Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review
Perhaps the most impressive release of Samsung this year points to the Galaxy Note 4. The Korean company went all-out both on the hardware and material design. Check out our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 below.
It’s been 4 years since Samsung introduced an oversized smartphone that everyone said no one would use.
Today, the Galaxy Note is the poster child in this category where everyone else tries to emulate and perhaps the most iconic in the phablet category.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is most notable due to so many reasons and millions await its announcement and eventual release. For this review, we got the Frost White variant to the test.
Design and Construction.
For the longest time, Samsung has been keen on using polycarbonate materials on their flagship devices eschewing any form of metallic parts.
This year, they’ve introduced a more industrial and modern approach to building the Note 4. With a solid metal alloy frame, the Note 4 becomes a big slab of solid yet elegant handset. Our impressions of the Galaxy Note 4 has drastically changed since they introduced the first one 4 years ago.
The power button is on the right side for easy access with the thumb while volume controls are on the left side. At the top side, the 3.5mm earphone jack and noise-cancelling mics are found together with the IR blaster while the microUSB charging port and the compartment for the stylus are found at the bottom.
Around the back side, the 16-megapixel camera is smack right in the upper middle corner with the LED flash just below it. The camera barrel slightly protrudes by no more than a millimeter from the back panel.
The hard physical home button at the front is also home to the fingerprint sensor. This allows you to unlock the screen with a swipe of a finger (as against a simple press on the iPhone 5S/iPhone 6). The sensor is very accurate and you’ll seldom get any read errors except perhaps if you don’t swipe your prints the normal way.
Between the two available color variants, we prefer the white one as the combination of frosty white finish with the silver trimmings. We’re not sure if Samsung will eventually ship the Bronze Gold and Blossom Pink but at the moment, we think the Frost White stands out the most.
With a large 5.66-inch Super AMOLED display, the Galaxy Note comes with one of the highest resolution among smartphones and tablets alike. Pixel density goes down to about 515ppi when you consider the 2560×1440 WQHD resolution. Those numbers are only match by much bigger devices like the iPad Air 2 and the Galaxy Tab S. The only other handset we’ve reviewed that went past this was the LG G3 with 538ppi.
Samsung boasts of a Super AMOLED screen that is undeniably clear and crisp with vivid and vibrant colors. Images and photos pop out, movies are sharp and stunning. Outdoor visibility is also really good, even on direct sunlight.
The thick glass completely covers the front panel which slightly curves along the edges and is protected by the metal frame.
The screen itself is already overkill if you asked us but Samsung has always been that way with their own technology. Without a doubt, the display on the Galaxy Note 4 is among the best, if not the best, we’ve seen this year.
OS, Apps and UI.
The Note 4 comes with Android 4.4 Kitkat and the custom TiuchWiz UI by Samsung. The UI looks much cleaner and simpler compared to previous iterations.
Samsung continues to bulk up on their TouchWiz UI with a lot of customization and additional features that certainly dominate the user interface.
While many would consider these inclusions as bloatware, some of them are actually useful and practical like S Health paired with some sensors such as optical heart rate monitor and pedometer. In any case, one can just completely ignore and not use them if they don’t see any usefulness in them.
With the large display comes some inherent benefits like more real estate for virtual keys, more comfortable typing and sketching space. We find ourselves typing on the Note 4 with much comfort and better speed. For those who fancy taking notes or drawing, the built-in S Pen stylus is fun and easy to use. We’ve had several meetings where we were able to use it with as much ease as if we were using a pen and paper.
Samsung added a lot of native apps and features into the system, some of them are not really that useful while most are very practical like the Download Booster, S Note and Scrapbook. S Health has some basic features that we liked — Step Counter, Calorie Counter and Heart Rate Counter.
Camera and Multimedia.
Samsung’s biggest defining feature in their Note series is the stylus (S Pen). Very few brands have attempted this route and so far, only Samsung has succeeded and perfected the implementation of a stylus on their smartphones. For people who like to draw or write down notes, this is the best tool to pair with the phone. The stylus is very accurate, smooth and responsive.
The huge screen is just perfect for watching movies and TV series. The speakers at the back panel are more than enough for comfortable listening at close proximity. The ultra high resolution offered more real estate when viewing photos and browsing the web.
As for the camera, we found the 16 -megapixel sensor at the back to be snappy and accurate. Resulting photos are sharp and vivid with the internal optical image stabilization offering compensation for shaky hands or blurry shots.
