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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review

 Review: September 2014  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: It may seem harsh to give this astounding piece of technology just 4 stars. But the fact is that the Note 4 costs substantially more than the Note 3 but doesn't bring any significant life-enhancing new features to the table.

Today's best buy: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 32GB 5 ... from Amazon (£179.99)


A quad HD superphone

The latest generation of the Galaxy Note 4 phablet is very much an iteration of previous versions. It's virtually the same size as the Note 3 - just millimetres bigger and a whisker heavier. That makes it a large and heavy phone. It's very solidly built, with a metal chassis and metal edging, but it still has that faux-leather backing that lets it down, especially now that the iPhone 6 Plus is in town. The design of the Note 4 is practical, but not premium, and that's a problem for a phone that costs as much as a laptop.

There are a few upgrades compared with the Note 3, and the headline upgrade is the new Quad HD display. Yes, just as you were getting used to Full HD on your mobile, along comes Quad HD. This means a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels.

Normally we drool over such advances in technology. But whenever the drooling starts, it's time for a reality check. Sure, a screen resolution of 515ppi is awesome and all, but we've seen TVs with this resolution and it's actually quite hard to tell the difference. Are we convinced by the need for this level of detail on a smartphone? No, we are not. Sorry.

Of course, if you have keener eyesight than us (and some UHD content that you've managed to somehow acquire) then you might appreciate the benefit. After all, it's good to be ready for the future. And we should point out for the avoidance of any doubt that this is an absolutely superb display, with AMOLED producing the deepest blacks, colour saturation and brightness of any screen technology.


Another upgrade is the new quadcore Snapdragon 805 processor running at a blazing 2.7GHz. It's quite probably the fastest processor on any current phone. The main use we see for this is to future proof the phone against future apps and games. At present, it won't make a difference compared with the Note 3 in normal use. But it's always nice to have.

The basic memory option is just 16GB, which isn't really enough to satisfy us. However, you can now add micro SD cards up to 128GB, which ought to be plenty. There's a massive 3GB of RAM present too, which is more than almost any other current smartphone.

User interface

The Note 4 runs Android KitKat 4.4 plus Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. It has full support for multitasking to take advantage of that huge screen.

One of the features that makes the Galaxy Note series special is the inclusion of the S-Pen digital stylus. The S-Pen is pressure-sensitive, so it can tell how hard you're pressing. The sensitivity has been improved relative to the Note 3. It also has a clickable button that gives additional functionality. The Note 4 includes special apps optimised for the S-Pen, including a calendar-based organiser called S-Planner. The S-Pen can be used for making handwritten notes during a meeting or lecture, and the device can convert your handwriting into text, even recognising mathematical symbols and formulae. But we think that the greatest use of the S-Pen is probably in day to day tasks that could be done with the finger, but are actually just easier with the S-Pen. Navigating menus, tapping at the keyboard, moving around documents - if you use your Note seriously as a productivity tool, then the S-Pen certainly adds to the experience.

The Note 4 also steals the swipe-based fingerprint sensor that first debuted in the Galaxy S5.

UHD video

If you need a use for the UHD screen, here's one - UHD video recording. Yes, the Note 4 comes with an upgraded video camera that will record video in UHD format. Now you can shoot movies ready for showing in your local cinema! Perhaps not, but it's a nice-to-have feature.

The camera has been upgraded to 16 megapixels, and comes with all the fancy features you'd expect from a high-end phone, including BSI sensor, panorama, beauty face, best face, etc. It's on a par with the outstanding Samsung Galaxy S5 camera.

The front camera has a 3.7 megapixel sensor, making it 1080p capable, and you can use it for video chatting or in dual camera mode if you want to include yourself in a photo.


The Note 4 is a 4G phone with Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G+5GHz, VHT80 MIMO), Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.1 and USB, in addition to NFC, ANT+ and MHL support.

You'll find a huge array of sensors on board too. As well as the usual accelerometer, proximity, gyro and light sensors, there's also temperature, barometer and humidity sensors. New for the Note 4 is a heart rate sensor.

Long-lasting battery

The Note 4 sees a very slightly increased battery size - up to 3,220mAh. This is one of the biggest batteries we've seen in a smartphone, which is of course just what the Note 4 needs, especially with the UHD display. It will deliver around 12 hours of continuous 4G or Wi-Fi usage, which in the real world means that you'll easily get through a whole day of intensive use.

Conclusion - yes, but no

Oh, we know you wanted us to give the Note 4 five stars. You wanted us to praise its UHD display, 4K video, super-fast processor and upgraded camera.

Yes, we love all of those features. For power users, this is the most powerful Android phablet we've seen to date.

And yes, this is the natural upgrade path for Note 3 users. But for new users, looking to super-size their smartphone experience for the first time? We're not convinced. Samsung's design still lags. And now that the iPhone 6 Plus is on the scene, that's a real and pressing problem. Secondly, the price hike is too much for us to simply nod through. This is a super-expensive phone. Yes, it has super features, but are they features that we need? Will we even use them? Debatable.

At S21 we're harsh. For years we've been making ourselves unpopular, and we have no plans to change that now. The 4th generation Note is the best we've ever seen, but sadly it's not quite the phone we were hoping to get from Samsung.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 user reviews

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Average rating from 21 reviews:

Reviewed by roger from tel.aviv on 5th Sep 2015
i have used a lot of phones mostly samsung but i like the note 4 the best here in israel its a good seller.

Reviewed by Alpesh patel from usa on 16th Jun 2015
I like my note 4.

Reviewed by evohicks from Uk on 24th May 2015
I wasn't planning on changing my phone, but the contract was up and my wife was after my Note 3! I loved my Note 3 so there was only one upgrade phone for me and that was the Note 4. This phone does not dissapoint, the camera is great!
The only thing I regret is not using it with Android kit kat, when I bought it I just updated it when I was installing everything else and although I like Android lollipop, it's missing the fast charge feature that I was looking forward to, Samsung say they are working on a fix. Everything else about this phone is great and I'm not going to let the software lower my view on the Note 4, I'm overall pleased with it.
Looking at the Galaxy S6, it's also a beast of a phone but leaving the memory card option out and no removable battery is a step back if you ask me, makes me think the Note 5 will be going the same way.

Reviewed by minibraveheart from uk on 3rd May 2015
WOW ! Samsung going from strength to strength, i chose this over s6 for 3 reasons and feel there justified
1. bigger screen
2. expandable memory
3. changeable baattery
i really fancied the s6 but the fact the above 3 were main priority it was note 4 that won and im not dissapointed

Reviewed by Sita from India on 16th Apr 2015
Samsung galaxy note 4 is one of the largest big screen phones having a display of 5.7 inches. It is available in tremendously beautiful design. It has a premium finish of metal rim over its surrounding which exemplifies its beauty. Another surprising feature is its camera quality. It contains a primary camera of 16 Megapixels due to which advanced quality pictures can be clicked. For more details you can check at Samsung India site.

Reviewed by roy from england on 15th Mar 2015
I've been a Samsung, HTC & LG user for years. loved the Samsung wave series excellent build quality although the BADA OS was rubbish. Samsung google nexus was a phone ahead of it's time with a great screen that's why I still have it. I purchased the note 4 over the LG G3 because of the cheap contract deal I got. I like big screen phones because I am a movie fanatic. and I must say the note 4 is a work of art for watching movies. it's so sharp and crystal clear that I have to move the phone away from my eyes when watching a 1080p blu ray movie. the quality of the build is second to none and I love the imitation leather backing, feels so comfortable in the hand. battery life is excellent compared to my other phones.
people should realise that gadgets are man made not a creation of nature so you won't ever the perfect mobile to suit everyone. but for me the note 4 is damn near perfect.

Reviewed by Paul escalera from usa on 7th Mar 2015
I like my note 4, but u wish it had a temperature sensor!

Reviewed by robert from uk on 23rd Feb 2015
been useing the note 4 now for over a week am well happy nice clear screen fast and smooth performance, battery life is pretty good but not as good as the note 2, its big but ok when you get used to it am a big screen lover so ok for me.

Reviewed by kev from uk on 19th Dec 2014
Had this phone a week, it's a company phone, had S4 on O2 but signal has got really bad where I live so they decided to go to EE and I said get me the latest Samsung, expected a S5.
When it turned up I thought someone was winding me up, got me a mini tablet as a joke but have to say, 1 week later it's like all phones should be this size. Excellent work phone, excellent camera, especially magnifier, work in engineering so use this a lot. Battery life seems good too.
Con is a bit big for trouser pocket and probably be even worse in a case, work is going to get me a S5 as well so I can swap SIMs when I want a smaller phone.
There lies the biggest issue, the size just isn't practical for general day to day living and if it was my own money I'd have gone for a S5. But ideal for business, save me carrying around a pad when travelling.

