Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: The best big phone from Samsung yet
- has a great-looking display
- precision crafted aluminum body
- impressive hardware specs
- thin and light
- great for productivity with multitasking
- long battery life
- Samsung TouchWiz still has bloatware
- some parts of the software can be intimidating
Way back in 2011 when the original Galaxy Note was introduced, many people ridiculed the idea of huge phones. This was the time when the iPhone 4S, among all other smartphones, was in its hayday: 3.5-inch screens are already big or just enough for most people. Then the Galaxy Note came. It originally sported a 5.3-inch AMOLED display that for many was just too big. But it all changed as soon as people realized the potential of a great hardware, paired with some cool and new features that only Samsung has given the public. The original Note had gone three revisions, and its latest one is the Galaxy Note 4. It has dramatically improved over the original one that started the big phone revolution. This is the review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Read to know why the big just got better.
The previous versions of Note had some fancy designs – faux leather, faux stitching to match, and a plastic chassis. With the Note 4, Samsung took the other way around by taking design inspirations from the latest and greatest smartphones that rival theirs. The Note 4 now sports a rigid aluminum chassis, paired with chamfered edges that protrude along the sides of the phone. The shiny chrome elements on the side give it a sharp look when light reflects on it at the right angle. It’s an intentional, classy touch to the smartphone, a departure from the previous designs that can be said as uninspiring in today’s era of precision-made phones.
Samsung’s latest innovations in display technology has come its way to the Note 4. With a huge chassis, comes an even huge display. It has a 5.7-inch, 2560-by-1440-pixel AMOLED display that gives a ridiculously high pixel density of 518 pixels per inch. With this high pixel density, you won’t be able to discern individual pixels even when you try to put the phone as close to your eyes. The display is vibrant, has excellent color reproduction, and responsive for all gesture-based tasks. Just like previous Notes, it also comes with a stylus called the S Pen. It works great for the Note 4’s productivity apps provided by Samsung.
To complement the amazingly good-looking body, the Note 4 comes a lot of great improvements in its internals. It’s powered by a new Snapdragon 805 processor, a huge 3 GB of RAM, and Adreno 420 graphics chip that makes everything run zippy and smooth. It’s also got a huge battery, rated at 3220 mAh. Expect long intervals between your everyday use and charging periods with the large battery; in fact, it’s large enough to power your phone up to 2 days of continuous normal usage. And with the ultra-fast charging adaptor, you can charge your Note 4 up to 50% in just 30 minutes, and complete the charging in less than 2 hours.
The Note 4 runs a modified version of Android 4.4 Kitkat, and it’s called TouchWiz. TouchWiz has significantly improved, but not too much. Bloatware is still there, although Samsung tried to reduce those to a minimum. Many people prefer the stock Android of other phones such as the Nexus line of phones because they provide a lot more customization options than TouchWiz. In spite of some bloatware, the Note 4’s user interface is smooth and fun to use thanks to the powerful hardware inside. You can still see the identity of Android 4.4 even with the TouchWiz atop. TouchWiz comes with some good productivity software, and one of the best apps is the note-taking app by which the Note 4 gets its name from. With the large screen, users can take advantage of a greater screen estate to use for note-taking using the supplied S Pen stylus.
According to Samsung’s data gathered from its millions of Note users, many people prefer to leave out the S Pen in its resting sheath. But for the (still) many people who benefit from the S Pen in their daily tasks, it has a high adoption rate among its users. They use the S Pen not only for taking notes, but also to navigate around the user interface. Text selection is accurate with the stylus – a user interface operation that someone with fat fingers or thumbs can have a hard time getting used to without the aid of the stylus.
Another cool feature of the Note 4 is its task-switching abilities and multitasking. Thanks to that huge screen, you can fit in two simultaneous app windows at the same time. This is especially useful if you prefer to watch a YouTube video alongside working on something like your to-dos or checking your calendar. This is possible due to the optimizations brought by TouchWiz that’s perfectly designed for such screens of this size.
The camera on the Note 4 can rival any conventional point-and-shoot camera. It has a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor with optical image stabilization, which helps take great shots even in low light. Truly, the camera delivers to its promise. It rivals the camera of the iPhone 6 Plus, albeit only equipped with 8 megapixels. With the high resolution the camera takes, it captures even more detail with better contrast and dynamic range, thanks to the improved optics. But compared to the iPhone 6 Plus, the dynamic range is relatively weaker, though this can’t be such an issue for most people who just like to take great-looking photos in a snap. What’s even better with this camera is that it shoots not just full HD video, but 4K video at 30 frames per second. This is a very nice feature to have since 4K TVs are looming around, and to take advantage of that resolution is a 4K video to match. With the help of optical image stabilization, which compensates for your shaky hand movements, videos look smoother than ever. You can take your best memories with this camera, and keep that point-and-shoot in the shelf.
The Samsung Note 4 is truly a joy to use. It is, by far, the best Samsung phone yet. With a huge display, great performance, and lots of cool features, the Note 4 is a good buy for everyone who looks for a great big Android phone. It can be noticed that Samsung has done a good job in improving its software, taking the steps of other Android phone manufacturers who adopted almost-vanilla versions of Android. The company took a huge leap with the Note 4, and will continue to take the great leap forward. The Note 4 promises uncompromising quality from Samsung that we can hope to see in the near future.