by Brian Booher
Hey B-rad fans out there,
It’s been a while since I last wrote on this website, but now I am back with a big review. As before, I will give my GBU (Good, Bad, and Ugly) review. Today’s review is the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
As a disclaimer, the model I have is the United States version on the T-Mobile network, I am not under any kind of agreement or contract to give a favorable review, and I bought this phone myself with my own money.
I have had this phone for over 3 weeks now. I upgraded from the Galaxy S4, which is still a great phone. If you want a complete hardware and software specs review of the Note 4, there are lots of websites out there like Cnet.com that give that kind of review. My review is the consumer experience review
The Galaxy Note 4 is BIG!!! It has a 5.7 inch screen with a quad-HD AMOLED display. The screen is really awesome for playing games, reading web pages, and playing games.
It really is amazing just how much more screen real estate you get with just a .7 inch increase over the Galaxy S4 or a .6 inch for the Galaxy S5. Compared to the iPhone 5 or 5S, it’s just absolutely huge.
Here is a photo of the Galaxy Note 4 with the iPod touch laying on top of it.
The one feature that distinguishes the Note 4 from the rest of the phones on the market is the included stylus called the S-Pen. It slides in and out from the left side in the back. It would take some really strong force to try to shake it out, though I would imagine after maybe a few years the grip it has in the slot may wear down, but only time will tell.
For those that think that you can easily lose the pen, the phone will ring at you if you separate the S-Pen and the phone after a certain distance, like maybe 10 feet.
The S-Pen is NOT required to be used on the Note 4. Some of the functions it does let you do is the ability to take a screen shot and then write on the screen and you can share it out to your social networks or send a message to someone. I did just that with a shot of a game that I found on Amazon for a strange price. You can write lists and it will change it to text. Also this is a good way to be able to use your phone if you are wearing gloves. You just tap the screen like with your finger. Brilliant!
The front and back cameras on the Note 4 are really awesome.
The back camera has a resolution of 16 megapixels. It has HDR mode ready at the camera screen. You can take 360-degree panoramic shots, 30 shot bursts, slow motion, fast motion (time lapse), virtual tour (photo sphere), and dual camera. Add the Google Camera that you can find on the Google Play store and the camera capabilities just become more fun to use.
The front facing camera is called the “selfie camera”. Samsung has added the ability to take a panoramic selfie, so you can get a bigger shot of where you are or if you’re in a big group. Just think if how much better the one picture Ellen Degeneres would have been had she used the Note 4 at the Oscars. You also have the ability to use the built in heart rate monitor with your finger to get the camera to take a selfie, though it does take some practicing to get it working right.
Other Great things….
Google Wallet, though only available in the United States right now, DOES work on the Note 4. This might get people who have the Note 3 and want to use Google Wallet to make the switch.
There is a micro SD card reader on the Note 4. The phone does come with 32 GB of internal storage, but the SD-card slot can handle up to 128 GB.
For the heath conscious people out there, there is a built in heart rate monitor that is right next to the camera flash. The Note 4 does come with S-Health to help people keep track of their workouts or just how many steps they have taken today. I personally have not used these features yet, but maybe one day I will.
The Note 4 comes with a built in flashlight (torch) app, though you can get lots of flashlight apps on the Play Store.
The amount of bloatware has been reduced as compared to what came on the Galaxy S4. Some of the built in apps are Google apps, so that makes it much more enjoyable.
The 3200 mAph battery is removeable and is long lasting on a single charge. As I am writing this review, I am going on about a 7 hour span of not charging it and I have played music and surfed some web pages and I am down to 50%. Though do not take my use into account as much, since everyone’s experience is different.
The sound quality on the phone is great. In the few times that I have had to use the phone, I can hear them, they can hear me. What more can I say about the phone part that probably most people won’t use as much, like me?
The only bad thing about the Galaxy Note 4 that I can think of is the price. I purchased this phone on a 2 year payment plan for a total of $749 USD plus tax.
There’s really nothing that I can find truly bad about this device that made it a deal breaker. I’m not saying this to promote the product, but coming from a Galaxy S4, it was a smooth transition.
What I would want to list as bad is more of an ugly part of the phone, which is what I am going into next.
The fingerprint reader is not as awesome as what the iPhone 5s, 6, and 6 plus. You have to swipe your finger 10 times when registering it and the Note 4 can only register 3 fingers as compared to the 5 on the new iPhones. It’s nice to use for apps like Last Pass, but it can be tough to unlock if you put lotion on or your hands may be a little too dry. I used it for a few days, but then I turned it off and really haven’t missed it. Since it’s not locked to being able to purchase items with your fingerprint like Apple Pay does, it’s a nice feature that needs some improvement.
The settings menu is all one long list, so it’s easy to lose where exactly where you want to go in the settings.
The button on the left of the home button is the open app list whereas the Galaxy S4 had the menu button in the same spot.
As I said before, this phone is BIG. It may be too big for some people and may be too big for pockets too. I put mine in my shirt pocket and it sticks out about a half inch, so it’s not a big deal to me.
As of this writing, you cannot cast the screen of the Note 4 to a TV using the Chromecast. I am assuming Google will update the Chromecast app that will allow that to happen later on.
There are no quick access apps on the lock screen like what the Galaxy S4 had. All you can open without unlocking to the homescreen is the camera.
Some apps may say they are not compatible with the Note 4. Unless they do a specific function that a phone or phones prior to the Note 4 have, it’s just a matter of time before the developer says it’s compatible. Many games that are owned by Electronic Arts are not “compatible”. I think they are compatible, but EA is just too slow to keep up.
The version of Android that comes built in is Kitkat 4.4.4 with Samsung Touchwiz skin on top. Though it was nice that it came out with the most up-to-date software, Android has now released version 5.0 Lollipop, so it will be a while before Samsung releases their Lollipop version and for me even longer since T-Mobile has to put their version with their apps on it too. I don’t really miss the updates that much. It’ll be nice, but I have gotten used to a phone staying at a particular version for a while, as compared to iPhone users who expect yearly updates.
If you’re upgrading from a Galaxy S series phone to the Note 4, then the change over will be quite comfortable. With exception of a view software design tweaks, it pretty much the same. It didn’t take me long to get used to the change over once all my apps that I use the most were installed.
The Galaxy Note 4 may be a big phone to some people to be deal with, but you should look at it as an investment to make your life much more productive and entertaining. It’s big enough to be thought of as a mini tablet, but it has to ability to take phone calls.
Have fun and geek out!
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