Samsung Galaxy Note 5 unboxing and first impressions

by: Lanh NguyenAugust 22, 2015

Samsung unveiled its latest addition to the popular Galaxy Note series a few days ago, and we’ve got our hands on one. We can’t wait to run this device through its paces, but before giving it the full review treatment, here is a quick look at the unboxing, and we give you our first impressions about the Samsung Galaxy Note 5!

More Galaxy Note 5 videos


Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Unboxing-1

The first thing you’ll notice with the box is that it looks just like the packaging of the Samsung Galaxy S6, with Samsung deciding to do away completely with the fake wood boxes from before, favoring instead a clean, white package with the Galaxy Note 5 branding on the front in big bold letters, along with a list of key specifications on the back.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Unboxing-6

Opening the box reveals the device in all its glory, wrapped in a plastic sleeve. Underneath is a Quick Start guide and the SIM removal tool that is attached to the plastic tray that houses the phone. Taking out the tray gives you access to the standard microUSB cable, the AC wall charger, extra replacement tips for the S-Pen along with a removal tool, and some very nicely packaged pair of Samsung earphones.

First impressions

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Unboxing-10

While there has historically been some sort of separation in the look and feel between the flagship Galaxy S series and Galaxy Note line, but this time around, the Galaxy Note 5 basically follows in the steps of the Galaxy S6, with its combination of metal and glass construction. This, of course, means that the back is no longer removable, and takes away the ability to swap batteries, which is even more of a concern given the fact that the battery of the Galaxy Note 5 is slightly smaller than its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Unboxing-11

The change in build quality allows for a fantastic feel in the hand though, and despite featuring a large 5.7-inch display, the device doesn’t feel extremely big or unwieldy. A big contributing factor to the handling experience is the very thin bezels along the sides of the display, making the Note 5 smaller than its predecessor in almost every dimension. The curves along the sides of the back is the difference in design you’ll see from the Galaxy S6, and make the device very comfortable to hold. It does get quite slippery though, and the glass backing is also prone to fingerprints. Overall, Samsung did a fantastic job with the design and build of the Galaxy Note 5, and while the Note series didn’t particularly need the design overhaul like the Galaxy S line did, it’s still a move in the right direction.

samsung galaxy note 5 first look aa (8 of 41)

Going around the device, the power button is on the right, the volume rocker to the left, the SIM card tray up top, and the Micro USB port, speaker, headphone jack, and S-Pen slot at the bottom. One thing you’ll notice is that there isn’t an IR blaster anymore, so you won’t be able to control your TV or other peripherals. On the back is a 16 MP camera, along with a heart rate sensor next to it. This camera sensor is very similar to what is found with the Galaxy S flagships, which are considered one of the best smartphone cameras right now, and more of the same should continue here. Finally, up front is the signature Samsung home button, also integrated with a touch based fingerprint scanner.

samsung galaxy note 5 first look aa (6 of 41)

The Galaxy Note 5 comes with the same processing package as the Galaxy S6, but with an additional gigabyte of RAM, and as such, the performance should be as good as it was with its flagship counterpart, if not better, because of the 4 GB of RAM on-board. The Galaxy Note 5 comes with 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage, with no microSD card slot for expansion, so power users will have to depend on the larger storage version to cover their needs.

samsung galaxy note 5 first look aa (10 of 41)

The device comes with a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with the same Quad HD resolution as seen with its predecessor, and the screen looks absolutely amazing. Samsung somehow manages to offer better and better displays with their flagship smartphones every year, and the Galaxy Note 5 easily features one of the best that we’ve seen on any smartphone.

samsung galaxy note 5 first look aa (13 of 41)

The S-Pen has also been improved in a lot of ways, at both a hardware and software level. The S-Pen ejects from the bottom side now, which is a nice implementation, even though it makes getting the stylus out a little slower, with the additional step required to eject it first, before you can pull it out. The new clicky top on the S-Pen gives it the feel of a traditional pen, and that is something users will enjoy. The Air Command menu returns in a more refined iteration, and while functionality like taking notes, writing on the screen, and more, return, the menu can now house up to two app shortcuts, allowing you to quickly and easily launch these apps. The new screen-off memo is also a very handy feature, if you need to quickly make a note of something, and the device automatically saves the note when the S-Pen put back in its slot.

