AH Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Featured Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 4

November 11, 2014 - Written By John Anon

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – Does It Still Stand Out From The Crowd?

There is little doubt that 2014 has been the year of the phablet. Now with 5.2″ and up sized devices released by Sony, Meizu, Asus, HTC, LG, Nokia and OnePlus this is the first real time Samsung have had any true competition in the field. That said, Samsung are the leaders in the phablet market. They have been doing this dating back to 2011 and their first rendition, the Samsung Galaxy Note. Since then, the Note range has grown in popularity and effectively spawned the current phablet generation. Now the others have finally caught up in terms of the size, how does Samsung’s Note 4 pair up? Does the Samsung Note 4 still stand out? It obviously no longer does in terms of size. But what about features? Does Samsung’s experience count for anything? Is 2014 the year Samsung shows the rest that they can build a similar size but not similar quality device? Or is this simply the year the Note 4 fades into the background as just another phablet. We will find out soon enough. For now, here it is! Samsung’s newest Note device, the Galaxy Note 4.

SPECS

The Samsung Note range is no stranger to high-end specs and since the Galaxy Note 2 Samsung have made sure the range hits the ground running. This year is no exception with the Note 4 loaded with simply the best the market currently has to offer. Top quality specs crammed into their flagship device. In brief, here’s what’s on offer.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes with a 5.7″ QHD Super AMOLED display with a massive 2560 x 1440 resolution. Inside the Note 4 comes loaded with 3GB RAM and powered by the very latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor (clocking at 2.7GHz). Although some models will come loaded with Samsung’s own processor Exynos 5433 octa-core processor (quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A53 and quad-core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A57) instead. In terms of memory the Note 4 comes with 32GB internal storage and an expandable microSD card slot (upto 128GB). On the camera front the Note 4 comes with a 16MP rear camera with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and a 3.7MP front facing camera. The Note 4 is powered by a 3,220mAh battery and comes running on Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) with Samsung’s Revolving UX on top.

HARDWARE

AH Samsung Note 4 additional-4Hardware is important on any device. However, this year, and in particular on the Note 4 it has never been more important. Samsung have been under increasing pressure over the last few Galaxy S and Note range devices to improve the quality of the hardware. In short, make the device premium enough to warrant Samsung’s premium prices. So how does the note 4 look and feel? Well, it looks good and it certainly does feel good. This is effectively the first time a large proportion of Samsung’s user base will encounter their new metal designed phones and those users won’t be disappointed. To be clear, the design of the Note 4 is almost identical to the recently released Samsung Galaxy Alpha but that said, the Note 4 is likely to make it into far more hands. So in spite of being beaten to the punch by the Alpha, this should be considered Samsung’s first proper metal outing.

As mentioned the metal in the Note 4 is almost identical to that on the Alpha and largely consists of a metal frame running around the device. It’s primarily a fusion of aluminum and magnesium and does give the device a certain level of quality that has been missing in previous Samsung devices. The Note 4 feels right, proper and much more in-line with its price tag than its previous incarnations.

AH Samsung Note 4 - John-10The metal frame feels solid and adds weight (not in the actual ‘weight’ meaning) and depth to the device and does leave you feeling like you are in fact holding a premium piece of hardware. If there was a criticism to be made about the frame, it does feel rather sharp and maybe intentionally so. Samsung wants you to feel the frame that you have complained for so long about. Personally, it would have been preferred if it was a little more subtle and not so “here is your metal”. That said, this is only a minor criticism.

AH Samsung Note 4 - John-9More widely, the hardware in general does feel more premium than the Note 3 and Samsung S5. This unfortunately is not a true metal device with the back still maintaining a plastic-esque style. For some this will be disappointing although for most it won’t be an issue. The back doesn’t feel cheap and although plastic with the faux leather style, Samsung have thankfully gotten rid of the stitching we were introduced to on the Note 3. Instead, the back on the Note 4 is much smoother but still contains a very subtle gripping texture, which can be felt, but not too intrusively. Of course, the other benefit to a non-metal back is that the device feels slightly warmer in-hand. In contrast when first picking up the HTC One M8 and its metal back you can feel the coldness of the metal. This is not the case with the Note 4. The back remains cool but not cold while the sharp coolness of the metal frame is there reminding you “I am metal too”.

