Home / Opinions / Note 5 Unpacked: Samsung has abandoned its most loyal fans

Note 5 Launch: Samsung has abandoned its most loyal fans

Andy Vandervell

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Unpacked 2015 23

OPINION Andy Vandervell looks at how Samsung is choosing to ignore its most ardent fans

I was never a fan of the Note series. For me, ‘phablets’ are the antithesis of everything I want from a mobile phone, but I’ve long since accepted that other people disagree. The success of the range, and the way rivals have imitated Samsung’s bigger is better approach, is proof enough that I was wrong.

But I don’t think I’m wrong about this – Samsung has abandoned its hardcore fans.

Personally, I think a 5.7-inch phone with a stylus is bonkers, but some people love it. Moreover, they love it not just because it’s big and has a stylus, but because the Note phones have always catered to the ‘power user’.

They had microSD cards, big and removable batteries, bleeding-edge features like USB 3.0 and always introduced a faster, more capable processor than the ‘S phone’ that preceded it.

This year the Galaxy Note 5 doesn’t have microSD, it has a smaller battery that’s non-removable and it uses the same processor as the S6. It’s a big S6 with a stylus and a few token upgrades, such as faster wireless charging and 4GB of RAM – 1GB more than S6.

Meanwhile, the likes of the OnePlus 2 are beating Samsung to the punch in adding USB-C, the kind of feature past Note phones would have pioneered.

The fan reaction has been predictable.

The top post on the Galaxy Note 5 community on Reddit simply reads: “It’s official, everything we didn’t want the GN5 to be, it is.”

One commenter rules out upgrading from the Note 3:

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While another bemoans the fact that Samsung hasn't listened to its fans.

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And they are joined by a chorus of other hardcore fans on Reddit and other enthusiast sites, many of whom have bought every version of the Note range, who won’t anymore.

They’re frustrated that Samsung seems to have ignored everything they liked about the Note series. This is, in their eyes, Samsung behaving like Apple – dictating what’s right, rather than listening to what people want from the Note.

Why sell two nearly identical phones?

Samsung’s choice seems all the more baffling given the simultaneous launch of the S6 Edge+. It’s basically the same phone without the stylus. It’s perfect for anyone who wants a big, attractive phone – it's the perfect rival to the iPhone 6 Plus. Samsung didn't need to neuter the Note 5 to attract the design conscious consumer.

I suspect this is why Samsung isn’t planning to sell the Note 5 in the Europe and UK. It’s simple enough when one version of a phone is smaller and one is bigger – it’s personal preference. But how do you explain two nearly identical phones that are the same size? Perhaps someone in Europe understands that better than head office.

The implication from Samsung is that Europe and the UK care less for the stylus, which I can understand – it’s a more popular feature in Asia than it is here. But I can’t believe there aren’t ‘power users’ in Europe who would like a phone with a bigger battery, a microSD card slot and the flexibility to replace and upgrade the battery.

After all, the Note series clearly sold well here before – if it didn’t, Samsung wouldn’t have persevered for so long.

Related: Galaxy Note 5 vs Note 4: What's new?

Whatever the reasons, Samsung doesn’t seem keen to explain its choices in detail. Perhaps the Note 4 was a flop, perhaps it wants to focus on being cooler and more mainstream?

One thing is for certain, though – Samsung just lost a great many loyal fans.

syd Ney

August 14, 2015, 2:36 am

HORRIBLE, just HORRIBLE

- What do Samsung think that they are doing?

If a person wants a HEAVY METAL, NON-BATTERY SWAPPABLE, NON-MEMORY ADDABLE BRICK, they can always go over and buy a useless IPHONE....

My Note 3 is LIGHTER than the "new"

My Note 3 has MUCH MORE MEMORY (160GB) than the "new"

My Note 3 can swap to my spare batteries anytime for indefinite power-life, unlike the DEAD-BATTERY "new"....

toboev

August 14, 2015, 7:48 am

The two Reddit comments you highlight say it all. The first one rightly calls out the whole "premium" cult, where the likes of TR have slavishly worshipped for so long. The second points up Samsung's mistake in listening to such siren voices. For TR to now turn around and criticise Samsung for bowing at the same altar is a bit rich.

