(Pocket-lint) - We have to admit, our mouths gaped open when we were told that Samsung has strategically decided to not launch the Galaxy Note 5 in the UK. Instead, it will initially only be available in North America and select Asian markets.
Samsung UK will concentrate on the Galaxy S6 edge Plus instead. Shocked? Yep, us too.
However, the more we think about it the more we see that there is reason behind the madness; when both new handsets are compared directly, the edge Plus is most certainly the better phone and so Samsung UK would rather dedicate its efforts (and marketing budget) on the more attractive of the two.
That's not to say the Galaxy Note 5 will never make it over to the UK - a spokesman told us it would more than likely be released over here eventually - but we can only presume that the US and Asian audiences are more receptive to the device and its S-Pen stylus.
The digital writing implement is effectively the trade-off for having a more conventional form factor (in screen terms) and slightly chunkier build. Other than those differences, the Note 5 is a match for the edge Plus in size, specifications, and almost the entire feature set.
It is fractionally smaller than the edge Plus length-wise, at 153.2mm, but in width and thickness it is slightly larger: 76.1 x 7.6mm. It is also heavier at 172g but, when each is held in a hand apiece, you can barely tell. They are both actually light for their impressive sizes.
The Galaxy Note 5 also has a 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 Super AMOLED screen, although as mentioned - and obvious in our photos - it is flat rather than curved at the edges. In fact, in order to stylistically incorporate the Note in its new premium family, Samsung has given the rear the same sort of curved structure as the edge Plus displays on the front.
It is made with an aluminium shell, although it doesn't quite feel as classy in the hand as a naked iPhone 6 Plus. But it is sleek and expensive looking - fitting with the manufacturer's new design philosophies.
Inside, the Note 5 sports the same octa-core Exynos 7 processor as the entire S6 line-up, with four cores running at 2.1Ghz, four at 1.5Ghz. There is 4GB of RAM on board too. And it will come with 32GB or 64GB of storage, depending on the model chosen. There is no microSD card slot for expansion from that, however.
Cameras rear and front are 16-megapixel and 5-megapixel respectively, with optical image stabilisation and are F/1.9. They work with new software that adds several features only the larger phones will have to begin with, including digital image stabilisation for video recording and camera modes for slow motion capture, instant collage creation and a "series" function for video that stiches different, shorter clips together in Vine style automatically.
Like the S6 edge Plus, the Note 5 can also live broadcast video over YouTube through Samsung's additional UI feature.
The Note 5 has proprietary high quality audio technology that upscales existing MP3s and other audio formats to 24bit/192KHz for wired listening. And a wireless technology, UHQ-BT which is a bit like aptX, is capable of streaming 24bit/96KHz audio over Bluetooth.
Alongside Bluetooth 4.2, there is NFC and Wi-Fi (naturally), but in terms of brand spanking new tech, it's perhaps surprising that the Note 5 sticks with the tried and trusted USB 2.0 rather than new connector on the block, USB Type-C.
Samsung Pay is another new feature launched alongside the Note 5 and edge Plus, but it will take a while to come to the UK thanks to partnerships with banks and the like still needing to be finalised. It will be available, therefore, in the US and Korea first with a wider rollout expected later.
Brits will no doubt look forward to that day as the contactless payment tech is capable of interacting with NFC-enabled payment terminals and conventional ones with magnetic strip technology. This latter fact means the phone will make payments with just about any terminal out there in the world, not just those with a contactless sticker on the front.
But then, by the time the Galaxy Note 5 makes it onto UK shelves, Samsung Pay might very well be up and running over here anyway.
After our brief play with the new phone, we did get the impression that there will be some in the country that would prefer it, especially as the S-Pen offers the smoothest writing and drawing experience yet. But at the same time, most would opt for the device that looks and feels a little less conventional, even with the optional BlackBerry-style keyboard attachment.
It's funny saying that a Note device is the more conventional option considering Samsung almost single-handedly created the phablet category with the first one, but in direct comparison that's how it racks up. And that's most likely why the UK market will get a staggered release approach.