Since the first model was released nearly four years ago, the Galaxy Note has been the only smartphone designed with a stylus pen in addition to the screen. Over the years, the stylus has improved to accomplish more and more, with the new version being used to scribble short notes and reminders while the screen is turned off.
The problem with the new stylus is that not only can it be inserted pointy side first, it can be inserted backwards as well, causing damage to not only the stylus, but the Galaxy Note5 as well.
So far, Samsung's response has been to remind users they must carefully follow the instructions that come with the phone to avoid such problems. That doesn't seem like a strategy that will satisfy irate customers for long.
Out of the box, the review unit worked perfectly. But, after a week of constant testing under work conditions, the stylus now barely does anything. Sometimes, when you restart the phone, it does operate properly, but then only for a minute or two. While the stylus didn't negatively affect other phone functions, it's still something that Samsung will have to address.
Otherwise, the Note5 is a terrific smartphone.
Its specifications are pretty close to those of its curved-screen brother, the new Galaxy S6 edge + (review). It has a wonderful 5.7-inch touchscreen, octa-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, 16 and 5 megapixel cameras, a big 3,000 mAh battery with wireless charging, and it runs Android 5.1.1. The display has an almost three-dimensional quality that's amazing to experience in person.
But there is that possibility of a user encountering the stylus/slot design problem. It's something that could possibly have been avoided if the stylus had been tapered to fit inside in only one direction, and it's something that can't be tolerated, especially in such an expensive smartphone design.
While it's selling for less than the Galaxy S6 edge +, AT&T's (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report non-contract price for the 32 GB Note5 is $739.99. Add $100 for the 64 GB version. Sprint (S) - Get SENTINELONE, INC. Report wants $720, T-Mobile (TMUS) - Get T-Mobile US, Inc. Report asks $699.99 and it's $696 at Verizon (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report . Payout plans are available but, for now, at these prices, the unwanted publicity is going to make this phone a hard sell.
Overall Score Now: 8.0/10
After Possible Stylus Fix: 8.5/10
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.