Samsung took the wraps off the newest devices in its phablet lineup: The Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge+. As when Samsung launched the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, the two devices are pretty much identical internally, just in "flat" and "curved" versions. The extra twist this time is that one is a "Note" and one is an "S6"—only the Note has an S-Pen. If you wanted a fully loaded option—a curved screen phone with an S-Pen—it looks like you're out of luck. The phones will be available in the US and Canada on August 21st, and pre-orders start today at 3pm Eastern.
As usual, the Galaxy Note series is very much a "tick" to the Galaxy S series' "tock." The Note 5/Edge+ takes most of its design cues and materials from the Galaxy S6—it's a glass sandwich with rounded, metal sides. Also like the S6, the glass back isn't removable, and Samsung is forgoing the microSD card and removable battery that many Samsung fans have grown to love over the years.
The major differences between the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ are a flat (Note 5) or curved (S6 Edge+) screen and an S-Pen (Note 5) or no S-Pen (S6 Edge+). The screen on the S6 Edge+ curves along the left and right sides, just like the S6 Edge. The Note 5's S-Pen holder is now flush with the body, necessitating a spring-loaded pop out mechanism. The biggest new S-Pen feature Samsung mentioned is the ability to write on the phone's screen without having to turn it on first, a handy time-saving feature.
Another minor difference between the two is the back. The S6 Edge+ back is flat (save for the camera bump) while the Note 5 opts for a back that curves along the sides for an easier grip, just like the Xiaomi Mi Note.
Samsung has also released a Blackberry-esque physical keyboard cover, cleverly called the "Keyboard Cover." It appears to come in multiple colors to match the color of the phone you pick, and the operating system dynamically resizes onscreen elements to account for the section of screen covered by the keyboard.
The Galaxy S6 has been a particularly good option this year since it isn't saddled with Qualcomm's uncharacteristically weak Snapdragon 810 SoC. Samsung's Exynos 7420 SoC in the Galaxy S6 was faster and cooler than the 810—it felt like Samsung's SoC made a generational leap this year while Qualcomm stood still.
Like the Galaxy S6, the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ are equipped with an Exynos 7420 SoC running at 2.1GHz. The rest of the specs include a 5.7-inch, 2560×1440 AMOLED display, 4GB of RAM (an upgrade from the S6's 3GB of RAM), a 16MP rear camera with OSI and 4K video recording, a 5MP front camera, a 3,000mAh battery, and a baseline of 32GB of storage with 64GB and 128GB options. The phone also supports Category 9 LTE download speeds of up to 450Mbps and upload speeds of 50Mbps.
There are a lot of extras as well. Wireless charging is built in, and Samsung says it can charge the phone in two hours. The fingerprint readers return, but this year the Note/Edge+ should inherit the excellent fingerprint reader from the Galaxy S6. Samsung Pay hardware is included, too, to provide support for the just-launched mobile payments system. Samsung Pay doesn't use NFC but rather "Magnetic Secure Technology (MST)"—basically a way to send the magnetic data in a credit card strip wirelessly over a magnetic field. The system is supposedly more compatible than NFC, since MST can theoretically be used by the majority of credit card terminal designs.
That's about it for these two devices: bigger versions of the Galaxy S6 with an optional S-Pen. We're going to try them out and get to work on a hands-on post. Check back later!