Samsung Galaxy Note 5: First Impressions


The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 was officially unveiled back in August and went on sale later that month in a handful of countries. Samsung delayed its arrival in several markets as it focused on the new iteration of its in-demand Galaxy S6 Edge, the Galaxy S6 Edge+. In countries like Kenya, the local launch of the Galaxy Note 5 coincided with the usual yearly launch of the Galaxy Note series of smartphones locally so we didn’t miss much in the process.

I’ve had the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 for over a week now and I must say it’s a device worth waiting all that long for. From the design refresh to the reworked stylus (S Pen) to the software.

In the box

In the box, you get the following:

  • A SIM ejection tool
  • S Pen replacement tips
  • A pair of Samsung earphones
  • A fast charging adapter
  • A USB 2.0 cable
  • A quick start guide


The design of the Galaxy Note 5 is inspired by what we saw on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge earlier in the year as Samsung abandoned plastic for a more premium build. The device is all metal and has a glass back that curves slightly inwards making it more comfortable and nice to hold. For a device as large as the Galaxy Note devices, that is actually a welcome change.

The most distinguishing feature of the Galaxy Note series is usually the S Pen, Samsung’s own take on the stylus that doesn’t feel out of place or dated. Instead of having to pull it every time you need to take some notes or doodle, one only has to press the bottom left of the device to have it pop up. It is clickable and every bit likeable. The beauty of it is that you no longer have to unlock the device in order to start taking down notes. When the device is asleep, popping out the S Pen wakes the device and since the Note 5 has an AMOLED display, one is able to take notes on a black background that are saved directly to their S Note collection ready for action (reference, review) later on.


The most notable missing feature is the lack of memory expandability. While we’ve almost come to accept that removable smartphone batteries won’t be here forever, it is still kind of a shock that the Galaxy Note series, the epitome of Android smartphone awesomeness and power is lacking not just a removable battery, thanks to the metal cladding, but also a microSD slot. To Samsung’s credit, one of the things you get prompted to do after setting up the device for the first time use is activating some free 100 GB storage valid for 2 years. With a reasonable 32 GB internal storage (only under 25 GB of that is actually user-accessible), you’ll last a while before needing some more storage space for your selfies.

As an ardent fan and user of devices in the Samsung Galaxy Note series (my Galaxy Note 3 is still going strong), there’s much to see and use in the Galaxy Note 5 and I’m doing exactly that over the next couple of days before I bring you the full review. From that really great 16-megapixel camera at the back to the fingerprint sensor on the physical home button on the front of the device to that popping 5.7 inch Quad HD panel on the front, I’m taking the Galaxy Note 5 through its paces and you can expect a fair analysis of its workings and features in a couple of days so stick around.