Samsung GALAXY Note 5 Review

Review posted 12/19/2015

Quick Take
  • Image quality is very good, especially in good lighting, versus other smartphone cameras
  • 16MP of resolution in a smartphone camera is well above average
  • Secondary/selfie camera offers 5MP of resolution
  • Extremely fast performance levels
  • Can record 4K video resolution
  • Plenty of manual control features when working in Pro mode
  • Allows manual shutter speed control up to 1/24000th of a second
  • Basic camera app is very easy to use
  • Display screen is sharp and clear with QHD resolution
  • Image quality in Note 5 is significantly improved over Note 4
  • Low light image quality could be better
  • Some photos occasionally appear over-processed
  • This unit is extremely large because of 5.7-inch touchscreen
  • Note 5 is tough to hold while using the camera because of its size and smooth edges
  • Note 5's buttons cannot duplicate the tactical feel of shutter button on a digital camera
  • No optical zoom option (a problem for all smartphone cameras)
  • No ability to add memory with a microSD card
  • Cannot swap out battery as could be done with Note 4
  • Expensive smartphone
Bottom Line
The Galaxy Note 5 smartphone camera records images of a high quality with its 16MP of resolution rear-facing camera, and its 5.7-inch display screen is one of the sharpest you'll find on a smartphone. The camera offers both manual control and fully automatic operation, along with the ability to record in RAW, which is impressive for a smartphone camera. The Note 5's image quality is significantly better than its predecessor, and this smartphone camera outperforms most of the lower half of fixed lens digital cameras in the market ... as long as you don't need an optical zoom lens. The biggest drawbacks to the Note 5 are the lack of an optical zoom, as it is with all smartphone cameras, and its high price. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone offers a huge, high-resolution display screen, 16-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 5-megapixel front-facing selfie camera. Both cameras offer a maximum aperture of f/1.9.

The Note 5's 16MP main camera includes the ability to record images at a shutter speed up to 1/24000th of a second, and it offers full manual control features, including the ability to record in the RAW image format. You have quite a bit of control over the recording with the selfie camera too, including the option of making use of a wide-angle selfie camera to fit more people into the frame.

The primary camera can record at a 4K video resolution for up to 5 minutes or full HD at 60 fps with no time limit.

The Galaxy Note 5's 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display offers QHD resolution of 2560x1440 pixels. The curved back of the smartphone unit makes it easier to hold the Note 5. It has a metal frame with Gorilla Glass protecting the screen. And you can use the S Pen stylus with this smartphone, allowing for digital note taking.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Features:
  • OS: Android 5.1.1, Lollipop
  • Product Dimensions (inches): 6.03" x 3.00" x 0.30"
  • Weight: 5.33 oz.
  • Camera resolution (Front): 5MP
  • Camera resolution (Rear): 16MP
  • Digital Optical Zoom: 8X
  • Features: Image stabilization, Fast Motion, Slow Motion, Video Collage
  • Maximum Video Recording Resolution: UHD 4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Main Camera: Auto Focus
  • Li-ion battery: 3000 mAh
  • Internal Memory: 32GB or 64GB
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Wi-Fi: 2.4 + 5 GHz, a/b/g/n/ac, MIMO
  • NFC 

USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth v4.2 (A2DP, LE, EDR)
  • ANT+
  • Location Technology: GLONASS, GPS
  • Exynos 7420 Octa-Core processor (2.1GHz and 1.5GHz chips)
  • Main Display Resolution: 2560 x 1440 (Quad HD), 518 ppi
  • 5.7-inch dual edge Super AMOLED display
  • Noise Cancellation
  • Enabled for 4G LTE
  • Barometer
  • Compass
  • Fingerprint Reader
  • Gyroscope
  • Heart Rate Sensor
  • Proximity Sensor
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 comes in 32GB and 64GB versions, and it's available in white pearl, gold platinum, silver titanium, pink gold, and black sapphire. An unactivated device retails for about $700 for 32GB and about $800 for 64GB, although you can find a discount depending on the service provider and plan you select.

Use our best price box at the top right of this page to find online retailers. 

What's in the box? (May differ by service provider):
  • Galaxy Note 5 smartphone
  • 3000 mAh Li-ion Battery (embedded)
  • Micro USB Cable
  • Wall charger
  • S Pen Accessory Kit
  • 3.5mm Headset
  • SIM card removal tool
  • Quick start guide
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Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.