This week Samsung revealed the latest version of the world's most popular phablet, the Galaxy Note. Is it worth the upgrade over last year's model? Let Gizmag lend a hand, as we compare the features and specs of the Galaxy Note 4 and Note 3.
Not much of a difference in size – or appearance, for that matter. The new model is just a hair longer and thicker.
The Galaxy Note 4 is also about 5 percent heavier than the Note 3. This is similar to what we saw with the Galaxy S5, as it too was a bit heavier than its predecessor.
Samsung didn't push this point very hard at its launch event, but the Galaxy Note 4 has a metallic frame wrapping around its edge. Though that might not sound like a big deal, it is a step in the "premium" direction, for a company that's known for its long-term love affair with plastic.
We're looking at four color options for the Note 4.
No differences here, as we're looking at the first member of the Galaxy Note family that doesn't build on the screen size of its predecessors.
With rival phablets moving into the 6-in range within the last year or two, I find this a little surprising. But on the other hand, you could argue that it's a step in the direction of improved experience taking precedence over a bigger, faster, more! mentality.
The Note 4's screen does pack in 78 percent more pixels. Though I enjoyed the Quad HD display on the LG G3, I don't think the difference between Quad HD and 1080p is as pronounced in experience as it is on paper.
Unlike the G3, though, the Note 4's Quad HD display uses Super AMOLED technology. It tends to produce richer colors and greater contrast than IPS LCDs.
Capacitive (below screen) buttons
In addition to the physical home button, each device has two capacitive buttons sitting below its screen. The Note 4 joins other recent Samsung devices in switching from the menu key to a recent apps key.
With the Note 4, Samsung's unique multitasking features are now tied to the recent apps button (as well as gestures). We saw some demos of this at the launch event, but will need some more time with the device to fully grasp the changes there.
The S Pen (stylus) in the Galaxy Note 4 has some upgrades in tow, including double the pressure sensitivity of the Note 3.
Like the Galaxy S5, the Note 4 adds a fingerprint scanner (also swipe-based), for some extra security and convenience.
Heart rate monitor
Here's another sensor making the leap from the GS5, as the Note 4 has a pulse monitor on its backside.
The Note 4 doesn't, however, take on the Galaxy S5's water resistance.
The Note 4's camera has a higher resolution, as well as a few goodies thrown in. The front-facing camera, with an f/1.9 lens, also shoots with a wider angle (for capturing those group selfies). And if your group is really big, then there's even a panorama mode for front-facing shots.
Another upgrade in the Note 4 is the Optical Image Stabilization thrown into the rear camera.
Samsung reps tell me that the Note 4 will have longer battery life than the Note 3, but we'll need to wait for some hands-on testing to see if that holds water.
Ultra Power Saving Mode
Samsung's innovative Ultra Power Saving Mode, which limits available processes to turn a tiny bit of juice into a lot of uptime, makes the jump from the Galaxy S5 to the Note 4.
When it is time to charge, the Note 4 has a new Fast Charging feature that, according to Samsung, can juice your battery from 0 to 50 percent in "about 30 minutes."
Both phablets have IR blasters, so you can use your Galaxy Note as a universal remote control (for things like your TV or cable/satellite box).
Samsung's US press materials only list a 32 GB model for the Note 4, but it looks like the company will indeed be releasing a 64 GB option – at least in some markets.
Mobile processor upgrades are much less necessary today than they were a few years ago, but the Note 4 gets some faster silicon nonetheless.
You'll want to note that the Snapdragon processors listed above are only for the LTE versions of each device. The international/HSPA variants will have octa core Samsung Exynos chips instead.
Samsung is sticking with 3 GB of RAM in the new model.
Both devices run Android 4.4 KitKat at their core. The Note 4 does bring along some of the GS5's TouchWiz updates, though, as well as some S Pen-related goodies.
The Note 3 launched at the end of September last year, and the Note 4 will be hitting store shelves this October 17.
Starting price (off-contract)
We still don't know what the Galaxy Note 4 will retail for, but I imagine we'll see the same price points that the Note 3 had at launch (around $700 off-contract or $300 on-contract). And of course that could vary from carrier to carrier.
The US$600 figure listed is a ballpark figure that reflects the Note 3's current discounted price. In fact, with the iterative upgrades that we're looking at in the Note 4, this isn't a bad time to keep an eye out for clearance deals on a Note 3.
For more, you can check out our full review of the Galaxy Note 4.