Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4By Robin-Leigh Chetty 17 October 2014 | Categories: news
Just over a month ago, Samsung showcased a slew of devices at its Unpacked 2 event at Berlin's IFA 2014 trade show, with the Galaxy Note Edge and Gear VR proving welcome surprises by all in attendance. The main attraction was however the Galaxy Note 4, which may not have changed much in terms of form factor, but certainly upped the specs to keep the competition in its wake.
Big and beautiful
Touting a 5.7" Quad HD Amoled display (2560x1440) and a supreme 515 ppi pixel density, users would be hard pressed to find a better screen on any other mobile device, with the notable exception of the LG G3 (review). Turning on the Note 4, the screen itself seemed to bloom into life, displaying rich and nuanced detail , not to mention looking bright and vibrant throughout, without any areas of dullness to be found on the screen, regardless of how hard we searched.
The true advantage of the Quad HD display however, lies in the uncompromised viewing angles no matter how one holds it. Most flagship Samsung devices have never faulted in terms of their displays, and we can happily say that the Note 4 is no different.
Switching things over to the Note 4's rear, you find a 16 MP camera, upping the megapixel from the Note 3's 13 MP version, and delivering 3456x4608 content. Added to this is a 2160p recording capability at 30 fps, as well as the usual number of shooting modes for users to wheel between.
Unfortunately this aspect of the Note 4 could not be fully tested, given the fact that the phablets were all showcased within a darkened hall, but the Note captured solid images despite the low light conditions. The front facing camera too is enhanced, improving on the 2 MP camera found on the Note 3 (review), to a 3.7 MP version on the Note 4. Furthermore, it serves up a 120 degree viewing angle specifically designed for wide-angle selfies, which should have some Instagrammers swooning.
And just like a home shopping commercial, the improvements don't stop there, with Samsung fitting a new UV-based fingerprint scanner, which should improve the responsiveness and accuracy of the fingerprint reader. A heart rate sensor also finds its way onto the Note 4, which we first saw on the Galaxy S5 (review), reaffirming Samsung's health focus in recent months.
As impressive as all these enhancements are, the real hero in all this is the Note 4's S Pen. Wielding the S Pen brings all the Note 4's multitasking functionality together, such as Air Command, Action Memo and Multi Window applications. Samsung has also increased the sensitivity within the S Pen's 'ball point', allowing for a far easier writing experience than previous iterations.
In order to handle all these enhancements, Samsung has only upped the Note 4's battery capacity by 20 mAh, to 3220 mAh. Although we only had a brief encounter with the Note 4, it should prove interesting to see how the battery copes with the increased demands that the display and camera place on it, when it passes our review desk. To put minds at ease slightly, Samsung has improved upon the fast charging feature found on the previous phablet, allowing this one to go from zero to 50% in only 31 minutes. Not to mention the Ultra Battery Saving Mode that we found on the Galaxy S5 making an appearance.
While checking out the Note 4's various new features and applications, the phablet seemed quick and responsive, showing no signs of lag while flipping through a number of tasks and functions. This snappy interface was thanks in large to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor integrated into the Note 4, which clocks in at a more than adequate 2.7 GHz. Added to this, is a sizeable 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB worth of internal memory, with a micro SD slot good for up to 128 GB, should the on-board storage prove insufficient.
Since the first Galaxy Note debuted in 2011, Samsung has been banking on the success of its larger form factor to win smartphone users over, and the fourth iteration is no different, with foreign markets already showing great interest, according to the South Korean manufacturer. They also added that the South African market in particular is one that has responded well to previous Note devices.
During a media briefing for the Note 4, and a few other upcoming devices, Samsung execs said the Note 4 will retail for an estimated R11 500, when it arrives in stores countrywide today (17 October 2014). They went on to add that the Gear S will set wearable fans back a cool R6 000, with its ability to make and receive phone calls independently being the key function. The Galaxy Note Edge and Gear VR were also on display, and Samsung has detailed an early 2015 release date for the pair.
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