Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review


Update: You can read our Galaxy Note 5 review!


Launched in 2011, Samsung's first Galaxy Note arrived at a market where phone screens were already getting increasingly bigger, but most were still nowhere near the 5" mark. We were just getting used to working with those "larger-than-life" 4.3-inchers, and out of nowhere came the Galaxy Note – a true monster with a 5.3" screen. It looked scary with its imposing dimensions, and it felt rather weird at first, partly due to its focus on the so-called S Pen stylus. However, Samsung believed in its new form-factor, so it kept pushing it, and most importantly – refining it. The following generations of the Note series all came with even bigger screens, better internals, and refined S Pen capabilities. One by one, hardcore smartphone users were making their bold first step into phablet territory, lured in by the gigantic screen size and added multitasking features. And while the mainstream audience was still mostly interested in the Galaxy S flagship line, the Galaxy Note established itself as a viable alternative for those who wanted a Galaxy S with more of everything. As time eventually showed, 'phablets' had turned into a juicy niche not to be overlooked.

So, what's next for the Note line? Even though multiple smartphone companies have followed in Samsung's footsteps by releasing their own phablet offerings, the Galaxy Note has remained the benchmark device in this supersized category. All eyes are on what Samsung has in store, as each new Galaxy Note defines what a top-shelf phablet should be – after all, no one has managed to leapfrog Samsung in this particular market segment yet.

The latest and supposedly greatest edition in the series, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, has just begun hitting the market in some areas of the world, and as one can imagine, the hype is starting to reach critical levels. As the everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink device in Samsung's portfolio, the Note 4 is expected to pack all the latest technology available, in order to meet the requirements of its tech-savvy public. And, by the looks of it, the Note 4 isn't going to disappoint. The newest phablet by Samsung sticks with the same 5.7" diagonal as its predecessor, but significantly bumps the resolution to the extremely dense 1440 x 2560 pixels. Most other components of the device, including the chipset, the camera, and the S Pen, have also been upgraded, and make no mistake – there's a whole host of different sensors mounted on the device, just to add that extra level of versatility, which is so characteristic of the Note series.

With an enhanced design choke-full of hardware and software features, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 looks like a dream come true for smartphone enthusiasts who tend to be firmly convinced that more is better when it comes to technology. It's an ideology that we'll put to the test.


A new metal frame adds a touch of premium feel, but is it enough?

Samsung typically isn't the kind of company that one goes to should they seek a meticulously crafted device, and that doesn't really change with the Galaxy Note 4. Nevertheless, Samsung has tried to step things up with its build quality, as the Note 4 now utilizes an external frame made of real metal. The frame itself has a bit of a strange shape, with slightly protruding areas in the four corners – this type of appearance isn't so mainstream, but rather, it tries to make a statement of sorts, though we aren't sure how one is supposed to read the message. Either way, the frame is not really bad, plus it adds a touch of high-end feel to the device.

Aside from that, most other elements of the exterior are unmistakably Samsung. The front of the Galaxy Note 4 is instantly recognizable, while the back has kept a lighter version of the faux leather pattern that was present on its predecessor. Most importantly, gone is the fake “stitching” element, so the back looks much more normal now. The downside is that it's more slippery than the Note 3's finish, though. Additionally, it's still made of a paper-thin piece of plastic, so overall build quality can't really be seen as impressive.

We'd guess that dimensions aren't really so critical for phablet users, since pretty much all of the devices of this type are quite chubby. It's a good thing that the Note 4 isn't outrageously big for a phablet (6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches (153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm)) – it has barely gotten bigger than the Note 3 (5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches (151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm)). Still, it's unpleasantly surprising that Samsung's new device has gotten heavier than its predecessor – from 5.93 oz (168 g), to 6.21 oz (176 g). It's not a major difference, but it's noticeable.

If we have to compare the Galaxy Note 4 with another contemporary and quite popular phablet right now, the iPhone 6 Plus, we can think of both good and bad things to say about its dimensions. On one hand, Samsung's phone is not as high, but on the other, it's significantly thicker, which makes it feel a bit less sophisticated and classy.

