Today we’re taking a look at Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5. As we’ve seen with Samsung’s previous release, design changes are happening across the board, but it’s not without some compromises…

The design is the real story here. Samsung is playing it safe this year with everything inside of this device. Of course, you’ll only get Note features on the Note, but everything else here shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Personally, I’m a fan of the glass design. It looks great on the Galaxy S6 and this is no different. The main concern is having two giant slabs of glass on each side of the phone, but as long as you don’t drop it things should be alright. The back glass is tapered on the sides a bit and offers a nice curve for your hand. The metal frame around the outside feels great in the hands, but is a bit slippery being such a large device.

Compared to the Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus the Note 5 is slightly smaller in dimensions. I’m going to miss the removable plastic back from previous generations. Around the front side we have a beautiful 5.7 inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 which is covered by Gorilla Glass 4 to help keep it scratch free. Like the Galaxy Note 4 and S6, this is just as crispy as you’d expect with vibrant colors and deep blacks thanks to its display technology.

Check out our hands-on video below:

Powering that display is a cool Exynos 7420 octa-core processor as we’ve seen with the Galaxy S6 this year. While I can’t comment on long term performance, I can tell you that my Galaxy S6 has been running like a boss and I expect no different here considering that it also packs a whopping 4GB of RAM. The device will come in 32/64/128 storage configurations, but unfortunately the Galaxy Note 5 does not include Micro SD expansion or the ability to swap out the 3,000 mAh battery inside. Samsung has included wireless charging and quick charging with the Note 5, but I’ll let you know how the battery life works out in the full review.

There are two capacitive navigation buttons at the bottom end along with a home button with a built-in fingerprint sensor. Along the top of the display we have a 5-megapixel selfie shooter and a 16-megapixel camera around the back which should be good for beautiful images and crisp UHD video with optical image stabilization. There’s also an LED flash and heart rate sensor here too. It wouldn’t be a Note without an S Pen. Don’t worry, you’ll find one of those along the bottom edge of the device that will pop out when pressed.

As for software, we have a toned-down version of TouchWiz running on top of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. Samsung has changed up some features with the S Pen as well like Screen off memo, which will allow you to pull out the S Pen with the screen off and write on a black slate, and Scroll Capture which will piece together captures of a page for a longer note. There are a few additional app icons available as well within the Air Command menu.

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My initial software experience with the Note 5 seems solid, fluid, and well, exactly what I expected from Samsung at this point in the game. Again, nothing amazing happening in this department, but Samsung has really figured out how to offer TouchWiz as a skin in a way that doesn’t ruin your life, and I don’t know about you, but I think a non-life-ruining experience is a good one. Time will tell us how the software holds up and impacts battery life.

Again, this is a safe move for Samsung. It’s not that special of a phone aside from the fact that we have a nice and shiny (but breakable) design this time around. It’s a pretty face with an empty soul. That being said, I honestly didn’t expect much from Samsung for the Note this year. They are on top of the world with camera quality, software features, design, and everything in-between. This is the phablet to be this year, but let us know what you think about the Galaxy Note 5 in the comments section.

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