Track Tech: Verizon Wireless’ Samsung Note 5

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samsungnote5Productivity is the name of the game when Samsung is playing. One of the newest Galaxy phones, the Note 5, is further proof of that statement. The simple yet impressive design of the device allows it to stand out against the competition. The 5.7 inch screen that boasts a Quad HD Super AMOLED display makes a statement of its own, capturing the user’s attention whether watching a new music video, scrolling through pictures from a recent vacation, or just trying to put a schedule together for the upcoming week with the help of Google Calendar, multiple email apps and Verizon messages. Thankfully, with features like Multi Window, users can look at two apps side by side, switch them out or switch to full screen mode with a simple gesture.

The long battery life allows you to get through your day without recharging under normal use. You have the option of using Ultra Power Saving Mode which shuts down unnecessary updating in the background for most apps and can change your screen to black and white with simple icons to create a minimalistic appearance. When you are ready to charge, do so with the included wall adaptor or use the wireless charging pad, available from Verizon Wireless.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is available in both 32GB & 64GB models as well as multiple color options that add to the stunning glass and metal combination. You can choose from Gold Platinum, Black Sapphire or White Pearl. I tried out the White Pearl Note 5 for a month and enjoyed taking it on multiple trips and adventures – I found it easy to handle, simple to tuck away in a pocket given it’s “just right” size, and allowed me to see images easily in direct sunlight, thanks to the aforementioned AMOLED display.

Travel is a Breeze

The Samsung Note 5 is great for travel. It allowed me to easily jump between apps and take notes for things like shuttle times, thanks to the S Pen stylus that converted my freehand writing into text. When traveling to Florida in September, my vital apps were Southwest, SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest), Disney, and Google Maps. All of these apps need real-time updates to operate optimally – thanks to the Verizon Wireless 4G network dependability, I was always on time! The Disney App sent me reminders for FastPass (skip the line) times that I had set up for my friend and I. Most of the FastPass times were set up on our commute from Daytona to Orlando (where I was the passenger in the vehicle) and I did not run into any connection issues throughout all those miles and being in a state far from home. I’m grateful to have a network I can rely on, no matter where my journeys take me.

Another feature I really enjoyed was the live local weather on the lock screen. This is an option you can set up under the Wallpapers menu and it updates based on GPS location. As an example, when I woke up at my Disney resort and grabbed for my phone, the lock screen showed the Epcot Spaceship Earth as the wallpaper image and showed bright sunlight over the screen. When I got into Daytona two days prior, it showed an image of Daytona Beach and it looked like raindrops were dripping down the screen itself! It’s a small thing, I know, but I like that kind of personalization and information on my phone. Those are the things I remember and features that set Samsung apart from other smartphone manufacturers.

The “S Pen” Stylus: Stylish When Not Stuck

Screenshot_2015-09-22-11-45-18The Air Command with Hover View was a feature I used on the daily. You could choose which features to have in the Air Command icons – my favorite was for the Calendar. Simply hovering over calendar entries would prompt a pop up window, extending the view and allowing me to see all details pertaining to that entry. With countless calendar entries during my trips, the hover view saved me so much time. I found it particularly important during Homecoming weekend at my alma mater, Bowling Green State University. This ended up being a jam-packed daytrip with my father, which included time-sensitive events like the Alumni pancake breakfast, a movie 20 miles off campus and the homecoming football game, not to mention the round trip commute from Cleveland. I saved so much time and kept us on target thanks to this small yet efficient feature, and we never missed a beat. Oh, and Bowling Green won the football game 59-10 against the Akron Zips! Go Falcons!

As far as the stylus itself, I had to test out different ways to remove it from the device. If pressed right in, it can get stuck because the end of it retracts in and out like a click-pen. It’s nice that it’s flush against the phone when not in use, but I preferred the pen on the Note Pro, as it had a small notch that you could grab with the edge of your nail and pull it out. With the Note 5 stylus, I found the most effective way to remove it from the phone was to scratch the tip of my nail against it, in a quick motion from left to right if looking at the screen. This got it to pop out and then I could pull it out of the phone. It did get stuck quite a few times, inducing the cold sweat mini-panic, like, “Oh, great. I broke it.” I think Samsung should go back to the notched-end stylus. Sometimes the old slang adage of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”… applies to technology.

Camera Abilities & Gallery Organization

20151004_222338The timeline for photos on the Note 5 sort edited photos based on when they were edited, not when the original photo was taken. This made it so much easier to find the images I wanted to use when doing a Facebook album or just an individual image on Instagram.
While sightseeing in Washington, D.C. during a rainy and chilly October weekend, the Note 5’s camera’s ability to read the lighting and get a crisp clean shot at night, true to what my eyes were seeing, was amazing. I was grateful for this since we purposely went to see certain monuments in the evening – the WWII Memorial and the Washington Monument. They are much more stunning in the dark with the lights bringing them to life. It feels more poignant. I was glad to have my photos capture that haunting beauty.

IMG_20150925_192408The camera was also impressive during the 3 days of David Cook concerts that I attended at Walt Disney World in September. It took sequential photos while I held down the capture button so I ended up with a great shot during a moment of the concert which was completely in-the-moment and not able to be duplicated. I had one chance to capture the moment and thanks to the camera features on the Samsung Note 5, I did.

The venue was outside and packed! And then it started raining. While many attendees ran for cover in the American Adventure area, I stayed out, embracing the drops and taking it all in stride. David decided to do the same, leaving the dry covered-stage area and walking straight out into the crowd, singing and playing guitar right next to me and then heading back towards the stage. For the most part, I enjoyed the moment without a camera between me and the memory, but I opted to take out the Note 5 and capture something when I realized it was starting to rain harder. I’ll never forget that and I’m thankful to have such a fantastic capture of that show!

Google Now – Swipe Right at Home

Google is already one of my favorite things ever. Then the Samsung Note 5 went and made it even better. If you swipe to the right from the farthest left home page, it will open the Google Now app instantly! On the Google Now page you will find travel info for upcoming trips, weather, articles from most visited sites, and even sports scores/updates for teams that the user follows. Having it accessible as an active page with a swipe was great – saved the time of opening an app or finding the widget. Plus with it being an active page it was always updated as soon as I swiped to it.

Google Maps – Always There for You

Over my Washington DC Weekend, the Google Maps app was essential because we used public transit the entire time. The somewhat complicated subway system was simplified, thanks to constant updating from Verizon. The Note 5 let me know when there was an alternate subway line to take in order to reach our destination faster, or when there were delays on certain lines due to construction or fewer stops because of it being a weekend.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 brings together all the best of current smartphone technology into one seamless device, and while the physical attributes of the stylus itself could be upgraded, it’s functionality only adds to the reasons why this is THE device to contend with on the market right now. It currently retails at Verizon Wireless for less than $25 a month and pairs with wearables such as the Samsung Gear S2.

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