Keith

August 14, 2015, 10:04 am

My first reaction to this was, oh no, it's a downgrade.. I won't be replacing my Note 4 any time soon. But then the missing bits SD card, removable battery. Well I've never bothered replacing the battery, and I haven't even installed an SD card. For extra memory I've been using OTG USB's like the Transcend Jetflash (nice and small and fits in my wallet). And for battery charging while away I used a juice pack I got from Ikea, and the advantage was I could charge other devices with it too, including my wife's iphone.

But all this is moot, as Samsung have decided not to sell in the UK, and the Stylus was something I did use.. :(

Prem Desai

August 14, 2015, 11:44 am

Samsung clearly feel that they haven't lost enough market share last year or have made too much money and need to make less.

They are constanly following Apple's design and functionality lead. What they don't realise is that they are NOT Apple and do not have it's loyal fan base. They also forget, that unlike Apple users, Android users have a choice.

My choice in this case is to not buy Samsung .....

LeeTronix

August 14, 2015, 12:04 pm

How do they actually know the percentage of people that use the pen. It is absurd. I use the pen on my note edge when I need to, when I don't I guess what I don't use it. It is that simple. I wanted the phone so I could use the pen when i choose that is the whole point. For some they may use it all the time etc. I don't know it seems Samsung are intent on destroying themselves in the mobile technology and to not include an entire continent is beyond stupidness its finite greed and pathetic business decisions... So Europeans are only good for certain phones but not others hmmm If this sticks I will not support Samsung anymore out of principle.

Zubeir

August 14, 2015, 12:19 pm

If you have a note 4, stick with it, I am. Was the launch a joke or did I miss something. Two steps forwards four steps back. Samsung are it's own worst enemy at times. Customers will only tolerate their strategy on mobile phones for so long. Samsung do you wonder why some the handset sales have been quite poor...Duh!

Crossed

August 14, 2015, 7:10 pm

I had the Note 2,3, and 4. LG G4 Pro will be on my radar as long as it is 5.5'+, sd card, and removable battery.

andyvan

August 14, 2015, 7:33 pm

We've criticised Samsung design in the past – certainly I have – but I don't recall criticising it for the features people liked. I don't really understand the idea that good design and power user features are mutually exclusive.

Last year's Note 4 was a nicely designed phone – especially if you bought the black/blue one, which has the softer touch rear. It's evidence enough that you can include these features and make an attractive phone. As is the LG G4, as is the Lumia 830.

mario rosel

August 14, 2015, 7:46 pm

I have to note 3, waited for the note 4. I said Fuck it S6 is coming out might as well wait Note 3 still going strong. S6 arrived and ruined everything, it's a wanna be iPhone it has everything I don't care for. Waited for note 5 with high hopes and nearly fell off my chair when they said "we have listened to our costumers". What a joke, I have no idea who they were listening to because everywhere I read people share my opinions. We want longer battery life, the option to expand our memory (whether we do it or not the fact that we had the option made us different from Apple) and we liked being different. Now Samsung has 4 nearly identical phones, what is the purpose? It makes no sense

kevin

August 14, 2015, 8:38 pm

So, Andy... the reason you have no liking for phablets is completely summed up in your picture, assuming it's anywhere near current. You are young.

Us old folks like a big screen so that we can see what's on it without having to dig out the Olde-Guye reading glasses. That includes text, and using the camera.

I bought a Note 4, anticipating that I would leave my engineering notebook in my desk, and take notes on my phone, using the stylus. After I got it, I found out it doesn't have palm rejection, so the stylus is approximately completely useless for note-taking or sketching. About the only thing I use it for are grocery lists, that I can slowly and deliberately block-print, without extraneous squiggles, and without crazy things happening as the heel of my hand touches a random spot on the screen. Then, I use the eraser feature to delete items as I toss them into my shopping cart.

I coulda just replaced my old physical-keyboard Motorola slider with an iPhone.

Live 'n learn.

I do really like the camera on the Note 4, though.

