Release Date: 10/17/2014
OS: Android 4.4.4 KitKat
Colors: White, Black
Carrier: T-Mobile US
The Good: Ultra fast and powerful, solid housing and physical design, great S Pen, gorgeous high-def screen, amazing software features
The Bad: Friends who don’t have a Note 4 may get envious
Samsung is the top dog right now in the phone business. They know what customers want and know exactly how to utilize the Android OS on their device the best. With the Note 4 being my second Samsung Android phone and my 4th Android phone in general, I have to say Samsung has finally perfected the smartphone. Even after playing with this thing for three days and running a numerous amount of apps and benchmark tests I can’t find anything wrong with the phone. I honestly really tried hard to find some minute detail that I overlooked and just can’t like I was able to with previous Android phones. Why is this phone so perfect? Let’s start with what’s under the hood to get an idea of why this phone can do what it can do.
Under the Hood
The Note 4 is a beast in small clothing. There is so much going on under the hood; so much amazing hardware crammed into this tiny shell that I am just flabbergasted at how Samsung was able to pull it off. Let’s start with the basics. The phone is 6.04″ tall, 3.09″ wide, and 8.5mm thick. That’s not a lot of room to cram this much hardware into. The phone actually has a good weight to it: Not too light but also not too heavy. It doesn’t feel overly cheap like the iPhone 6 does. The actual material doesn’t feel cheap either. The edges are solid aluminum and won’t bend or twist in your pocket or under pressure. The back has a faux leather texture which feels extremely nice. While Samsung is known for cheap plastic backs, the faux leather makes up for it.
With any Samsung phone, you will be familiar with the hardware button layout. A menu button, volume rocker, and power button as well as two soft keys. I actually have to compliment the volume rocker here, it feels more solid and easier to find with your thumb. Instead of the whole rocker being flush each side sticks out a tad more than the middle section. One thing that will throw users off is the new task list softkey that replaced the soft menu key as of the Galaxy S5. It took a while to get used to this as I was always hitting the app list key thinking the app menu would come up.
After the sleek and comfortable design is looked over you will notice what is probably the best-looking phone screen available right now. The 5.7″ Super AMOLED screen just looks fantastic. While Samsung device owners will be used to quality screens this one is a huge jump up. Being twice the resolution of most large phone screens. This screen has a whopping 2560×1440 resolution with 515 ppi. Trumping every other smartphone including the iPhone 6 Plus which is just a 5.5″ screen and 1920×1080 resolution. This quad HD screen is just addictive to look at. Everything, no matter what it is, just looks gorgeous with deep colors and a vibrant backlight. The screen is also much brighter than previous Samsung phones, but for some reason uses less battery power than even the Galaxy S4 did.
For the picture lovers out there the Note 4 has one of the most powerful phone cameras available and is one of the few that can shoot in full 4K resolution. The Sony IMX240 camera allows 5K photos. The 16MP rear and 3.7MP front facing cameras are just fantastic. With the front being a 3.7MP camera it is a better quality camera than the average 2MP front facing camera that most phones have. Under the rear facing camera is a heart rate sensor as well as a UV sensor. This heart rate sensor is more useful than you think. Want to take a selfie with the better rear camera? Press your finger against this sensor and it will snap the photo for you. Health nuts will also love the sensor for fitness apps.
Let’s get to the heart of the phone. The Note 4 uses the Snapdragon 805 chipset which sports a Krait 540 quad-core CPU at an astounding 2.7Ghz. The GPU is the Adreno 420 which is one of the most powerful phone GPUs out right now. The phone also sports some the most RAM you will find at a solid 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM. The internal memory is 32GB which is great for photo takers and gamers. What does this mean to the average user? Your phone will operate at lightning fast speed with no slowdown when switching or using apps. If you want to know just how powerful the Note 4 takes a look at the screenshots for benchmarks from 3D Futuremark’s benchmarking software. The Note 4 ranks the fourth most powerful phone in existence while the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is way down 31 and 26 respectively.
There are other hardware features such as 2.4/5Ghz Wifi, and even MHL A\V link for connecting your phone to your TV. While the Note 4 surprisingly is missing the USB 3.0 port seen in the Galaxy S5 and Note 3, it is replaced with a fast charging Adaptive Charge technology that allows the phone to fully charge in 1 hour.
While that is a lot of technology there is one thing that the Note series has been beloved for and that’s the S Pen. This little guy does so much and becomes so useful in situations you didn’t think it would. The software suite for the pen may be small but it is all useful. Artists will love how accurate the pen is for drawing thanks to pressure recognition and pinpoint accuracy. Writing memos is extremely easy. Once you pop out the pen you can use it to highlight text, write down email addresses, phone numbers, and links and turn them into usable actions on your phone. This is a very neat idea and even comes in handy at job places. The pen hides away on the bottom right of the phone and is completely flush. It feels nice in your and is nearly as long as the phone. My favorite feature is being able to have your phone alert you if you leave your pen somewhere and even show you where you last had it on Google Maps.
Software wise the Note 4 uses a tweaked version of the Galaxy S5 OS. With a better drop down menu and more options in the device settings, you can completely hand tailor this device to every possible need for yourself. One feature I wanted to save for last is the fingerprint scanner. Yes, I know the iPhone 5S started it, but it’s a fantastic feature to have. The sensor is actually more responsive than the 5S sensor as it also recognizes the tip of your pad. You honestly would have no idea the menu button has a sensor built into it. I found linking my PayPal account to the sensor for logging in was great and added a ton of security. You can even set this as a lock screen and save up to 3 different fingers.
There are various other little features such as download booster. If you have weak Wifi the phone will use your 4G speeds along with Wifi to break data up into packets and increase your download speed. I tested this with my work’s Wifi as its max speed is about 4mbp/s. I downloaded a 250mb app and the download booster kicked in and showed me a comparison bar. While the Wifi was pulling in about 4mb/s the 4G was pulling 35mb/s. Of course, this is only if the file size is over 30MB to keep everything you download from kicking in the booster.
Another neat feature is the emergency assistance. Add your contacts and you can press the power button 3 times and it will send pictures and sound recordings to those contacts. This is great if you are in a car accident with no one around and need help. While this isn’t a substitute for 911 it can be used for situations where 911 doesn’t apply.
Overall the Galaxy Note 4 is just a fantastic phone all around. With a solid physical design, a gorgeous screen, a very useful S Pen, and various other software features you are just going to fall in love with this phone.