Naturally, the front is dominated by the massive, 5.7” display, with the speaker, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and front-facing camera situated above it. That leaves the fingerprint scanner-enabled home button, as well as touch-sensitive multitasking and back buttons to occupy the bezel below the screen. A volume rocker resides on the left hand side, while the right is dedicated solely to the power key. The top edge is where you'll find the 3.5mm headset jack and the IR blaster, and the bottom is reserved for the microUSB port, as well as the slot for the S Pen stylus. The physical keys, which includes the home, volume and power buttons, are very well executed – they aren't phenomenal, but have a satisfying response with a reassuring clicky feel. They certainly work better than those of the Galaxy Note 3, and hopefully, they will remain like this in the long term.

After the water- and dust-resistant Galaxy S5, it's rather unfortunate that the Galaxy Note 4 doesn't feature those same capabilities. Indeed, spilling water or other liquids over your shiny Note 4 may cause irreversible damage, so you'll be better off exercising some special care when handling the device.

Now, let's say a few words about the execution of the new S Pen and its slot. The stylus isn't too hard to remove from the slot, but nor is it very easy and seamless. On one hand, that's good, because it won't accidentally fall off, but on the other, you do have to apply a bit of force in order to take it out, plus it might be a bit of a hassle in case your nails are too short. The pen itself isn't uncomfortably small, but it would have been better if it was a bit bigger – closer to the size of a real pen. Of course, there isn't nearly enough space inside the Note 4 for that kind of a pen, so Samsung has had to do with what's possible at this time.

Overall, the design of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 seems to be more than adequate in the modern phablet world. It maintains good balance between form and function, with that new metal frame it has, as well as the relatively decent dimensions and great screen size. We would have preferred it if it was a bit thinner and lighter, not to mention water-resistant, but oh well, maybe next time.

Samsung Galaxy Note4

6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches

153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm


6.21 oz (176 g)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches

158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm


6.07 oz (172 g)


5.76 x 2.94 x 0.35 inches

146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm


5.26 oz (149 g)

Sony Xperia Z3

5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches

146 x 72 x 7.3 mm


5.36 oz (152 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note4

6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches

153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm


6.21 oz (176 g)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches

158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm


6.07 oz (172 g)


5.76 x 2.94 x 0.35 inches

146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm


5.26 oz (149 g)

Sony Xperia Z3

5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches

146 x 72 x 7.3 mm


5.36 oz (152 g)

Compare these and other phones using our Size Comparison tool.


Incredibly vibrant, or incredibly accurate – it's your call!

The polarizing AMOLED screen technology is back with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (what a surprise!), and guess what – it's way better than before.

Now that we've teased you about the exciting part, let's start from the very beginning... The Note 4 sports a “larger-than-life” 5.7” display, which is, naturally, way bigger than the average smartphone screen out there. This is the main asset of this device, and although the diagonal has remained the same since the previous generation, the resolution has been increased substantially – from 1080 x 1920 pixels, to 1440 x 2560 pixels. This has increased the pixel density from the superb 386 ppi, to the breath-taking 515 ppi. Well, actually, if you've had the pleasure of using a 1080p phone, you'll hardly be amazed by the appearance of this 1440p screen – mostly because the difference in clarity isn't that big. You'll really have to try hard to notice those slightly cleaner details, but those are still there, and they can quietly improve your viewing experience - in a very subtle, yet welcome way.

We've always been honest that one of our biggest gripes with Samsung's Super AMOLED screen technology is how inaccurate and pumped-up its color-reproduction tends to be. As undeniably eye-catchy as those ultra-vibrant visuals are, we've always imagined there to be a special screen mode that would allow Samsung's AMOLED-powered devices to exhibit more realistic screen tones. Sure, phones like the Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3 came equipped with display modes designed to make things look more 'natural', but truth be told, in reality, those modes never did much in order to fix the issue of AMOLED's overly cold and greenish color character.

When the Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablets arrived earlier this year, we were actually pleasantly surprised to find that they were armed with a new screen mode called 'Basic', which actually did a great job tweaking the display colors so that they look very true-to-life. That made us optimistic about the future of Samsung's AMOLEDs, and it also made us very excited, because we felt that this new, improved AMOLED technology is to eventually make its way to the company's smartphones.

Well, it seems like that time has finally come, as our scientific measurements of the Galaxy Note 4's screen indicate that its 'Basic' mode successfully adjusts the 5.7" screen's color reproduction to be impressively close to the reference sRGB standard - meaning that we finally have an AMOLED smartphone, whose color tones can get very realistic! Impressively, in this mode, the Galaxy Note 4's measured color temperature is almost ideal, at about 6650 K (Kelvin). That's extremely close to the reference value of 6500 K. This means that the balance between the primary blue and red colors is great. Thankfully, the third primary, green, isn't present in excessive amounts (as on Samsung's previous AMOLED screens), so things aren't looking decidedly greenish on the Galaxy Note 4's display.

