The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is shipping a little earlier than the Aug. 21 date we were given last week, and that's just fine with us. We've been using an international model for a few days and now have Verizon's Note 5 in our hot little hands. And because this is Verizon we're talking about here, that means there are going to be some ... peculiarities compared to other models.
And, lo and behold, that's the case.
Here's what we've seen so far:
This damned sticker
I don't know what it is. I don't want to know what it is, or what it links to. I just want it off the otherwise gorgeous back of this phone.
We've taken Verizon to task any number of times for sticking silly things on the body of its phones. But this is the first time we can recall it doing so in the literal sense.
Bad, Verizon! Bad!
This is always a good out-of-box question. I picked up a 64-gigabyte model of the Note 5. At first boot, after updating all the Google apps that needed updating, I had a smidge more than 50GB available for everything else. That's not awful. (And as it turns out, base installs of my usual apps have taken me down to about 49GB.)
This is a carrier-branded phone, and that means bloatware! Verizon has all of its usual Verizon apps that I'll never touch once I've disabled them. But it's also got a number of games that I'd never in a million years want to play, including Cookie Jam, Empire, Panda Pop, Sugar Smash and Tubular Trains. (I might have made that last one up.)
The bad news is that Verizon still thinks it's OK to do this. The good news is at least you can actually uninstall them.
And one interesting, erm, note is that a number of the Google apps we're used to seeing preinstalled — Google+, Play Games, Books, Newsstand and others — aren't preloaded. Gotta save space for those games, I guess.
Another thing that's not a given — but it definitely seems like it's been getting better — is whether a new phone works with Android Auto out of the box. I'm happy to report that — at least for me — the Note 5 connected without a hitch.
OK, mostly without a hitch. I had to manually change the USB connection to MTP (do so in the notification pull-down), and then on the phone choose to use Android Auto and not Verizon's in-car app — neither of which is a particularly good user experience, even for someone who mostly knows what he's doing.
But at least it works.
These are the early days of the Note 5. And already this is very much looking like it's the phone a lot of folks wanted the Galaxy S6 to be. (Well, in some ways. And still missing features in others.)
So we'll have tons more here on the blog in the coming days. And be sure to swing by our Note 5 forums for even more!