Time to look for alternatives: get the Galaxy Note 7's features on the Note 5 with these tips!


After an unfortunate saga with the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung finally made the tough decision to pull the plug on the device. Sales have been halted and all Note 7 units that are out in the users' hands are being recalled with safety warnings posted all over. Sammy will allegedly be disposing of the units, effectively ending the phone before it had its chance to hit most markets worldwide.

So, the Note 7 is dead and many that waited for it are undoubtedly bummed out, some of us here at the office included. It's time to look for a viable alternative to the highly anticipated phablet, which is not an easy task for those that were already sold on the Note 7's more unique features. Of course, going for a Galaxy S7 edge could get you a similar experience if you don't care about the S Pen or about owning a Note — that's what many are already doing. But what if you want to have the latest and greatest that the Note line has to offer?

Well, your best bet at this point is to get a Galaxy Note 5 and tweak it a bit to simulate the Note 7 experience. On the outside, it is a pure representative of the metal-and-glass Samsung design, while on the inside, it's not a laggy mess like the older Notes.

We dug around, looking for possible ways to add some of the Note 7's modern features to other handsets, and came up with a few ideas. We do assume that some savvy coders out there may be looking for ways to get the Note 7's UI ported for its 2015 sibling (kind of how the Note 4's features were ported to the Note 2 a couple of years ago), but for now, your best bet is to use apps and a few witty workarounds.

All that said, here's how we suggest you turn your Note 5 to the closest Note 7 alternative possible!

Add Edge panels to the Note 5!


One of the Note 7's most distinct features is its double-curved display and its Edge panels. While we don't recommend you try to bend the Note 5's display at its sides, there certainly are plenty of apps that kind of simulate Edge panels available in the Play Store.

We like Ivy Sidebar for its simplicity. Its handle looks a lot like the one on the S7 edge or Note 7 and it has two panels to switch between — favorite apps and favorite contacts. Ivy can also have a strip with your RSS feeds rolling through it, and can call up a special widget-holding overlay where you can put some of your favorite tools.

If you really want to geek up your sidebar, you can go with Everywhere Launcher. It's a sidebar with insanely deep customization options. It can hold apps, folders, contacts, widgets, and action shortcuts; the size and colors of the sidebar and its icons can be manually adjusted.

Download Ivy | Download Everywhere Launcher




GIF maker tool on the Note 5?


One of the really interesting new features on the Note 7 was the ability to draw a Smart Select rectangle with your S Pen and automatically record whatever happens within that rectangle into a quick GIF animation. Awesome to quickly take out a part of a video to use as a looping meme, to create quick guides, or whatever else you might want to use it for.

While this feature may or may not come to the Note 5 via a software update, we still need a workaround right now. Well, we think we found a pretty good one!





S Pen tips!


You need to move fast on this one, as we're not sure for how long Note 7 spare parts would be available. The S Pen on the new Note got a new tip, which is much thinner and more precise than the old one — it's thickness is down to 0.7 mm, from 1.6 mm. The good news is that the new S Pen tips fit on older Notes as well! So, all you need to do is get your hands on some Note 7 tips. You can get the following package from Amazon for $30:

  • Note 7 S Pen
  • 5 extra S Pen tips
  • Regular pen with stylus tip on back

Not a cheap option, but a lucrative one for the Note-faithful.

Amazon store link


Night Mode


The blue light filter is a rather new fad — it is believed that artificially-created blue light from screens and light bulbs messes with our sleep. That's why manufacturers are now adding a type of a night mode to their phones — the display becomes warmer, with its blues subdued. The Note 7 was the first Sammy device to have the feature. It will probably come to others via an update, but until it does — you can use one of the more popular blue light filter apps, like Twilight.

Download Twilight




Always on display


Here's a tricky one. Last year's Note 5 doesn't have the Always on display feature and we don't know whether it will be patched in or not. There are a few apps on the Play Store that try to replicate it, but these are a bit messy — they either bug out, keep the phone's capacitive keys glowing, make the phone very easy to accidentally unlock, or they just plain mess up Android's Doze Mode. So, while not an Always on option, we suggest looking at smart screen apps like SmartWake.

SmartWake will give you a few useful options – it can wake the phone's screen when a notification comes in, it can turn it on when you pick the device up (a-la Nexus Ambient Display), and it can automatically lock the screen when you set the phone back down on a table.

Download SmartWake




Translate


In all honesty, we don't think the new translate feature was all that useful in the first place. It only worked on a word-per-word basis and required you to awkwardly hover over words with the S Pen. If you want to have your on-screen content translated, we suggest you use the Google Translator. Its "Tap to Translate" feature will offer you to translate any piece of text you copy, as shown in the screenshot below. If you want to translate an image and can't highlight the text — just feed the image or a screenshot into the Google Translator app.

Download Google Translate




Zoom


Unfortunately, we couldn't find a way to get the new S Pen zoom feature to be easily accessible. It is present on the Note 5, however. There are a couple of ways to access it.

Assistant menu


Go to Settings → Accessibility → Dexterity and interaction → Assistant menu. The little bubble that pops up is an easy-access menu for some of your phone's main functions. Scrolling down to page 4 will give you a magnifier window like the one shown on the right. Its position is controlled via a virtual touchpad

Vision menu


Settings → Accessibility → Dexterity and interaction → Vision → Magnifier window will open up an ever-present window, which zooms quite close to on-screen content. It is controlled by dragging on the window itself.

For whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be a way to add a shortcut to these for quick access. Your best bet is to have the Assistant menu constantly on-screen, though, we are not sure anybody enjoys having an ever-present floating bubble on their display. Especially when other apps are already battling for screen real estate with their own chat bubbleheads, notification banners, pop-ups and whatnot.

Conclusion


That's all the tricks we could come up with in order to get your Note 5 as close to a Note 7 as possible. Hopefully, some of the trickier ones like the Always on screen will be added by Samsung via an upcoming update, but we just can't know. Is there a Note 7 feature you will dearly miss?

Related phones

Galaxy Note 7
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh
Galaxy Note 5
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 2100 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3000 mAh(22h 3G talk time)

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29 Comments

1. DavMor0069

Posts: 266; Member since: Dec 09, 2015

You could also use face unlock to replace the Iris scanner.

2. pongkie

Posts: 663; Member since: Aug 20, 2011

I tried to refund my note 7 with my accessories but they wont accept my other accessories. Only Accessories that are related to note 7 like the cover are accepted. now I'm stuck with their car charger, battery pack, and wireless charging stand. Lesson learned do not buy Samsung products anymore

8. sissy246

Posts: 7064; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Stores have said they will only refund accessories that only applies to the note 7. Blame you store.

15. thegeneral7010

Posts: 437; Member since: Dec 10, 2014

Its not stores its only amazon

22. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

Why can't you reuse the car charger, and battery pack? You going Apple? LAME!

26. phonegeek1212

Posts: 58; Member since: Aug 14, 2015

LAME is your comment..Dude there are many other phones beside apple and samsung

28. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 908; Member since: May 07, 2014

All of these accessories can be used with any other smartphone, why would want to refund those? Did those came with the Note 7 or you bought them separately?

3. tokuzumi

Posts: 1862; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Samsung should port most of the Note 7 features into the next software update to the Note 5. Would be a nice goodwill gesture, as I'm sure most of the software package was just that....software, and wasn't due to specific hardware differences between the Note 5 and 7.

5. Fenol

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 13, 2016

It would be great if we could pin screen off memo's to the lock screen

7. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3097; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

You can install a note 7 port costum rom on your note 5 for rooted users.

13. ProudGoooner

Posts: 19; Member since: Mar 18, 2015

Waiting for a trick that will get them an SD card slot, IP 68 water and dust resistance and that Note 7 cool camera. In my opinion, the wisest choice for you fellas is just sacrifice the S pen for a while and get the S7 edge which might get more Note 7 features with the up coming updates ;)

20. rkoforever90

Posts: 432; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

for note users sacrificing s pen is not at all a viable option, id better go for note4 or 64gb note 5

14. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

that "per-word translation" is really useful for translating your second language or difficult word... (just like english in my case, I can understand it, but I still meet new word every now and then :-/ simple and quick translation like this will be a big help)

16. dmh0284

Posts: 50; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

I have the Note 5 N-920I and I love it. It would be the perfect phone if it had expandable storage (and maybe water resistence). I wish Samsung would make a Note 8 variant with a flat screen. You simply cannot find good screen protectors that are both aesthetically pleasing and function properly for the Note 7's curved screen. A good glass screen protector is a must for me. If I can't get it with a Samsung phone, I will have no choice but to find another option from a different brand when it comes time to upgrade.

19. Fellwalker

Posts: 535; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

How lucky you 5 owners are. Sadly they didn't release the note 5 in UK and Europe, so I was desperate for a note 7. My order was cancelled. Oh for an up to date premium smart phone with stylus.

25. BoneZ

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 16, 2016

The Note 5 may not have been released in the UK/Europe, but there are quite a few different International versions out now (N920I, N920C, N920G, etc.), one of which should work on the carrier(s) of your choosing. So, you should still be able to get and enjoy a Note 5. :-)

29. schlitzuous

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 21, 2016

OTG works fine with microSD and usb adapter. I love the s pen.

30. krakmh

Posts: 33; Member since: Feb 21, 2015

You will never get iris scanner.

31. Waynek

Posts: 7; Member since: Feb 22, 2015

I have the Note 5 for almost a year. Fantastic phone! Will keep it until a new Note comes out, or it completely dies

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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