With Delta E greyscale and Delta E rgbcmy values of 3.1 and 2.61, respectively, the Note 4's display proves that its various hues and nuances won't deviate much from their target values. In the realm of Delta E, which is a metric used to indicate amount of 'color error', figures around 5 are generally considered passable, while figures below 3 mean the display is very accurate (Delta E of 1 is considered to be the smallest amount of color difference a human eye can distinguish). This means the display of the Note 4 is doing a great job at delivering true-to-life colors when set to the Basic screen mode.

If you take a look at the color gamut chart in our display benchmarks found below, you'll see that the measured color points are very close to almost all of their reference values (the squares) - that's a good way to visualize the level of color accuracy exchibited by a display. Of course, should you wish to feast your eyes on the traditionally oversaturated and vibrant AMOLED looks, you can always switch to some of the other available modes ('AMOLED cinema' and 'AMOLED photo'), as those will present you with the familiar, punchy AMOLED outlook. There's also the Adaptive display mode which will try to optimize the screen's behavriour based on the content that's displayed.

When it comes to outdoor visibility, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 tends to be an excellent performer. Even though it can't quite measure up to the best of its rivals out there in terms of maximum nits when displaying pure white (that's our standard way of measuring screen brightness), the screen is quite comfortable to view under bright daylight, due to its low reflectance, and ability to crank the brightness up, when display content that features areas of varying colors – i.e. not pure white. Because of this inconsistent character of the screen's brightness output, the exact brightness you'll be able to squeeze from it will depend on the content you're viewing, but more often than not – everything will be easy to read on the Note 4's screen.

Viewing angles are traditionally good on AMOLED screen, and the Note 4 isn't an exception. Contrast and brightness remain high when you view the screen from an angle, but unfortunately, there's an unpleasant shift in colors which make them much colder than they otherwise are.


TouchWiz is getting better, but there's still room for improvement

If you've ever used a recent Samsung handset, you'll feel right at home with the Note 4. That's because the visually renovated TouchWiz UI functions in mostly the same way as on other TouchWiz handsets. The feature-packed interface employs a standard Android structure which involves a homescreen with multiple homescreen pages (the left most one can be the My Magazine new feed), and an app launcher. The widgets are no longer housed in a separate tab in the app launcher – instead, they are accessed from the homescreen options.

The Galaxy Note 4 user interface looks very similar to that of the Galaxy S5, but some graphical elements have been tweaked for a lighter and brighter look. Most noticeably, built-in applications like the contacts, dialer, and settings now come with a bright UI theme, which makes them look more inviting and cheerful. We definitely enjoy these visual improvements that Samsung has made to its TouchWiz UI.


As it already became clear, the phonebook in the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes with a brighter layout than before, which is a welcome tweak. In terms of functionality, there isn't anything shocking – everything is big and easy to press, including the dialer's numeric keys, and that's always a good thing in a phonebook app. Unfortunately, contacts that you haven't set images for will still get assigned a colorful dummy icon which doesn't look really mature. So better do some work and assign some pictures to your contacts – it'll definitely make your calling experience more eye-pleasing.

Assigning images will also improve the look of the favorites tab, where your favorite buddies will be represented by fairly big image thumbnails. Going back to the contacts list itself, if you really are of the impatient type, you're given the option to quickly call or message a contact by doing a swipe to the right or left, respectively, over their name.


The messaging app is mostly the same as before – you'll really have a hard task trying to figure out the differences, and this includes the on-screen QWERTY keyboard, so if you aren't really a fan of Samsung's stock keyboard, then you'll obviously have to look for a third-party replacement.

Speaking of the build-in keyboard, it still has those smallish letter buttons, divided by ample amounts of empty space between them. It's probably not the most comfortable typing experience, especially if you're into keyboards with bigger keys.

Other than that, the messaging app allows you to easily enter various smileys, as well as to attach a ton of different content, including images, video, and sound notes to your messages. Besides, there are some really neat capabilities baked into the app that you may not find in many other messaging applications: for example, you can easily change the font size, or you can schedule a message to be sent at a specific moment in the future.


