Galaxy Note 5 Hardware
The Galaxy Note 4 signified a notable move toward metal design for Samsung phones, and it was impressive on its own. But just six months later we saw a fresh metal and glass design with the launch of the Galaxy S6. It seems Samsung is quite happy with this second go-around with metal and has carried it over almost perfectly into the larger Galaxy Note 5. And that’s in no way a mark against the Note 5 — I’m a big fan of the Galaxy S6’s looks despite the questionable ergonomics and practicality of having a glass-backed phone, and I feel the same about the latest Note. A solid metal frame runs through the entire Note 5 and wraps around the edges with great precision, broken only moderately for buttons, ports and antenna lines where necessary. It’s great to look at but also practical from a strength and usability standpoint, giving your fingers something to hold with more friction than the glass on both sides. Growing in size from the Galaxy S6 there’s a little more metal to hold on the Note 5, despite the sides being trimmed down slightly to incorporate the new curves on the back glass. With a pane of Gorilla Glass 4 on the back curved just like the front of the Galaxy S6 edge+, you get a phone that feels more like it was made to be held and less like an industrial design competition entry — no doubt something Samsung learned from building the flat-backed GS6. That glass flows perfectly into the metal on the sides, which in itself marries up nicely with the flat glass on the front as well. A typical Samsung home button and earpiece are the only breaks in the front glass, highlighting that the bezels around the screen are pretty remarkably small. There’s just enough room up top to hold requisite sensors and a front-facing camera, and on the bottom there’s room for the aforementioned home button — which now integrates a one-touch fingerprint sensor — and a pair of capacitive buttons. Sure the phone is now sealed and no longer expandable with a fresh battery or SD card, but the combination of all of these design changes make a 5.7-inch phone simply feel smaller. The Note 5 is shorter, narrower and thinner than the Note 4 despite having the same screen size and more powerful internals, and the aforementioned material and design choices make it even easier to hold. LG arguably started this “big phone that doesn’t feel that big” movement with the G3 (and refined it with the G4), but Samsung has been able to go a step further, and in its own way.