GadgetsLab: Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Around the time I got my third generation Galaxy Note was the time it was the top of Samsung’s phablet heap. It had all the features I’d always wanted in a phone, but it wasn’t without its flaws.These shortcomings were resolved in its supersized, more-than-worthy successor, the Galaxy Note 4.

Design: (4.5/5)

These days premium seems to be foremost in Samsung’s design ethos; in the smartphone space, “premium” usually means metal. When I first learned that the newest iteration of the Galaxy Note was going to have aluminum edges, I was immediately propelled into the 4 stages of grief. Denial. “My Note 3 is still relevant, right?” Depression. “Why didn’t I wait for the Note 4?” Anger.“Why now, Samsung? Why?” Acceptance. “At least I get to take it out for a 2-week spin.”

True enough, Samsung finally shied away from polycarbonate and opted to surround its newest flagship in metal. Out of the box, the Note 4 is a true beauty. The review unit sent to us was in white, with a gorgeous metal frame, and matte accents. Its plastic back cover was textured, and gone was the faux stitching present in the previous version. Also found on the back are its camera, LED flash/heart rate sensor, and speaker.

Upfront, are its slightly raised display (somewhat similar to a pop up sticker), home button, capacitive keys, front-facing camera, and light sensors. The Note 4 is a supersized device, and navigating around definitely takes some getting used to. Though large, it’s comfortable and easy to hold onto with its slightly curved back. This also made finding the physical buttons around its spine easy. The headset jack and IR blaster are situated atop while the rapid-charging port is at the bottom–a standard for most smartphones in the market today. Flip the back cover open and you’ll get access to the battery, microSD slot, micro-SIM slot, as well the S-Pen silo at the rear.

Hardware: (4/5)

Going further into this review, the Note 4 still has got the same 5.7-inch display as last year’s Note, though tweaked slightly to give better-looking, sharper images. It flaunts an impressive quad HD super AMOLED display that looks as if it is raised slightly to give better viewing angles.

The new Note runs either a 2.7GHz quad-core chipset or an octa-core processor that clocks in at 1.9GHz. Samsung paired this processing power with 3GB of RAM along with 3220mAh battery. Specs that will surely make gamers and heavy media consumers rejoice, myself included.

User Experience: (4/5)

I’ll go ahead and say this early, there is certainly very little to dislike in the Galaxy Note 4. The improved UI is pleasant to look at and is very fitting of this iteration’s premium look. Samsung’s TouchWiz layer is well-blended with Android 4.4 KitKat, which is in turn easy to navigate and use. Customization is similar to how it works in other Samsung—and Android—phones.

In this iteration of Samsung’s phablet, split-screen mode, which is intended for multi-tasking, is still present. Since the Note 4 is large, you are given an option to enable one-hand operation should the screen prove too difficult to manipulate in default mode. Another route is to minimize the app window by a simple pinch gesture, though that seems quite a waste, since a larger display is why you would get a Note in the first place.

Some native Samsung apps that can be placed as widgets include Flipboard, S Health, and Samsung Hub, so users of those apps have no reason to fret. Put partly of a desire to keep my data secure, and partly of sheer curiosity, I tried the phone’s biometric lock feature. I couldn’t quite get it to work, so after a few tries, I gave up and settled for an unlock pattern instead.

Putting the Note 4’s impressive specs to the test gave results nothing short of impressive. I loaded Dead Trigger 2 on this lean machine and couldn’t put it down after. That is in part, thanks to its gorgeous, immersive display that sucks you right into the action. Hours of continuous gaming made no impact on the device’s speedy performance. Shifting across multiple apps after wearing the device didn’t generate a single stutter and I have to give it to Samsung for that.

As a person not entirely impressed with Samsung cameras, the Note 4’s 16MP rear camera definitely captures some great photos. I used it to take photos to upload on my Instagram account, as I too am a phoneographer, and I was able to rake in heaps of likes. Macro and HDR shots are noteworthy, and thanks to its OIS integration images come out vividly. But let’s say there isn’t ample natural light, photos still look decent, but may be grainy and that is where its LED flash comes in handy. Recorded videos are excellent as well. The front-facing 3.7MP shutter is a definite improvement with its higher resolution, paired with panorama and other downloadable modes, and if being greeted with a comment that I have a stunning complexion isn’t enough indicator of its goodness, I don’t know what is.

A solid upgrade from the previous Note is the S-Pen. This writing tool, which is also efficient for those who want to navigate without tracking fingerprints all over the screen, is now more responsive. Scribbling is smoother, and captured my strokes accurately with 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Naturally, with a large phone fitted with massive specs, battery life is of great concern. But with a battery rated at 3,220mAh, you wouldn’t be fretting over finding an outlet in at least a whole day. Though a larger battery capacity would be great, that would be a bit going overboard. And if your power runs dry, it charges rather quickly.

Value: (4/5)

Samsung’s shift from plastic to metal puts it in a special place in the roster of flagship devices. Though an expensive sticker price somewhat cuts its lead, you’re paying for impressive hardware, a great camera, and a beautiful display on an equally large phone. In every case this phone is well every Peso.

Bottomline:

To Note or not to Note?It’s definitely a “Yes.”

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 153.5X78.6X8.5 mm / 176g
  • Display: 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED (2560 x1440)
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.7GHz quad-core
  • 1.9GHz octa-core (1.9GHz Quad + 1.3GHz quad-core)
  • Memory: 3GB RAM and 32GB Internal memory
  • Cameras: Front Camera 3.7MP Wide selfie mode
  •    Rear Camera 16MP Smart OIS/ Fast AF, Live HDR
  • OS: Android KitKat 4.4
  • Battery: 3220mAh

What’s Hot:

  • Fast-charging battery
  • High definition display
  • Premium-looking metal edge

What’s Not:

  • Bloatware
  • Complicated finger print scanner

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