'S Planner' is a bit of an odd name for a calendar app, but that's the way it has been with Samsung's TouchWiz, and that's the way it is with the Galaxy Note 4. Anyway, the S Planner application probably deserves its own name, as it really tries to pack all possible options in a calendar one can think of. There's a great variety of viewing modes: Year, Month, Month and agenda, Week, Day, or Agenda; you can sync the app with multiple online calendars; and, last but not least, you can choose to view a small weather forecast for each day based on AccuWeather.

The Clock app houses the Alarm, World clock, Stopwatch and Timer. Everything here works as advertised. Setting an alarm, for example, is a piece of cake – you can easily set the time, repetition scheme, volume, snooze options, and more. You can even choose to enable the smart alarm option, which would intentionally start your alarm at a lower volume, progressively increasing its strength. The world clock is a joy to use, as you can simply point at the popular cities positioned on a 3D globe in order to add them to your list of cities. The Galaxy Note 4 also has very intuitive and well-designed Calculator, Memo and Voice Recorder apps – all of which having that new, fresh graphical style, and a pleasantly intuitive interface.

S Pen

Better accuracy, new features – the S Pen is gaining relevance

Now, onto the S Pen! We already said that the attachment mechanism is pretty decent, though not great, and the ergonomics of the pen are also fairly good, but what about its functionality? Most of the S Pen features that were available before are present here as well, and that includes Action memo and Screen write, but there have also been some changes to the Air Command panel. For example, we now have the useful Smart Select feature. It can do some really fancy things for you: for example, you can add numerous different items, like images and text from different web pages, and share them all at once. A more interesting thing Smart Select allows you to do is to extract the meta data of a selection, and then send this data directly to the application it belongs to. For example, let's say that you select the info page of a hotel with its name and address seen there. By choosing the meta data option, you'll be able to easily find the address in Google Maps, and get directions to there. Sounds neat, right?

Another new S Pen feature is Photo Note. This one's pretty straightforward – it lets you create notes out of pictures, and it has this fancy ability that will try to convert handwritten text to digital one, and let you edit it using the S Pen. If all of that sounds like a nice set of additional functionality for the new S Pen, let us also add that Samsung has also worked on the sensitivity and accuracy of its stylus. The new S Pen is supposed to be more precise than ever before, allowing you to get as close to normal hand writing as possible. We have to say that it really works better than before, though it naturally isn't quite the same as writing with pen and paper. With some getting used to, though, we can imagine that one can get really skilled when handling the S Pen. Not to mention that it's been proved that the S Pen is a capable tool for artists, as we've seen some really cool pictures painted using the S Pen. This is the right place to mention Samsung's awesome Pen.Up application, which is a really cool tool for S Pen artists to share their works, as well as to discover paintings by others.

Fingerprint sensor

As you can imagine, the Galaxy Note 4 features a fingerprint sensor, just like the Galaxy S5. Being of the swipe type, the Galaxy Note 4's scanner works differently from that of the Apple iPhone 6 and 5s, as you actually have to slide your finger down over the home button/sensor for it to read your fingerprint. Samsung's solution doesn't work as seamlessly as that of Apple, because getting a correct reading with the Galaxy Note 4's sensor depends too much on the exact positioning of your finger. To be more specific, the chances of getting a correct reading are relatively low if your finger isn't perfectly vertical, relative to the phone, which is rarely the case for your thumb when you're holding the device in your hand. This means that probably the most suitable way to use the fingerprint scanner is by registering the index finger (or some other one) of your other hand – the one that you're not holding the phone with. This way, the success rate when using the sensor is quite high, but you have to go through the discomfort of having to use two hands.

Among the cool features of the fingerprint sensor, besides added security, is that you can set the different fingerprints you've registered to launch different applications. Additionally, you can use the fingerprint scanner to log into web sites, without having to enter your user name and password again. You can also use the fingerprint to authorize PayPal purchases if you happen to be in any of the supported regions.

The new functionality of the fingerprint sensor is most welcome, though we would have been happier if Samsung did some work to improve the sensor's reading capabilities.

S Health and new sensors

Samsung has once again worked to improve the S Health application that comes with TouchWiz Android, and we have to say that S Health is really becoming a comprehensive and useful tool for people who practice any fitness activities.

