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Latest reviews show that Samsung knows best when it comes to phablets

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is the latest in a line of extremely popular “phablet” smartphones. The South Korean electronics giant practically invented the category with the original Galaxy note in 2011, and it now looks to take on fresh challengers — including the newly released iPhone 6 Plus — with the newest iteration.
 
For those that need a refresher course on the Galaxy Note 4, here are the pertinent hardware specs for the device:
  • 5.7” Super AMOLED display
  • QHD (2560x1440) screen resolution
  • 2.7GHz, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor with 3GB of RAM
  • 16MP rear camera with optical image stabilization (OIS)
  • 3.7MP front-facing camera
  • 3220 mAh batter7
  • Category 6 LTE-A modem
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Fingerprint reader
 
With all of that out the way, reviews for the device are starting to roll in and for now, the Galaxy Note 4 appears to retain its crown as kind of the phablet devices. Below we’ve posted some review excerpts from AnandTech, Re/code, Engadget, and The Verge.
 
On the Super AMOLED display:
 
It's hard to say no to more pixels, especially on such a large device, but you're not missing out on a vastly improved viewing experience if you don't get the new phone -- the old Note's screen was quite lovely already, after all. The Note 4 panel is subtly better, with slightly crisper text and sharper image quality, but again, you're not going to notice a drastic improvement over the last version unless you're looking at them side by side (which, let's face it, rarely happens). — Engadget
 
Both the Galaxy Note 3 and iPhone 6 Plus’s 5.5-inch touchscreen have a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. I didn’t notice much of a difference when reading text, but when looking closely at images and video, I found that the Galaxy Note 4 showed sharper details and produced warmer colors. It’s truly a beautiful screen, and outdoor visibility was also good. — Re/code
 
 
On build quality:
 
Only the sides and edges of the Note 4 are aluminum, while the remainder of the phone is built with polycarbonate. And that's OK. Samsung's been opposed to using metal of any kind in its phones for years, and building a device with aluminum on the sides and plastic on the back is a solid compromise that makes it plenty durable. After all, most all-metal phones don't come with removable backs, and that's one of Samsung's biggest strengths; for as long as I can remember, the company has allowed users to swap batteries and add external storage via microSD slots underneath the back cover. Now you can have the best of both worlds. — Engadget
 
That’s why, even just weeks after Samsung’s all-metal gem known as the Galaxy Alpha hit stores, the Galaxy Note 4 already improves on the formula. The phone that was once plastic, then faux-stitched faux-leather, now comes in a beautiful reinforced aluminum shell. Its big, 6.21-ounce, 8.3-millimeter-thick body is rigid and sturdy, sharp and angled. It’s a statement where Samsung’s phones were once utterly forgettable. The sides bulge out ever so slightly at the top and bottom, and on my black review unit the chrome lines reflect light in a way that feels considered and intentional. — The Verge
 
On battery life:
 
Overall, battery life is quite good on the Galaxy Note 4. It’s a massive leap forward when compared to the Galaxy Note 3, but a relatively small one when compared to the Galaxy S5. Once again, we see that most of the benefits in battery life will come from scenarios where power draw isn’t strongly influenced by the display. — AnandTech
 
While I didn’t run a formal battery test, I easily got more than 24 hours with moderate to heavy usage. It’s also worth mentioning that the smartphone uses Adaptive Fast Charging technology that helps speed up the charging process. Samsung says the Galaxy Note 4 can go from zero to 50 percent battery life with just 30 minutes of charging, which was accurate in my testing. — Re/code

 
On the 16MP rear camera:
 
But low-light performance is what impressed me the most about the Note 4. While ISOCELL helped improve the GS5 over the Note 3, it still wasn't very good. Optical image stabilization has made a tremendous difference here; objects that barely show up at all on other Samsung cameras can be easily seen on the Note 4. In fairness, the images still don't look as natural here as they do on the iPhone 6 Plus, but this is by far the best nighttime imaging performance I've seen on a Samsung phone. — Engadget
 
Everything the Note 4 shoots looks great, too. Photos are crisp and clean and accurate; the Note 4’s dynamic range doesn’t quite match the iPhone 6’s, but I rarely took a shot I didn’t like. Built-in optical image stabilization makes shooting easier in low light, too. The Note’s autofocus can be a touch unreliable, but the high-res display makes for such a crisp viewfinder that I always noticed and corrected the problem before missing the shot. All things considered, the Note 4 is easily among the best Android cameras I’ve used. It’s not leaps and bounds beyond its competitors, but it’s an excellent, reliable camera. -- The Verge

 
Conclusions:
 
The Note 4 is the first Samsung phone I’ve ever truly enjoyed using. It’s not just a huge curiosity, though it is certainly that; it’s not just powerful, though that’s true too. It’s an excellent phone inside and out, the first Note that combines design, power, and performance in one package. Samsung knows how to take advantage of a large screen — even more so than Apple — and with a pen and some software tweaks and a ridiculous number of pixels, it does just that. Note still stands for productivity, and Samsung still sets the standard: you can do so much with this 5.7-inch device. — The Verge
 
The Galaxy Note 4 is the best large phone on the market. It's a device you'll be proud to whip out in public, thanks to its elegant design, robust build, beautiful screen, impressive battery life and solid camera. It also excels from a productivity standpoint, offering seamless multitasking and stylus functionality that's as smooth as I've ever seen on a smartphone. — Engadget
 
Samsung deserves praise as they continue to innovate in this space. If this innovation was also implemented with high levels of polish, I would have little issue calling the Galaxy Note 4 the best phablet on the market. As-is, the Galaxy Note 4 remains one of the best phablets on the market, but whether it's the best for a given user is a matter of priorities and personal preference rather than any absolutes. — AnandTech
 
The Galaxy Note 4 builds on an already strong product with improvements to key features like design and display. But with competitors knocking on the door, Samsung will need to make some bolder moves. — Re/code
 
Samsung has the benefit of having been in the phablet game for longer than any of its competitors, especially newcomers like Apple into this category. Samsung isn’t just going to roll over and allow the new guys to eat its lunch without a fight, so it’s good to see that the Galaxy Note 4 brings performance, features, and an overall competent package to the table for consumers. It appears that performance using Android KitKat 4.4.4 is quite good on the device, so it'll be interesting to see what Android L does for the Galaxy Note 4.

Sources: AnandTech, Re/code, The Verge, Engadget





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