The history of the Samsung GALAXY Note series of smartphones is no longer new. They are the category of smartphone made popular by Samsung (often called Phablets); in its fourth iteration now as Samsung GALAXY Note 4.
Apple, HTC, Huawei and other smartphone manufacturers have since started making phones in the phablet category.
What’s new in the Samsung GALAXY Note 4? What are those things I find compelling as someone that owned and used the Samsung GALAXY Note 3—the previous version? Who should upgrade to it?
Fast Charging. Enabled by default, but can be disabled in Settings, allows the phone to move from 0% charge and quickly gets to 50%. What I found amazing is that I did not noticed any difference in the way the battery power is consumed when I charged with the fast charging or the normal charging.
Advance S Pen. It feels advanced. The S Pen comes in handy wherever you are on the phone and you need to type. All you need to do is point the S Pen to the text box, a “T” sign shows on your screen, tap on it with the S Pen, and a text box Is revealed, where you can start writing with the S Pen.
It is so accurate that a very terrible handwriting will be detected. I’ll put the efficiency at 90%.
You can access a couple of features once the S Pen is activated, like:
- Action Memo
- Smart Select
- Image Clip
- Screen Write
On the previous Samsung GALAXY Note 3, it was only Action Memo, Scrap booker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window.
I find myself using the Smart Select and the Image Clip more. As someone who is a very active user of Pocket app, I sometimes come across quotes or paragraphs I want to share to Instagram or Twitter as an image. I simply use either of Smart Select or Image clip. The Image Clip will come in handy if you do not want to take the full screen with screen capture. Pressing the power button and the home button still works to take a picture of the screen, but the Image Clip can come in handy in many situations.
Evernote teamed up with Samsung to build this version of Evernote that recognises the S Pen. Not just that it recognises the S pen, but you also get free Premium 12 month access to Evernote just by using Evernote on your Note 4.
Smart Select is compatible with the S Pen. You might not need to download Skitch or any other app for that matter before you can grab any aspect of your screen, import it and decide to do whatever you want with it.
This feature will also come in handy if you’re reading an article online or a book and you just want to grab a section of the piece and share to Instagram or any other social media platform. Smart Select was not present in the Note 3.
Default Storage of the Samsung GALAXY Note 4 is 32 GB with 3 GB of RAM.
The ease with which I can use the phone with one hand baffles me; considering the phone is a 5.7” Quard HD Super AMOLED display.
Something about the thin bezel and the new design implemented on the Samsung GALAXY Note 4 is responsible for this.
When handling the phone with one hand, it sits comfortably in one hand like it is crafted along with my hand.
The Samsung GALAXY Note 4 runs KitKat, Android OS version 4.4.4.
It is modified by Samsung using Smasung’s TouchWiz. The UI looks so flat and pretty. The Gmail app and Chrome for Android both look fine on the phone.
Someone asked me if it was possible to get the Nokia Here Map to work on the Note 4. The answer is yes. I tried it and it worked. I downloaded Nigeria map and turn the phone to offline mode and I was still able to use the map.
But note, Nokia Here Maps is still in Beta for Android. You will not get it from the Play Store.
Google Maps is available and pre-installed on the Samsung GALAXY Note 4; and it supports offline map functionality too. But you have a choice to use the Google Maps or the Nokia Here Maps.
It designed with thinner bezels, lighter, premium metal frames that makes it look and feel premium than the Samsung GALAXY NOTE 3, and it sits comfortably in the hand.
This time around, the volume rocker is to the left of the phone, which means you have to adjust your mind to get used to it if you’re already used to volume rockers being on the right.
It is still not possible to tap on the screen twice to wake the phone up, like it is possible on some LG and Nokia Lumia phones.
At the bottom of the phone is the home key, recent app key and the return (back) key.
When the phone is in sleep mode, it is impossible to know that there’s recent app key and return key. But as soon as the screen is awake, the recent apps key and the return key are light up and you can see them with ease.
The S Pen has not change its location; it is still sitting at the bottom right corner of the phone.
Battery and Power Management
The Samsung GALAXY Note 4, unlike the Note 3, does not have the USB 3.0 port, but USB 2.0.
But Samsung has added the fast charging feature already discussed. For me, this compensates for the lack of USB 3.0 that allows the previous Note 3 to charge pretty fast.
However, there’s the USB 3.0 cord that allows swift transfer of files from/to the Note 3, this feature is missing on the Note 4. I don’t know why Samsung did this by the way.
It shoots stunning photos.
Before I held the phone, I thought it was going to be awkward (too large) shooting photos with it, but I did not feel awkward.
However, I was unable to find how to silence the shutter sound when I shoot a photograph. Under low light condition, it was just good enough. At this point, I do not have any other smartphone with me to compare with.
The Camera of the Samsung GALAXY Note 4 lacks manual mode, but has a set of pre-set modes that you can choose from.
Amongst these modes is Rear-cam Selfie, Selective focus, Panorama and Auto.
Whileit does not have a dedicated shutter button like the Nokia Lumia 1020, you can still use the rare view camera to take sharper selfies of yourself or you and some other people.
How do you do that? Pick the Rear-cam selfie mode, face the rare camera to yourself and wait for the camera to detect your face and it shoots automatically, you don’t have to tap on any button. That’s cool. But you do not have a viewfinder that will let you know that you are setting the camera correctly. A mirror close the rare view camera would have come in handy.
Who should upgrade to the Samsung GALAXY Note 4?
If you want a phone with very clear and crisp screen, a phone with enough screen real estate for reading or books and news items, if you want to be able to take notes with a pen on the go (using the smarter S Pen), if you are due for an upgrade and you have the Note 2 or the Samsung GALAXY S4, if you need a phone with superb battery life running the latest Android operating system, then you should pick the Note 4.
With its finer design and slim looks, I still find it tough keeping the Samsung GALAXY Note 4 in the pocketof my pants without it bulging in some ways.
Anyone who is going for a phablet phone should know this already. You either get a bag for it or hold it in your hands most of the time.
While the Samsung GALAXY Note 4 isn’t miles different from the Note 3, the fast charging, the premium metal frame, and the 2.5D screen sets it apart (it fell from me while I was standing with screen facing down on a tile and nothing happened).