Sep 3rd, 2014


The Galaxy Note 4 comes with the claim that it is a total redesign of the Note devices that have preceded it, but is that really the case? We had a chance to go hands-on with the device shortly after it was announced and detailed at a press event earlier today, and we were left with mixed feelings.

First, the important stuff. Here are the specs as laid out by Samsung:

  • 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 Super AMOLED HD display
  • 2.7GHz quad-core processor OR 1.9GHz Octa-core processor (depending on market)
  • 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, microSD up to 64GB
  • 16 megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilizer, 3.7 megapixel front camera with f/1.9 aperture
  • Dual-band WiFi ac MIMI, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS w/ GLONASS, IR blaster, USB 2.0 and MHL 3.0
  • 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm, 176g
  • 3,220mAh battery
  • Improved S-Pen
  • Android 4.4 KitKat

As you will note, the list does feature some pretty substantial upgrades over the Note 3 (and to a lesser degree the Galaxy S5), and it’s all wrapped in a package that looks about as familiar as any other Samsung device. Faux leather on the back, home button centered below the screen, a design language that has no need for translation. And it feels familiar in the hand. Samsung opted to keep the same 5.7-inch screen size as the Note 3, resulting in a device with dimensions not that far off from last year’s model.

What has improved is the display resolution. The Galaxy Note 4 features a Quad HD Super AMOLED display that could rival that of the LG G3. A Snapdragon 805 chipset clocked at 2.7GHz (or an Exynos octa-core at 1.9GHz) makes for zippy performance, and you get added bonuses like a fingerprint scanner. That scanner has supposedly been improved since the Galaxy S5 (where it was introduced with so-so results). We will reserve our judgement.

Software-wise, we’re talking the standard TouchWiz experience with all the bells and whistles befitting a Note device. That includes S Pen-oriented features like Air Command (hover the S Pen over the display to reveal shortcuts and other actions), Smart Select (quickly select, copy, and combine multiple items), and plenty of note taking options. S Note is the workhorse here, but Snap Note can convert an image of your real-world notes into a digital document to be further annotated.

Speaking of annotations, the S Pen stylus has been improved to create a more realistic writing experience. Sensitivity has been increased as well as accuracy to mimic real-world writing, resulting in more natural pen-like input. As always, the S Pen tucks neatly away inside the body of the Note 4.

Overall, much like the Galaxy S5, we can’t help but feel that the Note 4 is a slightly iterative update. It improves on the popular design of the Note line without offering much in the way of revolutionary new features. That is a task reserved for the device’s Note Edge variant, though we’ll cover that in a separate hands-on post. The Note 4 is certainly a worthy upgrade, but some might be left feeling disappointed.

The Note 4 will launch later this fall around the globe, including on all four major US carriers. For more info, here’s everything you need to know about today’s announcements. Want to share your own thoughts on the Note 4? Head over to Android Forums and join the discussion.

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