Reviewed by nick.stark from tel.aviv on 19th Nov 2014
note 4 overheats. tried three same problem. note 3 perfect.

Reviewed by maria from uk on 8th Nov 2014
mine got returned it over heated badly was also rebooting. no way i was keeping it like that

Reviewed by Osmond DSouza from Saudi Arabia on 2nd Nov 2014
I got this phone few days back. I have been a note user from long time. I have used Note 1, 2 and 3.
I was not sure as to whether to go for the Note 4. My note 3 was doing a great job. But, I am very pleased that, I purchased it. it is a beast. I got the black version. Here are my pros and cons:

1. Excellent display. The best, I have ever used. It beats the iphone 6 plus.
2. Good battery life. The fast charging is excellent. It has helped me a lot.
3. The camera is great.
4. The phone is blazing fast. Did not encounter any kinds of lag.
5. Multi Tasking is great.
6. S-Pen has improved. I have started to use it more on this phone. If you increase the touch sensitivity you can use a pen as a stylus.
7. Love the new color schemes in Touchwiz.
8. Lot of features. Google now is available from the home screen.
9. Design is excellent. There is a premium feel. I got the black version. It makes it look professional.

1. The finger scanner. I am using it as my lock screen. It is not as good as the one in the iphone. It somehow does not work well. Most of the time it does not recognize my finger.
2. I cannot think of anything yet. Howver, I will update as and when, I find something.

Reviewed by johnny from scotland on 26th Oct 2014
battery life has suffered with the screen not as good as my note 3 mine is some what laggy maybe it needs update but not very smooth. i have 14 days to return so may return it really not as good as i though

Reviewed by David from uk on 20th Oct 2014
Wow this is the business in mobile phones, just changed up from the Note 3. The screen display is just amazing, the camera is fast focusing, top notch! The Battery is good for 2 days with my normal use, my year old note 3 lasted a full day, super fast loading pics and internet, will say that a case is a must for me, I use the Samsung flip case this is great as when closed it shuts the screen down plus the screen is very sensitive and its easy to activate an icon. I have been using Android for some years now but the software on the note 4 takes some getting use it has to be said . The feel of the phone is supreme and a big difference to the note 3. I change phones every year, although the note 3 is still one of the best mobiles on the market the note 4 is a good deal better but at £630 itís a lot of cash but hey ho its only money.

Reviewed by Jud from England on 17th Oct 2014
The beast is the best large screen mobile phone on the market at present. In one word 'AMAZING' Brilliant design, feels fantastic in the hand and the screen is WOW. All the Apple lovers out there take Note you have got a less superior handset and been brain washed in thinking you have got something special. Have a day off

Reply by mike from uk on 19th Oct 2014
touchwiz is the worst ui on any android phone its laggy and dull. the scrren on the iphone 6 plus is just as good as any samsumg screen lets see how note sales go that will sort out the best. apple over 21 million sales so far so samsung have a lot of catching up. ive had most samsung galaxy phones and they where all bloated and laggy ios is the much better system runs smooth and no lag why? cause its well put together all you do with android is wait around on updates to fix bugs. well all you note fans be happy with your same dull old design. enjoy your laggy phone. the only android ive used without lag was the htc one it flys compared to samsung phones

Reply by Sam from uk on 28th Oct 2014
So Mike it seems to me that you like phones with old technology. What you've just said is just nonsense. To be fair, we all know that all the top Android smartphones are at least 2 years ahead of the iphone. And before you say anything, I have been an avid iphone user up until 2013. It was then that I saw the light & jumped ship.The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is an awesome piece of tech, and is far & away ahead of the iphone.

Reply by ryan from Ireland on 23rd Nov 2014
Sam ios 8 has already been released app 8 weeks back now and has already been updated three times since then...Moreover Android os is still working on its lollipop for it to release the os to the relevant device by batch and region as opposed to ios which released its update WORLDWIDE :D...Thats right i6 has the same hardware specs as Nexus 4 but at least i6's hardware and operating system are homogeneous...

Reply by Ste from Uk on 7th Dec 2014
Keep your Samsung and enjoy it while it lasts. Soon it will break like all the other cheap inferior Samsung products. HTC, Sony, Apple, even Nokia will beat this. iPhone 6 plus is better in almost every way, good specs can't make an awful platform good. Touch wiz is THE WORST version of android I've ever used.

