Samsung Galaxy Note 4 hands-on review: best Android phablet

Back in 2011, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note series which has now flourished into one of the most popular in the world. The Samsung Galaxy Note range came with a 5.3-inch screen, which was a massive talking point at the time.

Now Samsung has launched the Galaxy Note 4 which packs the best spec sheet on the market and also has a great design. It comes with the same-sized 5.7-inch screen as the Note 3. Samsung decided to improve on the quality of the screen rather than its size.

Why Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is the best Android phablet? Let’s check out in our review of the product.

samsung

PROS

  • Brilliant high resolution display
  • Excellent camera
  • S Pen has been vastly upgraded
  • Battery charges very quickly

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Not a massive change from Note 3
  • TouchWiz still not up to the mark

 

DESIGN

Galaxy Note 4 uses the same overall design as the Galaxy Alpha. Silver accents around the rim and buttons look sharp on both the white and black versions.

The back of the phone is slightly more textured. The straight sides are comfortable to grasp and easy to hold onto. You can easily find physical buttons with your fingertips.

select_0

Only the sides and edges of the Note 4 are aluminum, while the remainder of the phone is built with polycarbonate. It’s 2.3mm taller, 0.6mm narrower and 0.2mm thicker than the Note 3 and, at 176 grams, it’s also 8g heavier.

Unlike LG G3, Note 4 isn’t the most comfortable large-screened phone to hold with one hand. On the front, there’s an LED indicator on the top left, proximity sensors next to the earpiece in the top center and a 3.7-megapixel selfie cam placed in the top right.

The volume rockers are placed on the left side and the power button is on the right side of the phone.

DISPLAY

Although it’s got the same 5.7-inch display as last year’s model, the Note 4 has improved in display resolution, from 1080p HD up to a 2,650 x 1,440p quad HD AMOLED display.

Its pixel density of 515 ppi is higher than Note 3’s 386 ppi and the iPhone 6 Plus’ density of 401 ppi, but is less pixel-packed than the 5.5 inch LG G3’s at 538 ppi.

samsung 2

It has high outdoor visibility, if you’re outside and having trouble seeing the screen, switch the phone to auto brightness, doing so allows the phone to push out as much as 750 nits, which is a lot brighter than any other phone.

This setting also discolors the screen somewhat while it’s on, making it look similar to a picture that’s overexposed, user will see all of the details, but images and graphics won’t look quite right.

Samsung has done one very useful thing with the Note 4, the Ultra Power Saver mode which featured in the Galaxy S5. This feature saves power by shutting down Wi-Fi, stopping most background apps and turning the screen black and white.

USER INTERFACE

The device runs on Android 4.4 KitKat OS with Samsung’s custom TouchWiz on the top. My Magazine, the Flipboard-esque eyesore that once occupied a full page on the home screen, is not present on the Note 4.

Several unnecessary smart features, like smart pause, smart rotation and smart scroll, are gone. Reading mode has also disappeared. The Toolbox feature that was introduced with the S5 is also gone.

multitasking_0

Multi Window, is slightly improved. The camera viewfinder can now be opened into this mode, which is helpful. Also, when you go into the recent apps menu, certain apps come with a new dual-pane icon that opens the program directly into Multi Window mode.

Users can also transfer files from one window to another, and tapping on links in apps will open that link below in a second window, rather than closing one app and opening another.

S Health gets a new optional “coach” you can use that’s sourced by healthcare provider Cigna. In addition to checking your heart-rate, the app can also monitor your blood-oxygen level.

CAMERA

The Galaxy Note 4 sports a 16MP camera which takes excellent pictures. The camera now has optical image stabilization, which is a first in any Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

The rear camera comes with an aperture of f/2.2, which is the same as the Galaxy S5 and perfectly average for smartphones in 2014. It comes with a handful of modes, like selective focus, panorama, dual camera and Shot & more, with a few more (animated, surround, sports, sequence and food) available for download.

camera_1

The camera now lets in 60% more light and makes for better quality images.

You can also use the camera in unison with the S Pen. A new feature called Snap Note allows you to take a picture of a piece of paper (or whiteboard) and change what’s in the picture.

The device also boast a 3.7 front facing camera that takes nice selfies. Samsung has also recognised that if you want to take a selfie, then it is a little difficult to get your thumb around to the front of the device to take the picture. So it has utilised its heartrate monitor functionality as a back trigger button.

S PEN

One of the most impressive feature of the phone is the S Pen. It’s arguably what helps the Note 4 stand out from its numerous competitors.

The new pen is twice as sensitive to pressure as the last one, capable of registering over 2,000 levels of sensitivity instead of 1,000. This, along with some feedback on the screen and friction on the tip of the pen, is supposed to create a more realistic “pen on paper” feel.

photo_0

The fountain pen works best when you sweep the S Pen across the screen as you would ink on paper and because of extra sensitivity (which has doubled) it is now a joy to write on the Note 4’s screen. Signatures look like signatures and your handwriting actually really looks like your true handwriting.

Instead of being an added extra, the S Pen finally feels like a necessary part of the Note 4, rather than just an accessory.

UNDER THE HOOD

The Galaxy Note 4 is powered by a brand new Snapdragon 805 chipset, which packs four 2.7GHz Krait 450 cores and a 600MHz Adreno 420 GPU, and backed up by 3GB of RAM.

It has 32GB of internal storage and expandable up to 64GB via microSD card.

fast_1

LTE on the Qualcomm version of the Note 4 can download at speeds as high as 300mbps where supported by your phone company. Along with 802.11ac wireless, this is a phone that should offer some impressive internet connectivity.

There’s also its download booster, which allows you to speed up transfers by using both 4G and Wi-Fi at the same time.

Samsung has given the Note 4 the same battery as the Note 3 (3200mAh) but it has improved charging times. You can now charge 50% of the battery in just 30 minutes and it has the same ultra-power saving technology that was built into the S5.

WRAP UP

Priced at Rs 58,300 the Galaxy Note 4 is undoubtedly Samsung’s best Note yet. It is also the best large screen phone in the market.

It sets a high mark, thanks to its elegant design, robust build, beautiful screen, impressive battery life and solid camera.

fast_0

It offers seamless multitasking and stylus functionality that’s as smooth as ever seen on a smartphone.

The Note 4 improves significantly on the last generation. LTE users should find this phone to be blazing fast, if their service provider supports Cat 6 4G.

In short the Galaxy Note 4 is a complete package.

 

Vishal Kawadkar

editor@gizmolead.com

THE LATEST

Samsung unveils five new devices to take on Huawei

Samsung on Wednesday unveiled five devices in its Galaxy models to take on the new smartphone market leader Huawei. Note20 and Note20 Ultra with enhanced...
`