Samsung had actually changed the landscape of the mobile market with the introduction of the first Galaxy Note. The size of the display was unthinkably large at that time and the other manufacturers have followed the trend as well. Altough the Note series is not the only player in the phablet market right now, it certainly is the best phablet we can buy in terms of specifications and features. So does Samsung manage to maintain its leadership for the fourth iteration of the Note series, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4?
Samsung has given the new Note 4 a slightly different look. Although the faux leather back first introduced in Note 3 is still there, the edge of Note 4 is wrapped by metal like the Galaxy Alpha. It definitely does make it look elegant and feels premium in hand. I’ll always prefer metal over plastic in phones. However, the water and dust proofing found in Galaxy S5 are not present here, which is understandable. The Note series is never outdoor-friendly due to the inconvenience brought by the size.
As usual, Samsung packs all the best hardware into the Note. Depending on your region, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will either sport a 2.7GHz Quad Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor or Octa Core (1.9GHz quad core + 1.3GHz) Samsung Exynos 5433 processors. Both seem powerful enough but the chip from Qualcomm is much more reputable and I would prefer that. Both models will have 3GB of RAM, which is much needed for multitasking in the larger display.
Speaking of the display, Samsung packed in a 5.7” 2k Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440. Although the screen size is the same as its predecessor, the pixel density gets a huge bump to 515 ppi from 386 ppi which is not bad at all. Samsung promised that its 2k AMOLED display will have better colour saturation than its LCD counterparts. However, there are concerns on the battery life due to the extra pixels. While the removable battery is marginally larger at 3220mAh, Samsung promises improvement on battery life over the Galaxy Note 3 which already has an impressively long battery life. Charging a large battery also takes time and Samsung has got you covered. The Note 4 has fast charging capability which will bring charge 30% faster.
A Galaxy Note is not the Note without the S Pen. Samsung has further improved it with more level of sensitivity so that it would be more natural to “note” with it. The heart rate sensor and finger print sensor which was first debuted on the Galaxy S5 are also included. However, if I had a choice, I would rather they take away the fingerprint sensor from the home button and allow us to touch the home button with the S Pen to go back to home. It is awkward for me to use the S Pen or to use other fingers to press on the home button. They are not natural at all.
Both cameras on the phone received upgrades too. The back camera is a 16MP shooter with Smart OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer). The hardware stabilization should improve the picture quality under low light condition as the image will not blur for longer exposure time. The front camera not only has a larger pixel count, the larger aperture at f/1.9 should be able to capture more light. This allows you to take selfies in darker places. Samsung also adds in some software tricks. It allows you to take selfies by putting your finger on the heart rate sensor at first and then uncover it. This is a nice trick as it make use of what the Note has. It also can take panorama photos with the front facing camera to create a 120 degrees wide selfie.
In terms of software, the Note 4 is running TouchWiz on top of Android 4.4 Kit Kat. I have mixed feelings towards the TouchWiz. Although it can bring the best multitasking experience, the bloatwares and underused functions usually slow it down. It is not the best looking skin either. Luckily Samsung is aware of that. Although no new gimmicky things are added, Samsung has added in some new features to enhance multitasking. Smart Select lets you select multiple parts of text or multiple images. The selected items will be kept in a floating button which can be accessed or dismissed anytime. You also can convert apps to floating applications by swiping from the top corner. The floating apps can be pulled to the top or bottom and it will take the half of the display. This is particularly useful for a device with large display like Note 4.
Overall, the changes are all welcomed but much expected. The 2k display and even more powerful processor are the best that we can get and any specs enthusiast will definitely appreciate them. However, when compared to Note 3, which is still a powerful device even after 1 year since its introduction, the improvement of hardware might seems irrelevant to normal consumers. For me, I feel that the new features introduced such as Smart Select can actually be implemented in the old Note 3 too. If Samsung would bring these features to Note 3 via software update, I think that the improvement Note 4 has are much welcomed but subtle.
However, do not get me wrong here. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is still an excellent phone. I have no problem recommending people to buy this if they want to get a phablet, I myself would also wish to have one. Combining all the specifications and the great use of the big display, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is still the best phablet you can find at this very moment. It remains the one to be beat in the phablet world.
About availability, it comes in black, white, gold and pink and it will be available on October. Typically, Samsung products will reach Malaysia very soon after they launched and you just need to get your wallet ready. You can click here to learn more about Samsung Galaxy Note 4.