Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Still the quintessential Android-based phablet

Tags: Samsung CorporationSamsung Electronics Company
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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 The S-Pen is one big reason why you might choose the Note 4 over an iPhone 6 Plus.
By  Tom Paye Published  December 23, 2014

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Key Specs

Bluetooth: yes
Camera: 16MP rear, 3.7MP front
Data services: WSPA, LTE
Memory: 32GB internal storage
OS: Android 4.4 KitKat

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Say what you want about Samsung's Galaxy Note range, there's no denying that it kick-started the large-screen smartphone (or phablet) market. Apple may have defined the original smartphone market, and then later the tablet craze with its iPad, but the phablet niche was carved out expertly by Samsung when it released the original Galaxy Note in 2011.

In two months, the vendor had shifted 1m units, and by the time the Note 2 came out the following year, Samsung had seen sales of over 10m - not bad for a shot in the dark.

And it really was a shot in the dark - I remember being at the Note 2 launch and Samsung executives admitted that the sales results of the original Galaxy Note, with its 5.3-inch screen, had been surprising. To Samsung, it was simply another niche that showed potential, but just how much potential that niche had seemed to catch everyone off guard. Fast-forward to today, and even Apple sells a large-screen, phablet-sized iPhone - something unthinkable just a few years back.

Unfortunately for Samsung, the existence of the iPhone 6 Plus poses something of a problem. If, as many believe, the iPhone is the best smartphone out there, and it also comes with a large screen, what reason is there to stay with the Galaxy Note range? Samsung has worked pretty hard to make its latest release, the Galaxy Note 4, a compelling offering capable of standing up to the iPhone 6 Plus.

One thing's for sure, any Note 4 buyers won't be wanting for specs. While the original Note had a 5.3-inch display, the Note 4 has grown in size to feature a 5.7-inch screen, which, because it's a QHD unit, looks stunning as compared to the old AMOLED. It'll deliver a pixel density of around 515 ppi, and a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560 - nothing this side of a high-end HDTV looks this good. The rear-facing camera provides a 16MP solution, and features optical image stabilisation, a decent autofocus function, and will record 1080p video at 60 frames per second. The front-facing camera isn't bad, either; it'll shoot at a resolution of 3.7MP, and record 1440p video - way above what you need for high-quality selfies and video-chatting.

Under the hood, you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset, and quad-core Krait 450 CPU good for 2.7 GHz. The GPU is an Adreno 420, which would have packed enough performance for a decent PC not so many years ago. Performance-wise, the Note 4 is a beast. What's more, Android 4.4 KitKat comes as standard. Meanwhile, the removable battery is a 3,220 mAh unit, which provides plenty of juice for day-to-day use - you'll likely have to charge it every night, as is the case with most smartphones, but you certainly won't run out of power half-way through the day, even with heavy use.

On top of this you get an upgraded S-Pen stylus, and an excellent note-taking app that's been improved over earlier versions, but we'll get to those later.

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