Samsung Galaxy Note 4: should you upgrade from the Note 3 or others?


Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 4 with its now-typical two-hour long fanfare, where it revealed every nook and cranny about the handset in thorough detail. As expected, it's packed to the gills with the latest and greatest in mobile hardware and software, but is it compelling enough to upgrade from, say, a Note 3, or even the Galaxy S5? Let's see...

Design


Tit-for-tat, the Note 4 has a better design than its predecessor, mainly on account of the stylish metal rim framing its sides, Galaxy Alpha-style, though it is slightly taller than the Note 3. It still keeps the signature faux leather back, but introduces biometrics in droves, such as a fingerprint scanner, embedded in the home key, as well as a heart rate sensor on the back. The presence of a finger sensor in the home key is of dubious advantage on such a large handset, at least until you get the knack of unlocking it with a swipe without dropping the 5.7" phablet. Looking further around the chassis, we find not two, but three noise-cancelling microphones, which would allow you to suppress all but one voices from a conference call recording, for instance. This would also ensure better call quality with less ambient noise sneaking in, and more natural-sounding timbres.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Dimensions

6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches

153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm

Weight

6.21 oz (176 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Dimensions

5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches

151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5

Dimensions

5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches

142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Dimensions

5.21 x 2.58 x 0.26 inches

132.4 x 65.5 x 6.7 mm

Weight

4.06 oz (115 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Dimensions

6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches

153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm

Weight

6.21 oz (176 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Dimensions

5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches

151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5

Dimensions

5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches

142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Dimensions

5.21 x 2.58 x 0.26 inches

132.4 x 65.5 x 6.7 mm

Weight

4.06 oz (115 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page

Displays


Bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to such already-large screen panels, that's why Samsung kept the display size the same at 5.7", but upped the Super AMOLED panel's resolution to the futureproof 1440p. Not that you would notice much difference between 386ppi and 515ppi in 99% of scenarios, but the bragging rights are there indeed. Moreover, this 1440x2560 pixels resolution ensures the Note 4 will be relevant hopefully two generations from now, as we expect manufacturers to stop and take breath at QHD next year, before they start thinking about 4K in phones, which will likely happen, sooner or later. Thankfully, the battery life hasn't taken a hit, as with the rest of the Quad HD phones out there, as Samsung promised a 7% boost in endurance, but that would still place its battery endurance way below that of the 1080p flagships like Xperia Z2, or the Galaxy S5.


S Pen and interface


The Note 4 introduces a veritable smorgasbord of new interface elements, most of which have to do with the upgraded S Pen stylus, which now sports double the predecessor's precision. 

The S-Pen will now also work a bit alike to your computer mouse. For example, if you go into the Note 4's gallery, you'll be able to select multiple photos by clicking and dragging over an area. Samsung has also improved its S-Note app, so now you can snap a picture with your camera and edit it afterward, even if the picture you snapped is titled (S-Note automatically rotates it).

Processors and memory


Note 4 is one of the first devices with Qualcomm's latest and greatest Snapdragon 805, or an Exynos 5433 chipsets, ensuring it will be futureproof in that regard at least a year from now. Besides the CPU clock and graphics performance boost, some of the main advantages of 805 against 801 are the improved image processing for the camera shenanigans. Its main reason for existence, however, is called 4K. The 805 is thoroughly optimised for encoding, decoding and streaming 4K footage effortlessly, and without taking an excessive toll on the battery, or overheating, like it sometimes happens with the previous-gen processors. As for the memory situation, it remains the same that we find in the Note 3.

Cameras


With the Note 4, Samsung is finally implementing optical image stabilisation on its phones (if we don't count its chubby members of the Zoom line). Thus, the new phablet has a 16 MP shooter with pulse LED flash, and protection from video shake and motion blur from hand tremor. OIS is a great technology to have, and we can't wait to test Samsung's take on it, after we've seen what it can do on Nokia, HTC or LG devices, for instance. All in all, the Note 4 is shaping up to be much superior than the Note 3 in the camera aspect, which is already saying something. Last but not least, the Note 4 has a new, wide-angle 3.7 MP selfie cam that can fit more attention-seekers in one frame.


