Features & Controls

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 features a great display screen, offering a 2560x1440 resolution (QHD) for almost 3.7 million pixels of resolution. When you consider Apple's iPhone 6 Plus offers full HD 1920x1080 resolution and 2.07 million pixels, the Note 5 features an impressive and sharp screen.

The Galaxy Note 5 measures 5.7 inches diagonally, which makes this overall smartphone unit extremely large, measuring 6.03 by 3 inches. It is 0.3 inches in thickness. The Note 5 might be a little larger than some people will like, especially those who wanted to switch to using a smartphone camera from a dedicated digital camera because digital cameras are too large.

Still, if you don't mind the large size of this unit, the screen is as good as you'll find in a smartphone, making it very enjoyable to review photos and videos.

The Home button/fingerprint sensor is the oval shaped button at the bottom of the unit. If you press this Home button twice in a row quickly, you can open the camera, even when the Note 5 is in sleep mode, which is a really nice feature for accessing the camera in a hurry. There also a lighted button that accesses recent apps to the left of the Home button and a lighted back button to the right of the Home button, but these extra buttons are only visible when they light up. I found myself pressing them inadvertently while trying to hold the unit to use the camera, which was an annoyance.

Five body colors are available for the Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Gold platinum, black sapphire, white pearl, silver titanium, and pink gold. The frame of this unit is all metal, while the display screen is protected with Gorilla Glass.

Samsung provided the Note 5 with the octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset (quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 and 2.1GHz Cortex-A57 processors) and 4GB of RAM. This processing power represents quite an improvement from the processor used with the Galaxy Note 4, which used a quad-core unit. The Exynos is a Samsung-designed processor, whereas the smartphone maker used third-party processors in the past. The Note 5 has 1GB more of RAM than its predecessor.

front lens.jpg
At the top of the front of the Galaxy Note 5 are the proximity sensors (two black circles on the left of this photo), the earpiece/speaker in the middle, and the front camera on the far right. There's also an LED indicator to the left of the proximity sensors that's only visible when it lights up, such as when you're charging the smartphone unit.

The front camera contains 5-megapixels of resolution and has an aperture of f/1.9. This is an improvement in the lens on the Note 5 versus the Note 4, which used an f/2.2 aperture lens. It can record 4K video at 30 frames per second for up to 5 minutes, or you can shoot full 1080p HD video at up to 60 fps with no time limit.

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main lens.jpg
The back of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 contains the primary lens and flash. The lens is centered on the back of the unit, which is a good placement, as you'll have a very small risk of your fingers blocking the lens while holding the smartphone and using the camera.

The rear/primary camera offers 16-megapixels of resolution with an f/1.9 aperture lens. The lens housing extends a fraction of an inch from the back of the smartphone body, but it's not a hindrance when using the unit. The LED flash unit is to the right of the lens housing. The primary camera's image sensor is 1/2.6 inches, which is slightly smaller than sensors found in basic point-n-shoot digital cameras, and offers a 1.12 micron pixel size.

Samsung included optical image stabilization with the Note 5's camera, which helps keep the image steady during low light photography.

bottom ports.jpg
The top panel of the Galaxy Note 5 (not pictured) has a tiny microphone and the nano-SIM card tray, which you'd open using the end of a paper clip. The Note 5 does not allow for the use of microSD cards, so you'll have to use the built-in storage of either 32GB or 64GB.

The Note 5's bottom panel (pictured here) contains the following ports (left to right): Headset jack, USB port, speaker (10 dots), microphone (one dot), and the S Pen stylus storage area.

stylus view.jpg
The Galaxy Note 5 is one of the few smartphones that includes a stylus pen, called the S Pen. As shown here, the S Pen slides completely inside the edge of the smartphone case. You'll press on the end of it to pop it out of its holding area, which will happen with an audible click. It will click back in place when you replace it too. The S Pen doesn't have anything to do with the camera's operation, but you can use it to take notes on the screen.

If you choose to use the stylus, be careful with how you insert it back into its slot. There are numerous YouTube videos showing broken Note 5s because someone inserted the stylus backwards into its slot.

