Samsung Galaxy Note5 And Galaxy S6 Edge+ Review: More Of A Good Thing

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Galaxy S6 Edge+ And Note 5 User Experience and Software

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note5 are based on primarily the same software package as Samsung's current generation Galaxy S6 products. That is to say that underneath Samsung's lightly-skinned TouchWiz interface, is a mostly stock Android 5.1.1 Lollipop experience. Good, bad or indifferent, TouchWiz does layer a bit of utility on top of the latest Android iteration currently on the market. Over the years, TouchWiz hasn't exactly been met with enthusiam, especially from Android purists in the press. However, as of late, Samsung has dialed back TouchWiz and made refinements such that it's significantly thinner than previous versions. And actually, the general consensus on the team here now is that it's really quite efficient, adding a bit more contrast in certain menu options and few more quick access control shortcuts and customizations to stock Android. 

Galaxy S6 Edge Home Screen ATT Bloat

widgets themes customize Android Lollipop and TouchWiz
App icons have a slightly rounded look to them and are bright and colorful against the various wallpapers that come stock with the phones. You also get the ability to setup multiple customized home screens, arranging apps as you'd like them in the grid, and there's a theme engine on board as well to change up fonts, color palettes and the like. Finally, of course you get configurable widgets that you can add to any home screen offering quick interfaces for things like the alarm clock, the weather, calendar, contacts, email, various installed apps and more. We will say AT&T does add a bit of bloatware to the installation unfortunately, but most carriers do. Regardless, you can either uninstall or disable what you wish here.

App Edge People Edge
Samsung App Edge and People Edge

Samsung's App Edge and People Edge apps are, you guessed it, available on the Galaxy S6 Edge+. These are somewhat useful utilities that allow you to configure quickly accessible shortcuts on the right curved edge of the GS6 Edge+'s display. You can add shortcuts to most commonly used apps and also most commonly accessed contacts, as you can see here, with a single tap. It makes use of the curved edge area of the phone's display but frankly these features are sort of just novel, with the exception of maybe People Edge, which would otherwise take a couple more taps to drill down to a favorite contact listing. It does feel like Samsung could explore more interesting or useful applications for the edge display areas of the GS6 Edge+ but it's hard to knock the current implementation too hard. Frankly, the physical aspects of its curved display are enough to sway most users for a second take of the device, based on looks and design aesthetics alone. That may sound cheap or shallow but "beauty is in the eye," as they say.

Air Command S Pen
Galaxy Note5 Air Command Menu And S Write App

Finally, there's the Note5’s pen stylus capabilities with various Samsung apps like S Note, Action Memo and Screen write. Jotting notes and drawings with the phone and the S Pen is responsive and satisfying. Stylus tracking with your strokes on the display is nearly instantaneous. Samsung has done a very nice job of refining this functionality over the years and the Note5 is the best version yet. If a pen stylus, jotting, note taking and drawing is important to you, the Note5 is probably best of class in this area.

Even if you’re a casual stylus user, handy utilities like Screen Write will let you grab a screen capture or still image with the camera and then mark it up for notation with the ability to then share it with a friend or co-worker on various platforms. For less frequent users, this may be the most useful tool in the Note5's box but then again it could be the Instant Memo app. Here, capturing quick snippets of data like email addresses, names or directions is potentially quicker and more natural, writing it down just by whipping out the S Pen and firing up the app in one stroke. Well done Samsung. The Note5 is truly one of the best incarnations of a stylus-enabled smartphone or tablet that we've seen to date.

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