Aside from doing some trivial things like counting your steps or letting you track your calorie intake, S Health can now measure the UV radiation from the sun, as well as the oxygen saturation in your blood, in addition to measuring your heart rate. Both new features seem to work well – we were consistently able to measure the UV radiation (the app told us it's perfectly safe to go outside on a cloudy day), as well as the oxygen saturation in our blood (results were consistently north of 97%, which we really hope is a good thing). Still, these obviously have a mostly niche appeal, so we don't imagine that they would come in handy too often.

Processor and memory

A 1440 x 2560 display needs cutting-edge hardware. Good thing the Note 4 has the Snapdragon 805 SoC

Depending on the region, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will be equipped with either a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC – or Sammy’s in-house Exynos 5433 processor. The Snapdragon 805 has a true next-gen CPU: a quad-core 2.7 GHz Krait 450, supplemented by the Adreno 420 GPU – a cutting-edge configuration that manages to deliver fluid and snappy performance despite the incredibly high, 1440p resolution of the display. Meanwhile, the Exynos 5433 comes with a 1.9 GHz octa-core CPU (it has 4 Cortex-A57 and 4 Cortex-A53 cores), along with the excellent ARM Mali-T760 GPU. However, we do believe that most markets will get treated to the Snapdragon version of the phone.

Both versions will be complemented with an ample 3GB of RAM, making sure that there will be no bottlenecks in performance in third-party games and apps, as well as when you're multitasking.

At the bare minimum, the Galaxy Note 4 will pack along a spacious internal capacity of 32GB, which can be supplemented by the phone’s available microSD card slot. After all, you'll probably want to store quite a bit of content on that multimedia powerhouse.

QuadrantHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note424053
LG G323551
Sony Xperia Z320756
AnTuTuHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note441185.33
LG G330634
Sony Xperia Z340437
Vellamo MetalHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note41230.33
LG G31322
Sony Xperia Z31571
SunspiderLower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note41087.87
LG G3947.2
Sony Xperia Z3863.7
Apple iPhone 6 Plus365.2
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screenHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note425.9
LG G320.7
Sony Xperia Z329.3
Apple iPhone 6 Plus40.9
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screenHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note411.2
LG G37.5
Sony Xperia Z312.5
Apple iPhone 6 Plus18.4
Basemark OS IIHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note41038.67
LG G3951
Sony Xperia Z31099
Apple iPhone 6 Plus1382

Internet and connectivity

As with any other Android smartphone nowadays, the Google Chrome browser comes pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. However, it has been replaced by Samsung's own browser as the primary app for the purpose. To tell you the truth, both internet browsers have come a long way, and exactly which one you're going to side with for your internet-surfing needs depends purely on your subjective or stylistic preferences. Samsung's own browser app is impressively fast, while navigation around websites is extremely smooth and quick. Similarly to Chrome, Samsung's browser can also inflate the size of certain text on web pages, though Chrome tends to do this a bit better.

If you enjoy the benefits of a 4G LTE network, then you'd be happy to know that the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has support for LTE-A Cat 6, with theoretical downlink speeds of up to the whopping 300 Mbit/s, as well as uplink speeds of up to 50 Mbit/s. Naturally, these are speeds that you'll hardly reach with today's LTE networks. Anyway, if you aren't that lucky to have access to an LTE network, you'd still be able to make use of the phone's HSPA+ connection, with theoretical download speeds reaching 42.2 Mbit/s, and a slightly more modest maximum upload speed of up to 5.76 Mbit/s.

All of this goodness is accompanied by a modern Wi-Fi technology with support for 802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac protocols. This would allow you to make the most out of the Wi-Fi hotspots you're going to connect to. The Galaxy Note 4 also supports the latest Bluetooth 4.1 edition. Seriously, what more can you want from this thing?

On the GPS front, there's, naturally, A-GPS support for assisted positioning, along with Glonass, while the rest of the list of connectivity features is completed by NFC, internet tethering capabilities, and the built-in infrared port (can be used to control compatible home devices).


The lovely 16 MP camera from the Galaxy S5 gets perfected in the Note 4

Samsung is among the leaders in the camera space, and that's a well-deserved positions – all of the company's latest handsets have featured incredibly capable cameras, and we expect the Galaxy Note 4 to be just as versatile in this department.

