Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note 4


September 3, 2014

Galaxy Note 4 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Galaxy Note 4 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Image Gallery (21 images)

The Galaxy Note 4 will almost certainly be the most popular product Samsung revealed today. But, in many ways, it's also the tamest. Sitting next to a Jetsons-like smartwatch, a virtual reality headset and a phablet with a wrap-around display, the Galaxy Note 4 is, well, a little predictable.

But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. While these other devices show Samsung trying to push the envelope, the Note 4 is more of an iteration of Samsung's most popular innovation.

The Note 4 has a 5.7-in screen. That's the same size that we saw in the Note 3, but the Note 4's version gives you 78 percent more pixels. The new phablet's Quad HD display looks terrific. Is it a huge upgrade over 1080p? Well, my eyes didn't see a huge difference in the hands-on area, but I'm sure we'll have much more to say after spending some extended time with the device.

Physically, the Note 4 looks and feels a lot like the Note 3. It's roughly the same size, and carries the same faux leather finish as its predecessor (minus the fake stitching). And yes, it skips the dimpled look that we saw on the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Tab S.

Another feature that the Note 4 didn't borrow from the GS5 is water resistance. I suppose it makes sense, as a waterproof Note would require some sort of covering over the slot where you stash the S Pen.

The Note 4 also delivers an upgraded 16 MP rear camera along with some optical image stabilization (OIS) tagged on this time. Samsung is also promising brighter images shot in low-lit conditions with the new camera. Oh, and there's also a panoramic selfie mode tied to the front shooter (perhaps Samsung's product placement team will find use for this at next year's Oscars).

One feature that might not get much press – but that could end up being a big addition – is the Note 4's quick charging. When using the default Samsung charger, Samsung says that the phablet's battery can jump from 0 to 50 percent in just 30 minutes.

The GS5's Ultra Power Saving Mode, which limits available apps to turn 10 percent battery into 24 hours of uptime, also makes the leap to the Note 4.

Being a Galaxy Note, we naturally have a stylus onboard. It would have been nice to see a more premium look and feel for the new S Pen, but the Note 4's pen feels, more or less, like the same stubby little piece of plastic that we've seen in previous Notes. Samsung does say that the new pen is more responsive, with more lifelike brushing, than previous models. I played with it in the hands-on area, but we'll need to take much more time before jumping to conclusions about those claims.

One nice little touch that a rep demoed for me: after jotting a note (something the Note series has always been good at), you can now drag and drop it onto your home screen. There it will live as a little virtual post-it note. When you're done, just drag it to the trash.

The new Note also lets you select multiple items (like images in the Gallery app) just by dragging the pen over them. It's positively mouse-like.

Gizmag will have much more on the Galaxy Note 4 as we moved towards its launch. Pricing info isn't known yet (those pesky US carriers tend to prevent us from knowing things like this in advance), but we know that it will launch this October.

For more on Samsung's IFA 2014 announcements, you can check out our hands-ons with the Galaxy Note Edge, Gear S smartwatch and Gear VR.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

Love it.

Mark Keller

To waterproof the Note 4, rather than cover the hole where the pen slots in, let the water enter the slot but not the phone. Thus the slot itself will actually be external to the phone (although integrated as part of the phone) to allow sealing of the phone for waterproofing. Water can then enter the slot but not the phone. I doubt the plastic stylus will be overly concerned with being wet.


The Samsung Note 4 is the best smartphone you can find today, the only thing I will add to this phone is making it waterproof.

That is not a must have feature for me, I never use any smartphone under water.

If you want a waterproof smartphone; the Samsung Galaxy S5 is your choice. http://www.gizmag.com/galaxy-s5-review/31699/


preordered already!!!! can't wait


The port where the charger plugs into the Note 3 is absolutely HELLISH. It takes the precision of a nuero-surgeon to get that little thing to slide into the port, which I am sure causes some damange, not to mention a waste of time, and purely impossible to do without good light. If they don't fix that in the new one, they're not paying attention.

Greg Liotta
Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles