At its Unpacked event at IFA in Berlin, Samsung finally took the wraps off its Note 4. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking the company had the wrong model. Outside the new chamfered metal edges similar to that on the Galaxy Alpha, the Note 4 looks just like the Note 3 — until you power the device on and see that big, beautiful QHD display.
But is a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display packing 515 pixels per inch enough to make you run out and buy one? Probably not. Fortunately, this is Samsung we’re talking about, and a slew of new features and goodies await you under the hood and in the software.
Let’s get the spec talk out of the way first. The Note 4 boasts improved specs without too much of a departure from what had been rumored for weeks. Its 2560×1440 display is driven by either a 2.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor or Samsung’s own 1.9GHz octa-core Exynos 5433. It offers 32GB of storage with microSD support, 3GB of RAM and is powered by a 3220mAh removable battery. The rear camera is 16 megapixels just like the Galaxy S5, but the Note 4 now offers smart optical image stabilization, a welcome feature that allows it to withstand the challenge of the LG G3’s OIS+. The front-facing camaera is 3.7MP and Samsung offers a wide selfie mode with a 120-degree field of view. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, an IR blaster, fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor. But while we’ve come to expect the Note lineup to boast cutting-edge specs, Samsung’s flagship phablet also is well known for its unique power user features. The Note 4 doesn’t disappoint here either.
The 176-gram beast offers fast charging, a power-saving mode that Samsung claims can allow it to run up to two weeks on a single charge, improved multitasking among apps as well as the ability to “collect” and add text and media into a single package, and an improved S Pen stylus with removable plastic and rubber tips as well as upgraded pressure recognition and sensitivity. All in all, the Note 4 is a solid device. But is it worth an upgrade? That’s actually a tough question. Let’s approach this from a few different angles.
For Note 3 owners, the Note 4 doesn’t offer an enormous leap forward. And that’s not a bad thing for you. If you’re rocking a Note 3, you have an extremely fast, powerful and capable device, and you should be perfectly happy to stay with the Note 3 for another year if you’re only halfway through a contract. If you own your device outright, you’ll need to decide if Samsung’s new features are worth making the jump. I can’t see laying down more cash for an iterative device, but, hey, it’s your money.
If you have shied away from Samsung’s Galaxy Note line in the past, whether it was because of the phablet’s large size or because you felt overwhelmed by Samsung’s bewildering array of features, the Note 4 probably isn’t for you. This is still a very large device with lots of bells, whistles and TouchWiz.
If you’re coming from almost any other device, the Note 4 is worth a long, hard look. You’re not going to find a more capable, future-proof phone. This device isn’t going to feel slow or outdated over a two-year contract, and it packs a ton of functionality that will take you months to properly explore and customize to your liking.
An important point for all upgraders is the price, which hasn’t been announced. My guess is the Note 4 will set you back $299 on contract or $799 outright, which might be a bit steep if you’re used to devices that can be had in the free to $99 range on contract or $349 to $599 off contract. And if you’re an early adopter eyeing the special edition Note 4 Edge with its cutting-edge, right-side wraparound display, I’d guess you’re going to pay a $50 to $100 premium for the privilege of owning the most distinctive-looking phone display on the market.
Now that I’ve laid out my advice, will you be upgrading to the Note 4? You’ve got about a month to decide before its October release. Until then, stay up to date on all the features and news about Samsung’s latest flagship phablet at iTechTriad.