Despite a couple of flaws Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Duos remains a superior package and still stands out, contends Himanshu Juneja
Samsung recently introduced the much expected dual SIM version of the Galaxy Note 5. After drawing criticism for the missing microSD card slot and the removable battery option, expectations were high that Samsung will at least try to undo a part of their mistake. Those hopes were dashed when the dual SIM slot was confirmed instead of a hybrid one.
With dipping profits and tight competition, Samsung seems to have enhanced one of its more bankable products. Despite missing the hugely popular features, Galaxy Note 5 still remains very capable and boosted with a dual SIM option, maybe it will show better traction among customers.
Here is a quick reminder why the phablet still remains a strong contender in its category.
The Note series gets a huge shot in the arm with the Note 5 iteration. Samsung dumped the plastic and faux leather construction from previous edition, opting for a much more classier glass and metal combination. Grade 7000 series aluminium lends the confidence against bendgates.
The back glass has been given a curved shape, but the sides sport the same scheme. This allows the user to establish a firm grip despite the phablet's size. The phone measures 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm, and weighs 171 gms.
Not only is the construction a huge jump from previous iterations of the Note series, Samsung has also addressed one of the longest standing complaint from the fans and critics alike.
Galaxy Note 5 has been provided with the signature Super AMOLED screen. The 5.7-inch HD display confirms the phablet tag for this phone, and is one of its major selling points.
With a resolution of 1440 x 2560 p, the 518 pixel density ensures that the vibrant colours are accompanied by crisp text as well. Gorilla Glass 4 protection is all the more reassuring. A strong point for the display is the brilliant brightness level. This boosts the readability under direct sunlight. The display is, without a doubt, class leading.
The 4G enabled device seems to have pulled a fast one on the loyal fans. With the missing microSD card slot, and the non removable battery, the device has (and rightfully so, to some extent) drawn flak for the missing features. Apart from that, Note 5 has maintained its image of being an absolute beast in terms of processing power and specifications.
Samsung decided to steer clear from the fiery Snapdragon 810 SoC, and preferred its own Octacore Exynos 7420 chipset. With a Quad core Cortex A57 (clocked at 2.1 GHz) and a Quad core Cortex A53 (clocked at 1.5 GHz) the phone is well equipped with processing power. The Mali T760MP8 GPU along with a generous 4 GB RAM makes up for a very strong configuration.
Touchwiz remains Samsung's preferred skin, and Note 5 comes with Android Lollipop (ver 5.1.1) as the underlying OS. Samsung has been paying heed to the criticism, and apart from construction material, Touchwiz also gets a face lift. An improved custom UI while keeping the bloatware to acceptable levels has proved to be a good dual-pronged approach.
Some of the Samsung features like the multimedia gallery and the music app pip even the apps from Google, as they load easily and get the job done effectively as well. There is still scope, like avoiding the excessively bundled apps like S planner, S voice, the internet explorer, since Google provides superlative options to these, but Touchwiz has been changed a good deal from earliest days, and this is a very welcome change.
The connectivity features include options like WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC and wireless charging.
Stylus and revamped software
The stylus on the Note 5 remains the distinctive feature on Samsung's phablet, and invariably catches the eye of those looking for an enterprise solution. The plastic stylus can now be summoned into action with an ejecting mechanism. The Air command center also pops up once the stylus is out. This time round, the options within Air command have been made more colourful for distinctiveness.
The off screen writing mode allows users to scribble some last minute information easily, with the jotted information getting saved via S Notes app. Another superb feature allows the user to capture an entire page as a screenshot, which will come in handy during office use and otherwise as well.
One small, yet massively useful improvement is, that if inserted incorrectly, a small internal tab allows for a damage free removal of the stylus. Earlier, this usually led to a broken detection mechanism. Users can surely heave a big sigh of relief.
It was imperative that Samsung's payment system gets a mention. More so, with Marshmallow now allowing native support for the finger print scanner, users can look forward to better implementation of the feature. But Samsung is in no mood to wait.
The fingerprint scanner works like a charm with users now only needing to place the digit on the scanner. And with Samsung Pay, the company has a huge head start over Android Pay and Apple Pay features. A huge chunk of compliment is reserved for the MST protocol, which makes Samsung Pay a hit at even the non NFC compatible stores. The protocol mimics card swiping method, allowing Samsung Pay to make its mark at the most basic level while the competitors vie for more sophisticated payment system.
As was expected, the phablet comes out with flying colours when put to test. The Exynos 7420 chipset from Samsung proves to be no slouch, and the mammoth 4 GB of RAM combines with the GPU to give a blazing performance. The Touchwiz skin by Samsung has been optimised, so the results are even more apparent. The phone shows no signs of being hindered by bottlenecks, and users can be assured to get their money's worth.
The sound was loud and clear, and the only complain would be the mono speaker setup. Maybe Note 6 will see the dual speaker happening.
The camera on the Note 5 is not a pushover for sure. A 16 Megapixel camera with LED flash sounds good; add optical image stabilisation to the mix and the package sounds very good. The front facing camera is a 5 Megapixel affair.
A double tap on the home button will fire up the camera app. The app has a Pro mode for the veterans as well. There are plethora of shooting modes available, with Panorama, selective focus, slow motion, RAW to name some. The results are stunning, as the colour reproduction comes out impressively well, and OIS shows its worth.
Night time photography was a sight for the sore eyes, and makes Note 5 look even more impressive as a package.
Same goes for the videos too, and users get the advantage of shooting UHD/4K videos or the 1080 p videos according to their preference. Camera app has the broadcast feature baked in, allowing users to broadcast their videos via YouTube. The front facing camera has a wide angle camera set in, and the results are good enough to be shared around.
Here is another area which will draw some flak from the loyal fan base. Samsung has been known for its persistence with the removable batteries since long. Sadly, the battery with the Note 5 is not removable anymore.
The 3,000 mAh allows the user to carry on using their device uninterrupted for just about a day's worth of usage before charging the device becomes necessary. This is on a heavy usage pattern, and sounds just about convincing. The fast charging allows the phone to be juiced up within an hour and twenty minutes.
The dual SIM version is Samsung's attempt to offer the least possible variety on one of their marquee products. The missing microSD card option, and the non removable battery continue to draw flak, and the cut throat competition only make things worse for Samsung's wavering profit margins.
The Note 5 still remains a superior package, and still stands out. Those who still crave for expandable memory and replaceable battery option, can look up the spectacular LG G4, or maybe even Samsung's own Galaxy S6 Edge+, but there is no stylus on either of these options. The Note 5 still remains the go to phablet owing to its superb hardware, and with the price of Rs 47,900 for the 32 GB and nd Rs 53,900 for the 64 GB variant, those in immediate need of an upgrade should pick one up.
Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung