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 Note7
  • Display 5.7 inches 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera) 5 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh
  • OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Galaxy Note5
  • Display 5.7 inches 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP (Single camera) 5 MP front
  • Hardware Samsung Exynos 7 Octa 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3000 mAh
  • OS Android 7.0 Nougat Samsung TouchWiz UI

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