So there you have it for this quick unboxing and first look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 5! Stay tuned with Android Authority as we continue to bring you more about the Galaxy Note 5, including the comprehensive review, which should be up soon.

verus-note-5-caseSee also: Best Galaxy Note 5 cases22
  • omnominous

    It’s basically the s6 and the s6 is just like an iPhone.i like how the screen goes to the edge of the phone other than that I’ll just get the note 4

  • Anon

    has anyone noticed all these reviews across the WWW read the same…

    • Daggett Beaver

      I’ve noticed that the comments often read the same. “Samsung doesn’t know what it’s power user customers want. It’s a copy of the iPhone. It’s just a big S6 with a pen. Why no 128 GB version? I need to store 5,000 songs in FLAC format. I’m done with Samsung, I’m getting the Moto X Pure.” And so on.

      • vkaty

        Seriously…. I will still be getting Note 5. Its fast, its beautiful, Amazing screen, lag free yet feature rich touchwiz, 64 GB version, are more than enough reasons for my dream phone this year….

  • Steven

    So, yesterday I went and looked at a note 5 at a t mobile store, I spent about 30 minutes with the note 5.
    I have had all the note phablets except for the regular note 4. When that and the note edge came out I opted for the edge. I have had the edge for 1 year now and I have grown very tired of it. Reasons being cannot find a decent case for it or even a screen protector that actually fit the entire screen, and so on.
    After spending a little time with the 5, I started looking at the regular note 4. And I actually liked it better than the new 5.
    I liked the option for larger storage and removable battery in the 4, as well as I think the 4 felt better in my hand that the 5 did. The 5 is a faster phone than the 4 due to the difference in processors. BUT, with what I personally wanted, and the fact that expandable storage and replaceable battery is a big thing for me, I gracefully set the 5 back on the shelf and traded my note edge in for the note 4.
    so far I absolutely love the 4. It fits better, and has what I want inside and I don’t have to worry about setting the 5 down and scratching the glass back on it as well as having to constant wipe the fingerprints off the back glass cover. Also I did notice that the glass back becomes very very slippery as you hold it for a while and your hand starts to sweat a little.
    I am very very happy with my new note 4 and will more than likely keep this one for a very long time.

    • WellTrainedVC

      Exactly, thank you!

    • Guest123

      I actually prefer the Note 5, maybe cos i’m not that much into more storage than having faster storage. Cos i have loads of apps and i record a lot of 60fps and 4k videos and it just wouldn’t do it right on the microSD. Of course i would rather have more and faster storage too but right now it seem rather impossible. I noticed also if the bigger microSD card i have with more things inside, it tend to lag the phone a lot more and it’s pretty unbearable lag every now and then. So only solution now to have a faster storage and still have the ability to get cheap and more space is OTG drive.

    • מאיר כהן

      Very nice.
      I love my Note 4 too !

    • STZ .

      I felt exactly the same. Hope over to the XDA forum and check out some custom ROMS for the Note 4( CM12 is easiest). WIth a custom ROM installed your Note 4 will run circles around that “Note 5” <- basically a GS6 with Spen.

      Enjoy your Note 4

      • Android Developer

        Would the S-Pen work in any way when flashing non-stock-based roms?
        Even for more-precise usage?

        • Daggett Beaver

          Based on what I read at XDA, the pen works fine with CM12 ROMs. A lot of other stuff doesn’t work fine, though, and the ROMs are unstable. More power to those who have the time and inclination to keep flashing these custom ROMs. I don’t have the time or inclination.

          • Android Developer

            Can you please show me a link to what you’ve read about S-Pen ?

          • STZ .

            Yes, there are good and bad ROMS, always check the feedback and bugs.

            Always make a backup, then you can restore your original ROM if you have issues.

        • STZ .

          If you flash a Touchwiz based rom you’ll get the air command menu. Each rom will have a list of features, so you can see if that ones supports the S-pen. CM12 might not, I can’t test that, as I have a Exynos Note 4(intenational version), so no CM12 for me.

          There is lots of support and tutorials on the XDA forum, as well as lots of ROMS to choose from, have a look and see what has good feedback and current updates.

