If there’d be one company to rule them all, It would be Samsung, not only because it has its own private army, but also because of its capability to release amazing products worth reviewing or buying every year. Samsung makes loads of stuff, such as excellent 512 GB SSD’s, namely the “Samsung Evo” line and of course their smartphones, which we’re all familiar with.
Samsung is known for being Apple’s arch nemesis in the field of smartphone manufacturing.
So that’s why you always see Samsung fanboys and Apple fanboys yell at each other at events, some of the arguments they come up with are truly hilarious. But enough about that, you’re probably not here to read about the pointless discussions these people have. So let’s get to it.
Samsung was kind enough to provide us with one of their flagship smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Here at BHT we were thrilled when it came in the mail, simply because we had heard it was quite a good smartphone, or phablet… So we put it to the test to see if those claims were true.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 looks absolutely splendid. There’s no questioning this. The 5.7 inch smartphone’s sides are completely made out of aluminium with rims made out of a chrome-like looking material, making it look very casual but also professional in some way. The chrome rims complement the phone’s back, which is made out of plastic, but made to look like leather. This makes the smartphone feel like it is made out of some kind of faux leather, which just adds to the casual, but professional look.
The smartphone is almost completely rectangular, besides of the corners, which were rounded off for added comfort. This is something we see more and more smartphone and tablet manufacturers do, simply because it looks better and makes the actual screen blend in more with the phone’s chassis. Another feature that makes the phone look great is where the rear camera is located, the phone’s rear camera is located in the top middle of the phone, which makes the phone look more symmetrical, but a better camera location would be the top right corner, simply because I tend to cover the camera with one of my fingers when trying to snap a picture. Another feature we’d love to see disappear is the way the headphone jack was incorporated in the phone’s design. The jack creates a bulge in the phone’s rear cover, which really messes up the slick design they were obviously going for.
So how does it feel to use this smartphone? Quite good actually, being someone who uses a 4.5 inch smartphone himself I thought this phone would be a pain to carry around with you. A 5.7 inch phone is massive, and I was afraid it wouldn’t fit in my pocket without either poking my leg throughout the entire day, or falling out of my pocket whenever I try to sit down. This is actually not the case. The phone doesn’t annoy you in any way. It is actually quite comfortable to use, the phone’s edges are very smooth, making it feel less of a tablet and more of an actual phone.
So if you’re afraid the phone will be too big, or be a menace to hold in your hand all day, don’t be. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is an absolute pleasure to hold and to utilize.
What’s under the hood?
If you’re not an impulsive buyer, than you don’t buy a phone just for its looks. You figure out what the phone is capable of first. And there’s only one way to do this and that is by looking up the phone’s specifications. Only by knowing what the smartphone has on the inside, you’ll be able to fully comprehend what the phone is all about. You don’t buy a car without knowing what engine it has either, do you? So us BHTechies used our own precious time to look them up for you, so you don’t have to.
Some of you might be confused by this point. Because there’s a lot of red coloured “OR’s” in there. That’s because there are actually many separate versions of this phone, such as the SM-N910C,the SM-N910F and SM-N910H, all meant for consumers, but in different parts of the world. We got the SM-N910F in the mail, so only look at the specs in front every red “OR”, because the benchmarks, which you’ll see soon, will not be representative for any of the other models. What we would absolutely love to do though, is put all of these models next to each other to see which one performs better, maybe Samsung could provide us with the necessary equipment. But let’s get to it, shall we?
As many of the top notch phones available on the market, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has an 8-core processor inside. In this case, we’re talking about a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset. The Snapdragon 805, having four Krait 450 cores and four Cortex-A53’s in its CPU segment, has a very similar performance to the Snapdragon 801, which is well known because of its usage in many other top smartphones, such as the One Plus One. If you quickly take a peek the benchmarks, you’ll see how similar they are in performance when benchmarked using Antutu (Antutu is very dependant of the CPU’s performance). Even though they operate at a completely different speed/frequency (2.45 GHz vs. 2.7 GHz). This particular chipset also has the Adreno 420 GPU cores installed on it. The Adreno 420 outperforms the Adreno 330 by a long shot, simply because its compatibility with Direct X 11.2 and Open GL.
But what truly differentiates the 805 from any other Qualcomm chipset, is it’s dedicated sensor core, this core makes the 805 very good for apps such as GPS tracking and such, basically every app that requires some sort of sensor. Whether it’s a light sensor or gyroscope, the 805 can handle it. So if you’re a geocacher, this might actually come in handy
Due to this spectacular chipset, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 just wrecks all of our previous benchmarking scores.
So what is there to say about the display? Not much really. It’s a 5.7 inch QHD display… Okay, the colours look very vivid, that was to be expected, since it’s a 16M screen. But what we truly find amazing, is the resolution, a 1440x2560 screen resolution is about the best thing available on the market right now. One of the things we always do with phones we get sent in for testing, is play a YouTube video on them, simply because it’s a great way to see how the phone’s speakers perform and also a fun thing to do. And I personally enjoyed watching videos on this phone. I was watching a video about the GTX 950, which had just been released, and I was watching it while in bed. It was completely dark. The video was a solid 20 minutes long, so normally my eyes would start hurting after a while. But not in this case. The screen doesn’t have that annoying bright flare to it, which I’ve seen a lot of other smartphones and tablet do have. It’s very enjoyable to watch and doesn’t make the veins in your eyes pop. So if you’re like me, and you’re very susceptible to bright monitors and such, this is a feature you’ll definitely love about this smartphone.