Samsung's latest phablet sticks with a camera sensor that has the same resolution as that of the Galaxy S5: 16 megapixels. Obviously, that's more than enough resolution to deliver some impressively detailed photos, should the right algorithms be employed. While Samsung hasn't provided more specific details about the Note 4's camera sensor yet, we can assume that it's not much different from that of the Galaxy S5. With a 16 MP resolution and F2.2 aperture, the sensor size clocks in at 1/2.6”, making for a decent 1.12 micron pixel size. In comparison, the iPhone 6's sensor size is 1/3” (smaller), while the Xperia Z3's sensor size is 1/2.3” (bigger). The native aspect ratio of the camera is 16:9, so if you want to take 4:3 snaps, you'll simply have to lose the data that's to the sides of the image.

The Samsung camera application is as thorough as ever. There's a nice grid options menu where users can easily see most of the camera settings at a glance. There's a plethora of different options and settings, including ISO, effects, metering, white balance, timer, HDR, stabilization, and more. The camera modes menu has been greatly simplified, with some modes being sent to the main options grid, while others being moved under the “Shot & more” shooting mode. The latter lets you take an image, and then apply a certain effect, such as Best face, Best photo, or Drama shot. A new shooting mode in the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is Rear-cam selfie, which, as its name suggests, allows you to make a selfie using the rear camera. Sometimes you may want to prefer this over using the front-facing camera, since the rear one is of higher quality. The way it works is – you determine the position where you want your face to appear in the picture, and turn the phone with the rear camera pointing at you, and in a couple of seconds, the phone automatically focuses on your face and takes the photo.

If that Rear-cam selfie thing sounds a bit complicated to you, you can always stick with the regular Selfie mode that uses the 3.7 MP front camera. In this mode, you can either tap the screen or place your finger on the heart rate monitor sensor on the back to make the phone take a picture. Finally, if you want to try your luck and produce a viral group selfie photo (or simply a group selfie photo that you don't want to become viral), there's the new Selfie panorama mode, which is pretty self-explanatory.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is an extremely capable camera phone. The Galaxy S5 was already great, but the Note 4 finds a way to push things even further. The sharp and well exposed photographs hold plenty of detail, without introducing any significant amounts of noise, even when closely examined. The area where Samsung has improved the camera in the Note 4 even further are the colors. On the Galaxy S5, they were great, but had just a touch of coldness to them. With the Note 4, that problem no longer exists, as the color balance of its photographs has a bit more red in it, making for slightly more eye-pleasing images overall, that not only look great, but also very natural.

Indoors, the images lose some of their details, due to the insufficient light, but the handset tries to keep a good balance between sharpness and smoothness, staying away from introducing too much noise. The colors tend to remain mostly neutral, which is a good thing. Night images captured by the phone are mostly OK, though highlights tend to get overexposed. Other then that, there isn't too much noise, but don't expect any wonders in the details department.

Taking a picLower is betterTaking an HDR pic(sec)Lower is betterCamSpeed scoreHigher is betterCamSpeed score with flashHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note42.8
Apple iPhone 6 Plus1.93
LG G32.7
No data
No data
Sony Xperia Z33.2
No data

As with the Note 3, the Galaxy Note 4 allows you to record 4K video for up to 5 minutes, though we guess most users would prefer sticking with 1080p video, which can even be recorded at 60 fps now. The biggest addition here is optical image stabilization, which will let you take more stable video footage, as well as better low-light photos.

The 1080p footage itself isn't much different from before, meaning that it treats us to good detail levels and accurate colors, without being truly superb in any way. 4K video looks even better and, naturally, sharper, but it's limited to 5 minutes, and file sizes can get very big, making them less practical for sharing on the internet.

Samsung's Smart OIS implementation aims to combine the benefits of both OIS and digital stabilization. In reality, video footage captured with the phone isn't so jittery, but it's not the smoothest one we've seen either.


The best window to your multimedia content

One can never have enough screen when it comes to multimedia on the go, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 seems to realize this fully. With 5.7” of screen estate, it's a wonderful device to enjoy video, games, and other types of multimedia on. If you want lush, vibrant colors, choose some of the AMOLED modes in the settings. If you want a more realistic image, stick with the Basic screen mode – the Note 4 gives you the freedom to choose how your content will look on its massive screen.

