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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Hands-On With The Galaxy Note 5

I went to the store today to check out the Galaxy Note 5 in person, knowing fully well that I was already disappointed with the device before I even laid my hands on it. This blog post explains why.

One step forward, few steps back.

I've always been a fan of the Galaxy Note series: Feature-packed multi-tasking workhorses with killer displays, powerful hardware internals and a very much underestimated and underutilized S Pen that's more fun to use than it looks - The Note has always been a kickass productivity tool and multimedia device for both work and play, its potential utilized to its peak best by eclectic power users who demand a lot out of their gadgets to get things done, and who know how to go about doing so. These were the reasons why the Note had been considered to be more of a niche product, but I think that is no longer the case.

The Galaxy Note 5 is a nice phone in its own right - until you look back at the Notes before it and see what they had all along but now taken away; especially when you look at the Note 4 in comparison. There are those who are intimately familiar with the series saying that the Note 4 is the last true Galaxy Note Samsung produced, and that's something I agree with.

From the very first Galaxy Note all the way to the fourth one, they all came with staple features the Notes had always been synonymously associated with - expandable storage and removable batteries. The Galaxy Note 5 is the very first Note produced with these features abandoned and thrown to the winds in the name of going all glass; which most people will protect with cases anyway (because it's GLASS and at the same time, a fingerprint hyper magnet) and thus, covering up all that so-called glassy premium look. All that glass then becomes moot. Heck, even Apple knew enough to abandon an all-glass build.

It's easy for anyone to go "Ooooh" and "Aaahhh" when they lay their eyes on the Note 5 display sets in the store and become enamored of the so-called build quality. If you are discerning enough and not superficial enough to be easily fooled by shiny frontal exterior, you will flip the device over to its back and be utterly disgusted by all the oily smudges of fingerprints embedded all over the glass back. I'm disgusted by the back of the display set I'm holding in my hand and I wonder just how long a Note 5 owner could go before finally caving in and buying a case.

And if you think far enough and realize that glass is fragile (duh) and thus, you will use a case which covers it anyway in order to protect it, having a polycarbonate removable back like the one the Note 4 is sporting, which allows for expandable storage and a removable battery, would have been a much more practical, expansive and durable approach.

The Galaxy Note 5 has strayed away from the identity and formulae of its own series: it is no longer a practical take-no-prisoners power-user's device; it has instead, become an average consumer's bling-bling flagship phone that's pretty to look at but with features nerfed left, right and center. Maybe that is just exactly what Samsung intended. Funny thing is though, I thought it was the role of the S series all along to cater to the average consumers who don't demand more out of their phones instead. Here is where Samsung's Note 5 has lost me.

But the Note 5 still has its strengths: It's narrower than all the previous Notes for better and easier handling, a much much better touch-based fingerprint scanner. To me, the new fingerprint scanner on the Note 5 is the only notable upgrade over my Note 4, since swipe-based fingerprint scanners just can't cut it and can actually be a hassle to use one-handed. Just one single notable upgrade that's significant enough while the cons in the following paragraph are all downgrades for me.

For the cons: No more expandable storage, no more quick conveniences provided by removable batteries (to add insult to injury, the Note 5 has a 3000 mAH non-removable battery that's smaller in capacity than the Note 4's 3220 mAH removable one). Bulky and clunky wired power banks be damned. They also took away the fun IR blaster. That's too many cons to far outweigh one significant pro. Yes I know, the Note 5's CPU and hardware internals are faster, but wake me up when the Note 4's own hardware is no longer capable enough to keep pace with the mobile demands in 2015.

Conclusion: Nerfed beauty

I'll just say my conclusive opinion straight: The Note 5 is the bimbo of the Galaxy Note series - all looks but lacking the substance that used to distinguish the series apart from the competition. That's a stab in the back for loyal Note power users who have stuck with the series all these long while - myself included.

But if you don't see the need to demand that much out of your smartphone (and there's nothing wrong with that) and you don't need the now-missing staple Note features, I think the Note 5 can be a good choice for you if you somehow feel that the price for it is justifiable. But for me, the staple-Note-features loyalist, I won't be giving Samsung my money for the Note Nerfed 5.

In my non-fiction book, the Note 5 is the contradictive pariah of the entire Note family. I'm saying this because I happen to have a need for the staple Note features which have very much proven useful for me all along.

It's gonna be a bitch for me to dig out the S Dagger now stuck in my back. Thanks for nothing, Samsung.

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