Note 4 with Lollipop vs Note 4 with KitKat: UI comparison

You may have not heard, but the Snapdragon 805-powered version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is finally getting its well-deserved Lollipop in Europe, and soon – the rest of the world. As you probably guess, our resident Note 4 got the update over-the-air, but before we tapped that 'install now' button, we managed to contain ourselves just long enough to take some final screenshots of the now older, Android 4.4.4 KitKat build in order to be able to contrast and compare later and show you guys what changed.

So what did change? The list is fairly long, as can be expected with Lollipop being such a major design update, but keep in mind that we're still talking about Samsung's proprietary TouchWiz launcher here. In other words, while quite a bit has changed, we're often talking about small tweaks and the addition of more profound animations. Of course, in areas such as the lock screen and the pull-down notification bar, along with basic apps such as the Dialer and Messenger, the changes are quite visible. Still, a lot of what's new is out-of-sight – we have the new ART runtime, for example, and we generally felt like the Note 4 was a tad snappier with its performance.

Enough talk, however. Let's explore!

Lockscreen and notifications drawer

Few other parts of the Lollipop system are as characteristic of the update as the re-designed notifications drawer. The design template is the same, but Samsung has obviously filled it with its TouchWiz-y goodness but in a brighter, less-gloomy shade of blue. What's different, however, is that with the Note 4 you don't have to swipe down twice in order to reveal the row of quick toggles like you do on stock Lollipop, and we've got to say that we prefer this approach. The rest of the visual updates are fairly small.

The lockscreen is another biggie, for Lollipop will not push notifications to it if you choose so. These are actionable even if you haven't unlocked your device, which is another step forward.

Dialer, Contacts, and Messaging

The essential Dialer, Contacts, and Messaging apps also received a visual refresh and are now far more joyful-looking. What's more, instead of a singular shade of blue for all of them, under Lollipop, each of the three has its own distinct color, which could make it a tad easier to navigate yourself when paying little attention to what exactly is going on on the screen.

Settings menus

We took a few shots of several distinct sub-menus in Settings to showcase some of the changes, including in the Sound and Power Saving menus. Samsung has also updated the Application manager tab, and even the sound bar that appears when you tweak the volume has seen a few strokes of brushwork. As for the Settings menu's design, changes are mostly limited to a newly-styled header.

Recent and active apps

Whether you like the card-like Lollipop Recents app menu is a question of taste, but seeing as the equivalent menu on the Note 4 under KitKat had a similar design, most people won't feel like much has changed. Regardless, functionally, the Lollipop version is a tad different, for it now allows apps (like Chrome) to open up new cards for every tab you have running.

Gallery, Music, and Video

A fresh coat of paint has also been applied to the multimedia trio of apps – the Gallery, Music, and Video. Unfortunately, that's about it – so far we haven't spotted anything new in terms of functionality, though considering how powerful Samsung's default solutions are, that's probably moot.

S Planner, Clock, and My Files 

The situation with organizational apps such as S Planner, the Clock, and My Files is very similar to that of the aforementioned trio of multimedia apps. All three have received some visual updates in order to bring them up to speed with the rest of the interface, but functionally, they're the same – just more attractive.

What didn't change?

Not everything changed with the move to Lollipop, however. The apps below are an example, and those include the song playback pane, the camera interface. The browser, on the other hand, saw some really tiny changes, and that's about it.

We remember when we thought that TouchWiz has never looked quite so good all those months ago when the Galaxy S5 was released and showcased the latest design of the custom interface. We dare say that the Lollipop-based TouchWiz UI moves things even farther, however, and though it doesn't solve some of the age-old problems with it, the visual refresh is most welcome.

Related phones

Galaxy Note 4
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 3.7 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 32GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3220 mAh(20h 3G talk time)



1. Neros

Posts: 1016; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

Kitkat > lollipop

2. madbmd

Posts: 36; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

Lollipop > KitKat

5. Neros

Posts: 1016; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

Only if you're a diehard google fan. Material design is just so freaking ugly. Just look at that dialer, God it's ugly.

8. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

^ Said no one ever.

12. Neros

Posts: 1016; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

Actually, a lot of people share my point of view. Nexus' UI is hella ugly and we know that it sells freaking terrible next to samsung products. Shame that material design had to trash the beautiful and composed design of note 4 kitkat. Hopefully, s6 ui's will look better.

30. Forerunner7

Posts: 35; Member since: Dec 11, 2013

"sells freaking terrible "? More like bad marketing, because otherwise the Nexus 6 would still sitting in their warehouse instead of sold out whenever there is new stock coming. I'm also not a diehard Google, but the way you criticise Lollipop is just like when Apple redesign their iOS with the iOS 7 flat-childish-like design. But in the Lollipop case, I find it a lot cleaner and better than iOS 7's flat design.

44. pgicruiser

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

I agree. I can't even identify my contact photos under Lollipop. They are so tiny, they all look the same. I bought the Note4 because of the big, beautiful screen, but Lollipop has made the interface as useless as my iPhone. What good is it if you can't see it?

24. tury694

Posts: 167; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

What did Lollipop add? Encryption and 64 bit support. No silent mode and a laggy ui are the reason that lollipop is trash for now. KitKat was better overall.

41. Camikazi

Posts: 25; Member since: Dec 20, 2014

I would say the absolute opposite, upgraded my note 4 910c yesterday and it rocks in comparison to when it had kitkat.

33. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

It an opinion...right? I agree, some of the aspects of the new UI on Lollipop are ugly. I would agree the dial is very ugly on Lollipop. At least on KITKAT, you can tell where the numbers are separate.