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The only button on the right side of the Galaxy Note 5 is the power button.

left buttons.jpg
The volume keys are on the left side of the Note 5. You can assign these keys a function when using the camera through the Camera Settings screen, including image recording, video recording, or digital zoom. If you want to use the Galaxy Note 5 in a burst mode, assign these keys to image recording and hold one of them down to record photos at a speed of about 10 fps for up to 30 images at full resolution.

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To activate the camera from the home screen, just touch the camera icon toward the bottom left. The camera icon also appears on the main apps screen.

After waking the smartphone from sleep mode, you can activate the camera by dragging the camera icon from the lower right corner upward. Or you can open the camera from any screen by pressing the Home button twice quickly, which is a really nice feature.

The Galaxy Note 5 shipped initially with Android 5.1.1 software.

camera mode.jpg
From the main camera screen, touch Mode in the lower left corner to open the shooting mode screen. Just touch an icon on this screen to begin using one of the camera modes, which are:

  • Auto - Fully automatic mode
  • Pro - Can manually set exposure value, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and shoot in RAW
  • Selective Focus - Change the area of photo in focus
  • Panorama - Create panoramic photo
  • Video Collage - Create collages and/or slow motion video collections
  • Live Broadcast - Broadcast live video on YouTube
  • Slow Motion - Video recorded at high frame rate and replayed in slow motion
  • Fast Motion - Video recorded for fast motion playback
  • Virtual Shot - Create photos with multi-directional view of an object
  • Download - Download photos and videos to another device

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On the camera mode screen, you can touch Info in the upper right corner to see an explanation of each mode.

auto mode.jpg
The Galaxy Note 5 rear camera has a number of settings options you can adjust through on-screen icons when shooting in Auto mode. First, the icons on the bottom (left to right) are:

  • Mode - Select shooting mode
  • Switch Camera - Shift between rear- and front-facing cameras
  • Shutter Button - Record still images
  • Video Mode - Start video recording
  • Playback - View last recorded image or movie
The icons along the top of the screen (left to right) are:

  • Gear - Access Camera Settings screen
  • Aspect Ratio/Picture Size - (discussed below)
  • Flash - Auto, On, Off
  • Self-Timer - Off, 2 seconds, 5 seconds, 10 seconds
  • HDR - Auto, On, Off
  • Effect - (discussed below)
Use the chevron in the upper right corner to toggle between hiding and viewing the icons along the top.

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You can make use of the Note 5 camera's digital zoom function by dragging your thumb and finger across the screen in a reverse pinching motion. Up to 8x of digital zoom is available. The Note 5 camera has no optical zoom, just like other smartphone cameras.

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The special effect options for the main camera in Auto or Pro mode are:

  • No effect
  • Vivid
  • Pastel
  • Monogram
  • Film
  • Retro
  • Delicious
  • Gold
  • Nostalgia

With the Galaxy Note 5's main camera in Panorama mode, you can shoot horizontal or vertical panoramic photos. Just follow the instructions on the screen to record the panoramic image.

aspect ratios.jpg
The picture size/aspect ratio options for the main Note 5 camera are:

  • 16M 16:9 (5312x2988)
  • 12M 4:3 (3984x2988)
  • 8.9M 1:1 (2976x2976)
  • 8.0M 4:3 (3264x2448)
  • 6.0M 16:9 (3264x1836)
  • 2.4M 16:9 (2048x1152)

Pro settings.jpgWhen you switch to the Pro shooting mode, you'll see a set of icons appear in the lower portion of the screen, allowing you to make changes manually to some of the camera's key settings. The options (from left to right) are:

  • Exposure Value - Between minus-2 and plus-2 in 0.1 increments
  • Shutter Speed - (discussed below)
  • ISO - (discussed below)
  • White Balance - (discussed below)
  • Focus Point - Auto or Manual
  • Art Filter - (discussed below)
  • Custom Settings - Custom 1, Custom 2, Custom 3