But since I've got this beast in my old-guy baggy pocket, I will absolutely NOT be "upgrading" to a Note 5.

Hell, I've got an iPad, and an old MacBook Pro. Maybe my next phone should complete the Apple assimilation process, when I get tired of the Note 4.

LeeTronix

August 14, 2015, 9:53 pm

Last years Note 4 / Edge is not a year old though. It maybe of been 2014 launch but its not 12 months ago. The S6 was this year and already they issuing a new version the Plus. I think Samsung by deciding to remove an entire continent has showed their true teeth to the masses and its about greed ultimately and not being bothered about their customers.

On a side note I have noticed you do respond when people do not say positive things about your site quite a lot and never respond when people have said good things about TR and yes I am talking from experience as well as an observer. And when someone criticizes TR you don't need always disagree or come back with a clever smart answer as it isn't smart. Take it on board and acknowledge the comment and maybe try being professionally sympathetic back. That way people will not gossip behind the scenes and and on here all the time, they would respect that type of reaction from you. Its not a competition its about people expressing their views albeit it can be slightly stronger on occasion. Further its always good to not assume who some of your commentators are because you never know?

Just a thought Mr Vandervell.

steve

August 15, 2015, 8:06 am

I would'nt say Samsung just lost a great number of their loyal Note fans but rather that they immensely disappointed them. What they did with the S6+ (dual edges) should have been a variant of the Note 5 which did'nt deploy any variant. How premium are premium materials hidden behind protective cases? Anyone purchasing a Note at its expense rate is going to have a protective case, if not they are just being a show off and not a true power user. I don't get the non-removable battery unless because of the circuitry the wireless charging capability needs the back to be sealed off. If need be, a user can always take their device into a Samsung Customer Service Center and the battery can be replaced by a technician so this is not as much an issue as users are making it out to be and personally I would rather carry a charged up power bank to recharge my phone on the go than to swap out batteries which would require me to peel off layers of protective casing. As I see it, I only see three major flaws with the Note 5 - 1) No SD card slot 2) No screen size increase to 5.9 inch and 3) No Edge variant.

I have a Note 3 and forwent the Note 4 because I wanted a larger screen (5.9 inch) primarily and also wanted it on the Edge variant. When that did'nt happen I told myself, hold out, the Note 5 will be a milestone phone and it will come out then. So, I have been held in anticipation limbo for a year only to be seriously injured by the Note 5 specs announcement. At this point I am contemplating getting an upgrade to the Note 4 Edge which, while not a 5.9 inch screen, is closer to what specs I was looking for out of the Note 5.

On the plus side they did add some cool features to the Note 5 and S6+ just not what I or anyone anticipated in exchange for what we desired. 5 was their opportunity to be a milestone phone and it certainly does not live up to that expectation.

toboev

August 15, 2015, 8:07 pm

So here is a good thing: Mr V has put his finger on it when he implies that the reason Samsung Europe will not be distributing the new Note is because they recognise that there isn't one.

Bijdehans

August 15, 2015, 10:45 pm

Do we really want to keep spending our money on products from a company which does not seem to like its customers? I say, start looking elsewhere...

LeeTronix

August 16, 2015, 2:22 am

Right! Samsung just made all that bit about marketing strategy hence why the EU is missing out. Hmm..Well if thats the case then Samsung are in even bigger doo doo...!

Peter F.

August 16, 2015, 8:32 am

Maybe Sammy is simply fishing for easily pleased iPhone-inclined people (with their undoubted purchase power combined with insensitivity to the relative 'price-to-phone properties ratio')? ;->

toboev

August 16, 2015, 1:02 pm

When the Note 1 launched, it was radically different from anything else. The first thing that hit you was the sheer size (and most review sites panned it for that, straight off the bat), and the stylus was an interesting extra. All other Samsungs had the same removable back, SD card and battery, so that was just normal.

Over time the original Note's defining feature (the large screen area) has become pretty much the norm. And sneaking up on us all has been the "premium" doctrine of form-over-function, costing us the removable back, battery and SD card (and Samsung hasn't even the grace to give us waterproofness as a quid-pro-quo).