AH Samsung Note 4 - John-7Front

In terms of the front of the device not much has changed since last year. As with a number of the elements of the Note 4, it seems ‘refinement’ is the word of the day. Samsung has not looked to change, but instead to continue along the same design road with only minor refinements in place. As such when you look at the Note 4 from the front it would almost be impossible to tell the difference between this and the Note 3. The design is the same with the now identifiable Samsung layout. The main home button is the same, the Samsung logo remains the same, as does the earpiece.

AH Samsung Note 4 - John-1With that in mind and although the design has not changed much (aesthetically) there are major functional changes to the hardware. The first is in the form of the capacitive buttons. Last year, the two buttons guarding the home key we’re ‘menu’ and ‘back’ buttons respectively. This year the menu button is gone and replaced by a ‘recents’ key as it is on the S5. This is useful and especially as the device is geared towards multi-tasking. But be warned it does take time to get used to. After using the device for awhile now, I still in my head believe this should be the menu key. As such my clumsy fingers still think this too and continually treat it as a menu key. This leads to the constant frustration every time it is pressed and the recents pop up. If and when you can adapt to its new life as a recents key you will no doubt benefit from its function. However, as of the time of writing, this is not the case.

It is also worth remembering, again like Samsung’s other 2014 flagship the S5, the home key also now doubles as the fingerprint scanner. Again to look at the key you would not know the scanner is there, but functionally it is. Also the camera, although positioned in the same spot as the Note 3 is so slightly bigger in size than last year to accommodate that increased 3.7MP shooter.

Lastly, one important observation about the hardware is the external speaker. Traditionally the speaker on Samsung devices has always been rear positioned and it was a welcome addition last year when Samsung opted for bottom facing speakers. This personally was a good decision and allowed for more obvious acoustic amplification. Unfortunately though, on the Note 4 the speaker has returned to the back of the device, which does cause problems.

AH Samsung Note 4 - John-8Some will tell you when you position the device on a flat surface (like a table) the rear speaker is amplified more and the sound gets louder. This is technically true. However ,this only works on a true flat surface like a table where sound cannot escape and instead can bounce back creating the increase in volume. If for instance, the device is placed on somewhere not completely flat like a bed or material based covering (chair, settee etc) the sound is greatly diminished. And I mean greatly. At least with the previously bottom positioned speaker the sound was consistent across all surfaces. this is not the case with the Note 4 which is disappointing.

DISPLAY

AH Samsung Note 4 - John-4This is easily the quickest aspect to review as there is very little that can and should be said about the display on the Note 4. It is by far one of the best (if not the best) displays on the market. Samsung knew what they were doing here. Instead of increasing the actual screen real estate they simply added a bucket load of more pixels. This results in a far greater resolution, sharper imagery and again a more refined looking screen. If improvement is what you were looking for on the Note 4, then there will not be a better aspect to focus on. Compared to the Note 3 and S5’s meager Super AMOLED display, this is a QHD Super AMOLED display. In contrast to the 1920 x 1080 resolution on both the Note 3 and S5, the Note 4 offers a massive 2560 x 1440 resolution. This sort of increase in the same sized screen results in a screaming level of clarity and a much sharper picture. If this is not the best looking screen out there you can be sure it absolutely is the best screen on a Samsung device.

The colors are rich and the sharpness of what you are looking at, really is evident. When compared to other devices of this year, the screen honestly does beat them hands-down. The bottom line, is that after using the Note 4 for any prolonged time period and then swapping to another screen is when you will notice the difference in clarity. It is not simply that the Note 4’s screen looks right, but instead when looking at other device’s poorer resolution ,they look wrong. To top it off, there were no major issues noted when viewing outside, inside or even at a lower brightness with the screen consistently providing a seriously excellent picture.

S-PEN

AH Samsung Note 4 additional-3Where would the Note range be without the S-Pen? Well, I guess they would be oversized Galaxy S range devices. Either way, this is a Note and as such the S-Pen needs to be acknowledged. Consistent with the recurring ‘refinement’ theme which comes to mind with the Note 4, the S Pen is no different. Aesthetically the Note 4’s S Pen looks identical to that on the Note 3 which is not too surprising. The Note 3’s pen did come with quite a revamp and it would be stranger if only a year later they were suddenly revamping the S Pen once again. So the look and the feel of the pen is almost identical. The only notable difference is the colouring of the pen’s button. On the Note 3 this was a blueish button while it is much more darker on the Note 4 and in-keeping with the black texture of the pen as a whole.

