back to article Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Spawn of Galaxy Alpha and a Note 3 unveiled

My, but how time flies. It seems like only yesterday when The Reg called up and said: “Al, we’ve got this huge phone with a stylus from Samsung called the Galaxy Note. Fancy giving it a once over?” I don’t recall being that enthusiastic. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Android smartphone Making it big: Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the great thing is

    In a year's time it will still be quite leading edge but the price will start to make sense.

    The early adopter premium is strong on this one.

    1. NP-Hardass

      Re: And the great thing is

      I just got off the phone with an authorized retailer for Verizon, offering me a $200 credit for the trade in of my GNex. My jaw literally dropped when I heard about the offer. We'll see on Monday when I read the fine print whether it is too good to be true.

      1. Nicole D.

        Re: And the great thing is

        Which retailer? Is that in the US?

  2. eSeM

    Support From Larger MicroSD cards

    Almost all Samsung phones/tablets for the past couple of years can take a 128GB Micro SD card.

    (I was using one in my 3 year old GT 7.7)

    :-)

    1. Pristine Audio

      Re: Support From Larger MicroSD cards

      And I have 128GB in my Note 3

    2. Neoc

      Re: Support From Larger MicroSD cards

      128Gb in my S4. ^_-

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Another good Reg review, touching on the essential points. If I had one small criticism though, it would be that the phone is being compared to its predecessor, as opposed to phablets from other vendors... e.g does the S-pen become indispensable, or does it remain a merely 'nice-to-have' feature?

    1. Pristine Audio

      does the S-pen become indispensable, or does it remain a merely 'nice-to-have' feature?

      I guess that depends entirely on the user. I use mine occasionally rather than regularly, so I guess I fall into the latter category, but I do use it and when I do I'm glad it's there.

      1. Dr. Mouse

        I don't have the Samsung Note, but on my Tegra Note 7 it is in between the nice-to-have and indispensable. I would certainly miss it if it weren't there, and I wouldn't be playing Sudoku on it any more (Sudoku is just too slow if you aren't writing the numbers, I find).

  4. RainForestGuppy

    Why so late?

    I've had my Note 4 for over a month.

    Why are they only reviewing it now?

    It's a fantastic piece of kit, but I'd take the battery life as suggested in the review with a pinch of salt.

    1. a pressbutton

      Re: Why so late?

      re battery life

      ymmv.

      If you are a light user and have all non-phone options off when not actually using them (I use nfc tags)

      about 4 days

      If you play GTA4 for a couple of hours and then watch a film, and have everything on,

      about 7 hours

      1. Nate Amsden

        Re: Why so late?

        I can drive my note 3 battery down by 50% in about 45mins with intensive usage. Light usage gets me through a day. I think I've lost 20% of the battery capacity over the past 11 months, it goes from 100->80% pretty quick.

        to me anyways looping a video isn't a good indicator of battery life, since most of the work is done by the GPU. Drive the CPU hard and tap the screen a bunch, and see what you get.

        going to buy a new battery soon.

  5. returnmyjedi

    Fast charging will no doubt deplete the battery capacity over time, but at least Samsung give you the option to replace it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother reviewing Samsung phones?

    Better screen, better chipset blah blah.

    1. Darryl
      Paris Hilton

      You'd prefer only reviews of phones with worse screens and chipsets?

    2. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Down

      Ac,

      Because quite a few people like them, me included.

      Can you suggest another device that is excellent at sketching and can also be a very good imitation of a note pad?

      J

    3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Why bother reviewing phones.

      They're only going to be better than last year's model.

  7. Rob

    Pretty much on the nose with this review

    I can't see anything I'd disagree with in this review. From my perspective I've seen a massive improvement in quality but that is only because I have upgraded from a Note 2.

    My only regret is that I'm now hooked on the stylus, if Samsung ever decide to stop the Note series my life is screwed I rely on it so much. I even have a Note 10.1, these are the only things I use now, with a combination of S Note and Evernote for writing things down.

    Now if I could just get the postman to digitise my mail I would be in digital heaven and trees would love me (the paper industry wouldn't).

  8. nuclearstar

    Had my note 4 for a month too. I am not bothered with it being a small improvement over a note 3, what moron upgrades their phone every year anyway? My previous phone was a note 1, so this is a vast improvement over that.

    I don't go swimming with my phone so not bothered about it not being waterproof either.

    Fingerprint scanner is perfect, not had any issues with it at all.

    Normal charging takes ages. Fast charge is indeed very fast. I don't know why they keep saying 50% in 30 minutes, and not 100% in 60 minutes, because mine charges to 100% in about that time when on fast charge.

  9. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    I got a Note 8 this year to use as a notebook for work but also to see what life might be like outside the Apple garden. Apart from a battery life that means it needs charging 2 or 3 times a day in normal use, the fact that I can't use it and charge it at the same time, a constant connection to Google and Samsung accounts which do nothing for me other than track me and deplete the battery, masses of undeleteable bloatware (it's not on a contract - this is Google and Samsung sh*ite), no apps that I can find which don't require access to my contacts, emails, phone, camera, internet history, etc. and no simple way to synch with tasks, notes, calendar or music it's a fantastic piece of kit. I can't remember where I left it and I've gone back to paper and pen for taking notes at work.

