Sunday, October 19, 2014


By on 7:27 PM

Since Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note line in the fall of 2010, it has stood as the "tock" to the Galaxy S' "tick" in the product cycle year after year. The leading Galaxy S device of the year introduces all of the new software features, a new form factor and a new internal specs, while the Galaxy Note later in the year refines the physical design, enhances the software with new S Pen features and often fixes the pain points introduced with the Galaxy S — all while doing a little something extra with the increased screen real estate.

In many ways you could say the Galaxy Note is the device that Samsung really uses to push its limits. Where it tries things to see what sticks, then integrate it back into the next-generation Galaxy S.

This year is no different, and the Galaxy Note 4 is tocking right along, improving dramatically on the Galaxy S5. With a brand new aluminum exterior that looks and feels great, optical image stabilization on the camera, a new higher-resolution QHD display, top-end internals and small refinements on the software, this is a device any manufacturer would be happy to call its leading flagship.

Despite generally playing second fiddle to the Galaxy S5, it's actually not hard to say that the Galaxy Note 4 contains all of the features we wish were in the GS5 — if not for its larger screen size that's physically too much to handle for many. This is the real 2014 flagship for Samsung, and it's called the Galaxy Note 4. Read along for our full review.

About this review
We're writing this review after a week using a white, AT&T-branded Galaxy Note 4 in the greater Seattle area with great LTE coverage from the carrier. Our Note 4, provided by Samsung, was running software build UCU1ANIE. For the majority of our time with the Note 4 we had an LG G Watch connected over Bluetooth as well.

Samsung's switch from plastic to metal for its primary smartphone build material has been a long time coming. Although the Galaxy Alpha — which has nearly identical design and materials — may have spoiled the surprise for some by being released first, the Galaxy Note 4 will likely be the first time regular consumers get their hands on a metal phone from Samsung.

The metal — a combination of aluminum and magnesium — curves around the edges of the Note 4 in a solid band, with the flat portions taking on a very slightly textured color that matches the rest of the phone. The shimmery chamfered edges above and below the colored stripe add contrast and give it that "Samsung" kind of bling, showing off that this is indeed a metal phone. The metal runs deep into the device as its frame, adding rigidity as well.

I can't overstate how this build simply puts Samsung devices of the past to shame, with an air of class and beauty you just can't squeeze out of a plastic device. Even though the entire back of the phone is still plastic (and removable, by the way), you don't seem to care so much because the main contact points for your hand and fingers are all metal. The plastic meets up with the metal seamlessly on the back, with nary a gap to be seen.

The inclusion of a plastic back lets Samsung work in its (in)famous faux leather pattern — though it does lose the stitching introduced on the Note 3 — but it also reduces the overall weight of the device to just 176 grams. That's just 10 percent heavier than the HTC One M8 in a much larger size. The plastic also lets Samsung keep its trademark removable battery, as well as stow the SIM (which is a Micro, not Nano, by the way) and SDcard slots underneath so that nothing breaks up that lovely metal band around the edges.

Perhaps most important, the Note 4's plastic back improves usability dramatically by giving you something to hold onto when using it in one hand. The textured material has more grip to it than any all-metal surface, and every little bit helps when you're fighting an uphill battle of one-handed use on a 5.7-inch phone.
For all it does, the plastic back hasn't saved Samsung from needing to inject a little bit of plastic into the metal for antenna reasons, and you'll still notice four small lines — two on top, two on bottom — that ever so slightly show up on the chamfered edges. It actually took me about a day to notice they were even there as they're cleverly disguised, so I can't complain too much.

Volume and power buttons are found in the standard places, as are the headphone and USB ports. The buttons match the metal edges perfectly and are easier to find and press in regular use than previous versions. Samsung has decided to ditch the USB 3.0 port and go back to 2.0 for some reason, but as an added bonus there isn't a flap to be seen over the port here like the Galaxy S5 — the tradeoff being that the Note 4 isn’t water resistant.

The front of the Note 4 is distinctly Samsung, with a logo and speaker above the screen balanced out by a large rectangular physical home button on the bottom. A pair of sensors and a new 3.7MP front-facing camera join the speaker on top, while capacitive multitasking and back keys flank the home button on the bottom. The screen glass has a very light lined pattern underneath it on the bezels, while the glass itself flows nicely into the metal edges.

Despite the dramatically improved feel of a metal chassis and the added texture of a plastic back, the Galaxy Note 4 is still a bit of a hassle to handle in daily use. With a 5.7-inch display and notable bezels on the top for sensors and bottom for navigation buttons, the Note 4 is still above the range of "normal" sized phones
At 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm it comes in a touch taller and thicker, but narrower, than the Note 3, which in itself is still considered quite large. For further reference, that's 7mm taller and 4mm wider than the LG G3. Samsung isn't trying to mislead anyone into thinking this phone is manageable in one hand on a regular basis, and as I'll get to in the software section of this review it has expanded the one-handed use features to act as a crutch when you only have one hand free.

But no matter what you do in the software, the Note 4 is still going to be just too large for many people to handle. These large-format phones aren't getting any smaller, and our hands aren't getting any bigger — the tradeoffs of what you get for the size are just getting more enticing.
Review oleh: Tukang Coding |
Update pada: 7:27 PM | Rating: 4.5


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