AH Samsung Note 4 additional-1That said, as the Note 4 is a refinement piece the functionality of the S-Pen seems to be again in effect. The Pen is much more responsive now and maybe even a little too responsive. When using the Pen the reaction of the software and touches are lightning quick and often you can find yourself touching the screen again just to undo an action or marking, which you never meant to do. However, this is less of a problem then the pen not being as responsive as needed. Overall, the pen like most aspects of the Note 4 is improving with age.

BATTERY LIFE

It is has been known for sometime now that the battery life is not the best on Samsung devices. It is not bad either, but other OEMs do seem to create better battery using devices. Unfortunately for those who expected the Note 4 to be different, it is not. First off, it does need to be said that there are no issues with the battery on the Note 4. You will get a full day’s usage out of the device and even under relatively heavy usage. That said, the battery life experienced was only mediocre compared to other flagship devices. There is simply nothing special to comment on in this aspect for the Note 4. When used the battery on average would last anywhere from 20-30 hours and offering 4-5 hours of on screen time.

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-6Quick Charging

This is another one of those features which has been tagged on to the Note 4 and as such does need to be addressed. The Note 4 does contain ‘Adaptive Fast Charge’ which should not be mistaken for Turbo Charging on the Droid. They are different things. Either way the principle is the same with the Note 4 expected to be able to charge much quicker than other devices. In terms of full battery charging (to 100%) no particularly faster charging was noted. The Note 4 typically took around the ninety minute mark to go from nearly dead to a full charge. For some readers this will sound quick. However, in comparison the One Plus One (which does not contain AFC) there did not seem to be any noticeable difference with the OPO charging to a full charge in roughly the same time.

A second claim of quick charge is that in can charge your device from 0% to 50% in thirty minutes. Therefore offering a quick charge when needed. Again this was not exactly the case. The Note 4 does charge quickly and when tested provided a 37% charge in thirty minutes. This is not quite the 50% suggested. Although in fairness, the Note 4 was on during this time and it is expected the fast charge technology is more effective when the device is charging while off. In reality though who turns their device off anymore when charging?

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-3

PERFORMANCE & BENCHMARKS

The performance of the Note 4, in short is excellent. As you would expect with Samsung’s ‘real’ flagship device, the performance is second-to-note. The Note 4 offers a lag-free and extremely smooth level of performance. At no point during the Note 4 testing was there any signs of slowing down. Of course, it is worth remembering this device does come with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 805. This combined with the 3GB RAM does certainly result in a real snappy and responsive device.

That said, one comment which does need to be made about the general performance of the Note 4 is how hot the device seems to run when being used. The Note 4 runs extremely hot. Again, this is an issue which has been noted before with Samsung devices and so it may not be especially news-worthy. Either way though it does need to be mentioned. Of course, this could have been a one-off issue for the device tested but regardless, after only moderate usage the Note 4 consistently heated up and to quite a substantial level. It is not clear as to whether this was a result of the battery, the new Snapdragon or both. With this in mind it will be interesting to see future user feedback on what they experience with the Note 4’s level of heating. For me, it seemed excessive.

Lastly, and as you would expect with a brand new flagship device and especially with the Note range, there were no major issues when it came to benchmarking. The Note 4 scored extremely high on both AnTuTu and Base Mark tests. When tested against Samsung’s other flagship device the Galaxy S5 (Sport) the Note 4 outscored it in every department and without fail. Interestingly, on AnTuTu the Note 4 was beaten on its overall score by the One Plus One. The test was run twice to confirm and on both occasions the One Plus One came out slightly better. However on the Base Mark test the Note 4 quite convincingly dispatched the One Plus One.

Antutu – Note 4, S5 (Sport), OPO

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-1Base Mark – Note 4, S5 (Sport), OPO

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-2SOFTWARE

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-9When it comes to Software and especially the OS there is usually little to comment on for Note devices specifically. This is due to the Note range typically always following in the footsteps of that year’s Galaxy S device. The Note 3’s OS was almost identical to the Galaxy S4 and guess what. It is the same for the Note 4. Yes, the Note 4 picks up from where the Galaxy S5 left off in terms of the look and feel of the OS with no major reworkings. That said, if you are coming from a Note 3 and not experienced the S5 then you are in for a surprise as the OS has been greatly redeveloped since last year and all for the better. Of course, nearly all of these features come in the form of TouchWiz and as such are described below.