          Make sure you look at roms for your CPU type Snapdragon vs exynos, most likely you will have snapdragon (Canada, US)

          • Android Developer

            I don’t have a note device. It’s just interesting as I had SGS3 and it always had some issues with custom roms. Not large issues, but still…
            I don’t live in US.

    • maaen

      I will agree with you and all of your considerations …I feel the exact same way as you…and

    • stfu

      The note 5 looks good but that’s just about it for us note 4 users. You made a good decision, my friend.

    • Joel Kuss

      That’s the best phone Samsung could have ever made ?? am I love with my note 4

  • WellTrainedVC

    Why would they take away the ability to expand the storage and the ability to remove the battery. Such a bad idea. Rethinking purchasing the Note 5 now.

    • Dante

      You arent confident in your choices as i see…

  • Zach Chen

    What a lovely phone!

  • roger’d

    Unfortunately in the case of this device Samsung’s arrogance and lack of originality really shine through. To take away a number of coveted features and try to be more like iPhone is a slap in the face for loyal Samsung owners. Now all they care about is trying to capture more Apple owners (good luck with that) while disregarding the fact that their user base has gotten to where it is thanks to their previous approach of being more open and differentiated. So what if an IR blaster and expandable storage isn’t something that everyone uses? Many did. And they were already customers. So glad I didn’t wait on getting my G4…

    • Daggett Beaver

      I’m not a loyal Samsung owner, I just happen to love my Note 4. Samsung can slap me in the face with a Note 5 anytime. It looks like a fantastic phone.

    • the screen alone should be enough, it is one of the most important components and it is the best in the industry – nothing comes close

      • Jaques Connard

        Exact same screen as the Note 4.

        • No it is not, it is a lot brighter and more power efficient

  • Jason

    Looks like the moto x pure edition it is. I was hoping for something better but with everybody saying the note 4 is better then this doesn’t seem like a good choice. Especially with no SD card support. 64GB is definitely not enough

    • The-Sailor-Man

      If you need Note- there is not Note replacement yet on the market(except older Note models) And “pure Android” can not work on Note. It will kill all the great functionality, ignorant.
      If you just need big screen device – there are options, though. In this case even if Note 5 have swappable battery and SD support , you must be dumb to pay so much money , if you don’t need the great Note functionality.

      • jason

        Uhhh what? You make no sense

        • Daggett Beaver

          Simply put, if you just want a big phone, there are alternatives. But if you want the Note’s added features, there is no competition at any price.

  • mrjayviper

    those earphones looks very similar to Apple’s EarPods?

  • The-Sailor-Man

    “This, of course, means that the back is no longer removable, and takes away the ability to swap batteries, which is even more of a concern given the fact that the battery of the Galaxy Note 5 is slightly smaller than its predecessor.”

    1. Most of the battery tests so far show, that the Note 5 battery life is longer than predecessors.
    2. All the tech media (AA included) were whining how better is the “premium” sealed tin-can-glass design, before Note5.
    But now the swappable battery suddenly become very important feature. ROTFL
    But hey…..bashing Samsung must go on.

    • Omar Ben Sassi

      and espicially for samsung who have always shitty battery that decreases a lot after a year of heavy use and must be replaced with a new one…so it’s not only important feature but the most important feature…not having possibilty of replacing battery make the note 5 a disposable phone after heavy use…(we know all that most of the galaxy note lovers are heavy users…)

      • Daggett Beaver

        Yeah, people are going to throw away a Note 5 instead of spending $45 to have the battery replaced.

        Oh, and my 3 year old S3 battery is still working fine. Like Sailor Man said, this is all about Samsung bashing.

        • Choda Boy

          Some people, especially users of the previous Note phones, prefer to NOT spend $45 to have a battery replaced because of a “premium feel” design change to eliminate the removable back.

  • Sky

    Like it or not, I don’t think we’ll see the better smartphone anytime soon. Beauty and beast.

  • birdiesbuddy

    When will a note 5 edge be available! !??

  • Mozukortick

    Anybody planning to buy it- RAM MANAGEMENT HAS NOT BEEN FIXED!
    Just wanted to make sure you know what you are getting as reviewers never tell actual problems beforehand.

