Hands-on with the Samsung GALAXY Note 4 and GALAXY Note Edge
Hands-on with the Samsung GALAXY Note 4
Two new members to the Samsung GALAXY Note family
At today’s pre-IFA 2014 Samsung Unpacked 2014 Episode 2 Event (Episode 1 was in February when Samsung unveiled the GALAXY S5) in Berlin, the company unveiled not one, but two new GALAXY Note devices. They are the GALAXY Note 4 and GALAXY Note Edge.
Having created the phablet category three years ago, the pressure is on Samsung to bring this category to the next level especially when Apple is highly expected to unveil two larger iPhones on September 9. So how did the two GALAXY Note devices fared in our initial impressions? Let’s find out in this hands-on article. Before you go on reading further, here’s a quick overview of their specs in comparison to the GALAXY Note 3:
|Samsung GALAXY Note 4||Samsung GALAXY Note Edge||Samsung GALAXY Note 3|
|Screen||5.7-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 pixels,
|5.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, Super AMOLED||5.7-inch,1,920 x 1,080 pixels, Super AMOLED|
1.9GHz Quad-Core (1.9GHz Quad + 1.3GHz Quad-core) processor
|Quad-core 2.7GHz||Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core 2.3GHz|
|Rear Camera||16MP with Smart OIS||16MP with Smart OIS||13MP|
|Internal Storage||32GB||32GB / 64GB||32GB|
|Dimensions||153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm||151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3mm||151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3mm|
Samsung GALAXY Note 4: Design & Hardware
Ironically, Samsung chose not to increase the display size on the GALAXY Note 4. For the past three years, we had seen increases of 0.2-inches from the 5.3-inch GALAXY Note to the 5.5-inch GALAXY Note II to the 5.7-inch GALAXY Note 3.
This year, Samsung chose to maintain the screen size at 5.7-inches and bumped up the resolution to Quad-HD at 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. This is an expected move since it recently released an updated GALAXY S5 model with an equally dense display albeit smaller at 5.1-inches. As expected, colors were really bright, vibrant and more vivid.
The next major hardware change is the use of a metallic frame, a strategy that Samsung recently adopted with the 4.7-inch GALAXY Alpha to fend off criticisms of its design philosophy over the years. It’s great to see Samsung stepping up its game on the design for the GALAXY Note 4; it definitely looks more premium and elegant than its predecessors.
If you are hoping to see water and dust resistance features on the GALAXY Note 4, you may have to wait for another variant or the next generation. For now, this feature remains exclusive to the GALAXY S5/S5 4G+.
Samsung still uses the soft-textured material for its back cover. While it looks slightly different from the GALAXY Note 3, the back cover of the GALAXY Note 4 still offers a good grip, handling and some resistance against fingerprints and smudges.
Despite all the new hardware changes in the GALAXY Note 4, it is only marginally thicker than the GALAXY Note 3. It is 8g heavier due to a slightly larger 3,220mAh battery. Overall, we still find the GALAXY Note 4 easy to handle for its form factor.
Other notable hardware additions include a fingerprint sensor on the home button, a UV sensor (a first in a mobile device) and heart rate sensor at the rear and Smart Optical Image Stabilization for its 16-megapixel rear camera. As the unit handled was a prototype, we were unable to test out these features.
Software Features: Enhanced S Pen, S Note and Air Command
Three new software features made their debut on the GALAXY Note 4; they are Smart Select, Snap Note and using the S Pen like a PC mouse. As mentioned earlier in our news piece, Smart Select lets you crop up or choose a particular segment/section from different sources such as a website, a photo and a text message, and share the content easily. Below is a short video demonstrating Smart Select on the GALAXY Note 4:
Although the GALAXY Note devices are popular among consumers who like to type and write on the large screens, Samsung understands that there are scenarios in our daily lives that require a faster and more efficient way of inputting data. Using Snap Note, the GALAXY Note 4 can take a picture of notes on a paper or on a white board and digitalizes the information into a S Note. During our hands-on session, we were told that Snap Note requires a pair of steady hands to function properly. We also realized that Snap Note required a few seconds to read and convert the information.
Another interesting feature is how Samsung modified the S Pen to function like a PC mouse. Similar to how we scroll and highlight certain portion of text in a document or on a website to copy and paste, you can do the same on the S Pen by tapping on the side button and highlighting the particular portion. Below is a one-minute long video showing how this feature actually works:
Availability and Pricing
At press time, there is no information on its pricing. Samsung states that the GALAXY Note 4 will be available in global markets from October.