Pro Settings ISO.jpg
The ISO settings available for the Note 5's Pro mode include:

  • Auto
  • 50
  • 80
  • 100
  • 125
  • 160
  • 200
  • 250
  • 320
  • 400
  • 500
  • 640
  • 800

Pro settings white balance.jpg
Your options for setting the white balance in the Pro shooting mode with the Galaxy Note 5 are:

  • Auto
  • Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Kelvin - 2300K to 10000K

pro settings art.jpg
The art filters available in Pro mode are slightly different than the effects we discussed earlier that work in either Auto or Pro mode. The Pro-only art filters are:

  • Standard
  • Breezy
  • Vivid
  • Nostalgic
  • Soft
  • Serene
  • Tone 1
  • Tone 2
You can set the color temperature, tint, contrast, saturation, highlight, and shadow settings when using Tone 1 or Tone 2.

shutter speed.jpg
With the Galaxy Note 5 versus the Note 4, Samsung has added the ability to manually set the shutter speed when shooting in Pro mode with a shutter as fast as 1/24000th of a second. You'll slide your finger along the bar to change the shutter speed. The shutter speed options in seconds are: Auto, 1/24000, 1/16000, 1/12000, 1/8000, 1/6000, 1/4000, 1/3000, 1/2000, 1/1500, 1/1000, 1/750, 1/500, 1/350, 1/250, 1/180, 1/125, 1/90, 1/60, 1/45, 1/30, 1/20, 1/15, 1/10, 1/8, 1/6, 1/4, 0.3, 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, and 10.

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You can record a movie from either Auto mode or Pro mode by just touching the movie camera icon along the bottom of the screen. The screen will change to show a Stop button in the middle of the screen along with a Pause button on the right and a Capture button on the left, which you'll use to record still images during the video recording process. The time elapsed in the recording will appear above the Stop button. Press Stop to halt the recording.

camera settings 1.jpg
To open the Camera Settings screen, you'll touch the gear icon in the upper left corner of the main photography screen.

The Camera Settings screen unveils another major change that has occurred in the Note 5 versus its predecessors. You now can shoot in RAW mode by activating the slider bar toward the bottom of the screen. This feature is only available in Pro shooting mode.

The settings available for the rear camera are:

  • Video Size (Rear) - (discussed below)
  • Tracking AF - Yes, No
  • Video Stabilization - Yes, No
  • Grid Lines - Yes, No
  • Location Tags - Yes, No
  • Review Pictures - Yes, No
  • Quick Launch - Yes, No
  • Save as RAW File - Yes, No
  • Voice Control - Yes, No
  • Volume Keys Function - Take Pictures, Record Video, Zoom
  • Reset Settings
I easily was able to make the voice control feature work, which allows you to record a photo or video with the camera app open when you say "cheese" or "record video".

camera settings 2.jpg
You'll have several video resolution options available with the Note 5's primary camera, including:

  • UHD 3840x2160
  • QHD 2560x1440
  • FHD 1920x1080 (60 fps)
  • FHD 1920x1080
  • HD 1280x720
  • VGA 640x480
While you can record video in 4K resolution (called UHD in the smartphone camera menu), you will not be able to use the camera's software-driven video stabilization feature in the highest resolution. The video stabilization is only available in full HD resolution.

stored images.jpg
To see your stored photos on the Galaxy Note 5, you can touch the recent photo square in the lower right corner of the Camera app screen or you can touch the Gallery icon in the Apps screen.

As shown here, photos and videos are initially sorted by the date on which they were shot. You can sort by events or categories too.

If you see a single photo displayed on the screen, touch Album in the upper right corner to see the thumbnails for multiple photos. Touch one photo to bring it to the full screen.

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With a single photo on the screen, you'll see four editing buttons along the bottom of the screen.