10. EcoCare

Posts: 444; Member since: Jul 30, 2014

I'm not a diehard Google fan and I think the dialer is cleaner and better. It's almost like transitioning to iOS 7, people were like "OMG what was in the Apple's designer head this UI is so ugly and toyish" and then in the end people ends up okay with it anyway.

16. Neros

Posts: 1016; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

Ugly greens, yellow text, no button separation just numbers placed in rows. Looks, pretty ugly to me. Doesn't look like 800 dollar ui. Might be good on motorolas and other cheap ppastic phones, but this doesn't look as mature and business oriented as you'd expect from the best android phone on the planet.

17. bayusuputra

Posts: 963; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

But it is a cheap plastic phone. With a hell of a price tag, though.

19. maherk

Posts: 7054; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

You and the the rest of the trolls like you never had a problem when the iPhone 3g/3gs/5c were made out of plastic, nor when all Sony phones before the Z series were made out of plastic, and again when HTC's phones before the m7 were made out of plastic. I like to you use the words hypocrites a lot for people like you, because it defines your logic the best.

20. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Note 4 is a cheap plastic phone? Okay please do us all a favor and log off. Wow.

18. EcoCare

Posts: 444; Member since: Jul 30, 2014

And iPhone, the device that large corporation and business use has the similar UI. But hey, you can always go back to feature phones right?

45. epdm2be

Posts: 830; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

No you can't because there are no featurephones anymore. Which is a real shame because featurephones like e.g. the SE K850i where much better than the current crap of "smart-"phones. The K850i had voice control that worked even when English is NOT your native language. Unlike the crap of today. It had full call recording, a fantastic camera with a REAL flash!!!, could also sync to a PC, had email etc... And that was in 2007. The only things that improved are screen resolution and cpu performance. Everything else regressed (battery life, features, pocketability, ease of use...) And in 2015 things went even furter downhill. No removable batteries, no SD-cardslots, lower battery-capacity, decadent screen-resolutions and 64-bits OS's on non 32-bit phones, and all I hear is memory leak this and memory leak that. 2015 the year of the f**k ups!

22. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I agree, some of the new ui doesnt scream 'modern'.

25. willard12 unregistered

You should consider becoming an art critic.

28. housry23

Posts: 136; Member since: Jun 03, 2012

You do realize that the ugly greens and yellow text is from Touchwiz and not Lollipop right? Check out screenshots from a Nexus 6 and you'll see that Lollipops UI is clean, fresh and fluid. The Note 4 is a great phone. no doubt, but the statement you made about it being the best phone on the planet is an opinion. I don't think it is. I think it's top 5, but not the best.

42. epdm2be

Posts: 830; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

".. then in the end people ends up okay with it anyway.." ..because they had no choice. Apple's policy is easy: Upgrade or die! If you don't upgrade your Mac,iPhone, iPod, iPad then sooner than later you can't access the apps, you can't re-install your OS in case of a severe emergency etc... I've witnessed first hand that I couldn't re-install OSX Mavericks because those Apple-morons removed that OS-version from their "cloud". And no, Apple doesn't supply DVD's anymore with their computers so cloud/iTunes-reinstall is the only way to go :-( At least most (if not all android Apps) work perfectly on all Android 4.x variants. So I can stick to the the version that i like. Because lets be honest, - 1) what advantages has a 64-bit Android on a 2G RAM equipped device have over a 32-bit version? - 2) what supposedly better battery life can we expect on our (s)Amoled equipped flagship devices (including Google's own Nexus 6) with all that horrible white? - 3) Have you ever used a phone at night (or in dark places)? Then you'd know why a lot of us prefer darker less obtrusive themes. Cheers

32. Rorschach

Posts: 83; Member since: Apr 26, 2013

I actually agree with you on this. I sold my Nexus 5 instantly after updating to Lollipop. It was completely and utterly disgusting.

39. epdm2be

Posts: 830; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Indeed. This is especially troublesome on AMOled equipped devices. All I see is wasted screen estate, smaller letters (don't these idiots understand that eyesight detoriates with ages! And that be buy larger screened devices in the hope to see stuff better!) and flat ugly ios7-copycat-icons. Why do we need these super-Adreno's, super-MALI's or Super-VR6xxx series of GPU's? Right... ridiculous battery eating resolutions coupled with eyesore white infused labels, monocoloured ugly meaningless blobs preferably on AMOLed equipped screens (which benefit more from black then from white). ANd then they wonder why (smart) people don;t buy the new flagship devices anymore. Google get your head out of your arse and stop copying that ugly IOS7-look!!!

11. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Reeses>Jolly Ranchers>3 Musketeers> Lolipop> Kitkat...

23. Astoni

Posts: 649; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Kinder>reeses>everything else

38. Fellwalker

Posts: 545; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

It certainly is bigger . In almost every screenshot, lollipop tales up more space to display the same information. This leads to items slipping off the bottom of the screen. I thought this when I first saw it ;this article emphasises just how wheel of space lollipop really is.

37. drickz

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 14, 2015

SO true. Less clear which is the selected part, ugly, and the ram is no improvement at all. Not to mention it will be buggy with no battery improvement.

40. epdm2be

Posts: 830; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

especially all the eye-sore white on amoled equipped devices. Including their own flagships. I predict 2015 a decline in Android's popularity (due to idiots at Google). Who the hell made that lolicrap? Monkees with crayons?

3. FluffyBled unregistered

I remember S health being updated like a month ago in my S5 ... so note 4 already had the material design S health app!

4. tokuzumi

Posts: 1999; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Certainly an improvement. Hopefully the rumor of touchwiz on the S6 being "amazingly fast" will mean improvements for all galaxy variants that will be eligible for the upgrade.

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