Well, they’ve finally been announced and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ certainly puts a line under its previous plastic-clad phones in favour of all-metal builds more in-keeping with their premium prices.
Samsung has announced two new large high-end Android handsets at a special press gathering instead of waiting for IFA, which is its usual way of unpacking its handsets: the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5. Both phones have 5.7-inch (14.5cm) screens and are going on sale earlier in the year than their previous generations. So, apart from the premium design and build what else is there to tempt you away from the Note 4?
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ shares the curved glass screen of its smaller sibling and, like the Note 5, is rocking a 5.7-inch quad HD display. The Note 5 has better specs than the previous iteration and comes packing an S-Pen. So far it looks like the new super-sized Samsung Galaxies have everything you want – well, apart from a microSD card slot and replaceable battery.
Yup, those two useful things have followed the Samsung cull which first irked people looking at the Galaxy S6 and could well be a deal breaker for some long-standing Note users.
I very much doubt anyone will be missing the textured plastic shell though as the latest is clothed in a metal unibody.
At 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm, its dimensions are slightly more compact than last year’s, and it also weighs a few grams less than the Galaxy Note 4, 171g vs 176g. The curved back will also help it feel thinner and more comfortable in the hand.
Other decidedly S6-esque features include a rear heart-rate sensor and LED flash that have moved to the side of the centre camera module, and the same array of microphone, microUSB port, and speaker grille on the bottom.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is targeted at those who want a “phablet”-sized handset with curved sides. The “plus” in its name refers to the fact that its screen is both 0.6-inch (1.5cm) larger than the earlier edition and more scratch-resistant. It also has an extra gigabyte of memory, taking it up to 4GB of RAM to aid multi-tasking, but uses the same in-house Exynos processor as before. This marks a change from the S5 Plus, which was the same size but contained a faster processor than the original S5.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 keeps the same 5.7-inch display size and Super AMOLED technology for good reason: it’s among the best looking screens out there.
With a quad HD 2560 x 1440 resolution and pixel-packed 518 pixels per inch, it’s hard not to like what’s behind this Gorilla Glass 4 display.
On paper, it’s not quite as pixel-dense as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which tout a 577ppi. But that’s just because that same resolution is stretched out over a larger screen area. I should reckon that it hardly makes a visible difference.
Samsung ditched Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor with the Galaxy S6, and it hasn’t looked back, employing the same Exynos 7420 Octa-core as its smaller flagship phone.
It combines the power of a 2.1 GHz quad-core (Cortex-A57) + 1.5 GHz quad-core (Cortex-A53) chip which smashed most reviewer’s benchmark tests.
Just don’t expect to store everything you own on your Galaxy Note 5. Its internal storage is limited to 32GB and 64GB, whereas the S6 and the iPhone 6 Plus reach 128GB. Remember – there’s no SD card expansion here either!
With Android 5.1 on-board and Samsung Pay, the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ do seem to be pretty swish specs-wise.
The latest Samsung Galaxy phones benefit from the best-in-class S6 camera, with its 16MP sensor and f/1.9 aperture. Only the LG G4 comes close to its quality.
What’s new is that Samsung is using the Galaxy Note 5 to debut its support of RAW photos as well as a button in their camera apps which activates a “live broadcast” mode. This streams 1080p high definition video to YouTube and sends invitations to selected acquaintances.
Most people don’t splurge for the Note series for the camera, but it’s great to see that Samsung hasn’t ignored the camera smarts on its new phones. Photos will look extra nice on the 5.7-inch quad HD display too.
I am happy to see that the new phablets support the ultra-high quality audio (UHQA) format. A new hardware component means there should be “less sound distortion” when files saved in the codec are played. Users can also use bundled software to “upscale” existing MP3s.
Samsung stuck its 2015 phablet with a smaller 3,000mAh battery, while the Note 4 had a larger 3,220mAh battery. Now you know how it shaved down those dimensions.
That’s an even more alarming trade-off to power users who are used to swapping of the battery by carrying an extra one with them. You won’t be able to do that with the Note 5 or S6 Edge+ as their battery compartments are sealed shut.
Both options are claimed to be faster than those found on the Galaxy S6 with wired charging taking as little as 90 minutes for a full charge, and going wireless is up to twice as fast than a regular wireless pad.
S-Pen, Samsung Pay, Keyboard and fingerprint sensor
The Note 5 introduces the next-generation S-Pen and a few new meaningful capabilities.
The scroll capture feature allows you to be able to screenshot an entire webpage and then annotate it with a few simple stylus clicks. That’s pretty handy and means that you don’t have to move over to a full tablet or laptop in order to do similar.
Samsung has significantly improved the fingerprint sensor in the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, and that’s the one you’ll find in the Note 5 and S6 Edge+. This makes perfect sense as the biometric home button is up and ready for next month’s Samsung Pay roll out throughout the US. It’s protected by Knox and apparently ready to go.
The Galaxy Note 5 and S6+ Edge can be used with a case that doubles as a physical Qwerty keyboard to aid typing although, according to Mashable, it’s not that great. The $80 addition seems to have flat keys which could lead to inadvertent multiple key presses. Anyone that has used a BlackBerry or even one of the Nokia Qwerty phones will recall how their keys were shaped in order to avoid this. You would have thought that Samsung would have taken ‘note’ of that.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 or Galaxy S6 Edge+?
The Note 5 is the one if you are looking for a phablet which will keep you productive and so is the one to go for if you plan to use it for work stuff. As for the S6 Edge+, it lacks both the stylus and the Note 5’s productivity software instead focusing on upgrading the screen edge functionality seen in the S6 Edge.
This means you get:
- ‘Information Stream’ (headlines scroll on the screen edge)
- ‘Night Clock’ (time shows on the edge at night)
- ‘People Edge’ (swiping the top right corner brings up favourite contacts), and
- ‘Edge Lighting’ (colour specific edge lighting when favourite contacts call).
On top of this the S6 Edge+ also has enhanced People Edge so it can send photos and emoticons. These changes will also come to the Galaxy S6 Edge in time.
Both the S6 Edge+ and Note 5 also support ‘SideSync’ which allows owners to handle phone tasks on their computers such as seamlessly transferring phone calls, files and even playing mobile games on your PC. For now this is Windows-only.
Launching in the US on September 28, the Samsung Pay digital wallet is likely to beat the mysteriously delayed Android Pay from Google, which may not launch until Android M arrives. Samsung Pay could mount a challenge to Apple Pay with its support of NFC (Near Field Communication) and MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) for wider compatibility.
Samsung has opted not to launch the stylus-controlled Galaxy Note 5 in Europe – at least for now which, in my mind, is a mistake but I am sure that Sammy has its reasons which are probably marketing-based. The Samsung Galaxy S6+ Edge will land in the UK “soon”.
If you’re looking to buy one outright I’d suggest having at least £600 at the ready. You can pre-order from the Samsung website.