Before we get there though one notable aspect of the operating system which was highly disappointing was the lack of Google Now in the usual swipe-from-left of the home screen position. This was also prevalent on the S5 with the swipe from right being occupied by the ‘My Magazine’ feature we saw introduced on the Note 3. However, different to the Note 3 and S5 this feature has been replaced by ‘Briefing’ which is basically a continuous news stream. Although it is handy to have a news stream so easily accessible from the home screen, it would be as easily accessible in app form and certainly more warmly received. In spite of Google Now’s relatively short life existence it does seem I have become too accustomed to its swipe-from-left position and found myself multiple times a day swiping only to be presented with Briefing. If you are wondering about Google Now then don’t worry it is still there in twofold. The Note 4 does come with the now standard OK Google launch bar on the homescreen and as such can be launched by using the typical launch phrase. Similarly, the home button/fingerprint scanner now also trebles as a Google Now launcher which can be activated by long pressing the home button.

A second real annoying feature of the Note 4 is an extension of what has been commented on previous Samsung devices. If you are playing music either out loud or through the headphones, then the music always pauses for incoming notifications. This is a really poor design flaw for the Note 4 and it is not understood why Samsung does not do away with this feature. All other newer phones simply dim the volume (slightly) of the music to allow the notification beep to be heard while the music remains playing underneath. On the Note 4, the music cuts, notification beeps, music starts again. Just for the record, this is also the case when using the camera. If you are out and about, listening to music and snapping images of the scenery you will be disappointed (and annoyed) at the music continually stopping just so you can hear the camera shutter sound

Lastly, as this is Samsung, be prepared for the bloatware. No matter how much Samsung improve their OS and TouchWiz it seems bloatware is a constant and the Note 4 is no different. In total when booting up for the first time there was in excess of 60 apps already pre-loaded with the likes of Facebook (yuck), Instagram and similar. In fairness to Samsung specific apps they have been congested into the now ‘Galaxy Apps’ app and not as prevalent in the apps tray as before. That said, the variant tested was an AT&T device and as such AT&T were also keen to get in on the action with their own abundance of pre-installed apps. In fact of the 32GB internal storage ‘offered’ the device contained almost 8GB of pre-installed stuff. By anyone’s books that’s a rather large chunk of the internal memory you are being sold.

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-5TOUCHWIZ

This simply would not be a Samsung review if TouchWiz was not commented on. There are a lot of people out there who simply dislike TouchWiz on principle and that is fine. From a personal perspective I have never particularly had a major problem with TouchWiz. Yes, it was slightly laggy and rough around the edges but over the last year or so Samsung have worked hard to bring the overall package together. This was noted in last year’s review of the Note 3 and as you would expect a year later TouchWiz is even more polished. This is now feeling a much more fluid experience and not the TouchWiz of back in the day. The current version of TouchWiz (Nature UX 3.0) based upon Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) is again an upgrade from what was in use on the Note 3 (Nature UX 2.5). However for those who were looking for some improvement from the Galaxy S5, there is none. This is the same TouchWiz as the S5 with only very minor improvements.

For those that have not experienced the S5, then the changes in TouchWiz are all for the better. Icons are much larger and personally look more like Lollipop with rounder and flatter icons. It is always worth pointing out (again like the S5) the settings menu has completely been redesigned from the Note 3. Now the ‘details’ (long list) of settings replaced by more user-friendly and visually pleasant icons as shown below.

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-10The lock screen again continues on from what we saw on the Note 3 and again is pretty much identical to that on the S5 with the now standard camera shortcut, full screen music artwork, music/media controls and customizable widgets. Plus the swipe to unlock feature now allows swiping from any part of the lower screen.

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-7With the device remaining at the 5.7″ size it is probably not too surprising to hear that Samsung have once again included the ‘one-handed mode’ we saw introduced on the Note 3. Generally speaking, there were again no especially notable differences between the one handed feature on the Note 4 compared to what we saw last year with relatively the same overall experience. However for those that liked (or disliked) this feature its worth knowing it is still offered on the Note 4.

MULTI-TASKING

As you would expect, the popular and updated multi-tasking feature ‘Multi window’ on the Note 3 is back again on the Note 4. However as you would also expect its also undergone refinement. On the Note 3 multi window only allowed split-screen multi tasking while ‘Pen Window’ offered small pop-up like windows. These two features seems to now be incorporated into each other. As such it is extremely easy to launch both the split screen and pop up window multitasking tools. In particular the pop ups look much better than they did last year and seem to be unlimited in how many you can have running at any given time. Windows can be re-positioned by dragging and reduced in size as much as needed. This seems to be really handy when you quickly want to add information to a document without having to fully launch the app. Or simply check directions while on the go.