Unfortunately, the audio portion of the media experience isn't so spectacular. The single speaker of the Galaxy Note 4 has decent volume, but it lacks any depth, making it sound rather thin and distorted. It's not too bad, but it's far from the best we've heard. The earphones that come in the box of the Galaxy Note 4 are of the in-ear type. You'll have to make sure that they fit really tightly in your ears, because otherwise you'll be missing on the bass range of the songs you listen to. For some, these earphones might create an uncomfortable feeling when used over longer periods of time. Plus, you need to keep in mind that they almost completely eliminate ambient noises, so it may not be super-safe to walk around the city streets while listening to music with them.

Headphones output power(Volts)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note40.41
Apple iPhone 6 Plus1.014
LG G30.57
Loudspeaker loudness(dB)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note485
Apple iPhone 6 Plus71.6
LG G381
Sony Xperia Z374

Call quality

Thankfully, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 doesn't disappoint in the call quality department. We're pleased to report that incoming audio has a good strength to it, plus voices tend to sound relatively deep and natural in the earpiece, which is a good sign. Meanwhile, the microphone seems to be doing a great job as well – your callers will enjoy very powerful and well-rounded audio through their earpieces (provided their phones also sound good when taking a call).

As we mentioned in the previous part, the speakerphone is far from fantastic. It has decent volume, but its mostly thin sounding will not make conversations great with it.


With a 1440p display, tons of features and cutting-edge hardware under the hood, one might think that the Note 4 may have some trouble in the battery life department. Well, it actually looks like there isn't going to be much trouble in Samsungland, because the Galaxy Note 4 promises great battery life. The handset is equipped with a 3220 mAh juice pack, which is a decent capacity, but the manufacturer promises the spectacular 20 hours of 3G talk-time, so we wouldn't really worry that much about the longevity of the battery inside the Note 4's massive policarbonate body.

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script,designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage.All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.
hoursHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note4
8h 43 min(Good)
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
6h 32 min(Average)
6h 14 min(Poor)
Sony Xperia Z3
9h 29 min(Good)

hoursLower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note4
1h 35 min
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
2h 51 min
Sony Xperia Z3
3h 55 min


Samsung has one helluva powerful smartphone with the Galaxy Note 4, that's for sure. The device that started this whole craze about ultra large screen phones, aka phablets, is back, and it comes with a better user experience than ever, now that Samsung has had the opportunity to perfect some of its essential components, such as the screen accuracy, performance, and S Pen functionality.

Staying true to the traditional Samsungey design language, the Galaxy Note 4 isn't really what we'd call a looker, but at least Samsung has gotten rid of the fake stitches on the back side, and has added a metal frame in order to pump things up a bit in the build quality department. Nevertheless, we still aren't amazed by the overall quality of execution here, as some other manufacturers have shown us way more desirable phablet offerings, such as Apple with the iPhone 6 Plus, and LG with the G3.

The lackluster design, though, has been made up for, thanks to the brilliant AMOLED display, which can finally show both ultra-saturated and lush colors, as well as realistic ones. Add the great 1440p resolution and massive diagonal to the equation, and it makes for a truly breath-taking display – this time around, Samsung has really gotten things right.

When it comes to its software component, we still aren't amazed by what TouchWiz looks like, as well as how it runs, but we have to point out that some real effort has gone into the optimization and enhancement of Samsung's proprietary user interface. TouchWiz on the Note 4 looks better than ever, and it also runs pretty decently. We sure hope that Samsung will update both the Galaxy S5, and especially the Note 3 with this new UI, because that will significantly freshen up the experience with the company's last-year phablet. As for the new features, we do enjoy the new S Pen capabilities, which make the stylus more useful and accurate than before. As for the handset's UV and SpO2 meters, well, those are obviously very niche things, but of course, it doesn't hurt to have those on board as well.

The Galaxy Note 4 has proven to be a very feature-rich, and well-executed phablet, and when you conciser its amazing 16 MP camera, along with the cutting-edge Snapdragon 805 SoC, it really makes for a phone without any significant drawbacks. It is yet to be seen if the Note 4 will have such an easy time against its rivals out there, such as the G3 and the iPhone 6 Plus, but one thing is certain – if you're simply looking for a great, no-compromise phablet, and you find the benefits of having a stylus useful – chances are that the Galaxy Note 4 is what you're looking for. Do you note?

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Update: You can read our Galaxy Note 5 review!


  • Beautiful AMOLED display
  • Cutting-edge Snapdragon 805 SoC
  • Feature-packed software experience
  • Great stylus with useful capabilities
  • Superb camera


  • Uninspiring appearance
  • Inconsistent software design
  • Limited 4K video recording

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