Technology

Published on December 19th, 2014 | by Bilal Sulehri

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[Review] Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – The Flagship Phablet

[Review] Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – The Flagship Phablet Bilal Sulehri
Display
Performance
UI
Battery Life
Value for Money

Summary:

4.5







Samsung recently launched its flagship phablet Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in a glitzy event in Lahore. Samsung Pakistan sent us a review device to try out and share our thoughts. Lets start with the unboxing.

Unboxing

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 box contains usual accessories, i.e.Device, Charging cable, Handsfree/ headset with extra earbuds, Quick-charge adapter and Manuals.

(Ctrl+Click for viewing full-sized image)

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Unboxing   Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Box   Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Unboxing

Performance

We got Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (SM910C) which features Exynos 5433 Octa-Core processor with four Cortex-A57 1.9GHz and four Cortex-A53 1.3GHz cores with an awesome Mali T670 GPU (another model features quad-core Krait 450 processor  which clocks up to 2.7 GHz and GPU in Adreno 320) and 3 GB RAM. The device performs well even when multiple apps are being used and clock-hungry apps run smooth as silk. The Antutu Benchmark test sums its all.

samsung-note-4-minireview-6-576x1024

Display & S Pen

The 5.7″ QHD Super AMOLED Display with curved Gorilla Glass 3 protection takes the center stage in this mammoth device along with the S Pen. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 boasts resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels which is translated into utterly awesome 515 ppi which is strides ahead of 300 ppi Retina threshold.

As customary for the series, the display of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is the highlight feature alongside the S Pen support. This is the first year when the diagonal remains unchanged at 5.7″, but the resolution got a massive boost to QHD – 2560 x 1440 pixels. This means that despite its ample surface, the Super AMOLED panel offers a mind-blowing 515ppi – way above the 300ppi Retina threshold and easily better than any of its direct rivals and, arguably the best display in the market. The viewing angles are excellent and screen is low in reflection, which makes the device a joy to use in any lighting condition.

The S Pen has been redesigned and is remarkably slimmer than its predecessor while retaining the good grip, the device is now more sensitive and can register 2048 unique pressure points which is two times the sensitivity of Galaxy Note 3.

Build

Samsung has enhanced the prowess of its flagship phablet with an excellent build which lives up to the expectations as it surpasses the distinctive plastic look and feel of Samsung devices of the yesteryear. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 boasts a leather finish (which is actually plastic) reminiscent of its predecessor and a metal frame along with curved glass, the unique combination gives the device a premium touch. The curved Gorilla Glass on top looks better than the flat one and gives the device a classy look.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a 5.7″ capacitive touch-screen. The controls on the sides are pretty straight-forward as the volume rocker nicely rests on the left while the power button is on the right side. The microUSB port is has been downgraded from 3.0 (in Galaxy Note 3) to 2.0 but it is still located a t the bottom along with the S Pen compartment. The top side has a mic and standard 3.5mm audio jack in addition to the IR blaster which enables the device to be used as remote controller for various appliances. The physical home button rests right below the screen with capacitive task switcher and back button on either side. The back gives a nice feel of leather (but is actually plastic) and featured the camera lens, flash and speaker. The back cover can be removed to view the battery, microSIM and microSD card slots.

You can view the collection of images provided below, highlighting the build and display of Note 4. (Ctrl+Click for viewing full-sized image)

User Interface

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 features the latest version of Samsung’s Touch Wiz UI which sits on top of Android KitKat (4.4.4). S Pen apps have been reduced and a number of multitasking and productivity features have been added. The home screen essentially remains the same and you can move around widgets, chose the transition effect, change wallpapers, move homescreens around as usual. The lockscreen has been provided with some useful armoury. A fingerprint scanner on-board enables you the ability to secure your phone with biometric security by enrolling up to 3 fingerprints. And if it doesnt work due to some reason (dirt, water), you can always fall back to the same old password security to unlock your phone.