  • Favorite - Toggle between marking current photo as a favorite or removing favorite tag
  • Share - (discussed below)
  • Edit - Auto Adjust, Rotate, Crop, Write, Photo Editor, Animate, Collage
  • Delete
The Photo Editor option opens more detailed editing functions, including:

  • Adjustment - Rotate 90 degrees, rotate 180 degrees vertically, rotate 180 degrees horizontally, tilt between minus-25 and plus-25 degrees
  • Tone - Brightness (minus-50 to plus-50), Contrast (minus-50 to plus-50), Saturation (minus-50 to plus-50), Temperature (minus-50 to plus-50), Hue (minus-50 to plus-50)
  • Effect - No Effect, Pastel (0 to 100), Vivid (0 to 100), Retro (0 to 100), Film (0 to 100), Monogram (0 to 100), Nostalgia (0 to 100), Gold (0 to 100), Delicious (0 to 100), Calm (0 to 100), Dawn (0 to 100), Grayscale (0 to 100), Evergreen (0 to 100), Rose (0 to 100), Sweet (0 to 100), Riddle (0 to 100), Everyday (0 to 100), Sharpen (0 to 100), Soft Glow (0 to 100), Stardust (0 to 100), Light Flare (0 to 100), Cartoon (0 to 100), Download
  • Drawing
  • Add Image

You can see some details about each photo by touching More in the upper right corner and then touching Details. You'll find the date of the recording, the resolution, and the location if you have GPS enabled.

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With a movie displayed on the Note 5's screen, touch the Play icon in the middle of the screen to start the playback process. Touch Pause to stop the playback. You can choose to have the playback occur in a popup window in the upper right corner as well.

sharing images.jpg
When you touch the Share button with a stored photo or video on the screen, you'll see the screen pictured here. Your sharing options are:

  • Simple Sharing - For large files
  • Android Beam
  • Bluetooth
  • Google Drive
  • E-mail
  • G-mail
  • Hangouts
  • Messages
  • OneDrive
  • Quick Connect
  • S-Note
  • Scrapbook
  • Upload to Google Photos
  • Wi-Fi Direct

Selfie 5.jpg
The front-facing camera on the Galaxy Note 5 has its own shooting modes. Just touch Mode in the lower left corner to see your options, which are:

  • Selfie - Standard selfie photo
  • Wide Selfie - Wide angle selfie option to fit more people in the frame
  • Video Collage - Short collages and slow motion videos
  • Live Broadcast - Broadcast live on YouTube
  • Virtual Shot - Multi-directional view of an object
  • Interval Shot - Photos recorded at particular intervals
  • Download
Press Info in the upper right to see more information about each shooting mode for the front-facing camera.

Selfie 2.jpg
When using the front-facing camera, you'll see icons along the top of the screen that allow you to make some changes to the selfie camera settings, which include:

  • Picture Size - 5.0M 4:3 2592x1944, 3.8M 16:9 2592x1458, 3.7M 1:1 1936x1936, 0.3M 4:3 640x480
  • Beauty - Skin Tone (0 to 8), Large Eyes (0 to 8), Slim Face (0 to 8), Shape Correction (On, Off)
  • Self-Timer - Off, 2 seconds, 5 seconds, 10 seconds
  • HDR - Auto, On, Off
  • Effect - (discussed below)

Selfie 1.jpg
The art effect options available using the front-facing camera are:

  • No Effect
  • Dawn
  • Calm
  • Rose
  • Evergreen
  • Grayscale
  • Everyday
  • Riddle
  • Sweet

Selfie 3 4 GIF.gif
When using the front-facing camera, you'll see a few different options under the Camera Settings menu too. Touch the gear icon in the upper left corner of the selfie screen to open the Camera Settings screen. The options are:

  • Video Size - QHD 2560x1440, FHD 1920x1080, HD 1280x720, VGA 640x480
  • Gesture Control - Yes, No
  • Save Pictures as Previewed - Yes, No
  • Video Stabilization - Yes, No
  • Grid Lines - Yes, No
  • Location Tags - Yes, No
  • Review Pictures - Yes, No
  • Quick Launch - Yes, No
  • Voice Control - Yes, No
  • Volume Keys Function - Take Pictures, Record Video, Zoom
  • Reset Settings
The selfie camera has no digital zoom functionality.

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.