Boy do we have a good one for you today – the venerable Samsung Galaxy Note 4 goes up against a newcomer, the Chinese ASUS ZenFone 2…the one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Can the 2014 Galaxy Note 4 still stand up against the new kid on the block? The Galaxy Note 4 will cost you the same on a two-year contract as the ZenFone 2 will cost you outright…is the Note 4 worth the extra money? Both of these devices are considered phablets, but the Galaxy Note 4 offers many more functions than the ZenFone 2…but will everybody appreciate those extra functions. If you just want a smartphone to make phone calls, take a few pictures, text, play games, send and receive emails, then the ZenFone 2 maybe all that you need. If you use your device as your personal assistant, look for more premium materials and looks, take notes, like to draw, paint or manipulate photos, on one of the best displays made, then the Galaxy Note 4 should be your choice.
Both devices are very similar in physical size and display size – the Galaxy Note 4 comes in at 5.7-inches and the ZenFone 2 comes in at 5.5-inches, although they have different display resolutions and technologies. The cameras are close in size, but not in quality or software. Each device has a single speaker on the back, they both have the usual suspects – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (4.1 in the Note 4 and 4.0 in the ZenFone 2), GPS, NFC capable, a microUSB port for charging and data transfer. The Note 4 and ZenFone 2 both have a fast charging battery and close to the same size…3220mAh in the Note 4 and 3000mAh in the ZenFone 2.
Please take a deliberate look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the "View Full Comparison" link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each individual device in greater detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Smartphones | SpecOut
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
There is a loyal following for the Note series, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is no exception. Samsung improved the Note 4 in every department – from the display, the build quality, to the processor, the camera and even the S-Pen. Even its past critics praised the improved metal frame, trim and back panel, making it even a more premium looking device with a build quality that felt great in your hand.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4's award winning display is a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED beauty with a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 515 pixels-per-inch (PPI), whereas the ZenFone 2 is still using last year's FHD LCD display with 403 PPI. The Galaxy Note 4 uses the excellent 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor clocked at 2.7GHz (US market). The ZenFone 2 is using the newest 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz. The Note 4 packs 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot for additional expansion of 128GB, while the ZenFone 2 uses 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory, also with a microSD slot for an additional 64GB of memory.
Samsung also improved the camera with a 16MP sensor, Autofocus, LED Flash, ISOCELL technology, and then added in OIS+ and Live HDR shooting. The ZenFone 2 has a slightly smaller 13MP main camera with no OIS and other features that the Note 4's camera allows. The front-facing camera (FFC) is a wide-angle 3.7MP sensor and lens for excellent group selfies and conference style video chats. The ZenFone 2 has a nice sized 5MP FFC. The removable 3220mAh battery is larger than the 3000mAh non-removable battery on the ZenFone 2, but both should last you all day. If you should you need to extend that time, you can use Samsung's Ultra Power Saving Mode (UPSM) or its Quick Charge 2.0 feature….the ZenFone 2 also has a fast charge option.
As far as additional features that the Galaxy Note 4 possesses over the ZenFone 2 -it has three microphones for improved calling and noise reduction. It comes with Download Booster, a Fingerprint Scanner (PayPal certified), Heart Rate Sensor, UV and Oxygen Saturation Sensor. Samsung improved the S-Pen by increasing its sensitivity by two, not to mention its software and the functionality that it adds to the Note series. It was running Android 4.4.4 KitKat, but is now updated to 5.0 Lollipop and is available for sale on all major US networks and will cost you $300 on a two-year contract or about $700 – $800 off-contract, depending where you purchase it.
ASUS ZenFone 2
The ASUS ZenFone 2 stole a few tricks from the LG G3 and G4 by using a plastic body with a brushed metallic-like finish. It does not feel cheap, but it is nowhere near the look and feel of the Galaxy Note 4's all-metal frame and faux leather back. The ZenFone 2 also stole the placement of rocker switch for the volume control on the back of the device, however, the on/off button is somewhat awkwardly place on the top of the device. The nicely rounded sides make the ZenFone 2 easy to hold and helps to explain its 10.9mm thickness.
The ASUS ZenFone 2 sports a 5.5-inch IPS LCD FHD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 403 PPI. This just cannot touch the 515 PPI of the QHD display of the Galaxy Note 4. We are looking at top-of-the-line model with the 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz and coupled to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory as well as available 64GB of expansion by way of a microSD card. This compares to the Galaxy Note 4's 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage along with room for 128GB of expansion.
The ASUS put decent cameras in the ZenFone 2 with a 13MP sensor for the main camera. They included autofocus and a dual-tone LED flash, but no OIS. This will certainly supply some decent photos, however it just cannot stand up to the 16MP camera and features on the Galaxy Note 4. The ZenFone 2 comes with a large 5MP FFC for social selfies and video chatting – the Note 4 uses a 3.7MP with a wide-angled lens for wider shots. Even though the back easily comes off the ZenFone 2, it uses a non-removable 3000mAh battery, while the Galaxy Note 4 uses a removable 3220mAh battery.
This Dual-SIM ZenFone 2 is running Android 5.0 Lollipop along with its ZenUI Skin overlay that has followed the Google Material Design look and sports a FM radio not found in the Note 4. You can also find the ASUS ZenFone 2 (ZE551ML) with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of memory on Amazon for only $299 and comes in black, silver, gold, or red.
…And The Winner Is…
I had to pick the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as the winner of this competition, but it comes with a caveat. If you are strapped for cash and simply use your device for 'normal' smartphone activities, such as talking, taking a few pictures, sending/receiving text messages or emails or playing games, then the ASUS ZenFone 2 should satisfy those needs.
The ZenFone 2 may have an extra GB of RAM and 32GB more internal memory, but the Galaxy Note 4 is a more premium device, offering more features. It has better build quality, a much better display, an excellent processor, the ability to add cheap microSD memory, a better camera, a larger removable battery, a fingerprint scanner (PayPal certified) and an IR Blaster. It also has a heart rate sensor, UV sensor and oxygen saturation monitor. The last thing the makes the Galaxy Note 4 so special is the inclusion of the S-Pen – capable of doing so many things and can use many applications written expressly for the S-Pen.
So while the Galaxy Note 4 has many more features and a better build quality, those are things that you must pay for – over double if you go buying the Note 4 outright. Whether those features are worth the extra money is something only you can decide. If you buy the Note 4 on a two-year contract, then the initial $300 price tag is more palatable.
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