So the stylus was left to carry the flag of "Note" individuality. At which point Samsung EU presumably woke up and thought, "Huh, we've got two identical phones here with just a stylus to differentiate them - what is the point?"

LeeTronix

August 16, 2015, 7:23 pm

I have noted that a while back (pun not intended). The point is Samsung just want to keep costing up and production down, rather than focus on different aspects of the phones use. The part about you saying the Pen is the differentiator is actually a massive one. Personally I think they should of either stopped with the S range or ditched the note completely one of the two but either way kept the stylus pen. The costs for the S6 against the Note 4 is stupid in my opinion as well, it is a clear case of greed. I know they are wanting more people to keep buying the 4 so it forces people who want the newer models to buy the S6 range or S7 whichever.

I just do not like where Samsung is going these days.

Steffanie Liebman

August 17, 2015, 4:29 am

Completely agree! I also have a note 3, did not buy the note edge, because Verizon did not carry a white one so I decided to wait for the fabulous note 5! I am disappointed in all the reasons you stated! Would love to have had a larger screen, the edge variant, and at least an SD card! I think the glass back idea while attractive is crazy! Glass is fragile, slick, and shows every fingerprint! Although, the biggest complaint about Samsung for the past several years has been the plastic backs! So in a way they did listen, but in my opinion didn't choose wisely! I'm still on the fence on what to do next!

PomaiS

August 17, 2015, 5:02 am

I waited over a year not upgrading from my Note 3 to Note 4, in hopes the rumors would prove wrong and Sammy would be loyal to us Note loyalists (I've owned the Note I and II as well). However they totally SOLD OUT and went "Apple" on us.

So what did I do? Just this past week I used my T-Mobile "jump" and upgraded from my Note 3 to the Note 4. This, just when the Note 5 is about to be released! Why? Not only do I think it's a BETTER model than the new Note 5, but also to stick it to Sammy, so they get the message when they introduce the Note 6 next August (2016).

An incremental improvement in camera, processor and RAM is not nearly a step forward, as it is a step BACKWARDS to give us a smaller, sealed-in battery and no user-replaceable hardware memory expansion. Not to mention, the screen is almost the same as the Note 4, while they didn't even give us a waterproof rating for that sealed glass and metal case, which should have been a no-brainer. Plus still the speaker being mono on the bottom? WEAK! They should have pulled out every stop and given us the HTC ONE design, with an S-Pen, waterproof rating, and Samsung's what was once known friendliness towards user-friendly expansion.

If the Note 6 continues what they're trying to sell us with the Note 5, I'm abandoning Samsung. For now, I'm Loving my "new" Note 4! You should get one too! It's the best Phablet to date, since the Note 5 is EPIC FAIL.

Keith

August 17, 2015, 12:07 pm

>> fact that we had the option made us different from Apple

I like that comment, and totally agree Samsung are forgetting why they became one of the most popular Android phones. With Android unlike Apple, loyalty is not forced, I can change to LG / Sony etc.etc,. without blinking an eye. Maybe this is what Samsung don't like. Apple products are really nice, and they have a certain market, but then so does Samsung. If Samsung try to take Apple's market, they will loose badly..

mario rosel

August 17, 2015, 12:20 pm

Exactly. Their entire marketing strategy before was about being different, and how their phones offered things apple couldn't. Now it's the same thing, I agree stealing their market costumers won't work and in the process they alienated their loyal fans

Keith

August 17, 2015, 12:33 pm

>> After I got it, I found out it doesn't have palm rejection,

Not sure you know this but S-Note has a stylus only mode.. So your fingers are only used for scrolling and zooming. Using it this way I have no issues taking Notes & sketching while resting my palm on the screen. And with you saying engineering notebook I would have thought you would have loved the transform into formula feature.

toboev

August 21, 2015, 8:55 am

In the S-Note application there is palm rejection and it works very well. Third icon from the left in the app's standard toolbar. RTFM! :)

toboev

August 21, 2015, 9:03 am

Don't all these phones default at setup to agreeing to send diagnostic stats back to base, so the can know which apps and features are used, etc?

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