Samsung’s annual update to its large-screen Galaxy Note series is coming up, or so we suspect. The supersize Galaxy Note phones have been popular enough for Samsung to renew the series every September, which is why we’re starting to track our Samsung Galaxy Note 5 rumors now.
Samsung pioneered the big-phone craze, which Apple validated this year with its 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, its first large-screen phone. Now, more than ever, Samsung is in a position as the originator to draw “phablet” fans to its next Note, a phone that differentiates itself from the pack by including a stylus for drawing and navigation.
This page, which we’ll regularly update as juicy tidbits come in, shares with you all the things we know, think we know, and suspect we know about Samsung’s next biggo phone. (Right now we don’t officially know anything yet.)
Normally, I’d say all bets are on IFA, the big tech show held in Berlin every September (this year it runs from September 4-9, with press days likely the 2nd and 3rd). Why? Because Samsung has launched every Note phone there without fail, so, you know, precedent.
However, the rumor is that Samsung might shake things up a bit, announcing the Note 5 and a newGalaxy S6 Edge+ phone (basically a larger version of the Galaxy S6 Edge) on August 12 instead.
If that’s the case, it follows that Samsung will host its own launch event, maybe even roll out Samsung Pay while they’re at it.
Design and build
“Big” is the word to describe the Note 5. That’s because Samsung kicked off this whole “phablet” craze to begin with. In 2011, the original Note’s 5.3-inch screen size seemed ridiculously gargantuan. Now, you can buy phones with over 6-inch displays.
For the last two iterations, Samsung has held the Note size steady at 5.7 inches. While the company could always bump up the screen size, larger phone dimensions seem like a bad idea. The Galaxy Note 4 hits that sweet spot between an expansive screen you can use to view/write/multitask on a chassis that’s more-or-less comfortable for most adults to hold.
OK, and what about materials? The Note family has embraced a leatherlike aesthetic (sometimes with faux stitching) to create the look and feel of a high-end notebook or portfolio. But a purported design leak suggests that Samsung will carry the Galaxy S6’s glass back panel to the Note 5.
If that were to happen, you can bank on the Note 5 having an embedded battery, not a removable one.
The stylus is synonymous with the Note 4, so you can be assured it’ll be a big part of this phone, built-in holster too.
I’m confident Samsung will apply the S6’s updated fingerprint reader to this Note 5, along with a heart-rate monitor, and likely the same infrared blasters (for tuning the TV) that we’ve seen on many higher-end Samsung phones.
Software and apps
Samsung’s Galaxy line is Android through and through. As much as I’d love to see Google’s next operating system, Android M, arrive with the Note 5, that’s just not going to happen.
Android M will still be in developer preview phase, with the final software developer kit going out ” later in Q3″, which could mean August or September. After that, it’ll take time for phone makers like Samsung to integrate the new OS, and longer still for carriers to then approve the whole bundle.
So instead, I think we’ll see Android 5.1 Lollipop for now, with an updated release to whichever desserty delight “M” turns out to be several weeks after that.
Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay is pretty much a given, as is multitasking software to take advantage of that stylus.
Samsung often uses the Note series to step up its camera spec, so it isn’t out of the question for the Galaxy Note 5 to pick up a 20-megapixel shooter. On the other hand, a 16-megapixel camera with improved-upon processing software and increased lowlight sensitivity would also be worthwhile.
Any serious photographer will remind you that gobs of megapixels aren’t always the better bet. Often, the amount of light you can capture, and accurate processing, are worth far more.
Selfies are still hot right now, so I’d expect to see Samsung amp up this space as well, with a minimum of a 5-megapixel front-facing camera (as in the Galaxy S6), perhaps going as high as 8-megapixels. Wide-angle views and various gestures or commands for taking self-portraits should absolutely make a return appearance.
As the Note series tends to be Samsung’s second flagship, it’s usual for this phone to move up a notch in hardware. The processor is in question, but I’m putting my money on Samsung continuing to use its own Exynos chipset instead of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, as it did with the S6.
That said, anything can happen here.
One benefit of a non-removable design is that it tends to let designers pack in a higher-capacity battery for the phone’s size. I’d love to see the Note 5 surpass the Note 4’s 3,220mAh ticker. If it follows in the S6’s footsteps, the Note 5 won’t have a microSD card slot, but will have a couple of capacity options: 32GB and 64GB, minimum. It will probably utilize 4GB of RAM.
Pricing and availability
Costs vary greatly by region, but it’s safe to assume that Note 5 prices will be in the same ballpark as the Note 4. A SamMobile rumor (the same one that says the phone will launch August 12) also pegs August 21 as the sale date.
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