Today I am sad (over a phone)

Hello there

It finally happened, and how bittersweet it was. After having been a champion for Windows phone and the potential it had, and as a rebuke to the cult of Mac and unquestioning expansion of Android, it was finally time to say goodbye and put my beloved Nokia Lumia (that’s right – it’s an original Nokia phone from before the Microsoft buyout) out to pasture and become an Android myself. Hello Galaxy Note 5.

The Lumia still worked, sort of, but it was starting to experience freeze-ups in both the hard buttons and the screen. Additionally, the quality of the images taken with its camera, once ranked as the best phone camera in existence as you can see with the picture of my parent’s back yard below, were not as high quality as they once were, and let’s face it – although I’m not an app junkie, the app selection is anemic at best.

Taken with Nokia Lumia

Taken with Nokia Lumia

But the big reason I finally switched back to Android, the HUGE reason, is that while I am still a big fan of, and even defender of Microsoft, I simply cannot accept the direction they have taken their phone business. Although they indicate they are still working on the Windows phone ecosystem and technology, I don’t see it. I instead see them developing and expanding their apps for iPhone and Android, where frankly they work better and have more features than they do on Windows phone. So the ecosystem integration that caused me to go with Windows phone in the first place is no longer exclusive, and with the very, very low levels of developer support and my doubts as to whether even Microsoft is still invested, I said the hell with it and got the almost comically gigantic Galaxy Note 5.

It’s a great device. Using an 8-core Exynos chip at ~2GHz with 4GB of RAM, it’s very snappy and responsive. It uses Samsung’s TouchWiz skin over stock Android which I really don’t like (REALLY don’t like) and slows the whole phone down a little, but that’s easy enough to change with Google Launcher or any one of countless available themes. It’s also beautiful with its industrial design of a metallic gold finish, although the glass front and back means if I drop it I’ll  be texting via smoke signal for the next year.

I ran GeekBench tests against it, and while I won’t bore you with all the results it provided, they are very good overall, so I’ll  just provide you with a subset of the results instead.

In the first image I have included the phone’s specs as well as its single- and multi-core scores. You may also notice it says in the specs that the processor is an ARM Samsung, not the Exynos I mentioned earlier, however the Exynos is a line developed by Samsung based on ARM designs. So it all comes together in the end!

General specs and single/multi core performance

General specs and single/multi core performance

Then in the comparison screens against some other, sort-of similar devices, we can see that the Note 5 really holds its own, especially in the multicore tests where it crushes the competition, which isn’t really competition since second place goes to the Galaxy S6 . In single-core tests however, it comes in second, bested only by the HTC Nexus 9, which destroyed it although the Nexus 9 is a full tablet (The Note is referred to as a ‘phablet,’ a midpoint between phone and tablet, and I should also mention here I’m a big fan of HTC and their designs) and it comes in only slightly better than its sister device, the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Single-core tests are shown in the first image, multi-core results in the second image. I couldn’t run a battery test as the battery wasn’t fully charged at the time of this writing, and I most likely won’t run one because it runs the phone until the battery drains completely and I simply don’t have the time to run that test. Instead, I just threw in a picture of the battery screen in GeekBench as it stands.

I just got it today, so I am still configuring it just the way I like. There are some odd quirks – it downloaded most of my messages, but for one contact it downloaded all 500 of them, while for another it only downloaded one. It also doesn’t seem to adjust volume for the current task, so for example if I am in messaging and adjust the volume, it adjusts the volume for the ringer, not messaging notifications. I’m guessing there’s a way to address that but I haven’t figured it out just yet. The Lumia did that out of the box.

Image quality from the Note 5’s 16MP rear camera is excellent in natural, bright light, as you can see in the absolutely stunning image of Aldrich Park here at UCI, below. However, we start to see some washing out under bright but artificial light, and low light. You’ll also notice that zooming in to the digital max (never a good idea, by the way) results in a dark, fuzzy image, as seen in the picture of mr. crow, although there was some movement there as well. In bright light and even indoors/artificial light zoom causes less of an issue. The camera offers many, many settings including quick shots, burst mode, and the front camera even has a wide-angle lens for those group selfies.

But I loved that Lumia, and being the only person I knew with a Windows phone. So I will offer one last shot of the home screen in solemn remembrance. Oh, I guess I should mention that other than making calls and receiving texts, the phone still works. All apps, games, I can even access the store and OneDrive and transfer files and everything else. So that’s good.

There is some talk of a Surface-branded phone sometime in the distant future, so who knows; perhaps we’ll all be reacquainted again some day. But I just couldn’t wait that long, and they’re only rumors with no guarantees, so for now, it’s joining them since Microsoft couldn’t beat them. And I’m using that same wallpaper.

You served me well, old friend.

So long, old friend

So long, old friend