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Hands on with the new Samsung Galaxy Note5

Al Sacco | Aug. 14, 2015
Samsung today showed the world its latest two "phablet" devices -- the Galaxy Note5 and Galaxy S6 (GS6) edge+ -- at a press event in New York City.

Thanks to a new on-screen shortcut that's accessible via any app or screen when you're using the S Pen, you can quickly view your "Air Command" box, which provides shortcuts to frequently used apps. Air Command isn't new, but you used to have to hover over your display and then push a button on the pen to invoke it. The new shortcut makes it easy to access favorite features and functionality, and you can move it around the edges of your display to the position that works best for you. You can also remove the shortcut if you don't want or need it.

The S Pen's new "scroll capture" feature grabs screen shots of full Web pages, instead of individual screens. You just initiate scroll capture via the settings menu, scroll with the S Pen to bottom of the page and choose the appropriate option to complete the action. The vertical page capture is saved as a .JPG file in your image gallery. Scroll capture is easy to use and it could come in handy when trying to grab an image of a long list of directions, or steps in any process or recipe, for example.

The Note5, which runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, also has a brand new "Live Broadcast" feature built into its default camera. Instead of opening up your Meerkat or Periscope app to capture and broadcast video in real time, you can now just launch the Samsung camera app (front or back), enable the new mode and send live video to directly to your YouTube channel. I watched a live demo of the feature, but I didn't get to try it out for myself, so I can't say how well it works. It is, however, a unique addition to the Galaxy camera. 

The display on the Note5 shines, as expected. Samsung established itself as the star of the smartphone-screen space during the past few years, and the Note5 screen doesn't disappoint. However, it also didn't get an upgrade over the Note 4. Both the Note 4 and Note5 have 2560 x 1440-pixel quad HD, Super AMOLED displays at 518ppi.

One of the most significant additions to the Note family is support for two wireless charging standards (Qi and PMA), which means you can use the majority of charging pads and wireless power accessories on the market today to power up the Note5. I've been using various wireless charging accessories with my GS6 edge since it launched last fall, and I'm a huge fan -- plugging cords directly into mobile devices already feels like an inconvenience.

The new Note has a higher-quality, front-facing camera (5MP) than the Note 4 (3.7MP). 


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