Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note 4
September 3, 2014
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.