but you can turn them off to settle down your phone. Head into the settings and then find "Sound and notifications" to get started — tap "Ringtones and sounds" and toggle off useless sounds you don't want, like touch sounds, dialing keyboard tones and the screen lock sounds.

Dropping back to the main sounds menu, you can adjust the ringtone, media, notifications and system volume all independently, as well as adjust the vibration pattern and vibration intensity based on the kind of notification you're getting. Keep that phone from rattling off the table every time you get a text message.

Be sure to have a Samsung Account

Galaxy Note 5 Samsung account

Signing up for or signing into a Samsung account is part of the setup process for the Note 5, but if you happened to skip it, you should hop into the settings and get it done. It just takes a few steps to sign up for an account — you can even use your Google credentials — and a couple fewer to just sign into a current one.

You'll want to have a Samsung account on your phone for app and feature updates, which often come through the Galaxy Apps store, as well as Samsung's security features for finding and remote locking your phone. It takes just a few seconds to get done, and there's a serious upside.

C'mon, don't put the S Pen in backward

Note 5 S Pen

We suppose it has to be said — please, don't put the S Pen into your Note 5 backward.

The way it came out of the box is the way you put the S Pen back in your phone, and doing so any other way has a high chance of damaging the S Pen silo. This doesn't take a browsing of the manual or anything of that sort — just put it in the intended way.

