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2015-10-21 09.50.02Most of you probably know that I am a tester and brand ambassador for Verizon Wireless. I get phones, service and a few other pieces of technology to play with in exchange for taking part in the #VZWBUZZ chats (2pm ET on Fridays) and a few blog posts. What some of you might not know is that I’ve also been a Verizon customer for some time, and have owned and tested several phones on their service plans.

But I will type this very slowly so no one will mis-understand it… this Samsung Note 5 is the best phone I’ve ever used/owned… period.

I’ve been a fan of the Note series ever since I received the Note 3 almost two years ago, and every time I get a new phone that’s the one I compare it to. I still own the Note 3, by the way, and it gets used periodically. Below are a few things that set the Note 5 apart from the rest of the phones out there (including the iPhone 6).

The Screen

Compared to most phones, the Note 5 is big… like really big. To me, it’s an advantage because of the AMOLED screen, keyboard and soft buttons and how easy it is to use the device. The techy look at the screen is a 5.7″ QHD Super AMOLED display similar to the Note 4. Resolution is a beautiful 1440 x 2560 of Corning Gorilla Glass.  Watching videos, using the software and viewing photos are impressive with this large, dense screen. Even with the extra real estate, the phone is thin and fits nicely in side a front pocket, even with a case.

The Camera

Styx at the Bismarck Event Center

Styx at the Bismarck Event Center

One of the first things I noticed is the wonderful camera on the Note 5. The device sports a 16MP main camera with a 5MP “selfie” camera. Both take beautiful photos, as most phones, but the increase in low-light photo quality was noticeable. Take a look at this photo (right- click photo for a full resolution) I took while at the Styx concert a few nights ago. The camera caught all the quality and didn’t leave all the remnants in the black areas. Throw in a great video camera capable of recording up to 4k video (check out this amateur demo in 4k!) and you have a wonderful camera that will fill up your internal memory quick if you’re not careful!

The S-Pen

The S-Pen is one of those things that you either use all the time, or you never use it. I happen to fall into the latter category and VERY rarely pull the S-Pen out of it’s holding location at the bottom of the phone. However, I do recognize the use for the device and do pull the S-Pen out for a quick note.

It doesn’t take long for one to see the improvement in S-Pen software from the Note 3. In fact, if the screen is off and you pull the S-Pen from it’s home you can just start writing. No pausing to open the phone, unlock, get the right software open, and THEN start writing. This is probably the feature I use the most in meetings, on the phone, or the big one… at night.  The software add-ons that allow notating webpages and other documents virtually eliminate the need to mark up paper. And if you’re artistically inclined there are any number of apps available to let yourself go.

Check out the best S-Pen apps in this post by

The Other Hardware

I do have one complaint on the Note 5, especially coming from the HTC One M9, and that’s the speaker, or lack of them, specifically. The Note 5 has a single small bottom facing speaker on the device. The sound quality from the speaker is ok, except that I cover it up when I hold it a certain way making sound totally absent from the device. Luckily I usually listen to the Note 5 on a bluetooth speaker (review for the coming shortly) or plugged into my sound system, so it’s more of a nuisance instead of an actual issue.

The battery is good. A 3000mAh batter provides a full day’s worth of charge for power users and much more than that for most others.  And charging? I take advantage of the wireless charging by placing the Note 5 on a charging stand I purchased that let’s you charge and still use the device as a visible alarm clock. I love this feature.

The phone case is all glass which give it a bit of a slippery feel, but the curved back and edges make it easy to handle. The buttons are well places and easy to reach, even with smaller hands and a much larger phone.

The Software

The Note 5 software is Android 5.1.1 (and it’s in line for the Marshmallow 6.0 upgrade) and uses the TouchWiz interface you’ll find on most Samsung devices. There seems to be a decrease in unneeded apps on the device right out of the box so uninstalls aren’t nearly as necessary as previous versions. Moving between screens is amazingly smooth and as good or better than I’ve seen on modern iOS devices. And the software for the camera, S-Pen and more seemed to take a huge leap forward in this version.

There is so much to the Samsung Note 5 that it’s impossible to put into a blog post. I would invite you to take a look at the links below and to go into your local Verizon store to try out this amazing device.

Here’s the bottom line. The Samsung Note 5 is NOT a cheap phone, but if you like a larger phone that replaces a phone, camera, note pad and maybe even a tablet, it is well worth looking into. I like the Note 5’s easy-typing keyboard, decent battery life and smooth software when compared to other flagship devices from the other manufacturers. Head over to your local Verizon retailer and play with the Note 5 and the other phones. I think you’ll be happy with this one, I know I will!

Have a comment on the Note 5? Send it my way @BeBizzy on Twitter. And check out C|Net’s review of the Note 5 below.

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received a mobile phone and with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own.


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