Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Big Phone, Small Changes, Smaller Battery

By Gerald Lynch on at

The stylus-packing Galaxy Note series has come into its own in recent years, to the point where we've been able to crown the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 the best big phone on the planet. But being big isn't enough alone anymore, with the Apple's iPhone 6 Plus taking some of the shine away from the supersized Android phablet brigade. Enter the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.

Revealed today at Samsung's London Unpacked showcase, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is mostly-iterative affair. If it ain't broke, don't fix it after all. A processor bump here and camera upgrade there are the main points of...ahem...note, but small refinements may not be enough to lure in those who're happily prodding last season's edition.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Specs

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 slams your eyes with a sizeable 5.7-quad HD Super AMOLED display. With a resolution of 2560 x 1440 (for a 518ppi) and without a Note Edge-like side display, that's pretty much identical to the Note 4's screen specs.

Running Android 5.1 Lollipop, the Note 5 is shorter than the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, but wider and thicker, measuring 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm. It's also heavier, weighing 171g. Under the hood though, today's two new phones are identical, both powered by an Octa core (2.1GHz Quad + 1.5GHz Quad, compared to the Note 4's 2.7GHz four-core set up) 64 bit processor, backed by 4GB of RAM and with 32GB / 64GB storage options.

Battery life could be a concern, however. Compatible with both wired and wireless fast charging systems, it's down from the Note 4's 3,220mAh capacity to a 3,000mAh size. That's not a massive difference, and Note line has a reasonably good reputation for battery life. So long as Samsung's battery-monitoring and power-saving software modes play their part, you might not notice the difference. Fingers crossed.

samsung galaxy note 5

On the software side of things, the most interesting addition will be Samsung Pay, Samsung's take on mobile payments to rival Apple Pay. It lets you link up a bunch of credit cards (and/or an Android Pay wallet) to your Note 5, allowing the phone to make wireless payments when out shopping, or within supported apps. These are carried out with the Note's NFC chip and a very clever MST (magnetic secure transmission) system, which lets Samsung Pay work anywhere a card-swiping terminal is present. In other words, it's pretty much universal. Authentication comes in part from the phone's fingerprint scanner. It launches in the US and Korea this summer, rolling out to the rest of the world later this year. Samsung's Knox security suite has been beefed up in anticipation of Samsung Pay's arrival, too.

A 16MP camera around the back remains unchanged from the Note 4 in terms of megapixel count, but Samsung's said it's added some nifty new video recording smarts in here. Making use optical image stabilisation for steady shots, the extra screen real estate is put to good use through a four clip editing mode, letting four scenes playback simultaneously (one even in slo-mo). With the ability to live broadcast direct to YouTube, the camera also features VDIS (video digital image stabilisation), which should ensure your out-on-the-street citizen journalism looks sleek rather than terrifyingly, Bourne-bobbingly shakey.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 UK Release Date and Pricing

No release date or pricing to accompany today's launch, frustratingly, and somewhat worryingly. As a guideline though, it's worth noting that last year's Galaxy Note 4 will now set you back £549.99 (down from an original RRP of £599.99).

We're hoping to go hands-on shortly, so keep checking back for some play-time thoughts coming up.