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-8Air Command

Air command is again another popular Note-only feature which allows for quick access to the Note specific content. However again, it seems to have undergone a few minor changes compared to the Note 3. In short, the Pen Windows, S Finder and Scrapbook options all seem to have lost their place on the Air Command pop-up and instead have been replaced by Image Clip and Smart Select. Both of these are quite interesting (albeit similar) features.

AH Samsung Note 4 - John-6Image Clip

Image clip does not need too much of an introduction, as the name is rather self-explanatory. This feature allows the use of the S Pen to highlight an image from a webpage or file. From here the selected image can then be either shared by the usual methods (email, Bluetooth, messaging) or be saved directly to the hard drive. Image Clip is not technically a new feature as it was on the Note 3 too, although last year it was much more buried in the system without its prominence on Air Command.

Smart Select

Smart Select is also rather similar to Image Clip, although geared more towards text. With Smart Select you can highlight any part of a document (text, image or otherwise) and effectively again clip the selected part. Again this can be instantly shared on its own via the typical share features or saved to their hard drive. In short copy and paste of anything with instant sharing.

Samsung Note 4 Screenshots-4Additional Features

If you have read anything about the Note 4, then you will probably already be aware that there are a number of features and sensors like a fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor. Which were not present on the Note 3. These are offered but are the same sensors we were introduced to on the Galaxy S5 and as such you should check out our S5 review for a more detailed look. Likewise, all the typical S health, Action Memo and Screen Write related goodness found on the Note 3 has also returned on the Note 4. Again check out last years Note 3 review for more information on these features.

AH Samsung Note 4 additional-1HACKABILITY

Hackability is certainly big business nowadays. With a number of devices like the One Plus One using their pro-rooting viewpoint as a selling tag it is not surprising that this needs to be included in the review. Now to be clear, on this occasion I did not root or alter the Note 4 due to time constraints and using a demo device. That said, normally this device would have been hacked immediately as I am one of those who needs the ability to tweak and adjust at the system level. As I didn’t get the experience this time round, how hackable the Note 4 is, is not really something I can honestly comment on. Recently, Samsung devices have generally become harder to hack and it was noted the S5 was a difficult device to first breach. Most famously on the Verizon and AT&T models. In a similar way, at present the forums seem to suggest the Note 4 is going to be equally hard (at first) to get into. That said, it is assumed it is only a matter of time before a wealth of guides, tutorials and ROMs are available. It was only last week it was reported (like the S5) a hack bounty had been placed on the Note 4. Hackers do not need much encouragement to break open new devices. With a monetary reward (which keeps rising until it is hacked) will certainly guarantee time is the only thing stopping you from rooting and flashing your new Note 4.

CAMERA

By far the camera on the Note 4 was one of the best features and certainly most improved since the Note 3. In fact, it was felt the camera on the Note 4 was substantially better than all previously encountered on Samsung devices. On offer is a 16MP camera which straight off the bat is an upgrade from the Note 3’s 13MP camera. Although it is the same as the 16MP offered on the Galaxy S5. That said, when compared to the S5 the camera on the Note 4 seemed that little bit more responsive. Pictures taken with the Note 4 were extremely crisp and certainly benefitted from the newly introduced image stabilization feature (OIS). Which is the big difference between the camera on the Note 4 and that on the S5. While the actual same 16MP sensor is on both devices, the S5 does not come equipped with OIS. With the newly introduced OIS the camera would very quickly stabilizes the image, providing a much cleaner looking view.

Low light images were an issue on the Note 3 and similarly also on the S5. Again, this is greatly improved on the Note 4 with images far more usable than on their predecessors. That said, low light images on the Note 4 are still nothing to write home about and do not compare to the likes of the HTC One M8, LG G3 or even the One Plus One. But if you are coming from the Note 3 or the S5 then you can rest assured they are at least improved.

It is also worth mentioning the capturing (shutter) speed of the camera on the Note 4 is quick. It really is quick and if you need to capture something quickly (even with focusing) the Note 4 does this well. Overall the camera was a pleasant surprise on the Note 4 and continually surprised with the quality of images it outputted. Virtually every shot taken was one worthy of keeping. Occasionally, one was slightly blurred and out-of-focus but this was extremely rare and certainly far less when ratioed against those taken on other devices. Overall, the camera is greatly improved and you should check out the images below for yourself.