In a nutshell - yes, you should upgrade from your Note 3 to the Note 4. The latest generation of Samsung's venerable phablet brand is perhaps the biggest upgrade in the line's history so far. The design is more premium than Samsung's standards, the processor is 4K-optimized before 4K has even become mainstream, and the Quad HD resolution ensures that the Note 4 will be futureproof for what might be two generations now, instead of becoming obsolete every year. When we pile on the superior audio recording quality, faster charging, the increased S Pen sensitivity and its extra features, as well as the optically stabilized camera module plus the wide-angle selfie cam, the Note 4 becomes the phablet to have, and, as usual with Samsung's phablet line, it is likely to keep its value higher, and for longer.

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 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3220 mAh(20h 3G talk time)
Galaxy Note 3
  • Display 5.7" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 3200 mAh(21h 3G talk time)

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65 Comments

1. darkknight

Posts: 20; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

Honestly I will uppgrade, functionality maters most. Desig is good. I will go with Note edge. It will be mine in 3 years.

36. Ashoaib

Posts: 3276; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

I am 100% upgrading to note 4 but not from note 3 bcoz I dont own a note 3

44. jcdz89

Posts: 78; Member since: Mar 01, 2013

Note 4 is clearly the best right now..no second thoughts.. But note 3 is more than good enough for me & I'm perfectly happy with it..it is obvious that more often than not nobody will notice difference between QHD & FHD 5.7" screens. Also there's not a mile gap between 805vs 800.. By the way this is a solid upgrade that really has to say..

2. nohatenofanboy

Posts: 515; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

not good upgrade for note 3 users

7. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

'The latest generation of Samsung's venerable phablet brand is perhaps the biggest upgrade in the line's history so far' - Daniel P.

14. nohatenofanboy

Posts: 515; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

'dont think so ' - nohatenofanboy.

29. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

That's why Daniel P. is an author and you aren't. You fail to mention the reason why you don't think its a worthy upgrade.

33. RORYREVOLUTION

Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

He fails to mention the reason because he has none, he simply is just trolling.

41. nohatenofanboy

Posts: 515; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

you dont have to be an aouthor to say such a things. you like daniel p. bcause he says what you wanna hear. there is no need to mention , everything is clear if you r not a dumb

43. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Wow.....I like when I get under people's skin. Anywho, I merely meant to point out that if you think its not a worthy upgrade even after all the points and comment by author then at least care to mention the reason that why you disagree with the article ! If you just post a statement like 'not good upgrade' without reason you just come across as a hater/troll as rory mentioned. No need to go ol grumpy cat on me.

47. sputtle

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 23, 2013

Anyone who uses the word 'anywho' is obviously a pimple-faced, skinny virgin with bad posture and stupid jokes. You're probably socially awkward, too.

49. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

haha..........butthurt ? xD Keep'em coming. I love it when keyboard warriors like you try to express their anger through internet. It helps you vent out the frustration of under-achievements in your life.

55. RORYREVOLUTION

Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

I am not even going to try to pretend that I understood what you said just now.

46. Gazeebo

Posts: 7; Member since: Aug 02, 2014

That's what they said from the Note 2 to Note 3.....still will get outshined in 1 year or less...like all phones now a days. Plus Authors aren't always correct....look at all books with errors and obsolete thinking plus tech articles and opinions aren't worth anything after the next phone in the lineup arrives.

20. sergiobr

Posts: 718; Member since: Feb 25, 2013

In a nutshell - no, I should´nt upgrade from my Note 3 to the Note 4, I was expecting IP57 and a better low light performance. Waiting Note 5 or ... Galaxy S6.

3. darkkjedii

Posts: 30966; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Note 3 to note 4, is a slightly bigger jump than 5 to 5s. If you want the latest greatest go for it, if not don't. I'm on the fence myself.

9. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

That jump is not at all slight. 5 to 5s had the same display, same RAM and same camera, same design ! Only notable improvement was the fingerprint scanner and a slightly better processor. Whereas, Note 4 has better display, slimmer and better S pen, better camera, OIS, an excellent front camera, heart-rate & finger print scanner, better metal design, etc. It is MUCH-MUCH bigger upgrade then iPhones.

15. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

He is on the fence because the iToy XL edition is what he really wants. Only problem is that the iToyXL may not ship until late 2014 or early 2015.

23. Genza

Posts: 576; Member since: Mar 12, 2014

Do you know anything about the OIS in Note 4? Is it 3 axis OIS like Nokia Pureview Cameras or it just crappy 2 axis OIS like the one in LG, HTC and Nexus?

35. Tuxedo

Posts: 356; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

None of the upgrades in the Note 3 to Note 4 transition is a gotta have though; they are all average. The most imp IMO being the 805 SOC that, according to Qualcomm, has up to 40% better performance while using up to 20% less power. The swipe type finger print sensor is hardly ground breaking compared to the 2D sensor array in the iPhone. A6 to A7 is also a more significant upgrade than SD801 to SD805. I would be surprised if anyone can pick out the 2K display from the 1080p display or say, they "same" scene captured with a Note 3 vs the Note 4. In terms of number of upgrades, yes, but some upgrades just do not impact the end user experience.

40. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

I disagree. The ISOCELL OIS 16mp camera is one huge upgrade. 16mp OIS on GS5 was already the best in daylight but now with the addition of OIS the night photography is going to improve drastically. The upgrade is huge enough for an average user to notice. The S pen is slimmer and does much more trick then its predecessor and at the software side people will notice the difference. Although m not sure it all will come to Note 3 in future. The design is also a huge step up. The removal of that fake stitching is more then welcome and the metal frame makes the device look much more aesthetically appealing. 'A6 to A7 is also a more significant upgrade than SD801 to SD805' - That is incorrect. Note 3 had SD800 not SD801. Although an upgrade in SOC is hardly the end user will notice. But that applies the Apple as well. iP5 handles all the games and transitions smoothly just as the iP5s. ' I would be surprised if anyone can pick out the 2K display from the 1080p display' -Here's the thing don't need to 'pick out' the difference or sit and differentiate the pixels for that matter. The new display has much more accurate colours reproduction. However, the difference maybe subtle here.

63. Iamafanboywithsense

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Jesus! Very well said homie! I LOVE my note 3, and WANT the 4 soooo bad because it's simply a family thing. You get familiar with your devices and you stay within that strain... But really people. To pony up the cash for even these awesome but few upgrades!? Screw that. That cash will get your LATEST AND GREATEST accessories AND even some Xmas shopping. Clean your phone out, wipe it, slap on your case and such and you have the NEW feel and performance you were looking for in the first place! But seriously, as much as I love note, this ain't worth it right now. And hate to say Samsung will notice, and perhaps they'll respond with some product worth replacing your already awesome device. Props to every note 3 owner that are holding their horses on the basis that you use your note well enough to KNOW that the difference between the two will fade within weeks. Again, we all want it, but all your note 3 needs this fall is some spring cleaning and your g2g.

31. darkkjedii

Posts: 30966; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

See post 3, and Doug, I don't know what an iToy is. Sorry

52. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Soo coy. You remind me of a grade school acquaintance of many, many years ago, who would cover their ears and go la, la, la, I can't hear you. You do know what I am referring to by iToys. You just don't want to engage in the conversation. Not engaging is fine, but claiming not to know what an iToy is, is ...disengenuous.

57. darkkjedii

Posts: 30966; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

See post 31, and talk to me when you wanna talk tech...not just troll apple articles. You were a lot more enjoyable to talk to, when you talked tech. Now, not so much.

4. nothingmuch

Posts: 201; Member since: May 03, 2013

Yep, note 4

16. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Only problem for me in upgrading is that VZW will be last to the '4 party. :-(

5. Cicero

Posts: 1117; Member since: Jan 22, 2014

SGS4->Note4

11. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

In any standards, I just don't see why.

53. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

How about trolling standards? Make sense now?

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