The notification panel is missing recommended apps while the multiple screens in the app drawer can be re-organized and folders can be created to consolidate apps in one place. Multi-window supported apps can be accessed via a sidebar which slides-in by pressing and holding the back button. Multi-window  allows you to run two apps side by side and the divider can be adjusted to give more real estate to your preferred app and you can even drag and drop content between apps. One-handed operation shrinks the UI for one-hand use and can be initiated by a swipe in and out from the side of the phone.

You can use the S Pen to initiate an action and select any part of the screen to take a screen-shot and later use in any other app. Handwriting recognition works flawlessly and you can write anywhere on the screen using the smart write feature.

Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-49-42   Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-50-08   Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-56-57

Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-56-23   Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-57-13   Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-55-43

Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-51-10   Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-50-51   Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-50-38

Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-50-25

Camera & Gallery

The gallery can filter pictures by different criteria. It supports networks like Facebook and Picasa out of the box and can also handle Dropbox. Images can be easily viewed and edited.

Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-54-53   Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-55-05   Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-55-20

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 features an impressive 16 mp camera with flash. It captures wonderful snaps in daylight but I feel it has a lot of room for improvement in low-light photography. Some snaps taken by the device can be viewed below. (Image Courtesy: Haseeb Ahmed). (Ctrl+Click for viewing full-sized image)

Low-light Shot with Samsung Note 4    Samsung Note 4 - Selective Focus mode

Kanhati Gardens, Soon Sakesar Valley, Pakistan    Kanhati Gardens, Soon Sakesar Valley, Pakistan

Samsung Note 4 - Selective Focus mode    Samsung Note 4 - Selective Focus mode

Other Features

The dialer covers all the features including smart dial and quick dial. You will not have to install separate call blockers in Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as out-of-the-box auto call rejection can be configured to work with specific numbers or unknown numbers. Time-based blocking is also supported.

Sound quality is great and noise cancellation works fine. The phone book is as awesome as always and you can create custom vibrations for contacts.

The stock messaging app has a lot of features, the keyboard is as smooth as it gets and supports swipe messaging. The messaging app has useful features like delaying a message by 3 seconds to cancel it if you change your mind at the last moment (similar to a feature available in Gmail) and the ability to block messages just like calls.

The Music and Video Players are jam packed with features and support DLNA devices. Music player features a fantastic equalizer while the Video player supports subtitles.

Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-56-16    Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-56-04   Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-53-23

Screenshot_2014-12-08-22-53-00

 

Final Words

The flagship phablet, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is an awesome device with top-notch specs, a premium build and awesome features. The only thing it really misses is liquid and dust protection along with a better battery. There are a number of competitors to choose from including iPhone 6 Plus and Huawei Mate 7, but we think Samsung Galaxy Note 4 should be the choice if you are willing to splash your cash.

Pros

  • 5.7″ 16M-color QHD Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
  • Curved Gorilla Glass 3 protection
  • Android OS v4.4 KitKat
  • TouchWiz UI
  • Quad-core 2.7GHz Krait 450 CPU, Adreno 420 GPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • Quick-charge adapter for ultra-fast charging
  • 16MP OIS camera with 2160p video recording
  • 3.7MP front-facing camera, 1440p video recording
  • 32GB of built-in storage; microSD card slot
  • S Pen stylus
  • Enhanced Multi-window multitasking support
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • NFC
  • IR port for remote control functionality
  • Heart-rate monitor

Cons

  • Note 3 had microUSB 3.0 and Note 4 has microUSB 2.0
  • Less than ideal speaker placement
  • Not waterproof
  • No out-of-the-box wireless charging support

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About the Author

(Editor - Gadgets & Reviews) is a Professional Accountant, Consultant, Teacher and Digital Media Specialist. He loves football and is crazy about gadgets and technology. He has been writing since 2004 and can be reached at Bilal@sulehri.com and followed on twitter @sulehri



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