Front Facing Camera

You probably don’t need this review to tell you that Samsung have jumped aboard the ‘Selfie’ train. A lot of their more recently released devices like the Alpha seemed to be geared towards the younger Instagram generation and the front facing camera (FFC) on the Note 4 is no different. Straight out of the bag the FFC is much improved with a 3.7MP shooter compared to the 2MP camera provided on both the Note 3 and the S5. As a result, you would (and should) expect selfie images to be of a better quality and they are.

In addition, the FCC on the Note 4 comes with more software than both the Note 3 and the S5 designed to help take better and improved vanity images. As well as the facial recognition feature (which does work quite well although slows down capturing speed quite a lot), the FFC comes with beauty imaging which helps to show you in your best light. To add to the selfie quality (more accurately the ‘groupfie’ quality), the FFC on the Note 4 also comes with a wide angle lens and the new Panorama groufie mode. Which allows you to take a selfie with a few of your friends thrown in too.

THE GOOD

There is definitely a lot of things right with the Note 4 and overall is an improvement since both the Note 3 and Galaxy S5. In particular the design has been greatly improved. This is largely due to the inclusion of the metal framing which adds both a good level of support to the device but is also aesthetically pleasing. Similarly the OS and the interface (including TouchWiz) has also been significantly improved from the Note 3 with a much more Lollipop look and feel. Icons are flatter, rounder and generally pop out more in a friendly manner. Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the greatest features of the Note 4 is the display which is crystal clear with a fantastic resolution. Similarly, the camera has also undergone significant improvement both in terms of MP and clarity (since the Note 3) and also the introduction of OIS (since the S5).

THE BAD

Unfortunately as well as the good, some bad bits still remain. For a number of people the 5.7″ size is automatically going to be a negative quality. There is also the issue of bloatware. As this is Samsung, the Note 4 does come loaded with an abundance of apps and services you are not likely to use and even more so on the AT&T variant. Not to mention it is deeply disappointing that the Note 4 is not waterproof. Although neither was the Note 3, the Galaxy S5 does comes waterproof and with this being another flagship device, one would have hoped for the same features (if not more) on the Note range. There is also this issue of the device running too hot when used. It is not clear if this is a common Note 4 problem yet, but on the model tested, the heating was a consistent (and worrying) issue. One of the most annoying features when using the Note 4 was the constant pausing of music when any form of notification (or camera usage occurred). This has been a prevalent problem on Samsung devices and it was hoped this would have been removed by now. Sadly it hasn’t. Lastly, it is good to see the fingerprint and heart rate monitors finally making their way onto the Note range. Although, it was felt the fingerprint scanner is still too temperamental and as such the interest in this feature was lost after the first few minutes of usage.

At The End Of The Day…

AH Samsung Note 4 - John-3With a phablet review the conclusion would always typically start with the size. After all it is the size that is the big selling point while also being what puts people off. However, as this is a Note and the size has not increased since last year, there is not much left to comment on. For those who thought the Note 3 was too big, then guess what! So is the Note 4. For those that liked the Note 3’s size, then this will feel even better due to its sleeker design. This takes me on to the major observation of the Note 4 which is how little has actually changed since the Note 3. Samsung certainly did not feel the need to redesign many aspects. Instead it seems they decided what they had was good and what was more important was to refine those features. Throughout my experience with the Note 4, this concept of ‘refinement’ continually came to mind. The screen, the feel, the premium design, the camera, the software, TouchWiz, the S-Pen. These are all essentially the same as on the Note 3, but better. No change, but just evolution. As such if you liked the Note 3 then you will love the note 4. Its prettier, its faster and in short, its better. For those that want to hear the negatives of a Samsung device then don’t worry. They are still there. This is Samsung after all and as such you are buying a bucket load of bloatware. This is still TouchWiz, better, but still TouchWiz. The device did seem to heat up more than it should, but again, this is an issue noticed in the past with Samsung devices.

The question posed at the start was a simple one. Does the Note 4 still stand out from the now crowded phablet market? The quick answer is yes, it does. A phablet is just a reference to a size. The Note 4 is far more than a phablet and as such does offer its owners another level of functionality that you will not get on other phablets. The multi-tasking, the inclusion of the S-Pen, the premium design, the features, TouchWiz. These are all represented by its big price and although is similar in size to whatever else is out there, you are unlikely to find much better (right now) for the money. That said, would I spend upwards of $700 on a Note 4? Well, if I wanted a phone with a pen I would.