Samsung announced its latest-generation phablet smartphone at this year’s IFA in Berlin, Germany. The Galaxy Note 4, which on paper appears to be a true upgrade from the earlier Galaxy Note 3, does not ship until October 14. This gives Samsung fans a good chance to consider whether they want to lay their money on a new smartphone or wait until Samsung introduces the Galaxy Note 5 next year.
On most fronts, the Galaxy Note 4 has seen improvements from its predecessor. It has better design, better specifications, better resolution, and a host of new features that users will never find in the Galaxy Note 3.
Design-wise, the fourth-generation Galaxy Note is certainly a step up from its predecessor. While Samsung has always been panned for its “cheap” design due to the plastic chassis in its previous smartphones, Galaxy Note 4 features an all-metal design and an aluminum wraparound frame to give the new phone the much needed push to provide a true “premium” experience. On the back, Samsung retains the leather-like design, which gives the Note 4 a good grip and allows for better handling. If there is one bad thing caused by using metal, though, the metal adds to the Note 4’s weight, making it 8 g heavier than the Note 3. That is the price users have to pay for going “premium”.
Under the hood, the Note 4 has got things covered. Samsung took the latest 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 quad-core and baked it into its newest smartphone, making it more powerful than the Note 3 powered by a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 quad-core CPU. The international versions, however, will have Samsung’s Exynos octa-core chips in 64-bit, which make them compatible with Google’s upcoming 64-bit Android L platform. Both phones have 3GB of RAM, an unusual number that Samsung seems adamant on sticking with, at least until it introduces the fifth-generation Galaxy Note. And they also offer 32GB and 64GB variants, expandable to 128GB via microSD.
As for the size, Samsung opted to keep the 5.7 inches of screen size it gave the Note 3, as opposed to other manufacturers stretching their displays to the 6-inch range, a sign that the Korean company is shifting from its mentality of “bigger, faster, better” to a more thought-out user experience. And while Samsung didn’t add to the Note 4’s size, it packed in a whopping Quad HD resolution. The Note 3 has full HD resolution at 1920 x 1080 on Samsung’s AMOLED display, but the new phone offers crisper images and brighter colors at 2560 x 1440 with 515 pixels per inch. With more smartphone owners starting to use their phones more for watching videos, playing games and other media-rich experiences, this big jump in resolution could be one of the Note 4’s most important selling points.
Other things users can find on the Note 4 but not on its predecessor include a 16-megapixel camera with image stabilization features to reduce blur while taking pictures, a more sensitive S-Pen that can act as a mouse computer, and health-related features such as a UV sensor and heart rate monitor that can be used in conjunction with Samsung’s S Health 3.5 app. The Note 4 is also the first smartphone that is compatible with Samsung’s virtual reality headset Gear VR.
All these features make the note 4 definitely a better device than the Note 3, solid as the Note 3 already is. For users who have the money for an upgrade, the Note 4 is worth taking a plunge. Samsung hasn’t announced the phone’s price yet, but it is expected to cost around $700 without contract. However, users who are a little strapped for cash might want to consider waiting it out for the Note 5, when the 64-bit Snapdragon 810 comes out in time for the Android L. International users, meanwhile, are good to go with the 64-bit Exynos Galaxy Note 4.