Reviewed by albert from uk on 15th Oct 2014
4 stars is about right for the note 4 its still the same old design that has lost samsung sales. why buy the note 4 when you can buy the note 3 which looks much the same? the screen is and over kill so is the cpu. apple have proved that the dual core performs just as well in every day use most wont use these super phones to there full power. and s21 dont favour apple as they gave the iphone 6 plus 4 stars.

Reviewed by Haris Khan from Pakistan on 14th Oct 2014
I don't agree with you as you are favouring i phone instead of Samsung note 4 and i will never visit your site again as you are going to cheat for giving this monster only 4 stars

Reviewed by waxy from uk on 3rd Oct 2014
NO I totally agree. S21 has gone downhill with their unconditional love for Apple and SONY. Check the review for the xperia z3 it's 5 stars !! Absolutely pathetic !! Biased people is what s21 are. They have the nerve to say the z3 is the best phone of 2014 when it only beats the note 4 with its camera!! The note 4 has a better processor , better screen , better battery life , more features and has fingerprint scanner. With all this in mind s21 still gave the note 4 only 4 stars LOL! How different is the z3 to the z2 ? Only difference is 0.2 higher clock speed and a new stamina mode . And it still gets 5 stars !! Sort your opinions out s21, your not fooling anybody

Reply by John from UK on 4th Oct 2014
Having owned both the Note 3 and the Xperia Z1, I can only say that the Z1 offers by far the better user experience. The Note 3 may have better specs on paper, but the Samsung interface is so bogged down with bloatware the phone becomes a drag to use after a while as it has to cope with all the nonsense Samsung see fit to inflict upon it. The Xperia's version of Android is the only one I've seen that improves on the stock version and the phone is a joy to use. I miss the Note 3 screen... but that's it.
If similar differences are evident in this new generation of both phones I'm not at all surprised to see the Note series place second.

Reply by Craig from UK on 8th Nov 2014
Why so negative waxy, that is s21's opinion, however your argument with the Xperia Z3, that it's been clocked at 0.2 faster processor than Z2. You can say the same about the Note 4, it, is only 0.2 faster than the Galaxy S5. Yes, Note 4 has a great screen, but to be honest both, Note 4 & Z3 have quite similar specs & are fantastic performers. Only gripe that s21 had was the price, that is the only reason for the 4 stars, otherwise it was a cracker.

Reviewed by Nik from UK on 1st Oct 2014
Amazingly bad review from the bods a S21...to scoff at the amazing features on offer with the Note 4 including the improved screen increased resolution simply confirms the narrow mindedness of S21 and their unfettered love for the iPhone brand.

They bemoan the cost of the note and yet have no issue with the cost of the iPhone 6 Plus which starts at £619, yes the cost of an even better laptop than the one you can buy for Note 4 money!

Folks, like Waxy below put it, the iPhone 6 Plus is JUST a big but ugly 5s with a stupid price tag to match its size. It offers a fraction of the features Android phones gave us over 2yrs ago but that's fine with the dodgy folk at S21. I've handled both Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus and I know where my hard earned pounds would not go. Well done Samsung for pushing the boundaries. In 3 years time we'll have Apple boasting of active widgets and gestures on their phones and the ability to share anything with other devices via Bluetooth, or even the ability to use your own music ripped to your phone as a ringtone!

5stars for Note 4 and 1 star to S21 for iPhonecentric bias!

Reviewed by Usman Ali Shah from Pakistan on 29th Sep 2014
Guess i will have to settle with Galaxy S5 , i already have note 3 and the main reason to buy note 3 was it's basic 32gb memory ( which is quiet enough ) , note 4 comes with 16gb.... that is a NO NO , same shape , same faetures.. a bit faster with better display ( which is of no use ) and the price is almost more than new iphone 6 plus....

Reply by Lyndon from uk on 30th Sep 2014
I think you'll find that the internal memory is actually 32gb and not 16gb as this site suggests,If you look on GSM arena you'll see the specs.

Reply by jud from uk on 17th Oct 2014
The Note 4 comes with 32gb as standard, Were do you get your information from nutmeg

Reviewed by waxy from uk on 29th Sep 2014
Couldn't agree more. You are not being harsh , you are being honest . Not really much different to the note 3 . If you compare the note 3 and note 2 you will see many reasons to upgrade. But with the note 3 and note 4 , there are only a few reasons. The phone is amazing . But design and features wise , almost the same as note 3. Could say the same about the iphone 6... just a updated 5s

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