The front-facing camera is most useful when taking selfie shots especially with its f/1.9 aperture and 120-degree wide angle lens.
Here are some sample photos we took using the rear camera:
[fancygallery id=”150″ album=”183″]
The lens focuses really fast, colors are accurate and the sharpness of the subjects are pretty good.
Here are several sample video recording:
The benefits of OIS is more evident when taking continuous video shots that require steady hands.
Overall, the camera on the Galaxy Note 4 is nothing short of impressive. It’s fast, it’s sharp and stunning.
Performance and Benchmarks.
Samsung used two different processors for the Galaxy Note 4. One is from Qualcomm which is a Snapdragon 805 with a 2.7GHz quad core processor while the other is their very own Exynos 5433 chip with 8 cores.
The chip uses the big.LITTLE implementation by pairing a high performing ARM Cortex A57 quad core processor with 1.9GHz clock speed and another power-efficient ARM Cortex A53 quad core 1.3GHz.
The result is a high-performing chip that’s very efficient yet consumes less power (by switching the pair whenever necessary).
The benchmark scores of the Exynos 5433 will attest to what kind of a monster this chip is.
Add to that the generous serving of 3GB of RAM and you get a handset that can plow thru anything you throw at it.
|Nenamark 2 Test||59.8 fps|
The Mali T-760 GPU is equally impressive, being able to easily handle intensive graphics on a screen with a resolution of 2560×1440. The Exynos 5433 is also a 64-bit processor so it gained some performance benefits that will show in the benchmark scores compared to the Qualcomm variant. This will become more evident once Android Lollipop rolls out on the device.
The benchmark scores above are already impressive, and considering the resolution, it could have been higher.
Call Quality, Connection and Battery Life.
Call quality on the Note 4 is very clear and crisp while text messages are sent and receive quickly and without delay. Signal reception is pretty strong on both cellular and WiFi radios. Despite its size, making calls is still comfortable although composing text message would mean using both hands instead of just one.
The Exynos model of the Galaxy Note 4 only has a Cat. 4 LTE, unlike the Cat. 6 of the Qualcomm variant that can support more networks and theoretically go as fast as 300Mbps downlink.
Nevertheless, we often get good internet speeds when connected to LTE networks.
As for battery life, we managed to achieve around 11.5 to 14 hours of video playback using our standard bench of 50% brightness and 0% volume. That’s pretty much the same time we got with the equally impressive performance on the Galaxy S5 but considering the Galaxy Note 4 has a quad HD resolution, those numbers went beyond our expectations.
On moderate to heavy use on a daily basis, we manage to last more than a day’s worth with data turned on and about 20-30% battery life left to last for the following day.
The Note series has always been regarded as Samsung’s secret monster — a humongous, beastly and powerful handset that lacked the finesse and elegance that many people look forward to in a flagship handset.
All that has changed with the Galaxy Note 4. It’s not only intimidating and gargantuan but it also showed radiance and flamboyant posture, much like the characters of “Beauty and the Beast” but this time the Note 4 is both the pretty lady and the monstrous beast rolled into one.
Samsung would be hard pressed to top this one next year. For the meantime, we think the Note 4 is a very strong contender as smartphone of the year.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is now available in stores with a suggested retail price of Php37,990. It’s also being offered by Globe and Smart under postpaid plans.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (SM-N910C) specs:
5.66-inch WQHD Super AMOLED display @ 2560×1440 pixels, 515ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Samsung Exynos 5433 1.9GHz Cortex A57 quad-core + Cortex A53 1.3GHz quad-core processor
3GB DDR3 RAM
16GB/32GB internal storage
up to 128GB microSD card
LTE Cat. 4 150/50Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1, ANT+
USB 2.0, MHL 3.0
16-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
Built-in Optical Image Stabilization
2160p video recording @ 30fps, 1080p @ 60fps
3.7-megapixel front camera, f/1.9 with 120-degree angle lens
1080p video recording @30fps
Heart Rate Monitor
FM Radio tuner
Android 4.4.4 Kitkat
Li-Ion 3,220mAh battery
Dimension: 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm
What we liked about it:
* Premium build.
* Large, impressive display screen.
* Great performance.
* Huge RAM capacity.
* Long battery life.
* Great camera performance and quality.
* IR Remote.
What we did not like:
* Quite expensive.
* Some bloatware.