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

46 Comments
  • If I could only take the Note 5 camera and camera software and install it in my Nexus 6 life would then be perfect. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If the Nexus 6 was a Note 5, I'd buy a Nexus 6.
  • Do what? So if the Note 5 had stock Android with S-Pen features you would be happy? To me that sounds like a dream come true. I'm all about it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Stock Android...no. Most people who buy skinned phones actually like the full feature set. Stock has its use and that is to be built upon...
  • ^^^^^ He knows most people. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If stock Android was so great, nexus phones would sell. Posted
  • Even as a note user I disagree. Samsung doesn't sell because of the ui. It sells because of things like the camera, screen and s pen. If they made a nexus note I think they'd get the Google fanboys on the shopping list as well. Pretty good chance I'd select that one as well. I don't hate TouchWiz but I alway use Google now launcher. Posted via the Android Central App
  • if the note 5 had stock, it wouldn't be a note 5 ... can't just strip the software and expect the same camera, pen features, etc
  • Sure you can, it's very possible to tone the UI down. At least make it look like Android and not some cartoonish silliness. Posted via the Android Central App
  • agreed that you can skim it down, I'm talking about stock though. can't turn a note into stock and expect the same battery life and camera quality
  • It's called "taste" and different people have different tastes. I don't think Touchwiz looks cartoony or silly, at all. And I like the new rounded icons on the Note 5. They look like Belle UI icons, and that's what I use. So if they tailored the UI to please you, I can guarantee they'd displease others. There's no ONE look to please everyone, least of all the "Pure Android" look.
  • It's not a matter of people having "different tastes", it's a matter of people not knowing any better and Samsung capitalizing on people's ignorance. Hell the average Samsung user doesn't even know what Stock Android even looks like and that's a dam shame. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Really so you decided on your own that jst because folks like sammy phones that they have no idea of other choices . Well that a very narrow minded view of the intelligence of people that buy Samsung phones . As for as the business sector if you where to subjectively look at what there using you'd see that it's ether a iPhone are a samsung phone and that's ether by choice are required by there employer . I've personally own a few goggle phone last one being moto x 2014 a nice phone but I got bored with it an gave it to my grandson then he traded it for a gs6 . A few have tried pure android but most get bored and end up with a samsung phone for keeps that's the facts Posted via the Android Central App
  • Exactly! The main selling point of Samsung devices is the amazing camera and video taking capability. The average user has know idea what touchwiz is. Yes Google Now Launcher is the absolute best! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes, Google Now launcher. The only launcher on the planet with fewer customization features than the Touchwiz launcher.
  • Google Now Launcher is about productivity and handling business. People in the real world, people in the business world are not worried about icon packs or app labels. It's about being productive and organized as possible and that's exactly what Google Now Launcher is designed to do. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think Nova Prime might be a better choice for many. Looks like the GNow Launcher but comes with way more customization options than even the stock TW launcher. The free one is already freely customizable, but I would really recommend Prime.
  • Whatever.................... Posted via the Android Central App
  • I plan on having my s6 edge on stock eventually when a rom is released Posted via the Android Central App
  • Another Pro Tip: If the Note 5 setup is similar to Note 4 wrt Samsung account, opt out of targeted marketing during setup, or go into your Samsung account profile and turn it off. Otherwise magazines will run expose articles about how the evil megacorp Samsung is pushing ads to your phone against your will.
  • I can't believe I CANNOT select whether I want an app to open once or everytime Posted via the Android Central App
  • I had this problem with the Note 3. Are you saying it's still not fixed!?
  • That is f ing awesome as a tip n trick. Basically don't be stupid and put your pen in backwards. Also if you have the choice, get a note 4 instead ........if you can find em.
  • I picked up a new Note 4 from AT&T for only $50, but when I checked last week they have now reduced that amount to zero (free).. I suppose to clear out their inventory.
  • Here's another tip. Root the phone and change a few build.prop values so your 4 GB note 5 doesn't run like it has 500 MB's of RAM. There's plenty of info online about this tweek and all other recent Samsung flagships can be improved using the same build. prop changes. It's really easy. The same values should work on the note 5/edge +. Many have already discussed it on XDA. Otherwise it might hurt a bit more when you watch the note 5 get smoked in multitasking by an iPhone 6 with 1 GB of RAM in speed tests on youtube
  • If rooting disables Samsung Pay (and if I had a Note 5), I wouldn't root. The half second it takes to reload an app wouldn't bother me. And contrary to what some bozos say, you don't lose information you were typing into an app when it reloads. At least that doesn't happen to me on my (rooted) Note 4.
  • And it's official, you have no idea what you are talking about. You even troll people who you should be agreeing with. Oh well have fun with your new RAM management update. Should make your Note 4 run like a rusty lawn mower from 1978. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It can take a whole lot longer than a half second to reload many apps and Web pages on your note 4. Your phone runs like it has 500 MBs of RAM. It's pathetic
  • Every phone is optimized different . The fact that the iPhone an open a app faster is highly subjective and not very scientific. Are we forgetting that the n5 is powering a 2k screen opposed to a 1080 p . I mean my lumia 1520 is crazy fast and battery last 2 days but like apple it's. A watered down lite duty of a phone. Which is why it's in my draw must of the time . My n5 is crazy fast for My day to day needs which what really matters in the end day to day use I'll gladly give up a spit second for the more capable phone Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's pathetic that we even have to do this. I don't think this is a bug. If it really is that simple to fix, then I assume that Samsung put it there by design for whatever reason. With that tweak, the Note 5 is officially the most powerful Android device in existence.
  • Could you point me in the direction of a clear guideline for this?
  • I may day that I was dead set against this phone when it was announced, but the reviews are starting to win me over. I still believe that I would lose some pretty big things, that I've found very useful by "upgrading" from my Note 4. However, I'm impressed with the software changes and performance of the phone. So, still NOT going to upgrade... Yet. I'm going to wait and see what the new Nexus phones are like, see what LG and Sony release, and see what this new Galaxy Note 5 Active rumor pans into . If those options do not turn into anything impressive, Galaxy Note 5 it is... Posted via the Android Central App
  • U must resist. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Must not resist*** Posted via the Android Central App
  • And what's your point of trying to talk somebody out of buying the phone they really like . Just cause you don't like it live and let live that's my motto Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm on the fence about whether to buy one of these or not. I loved the Note 3 tho battery life sucked and am on a OnePlus One right now but the SPen on a blank screen is a feature that has my curiosity peaked. However, I've been looking online for some of the N5 accessories and cannot find them to buy. Where can one buy the fast wireless charger and battery packs and such? Also, I'm in Canada and no one seems to be offering the 64gb version so was considering bringing one in from Taiwan (it's also dual sim). The band is the same as my carrier so it'll work, but are there other issues with importing? It's gonna ask me the language at startup, right? I'm not screwing myself over by not buying from an English-speaking country, am I?
  • I wouldn't worry about changing the language that option is on every smartphone. As far as the accessories they will come . If you want a 64 gig buy a international phone . Now get off that fence ouch Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol I laughed at the last one. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That last one, doe.
  • *though*... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Really, dude? You didn't notice that I purposely spelled that wrongly? Posted from the LG G4 "Spigen + Anime" Edition. It says "Pointy end of the S Pen goes into the slot first. NOT the other way around".
  • Hi ! I'm "baten_molla250" a new tweet but logged out. Would you please help me to reset my password & login ? I have been trying three or more months for the job but faild . I'm thanking you to keep my a/c alive. Please reply me, soon. Bye !
  • I just got note 5 and stored by Note edge. Want to ask from Samsung why the have removed Punjabi language. No needed to take SD memory card. Please update with Punjabi Language asap.
    Do you guys think that this forum read by Samsung or Android. Android should look into this.
  • I am really bummed that they changed Car Mode on the Note 5. Car Mode allowed me to send and receive text message audibly on my Note 4 in my 2011 Cadillac. The note 5 has something new that my car does not recognize. I have search for days and talked with Verizon people and cant find a fix. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Terri
  • How rooting note 5.
  • Tons of sounds, eh. I have tons of sounds, too. Too bad my STUPID GALAXY NOTE 5 won't find them when I'm trying to set individual ringtones for people. And taking away the SD card?! Are you KIDDING me?! WHAT IS THE FREAKING POINT?!?! And ONLY TWO icons on the lock screen?! How do you get to decide what WE THE PAYING CUSTOMER finds useful?! One of these days I would LOVE to get a survey that asks "what should we put into our NEXT phone" rather than a survey that asks "how did you like our last phone." I hated your last phone! Here's what your next one needs.....