Let’s face it, big is in – and there’s nothing we can do about it. With almost every other phone releasing being over 5-inches in size, Samsung’s Galaxy Note series just doesn’t seem that big anymore. But one thing is for sure, nothing is coming close to what Samsung has to offer in their large phone. I had the chance to use the Galaxy Note 4 for two weeks – does it live up to the title of “Best Android Smartphone”? Let’s find out.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is the latest flagship from the Korean company, and one many people have been waiting for, for quite some time. Samsung has decided to make some subtle changes to the overall look and feel of the device. Following the Galaxy Alpha, the Note 4 also features a mix of plastic, soft faux leather and metal trimming. The faux leather is a bit smoother than what we saw on the Note 3, but done away are those ugly fake stichings. The back plate is a removable plastic cover with that nice soft rubber texture, perfect for keeping the device still on a table surface. The back is also home to the 16-megapixel camera with LED flash, a heart-rate sensor and speaker.
The beautiful metal trimming around the device gives the Note 4 a well deserved premium feel. It noticeably looked great in the black version of the phone as the metal is a black shade, but showed more wear and tear with more use.
The phone feels so much smoother and easier to hold with one hand, even with a case on it. Feels super premium but keeps the classic Galaxy feel to it. Its a weird thing to explain, you know it’s an upgraded feel but its just second nature that what you have is a Samsung device.
Performance & Software
The Note line has a reputation for being a work horse device, and the Note 4 is no different. With a Quad-core Snapdragon 805 CPU clocked at 2.7 GHz and 3GB of memory, this phone surpasses any expectation I had as far as power usage. Most of the credit goes to that processing power, but the battery shines here. With a massive 3220 mAh battery, I was able to get over a day and half use easily.
Speaking of battery, the Note 4 features Fast Charging via its wall plug that can give the phone up to 50% charge in a little over 20 minutes, which is awesome!
Now Touchwiz is untouched here, but since this is is a Note device, some multitasking features are present. Handling multiple windows is a breeze but you do get some lag that not even the fastest specs can avoid. Touchwiz as an Android 4.4.4 Skin just Handicap’s the device so much. Messaging to camera app launch, loading of a keyboard to sensors knowing if your face is on the screen or not are some issues I encountered, but aren’t deal breakers.
Our review unit was from AT&T and we experiencd very good data signal for LTE usage and voice was clear during phone calls. No dropped calls were recorded in our tests.
The S Pen received a major update on the Galaxy Note 3 and has relatively stayed the same on the Note 4. Sliding out the pen opens a small selection of air command apps to use for the pen, such as:
– Action Memo: Opens up a quick memo note with access to write or draw a quick memo and save it.
– Smart Select & Image Clip: Using the S Pen to draw closed shape figures and capturing information from them such as numbers, text, photos and more. The photos can also be saved into your scrapbook for future reference.
– Screen Grab: Allows you to snap a screenshot of the current window and give you ability to write or draw on the photo and save it.
Now I didn’t see myself using the features as much, but the ability to memo down someone’s name and phone number and have it transferred to a new contact was pretty cool. The S Pen is also a navigation tool as it gives you full range of use on the Note 4 screen and UI. It’s also good to mention the S Pen does work on the Back and Recent Apps buttons, but not on the physical home button. Which I guess makes since of Samsung to include S Pen tip replacements in the box for those smashing the Pen on the button.
Overall the S Pen is a nifty feature to have but not one I see myself using all the time, maybe just about 5% of the time max. One last thing, depending on hand size, the S Pen might be a bit uncomfortable to hold and use for many.
The camera is what shines on this bad boy. A 16-megapixel camera is found on the Note 4 with access to full UHD, or 4K, video recording. Sporting a resolution of 5312 x 2988 pixels, photos and videos are very rich and clear. Present is OIS, (Optical Image Stabilization), for those with shaky video hands, and surprisingly works fairly well.
Image processing continues to improve on the Note 4. With photos still having a clean and good shot while zoomed in. The 16-megapixels definitely allow more information to be saved on the photo. My favorite feature also makes its way to the Note 4 in Selective Focus Point.
At the end of it all, the Galaxy Note 4 is no longer the largest mobile phone in the market, but instead, its the best mobile phone that takes full advantage of the display it has. Opening multiple windows and multitasking is an absolute breeze with this phones top notch specs. Touchwiz would be the only thing I could point out that is wrong with the Note 4, and that’s a bummer. The Android skin just causes lag in situations where it shouldn’t, all because Samsung wants us to use their own apps and tricks. If you pick up a Note 4 this holiday season, give yourself some time and learn some launchers, you’ll have a much better experience with Android if you do.
The Galaxy Note 4 is offered on all major US carriers on and off contract at a variety of price points. Our Black Note 4 review unit was sent to us by AT&T.
- Battery Life
- Beautiful Display
- Fantastic Camera
- Heart Rate & Fingerprint Scanner still needs work