  • I’m eggsellent

    The note 5 is like a shart in a dark unfamiliar room with out a shower. …

  • Jaques Connard

    I’m a long time Galaxy Note user… having a 2, then 3, and now 4. I will NOT be wasting money on a Note 5. Samsung has not listened to the power Note users. As others have stated… the battery will rapidly start to die out in less than a year of heavy usage. Since you can’t replace the battery on a Note 5… you basically have a crApple product. I’m a heavy battery user. I rarely make it through a day on a single charge. I’m also rarely near a power outlet during my work day (or night). I carry several pre-charged replacement batteries. When I run out of battery… swap with a new one… bam… 100%… no waiting for a charge.

    Try going out for a 50+ kilometer bicycle ride… running GPS, Bluetooth, a map app, a music app, a sports measuring app, heart monitor recording app… you’ll blow through a battery in 4 hours.

    The other DOA feature (lack of) on the Note 5… no microSD card slot. “Cloud storage” is only good if you have a cheap data plan… and, a good connection. I prefer to keep as much of my data on a card. Phone crashes or bricks? Pull out your microSD card and you still have your data that you regularly back up

    • vkaty

      Looking at your past devices Note 2, 3 and 4…. even if Note 5 had replaceable battery, you would have opted for note 6 an year later. So plz don’t whine about degrading battery in a year !

      • Jaques Connard

        If the Note 5 had a owner replaceable battery and a microSD slot… I would definitely be getting it. But, you miss the point of my post.

  • aw you madbabe?

    Somethings wrong. It’s been almost 24 hrs since the article came out and Richard Yarnell hasn’t reared his goblin shaped head…..

  • Monad Sage

    Note 5 doesn’t need swapping batteries and storage. 1st I have the note 5 and it charges faster than I anticipated, though it was with the charger cord that came with it and has higher output. Overall the charge speeds are better, fast and the reduced battery doesn’t even make a noticeable dent of less battery time. 2nd : storage is available on the cloud, there are plenty of areas where you can store all your data without a microsd card that stuff is a thing of the past.
    I’m coming from Note 3, note 4 and galaxy alpha, which in this case I feel like it charges faster than those 3. I’m sticking with my alpha as a second phone and as an extra 32gb space. Also it’s scary to hold but it’s not as slippery as people make it seem. People just hold phones wrong way.

    • Mark Kendrick

      In your own experience how is the battery life compare to the N4? Also do you know if the always listening works with Google Now , “ok Google” when screen is off and from any screen ( like N4)

  • adfasdfa

    looks lovely but my note 4 iso nly 6 months old. Will upgrade when its one year

  • ARZ

    where is josh?

  • MobilegamerfanChicago

    Words can’t explain how much I love my NOTE 5! I’m a note user (2,3,4and note edge) this is buy far the best phone ever! I’ve never had a micro SD or extra battery so the exclusion of those were no big thing for me. But this Note 5 battery is INSANE! The S pen is so much more fluid. The screen is so much better. The phone is waaay faster. Those of u tripping about the small stuff Betta find a way to make it work. This phone is what true note users deserve.

    Ps.. and it ain’t all bulky and sht like the note 4. Something that really irritated me about that phone. And those hard azz corners.

    • Choda Boy

      If you consider the Note 4 “bulky”, then we have very different definitions for the word.

      • MobilegamerfanChicago

        Fuck your definition

  • Dave Clifton

    Great banter

  • Xp

    Note Edge was is my a time favorite phone, however. I can no longer support Samsung after they basicly spit in the face of a lot of us once hardcore supporters. Heck Samsung used to mock Apple with there Commercials about the removable battery and microSD card. I sadly in protest jumped ship to LG G4 and am happy with my 128 quality micro SD card which covers speed issues, and picked up two extra batteries. Very important features to me. Also wtf is up with the Ed plus basicly being a modified note 5 how the mighty have sold out. Also like someone above mentioned good luck getting those apple users you so want. Samsung must be on drugs, here is hoping when the drugs wear off they get back to what made them great in the first place.

  • randy

    The earbuds on the galaxy note 5 are actually really good from using them for about a month. Here is more of a review on the earbuds there pretty similar to the s6 and s6 edge