Samsung Galaxy Note 4; for Better or for Worse?

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Galaxy Note 4
  • Display
  • Processor
  • Camera
  • Storage
  • OS
4.5

Given the absolute success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Samsung has to wow users with its Galaxy Note 4. With its release in the US this past weekend, it is hard to say whether or not it will match the sales Apple saw last month, at least at the moment. However, given the phone’s sleek design and impressive specs, it may give Apple a run for its money. But is it the absolute best?

DESIGN – FINALLY SOME PREMIUM WITH A PREMIUM PHONE

I have, to be honest here: I am a bit of a shallow person. Yes, I like my phones to be fast and have excellent displays, but the most important thing to me is how a phone looks and feels. I just want to feel like the seven hundred dollars I invest in a phone feels like it is worth that much. That is where Samsung and I have always clashed. Yes, Samsung always made a premium phone, but it never felt like a premium phone. They

tried to correct it with the faux-leather back of the S5, but it seemed like a gimmick and…well, it felt cheap. Now, finally (FINALLY!) Samsung has made a right step to up the aesthetic and make their handsets truly premium. Users will notice a metal band that runs along the edges of the Galaxy Note 4, and that tiny strip does help a lot. It is an attractive feature that emphasizes the size of the phone as well as the value. Samsung has also thankfully gotten rid of that awful faux-leather and has replaced it with a simple textured back (though, still plastic). The Galaxy Note 4, however, is not water-resistant like the S5. This could be Samsung’s way of keeping their devices diverse, but I think it is something consumers will want as a standard in the coming years. Ultimately, it is a step in the right direction, though not enough for me. Of all the Android phablet handsets out there, I am still drawn the most to the LG G3.

Screen wise, it is pretty much the same as the Galaxy Note 3 regarding dimensions. It rocks a crazy 5.7″ display, and it is only a tad bit longer than the Note 3. The big difference from the Note 3 to Note 4 is the screen resolution. The Galaxy Note 4 carries the S5’s AMOLED screen (undoubtedly the S5’s best feature), and that makes the colors pop and stand out compared to the Note 3. This makes the Galaxy Note 4 one of the best phones to watch videos and view pictures on. It crushes the iPhone 6’s display, but still falls short of the LG G3.

SPECS AND FUNCTIONALITY

It is in the specs where the Galaxy Note 4 truly shines. To put it simply, it is one of the fastest phones out there. It gets incredible download and upload speeds on both LTE and Wi-Fi. It also has an excellent Snapdragon processor that beats out everything on the market (everything except the iPhone 6/6 Plus, which is substantially faster). The camera is also great, carrying over the stunning 16 MP from the Galaxy S5. The camera modes have also been streamlined, making it easier to take high-quality pictures. The battery life is also substantial, with reports of the phone lasting up to 20 hours during talk time.

And then there is the S Pen. Of all the things that set the Galaxy Note 4 apart, the S Pen is certainly the most notable. This year’s model has been substantially improved from that of the Note 3. The “ink” comes out a bit thicker and darker, and the sensitivity has been significantly improved. This means that the S Pen feels more like pen on paper than it did last year, which apparently means the experience is more natural. S Pen features have also been improved on the device, making it more functional than before. However, as handy as the S Pen is, it is not entirely necessary. From someone with poor handwriting, I have no desire to write anything manually into my phone. I much prefer setting notes and reminders by speaking into the phone (something personal assistants like Cortana on Windows Phone and OK Google on Android are both capable of). This means that the S Pen only appeals to people who are still used to handwriting, or desire to use the phone like a professional.

THE VERDICT

Without a doubt, the Galaxy Note 4 is a great phone. But, that does not mean it is for everyone. The display is great but is also something you can get on handsets that are cheaper (such as the LG G3 or the lesser Sony Xperia Z3). And despite Samsung’s unusual step to improve the design, it still isn’t one of the best-looking phones out there (again beat out by the G3). Ultimately, you are paying for the S Pen, and that is a feature, not every user will want or have a need for. So, in the end, the Galaxy Note 4 is great, even top of the line, but not something that will capture attention away from Apple’s hugely successful iPhone 6 Plus.

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