PROS S-Pen is great, Screen is big, bright, colorful and super sharp, Battery life is pretty good, Fingerprint reader is useful, Call quality is decent.
CONS Not inexpensive
SUMMARY The actual screen is the next most obvious asset this phone has to offer. It's big, bright, colorful and super sharp. Those extra pixels might be too close together for my eye to focus on, but they do make little details show up nicely. I personally love the saturation of the colors, but I am a more modern graphic designer at heart. As far as battery performance related to the screen goes, I certainly notice increased consumption when the screen is on, but I'm not afraid to fire it up even when I'm at 10% battery
*The S-Pen is great. Still very unique to the Note series, this was one of the reasons I really wanted to review this phone. I love to doodle and this makes it easier to do that anywhere, and in color. The S-Pen would not be hard to misplace, but there is a warning to be set up, which beeps and vibrates if it gets left behind, so that's comforting. Screen write is nifty, the phone takes a screenshot and then puts it right into a drawing program so you can write/draw/emphasize whatever. It will then save the picture to the gallery for easy sharing. Additionally, when the S-Pen is out of it's dock, and a keyboard dialog comes up, there is the option to input text via handwriting. I find this moderately easier than tapping with the pen, or putting the pen down. It takes a little learning, mostly to write in such a way that S's and 5's, O's and 0's are distinguishable. When I think about it though, it's probably forcing me to improve my penmanship.
*Battery life is pretty good, and charging, even with a standard cord plugged into a USB port is quick! I can regularly get 23.5 hours off the charger, with about 4 hours of actual screen on time. Charge times are about 1.5 hours on the adaptive charger or 3 hours connected to a computer usb. Over the weekend, I didn't use the phone as much as I had been (I'm mostly done tweaking options), and was able to get just about 2.5 days off of a full charge + 1 hour on the adaptive charger. I think that's pretty good! One excellent option is the Ultimate Power Saving mode. In this mode I still have the phone, SMS and alarms (in addition to a few other things) and usually only lose 1-2% over an 8-9 hour period. That combined with quick charge times have made me unafraid to turn my screen on, and to use it at full brightness! The removable battery is nice.
*The IR blaster is something every man needs (I'm sure women will appreciate it too). The ability to walk into a room and control all/most remote controlled devices with a few seconds of setup is invaluable! I never need to ask, "Where's the remote?" because I know, it's on my hip! Things like air conditioners and car radios with remote controls are not out of reach either, they may just take some fiddling.
*Storage is another factor that made up my mind to review this phone and I'm not sorry. While the phone has no storage variants and is only available in 32GB, it has the now rare MicroSD slot. I have two such Samsung EVO 64 GB cards at the moment, one in my phone, one in the wife's tablet. So, I have 96 GB minus 8.5 GB for system files and 2.3 GB for apps. For a phone, that I can remote connect to my computer and transfer files back and forth, that's pretty good!
*Call quality is decent. I can't say it's much different than my RAZR. Unfortunately, my work is in a shifty spot between towers... so I'm used to having dropped calls if I move around, but it hasn't gotten any worse at least. On the other hand, I'm told I sound much better, and I'm sure that's the GN4's superior noise cancellation. The volume on the phone is loud enough for me to comfortably make calls in loudspeaker or phone-to-the-head mode, even when my environment is noisy.
*The camera is great in daylight, not as great in low light. It takes nice quick pictures when the sun is up. In a low-lit room, it can take a second to focus and snap but it's not unbearable, it's the blur that results if the subject is moving that makes me sad. Video is a completely different animal though, very crisp, very smooth. OIS is great! The 8x slow-mo mode is neat, as is the 8x fast-mo. Having a toddler means they get a lot of
*TouchWiz, ah... Samsung making their presence known. I would much prefer stock android, more useful options.
*The hardware buttons on this phone are probably my biggest frustration with it. I know they are all Samsung standards, but if I'm being honest, I think Motorola has a better setup. The volume buttons being across from the power means I almost always squeeze them together, often with undesired consequences... The mechanical home button is very close to the bottom edge of the screen and I often end up hitting whatever's there on the screen along with the home button.
The opinionated title of my review is based mostly on the shear number of useful features this device offers out of the box. It may not be the best selling, and I may have seen a biased review or two claiming that the apple team has a better handle on graphics processing, but I can already tell the features I've gone over will make this phone a tough one to beat functionally.
I loved testing this phone and it's a shame the note 5 isn't as yet coming to the UK. Hope it does at some point in the future