Storage and memory
The smartphone comes in both a 16GB and 32GB edition. Samsung sent us a 32GB one. This should be more than enough for most people. But if you tend to store a lot of movies or your phone, 32 GB might not be enough. That’s why there’s a MicroSD slot that can hold up to 128GB, which should be more than sufficient from all your media needs.
When it comes to the Note 4’s RAM, or memory. Samsung did a great job. 3 GB of DDR3 memory. (Fun fact: that’s 6 times the amount of RAM I had in my first computer). 3 GB of RAM will certainly be enough, this is still “just” a phone. So you won’t need more than this. Even 2 GB would be sufficient in most cases.
And yet again, a great feature. The phone has a 3.7 MP, 1440p secondary front camera. So if you’re a Snapchat user or just like taking selfies of yourself in funny situation, for example, being eaten by a crocodile, this phone’s front camera will certainly do the trick. But there are more than enough phones on the market with a decent front camera. The one camera that we truly found spectacular on this phone, is the primary, rear camera. The 16 MP camera can not only take pictures of a 5312x2988 resolution, but it can also make those pictures look amazing, simply by focusing on the thing you want to take a picture of and blurring out the rest. The way this camera focuses is amazing, just look at the pictures that were taking in our garden. The camera on this phone is certainly a big plus, just like the flag of Switzerland.
Click here to see the images in their original size
This really disappoints me Samsung. I’ve said this so many times, a phone of this size and with these features needs at least a 4100 mAh battery in my opinion. A phone such as this one is made to be used excessively. But wait, this isn’t that much of a problem in this particular case, and why? The Snapdragon 805 of course, this chipset has amazing quick charge technology, which allows the phone to be fully charged in about an hour or so. So even if your phone is running low on battery, it won’t take that long to recharge it. We tested the quick charge ourselves, and the phone went from 0% to 15% in about 13 minutes or so. So again, even if you’re running low, charging it won’t take that long.
The extra features
Okay, now that we know everything about what’s under the hood, let’s talk about what makes this phone truly special. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has some extra features that make it stand out above most other phones. One of those features is the S-pen of course. So what does this S-pen do? Well, it’s very simple. It’s basically just a stylus which comes with the phone, when taken out of the small compartment located on the bottom right side, it opens a menu on the display. This menu allows you to do many things. Such as cut out a certain part of the screen to share with your friends and family, or my favourite feature, it allows you to write on the screen. It may seem a bit childish, but I absolutely loved drawing figures all over the screen, even though that’s probably not what it’s for. What it is useful for however, is quickly taking notes. Say you meet this one girl/guy at a bar, and you have to take down her/his number, you just quickly whip out your stylus and write it down.
But if writing it on your phone’s homepage is not your thing, due to your OCD or whatever, you can always just open a notepad and write it on there.
Not only does this allow you to take notes, but say you’re someone who texts a lot. The S-Pen allows you to just write down what you want to send to you friend, the phone then analyses it, tries to figure out what you’ve written and then types it out in a nice, readable fond which your friends will be able to read. Okay, you’re right, a lot of smartphones have this feature, but then again, is their ordinary stylus an “S-Pen”? I don’t think so.
By this point you should have come to realise this phone is not an ordinary phone, this phone can double as a workstation, tablet and even media machine. And that’s why this other feature really comes in handy when you want to combine all those. Say you want to watch a YouTube video but you’re also very busy texting your friend, have no fear, Samsung is here. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 actually allows you to multitask, yes, you’ve hear me. Multitask. You can open two apps or tabs at once, and use both of them at the same time as well. This is by far the best special feature this smartphone has. But is it worth it?
As we do with all the phones we get sent in, we benchmark them. This gives us a proper representation of how the phone performs compared to other phones. And of course, the Galaxy Note 4 totally aced these test.
Now let us answer the question you’ve probably wanted an answer to since the beginning this review. How much does it cost? Well, this phone is quite expensive. Here in western Europe it’s almost always around the €600 mark, and that is for the SM-N910F. For you Americans reading this, the SM-N910H is available on amazon for around $540. But is it really worth it, that is a question we can’t answer for you. It’s totally up to you.
We’re not going to lie about this (we never do), this phone is truly amazing. It’s a work of art. It can do everything and totally wrecks the benchmarking software. There’s really nothing else to say about this. Yet, we’re not giving it a platinum award, not because it doesn’t deserve platinum, but because by the time we’ve finished this review the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has already been released. And a Platinum reward is only for the best of the best, and since we haven’t tested the Note 5 yet, we can’t claim this one it “the best on the market”. But still, congratulations Samsung, you’ve really created an amazing product.