2015 has been a tough year for Samsung Electronics. Globally, its smartphone shipments and profit margins from its mobile division have dropped. It’s flagship smartphone from early in the year, the Galaxy S6, failed to capture the market’s imagination despite featuring a fantastic new design and toned down software customizations. However, there was a trend: customers preferred the new Galaxy S6 Edge that featured a dual-edge display to the regular/flat Galaxy S6. The problem: there weren’t enough of those. Samsung struggled to meet the meet the demand for the Galaxy S6 Edge. It didn’t expect demand to be that high. To correct that, the company introduced a sequel to the Galaxy S6 Edge that is much larger, the Galaxy S6 Edge+.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ arrived in the market at the same time as another darling of the business world and the power users, the Galaxy Note 5. As fate would have it, it is the Galaxy S6 Edge+ that ended up being introduced in most parts of the world since it is a more mainstream device than the Galaxy Note 5 that is considered by the company a niche device. According to Samsung Electronics East Africa Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Robert Ngeru, the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note range of devices serve different purposes and are geared towards different customers.
The young (at heart ), trendy and stylish who must always have the latest and the greatest are well served by Galaxy S devices like the Galaxy S6. However, the business executive who needs to be always on top things whilst globe-trotting or just about any power user, is best served by the Galaxy Note series. They can take notes quickly on the go, sign documents and annotate on charts (thanks to the S Pen) as well as do the obvious like catching up with friends and associates all without needing to reach for their laptop computers.
It is this need to cater for this demographic that the Galaxy Note 5 has finally made its way to the Kenyan market. We had heard at first that Samsung had no plans to introduce the device in this region but the company later clarified that it would be available in October. They kept their word and the device is now on sale at all Safaricom shops and Samsung experience centres across the country.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5, unlike its predecessors in the Galaxy Note series, ditches two defining features: a removable battery and the ability to expand storage using a memory card. This is because Samsung decided to upgrade the build materials from the plastic design reinforced by a metal frame on the Galaxy Note 4 to an all-metal premium design akin to that of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge announced earlier in the year.
New features on the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 include the ability to take down notes without having to power on the display, the ability to sign documents using the S Pen without requiring a third-party application as well as support for Samsung’s mobile payments service, Samsung Pay. Samsung Pay is only available in the United States and Korea at the moment. The Note 5 also features an upgraded stylus. The S Pen has been reworked not just to include a new sleek design that also makes it clicky like a real pen but also a new ejection mechanism. Users no longer have to reach for the bottom-right of the device to eject it.
The Galaxy Note 5 (and S6 Edge+) is Samsung’s first smartphone to pack 4 GB RAM. The display size is unchanged from last year’s Note 4 as it stays put at 5.7 inches while the processor got a boost to the Exynos 7420 that also powers the Galaxy S6. The battery capacity is also stepped down from last year’s model but Samsung is promising longer battery life. The front-facing camera got a bump to 5 megapixels up from the 3.7 megapixel shooter on the Note 4. Of course the device is 4G-ready (hence the launch partnership with Safaricom which is the only mobile network operator in Kenya with 4G LTE coverage at the moment). More details on the specifications and features can be found here.
Buyers of the device stand to get as much as $300 in value add-ons in the form of productivity applications like 100 GB OneDrive storage from Microsoft for two years, access to SketchBook, an application that takes advantage of the Galaxy Note’s S Pen to make it easier to draw and paint and free eBooks every month from Amazon through the Kindle for Samsung application.
The Galaxy Note 5 is available in a wide range of colours: Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Silver Titanium and White Pearl.
Safaricom is selling the device (32 GB) at Ksh 84,999. The first 500 buyers get a free wireless charging plate.
Several accessories (as pictured above) are also available for the device including some stylish covers and the Bluetooth keyboard, Keyboard Cover.