    It's a shame because I love the stylus and the fact that the handwriting recognition is a standard keyboard and can be used across all apps. The multi-tasking was occasionally useful. The screen was great and as a way of managing client meetings and notes it was almost useful. If I can find it I guess I could look at rooting it since if I f**k it up it won't matter - but I honestly can't be bothered.

    I am not an Apple fanboi and the size of the new iPhones means I'm looking at a new battery for my 4S rather than upgrading - but Samsung and Android are going to have to up their game significantly and give me back some semblance of control over my phone if they want my money. I know this will drop my credibility even further, but I'm looking at the upcoming Blackberry classic as a way to try something new (the Passport doesn't fit in my pockets).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      upcoming Blackberry classic

      Unless you are one of those people with a Bold 9900 welded to your hand, I can't see why anybody would want the Classic. It is basically a Q10 with retrofitted buttons from the Bold for the old people1. You can pick up a Q10 for under £200 and it is basically the same thing in a slightly more convenient form factor with the same screen resolution and a removable battery.

      I use one for out and about messaging, and the car integration works perfectly. But at home I tend to use a tablet. The Q10 is excellent for its notifications, the single view of all messages and the ability to deal with simple ones very quickly, but Inbox is growing on me fast for dealing with the rest, and this works much better on a tablet.

      1I am an old person but I refuse to think like one.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: upcoming Blackberry classic

        I've got enough free upgrade credit for a Classic (given that it's been accumulating since I got the 4S) but I guess I could give the Q10 a try given the price and use it as my backup if I get a Classic. Good call, AC; I sense a pleasant evening of comparing specs coming up!

      2. John Sanders
        Boffin

        Re: upcoming Blackberry classic

        I'm a young person who appreciated Blackberry on it's day, and the first thing I thought when I got a Q10 in my hands was:

        1) Where are the buttons?

        2) Why did they removed the buttons?

        3) This is shit without the buttons.

        4) Why would they remove the buttons?

        5) Why wouldn't they have made virtual buttons at least?

        1. Darryl

          Re: upcoming Blackberry classic

          I have two users here - one with a Q10 and one with a Q5 and both had the same reaction when they got them (both upgraded from Curves). Within a week, though, they were going crazy with swiping and tapping, and both commented that the new interface is much faster to navigate and work with.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: upcoming Blackberry classic

          @John Saunders -

          1) Where are the buttons?

          Replaced by gestures and virtual buttons

          2) Why did they removed the buttons?

          So they could get a bigger screen and a good keyboard in a reasonable form factor

          3) This is shit without the buttons.

          YMMV

          4) Why would they remove the buttons?

          See (2) above

          5) Why wouldn't they have made virtual buttons at least?

          They did. See (1) above

          You'll notice that I explicitly suggested that the Q10 was for people who weren't invested in the old style BlackBerry, so your feelings on the subject aren't really applicable since you are. I have had a Q10 now for over 18 months and I can't see any reason to replace it, whereas I am on my third tablet in as many years as the technology improves. It would be a very anthill like world if we all thought the same.

  10. tony2heads
    Megaphone

    LOUD

    I must get one for the wife as she always puts her phone at the bottom of her handbag, which seems to be almost soundproof.

  11. psychonaut

    got mine last week

    superb piece of kit. upgraded from a note 2. camera is way better. the stackable apps quick switch is the best new feature - i dont know how i got along without it before. it is very loud which is great for hands free.

    great phone.

  12. Unep Eurobats
    Big Brother

    Competition

    So pretty much a direct competitor to the Nexus 6, though with more flexibility: stylus, removable battery, expandable memory. Strangely I'm still more tempted by the Chocolate Factory's offering. Has Google messed with my head?

    1. ben kendim

      Re: Competition

      The Nexus 6 is vaporware! Yesterday, Wednesday, it was available for 0 (zero) of the 1440 minutes of the day. I have a program that checks every minute and keeps a log.

      So, yes, Google is playing with our mind.

  13. Cuddles Silver badge

    1140 x 2560 pixels

    I hope you mean 1440x2560 otherwise that's a pretty weird choice, especially given it's the same size and shape as the previous 16:9 display.

  14. JaitcH
    Happy

    To start with, the display resolution has jumped from 1080 x 1920 to 1140 x 2560 pixels.

    If you wear glasses for reading, taking them OFF negates any difference in the screens. And saves you hundreds of Pounds, Dollars or even millions of Dong.

    But Samsung still has some software bugs such as when a Euro language is selected - it still lets Chinese or Vietnamese appear onscreen when used in Asian countries.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: To start with, the display resolution has jumped from 1080 x 1920 to 1140 x 2560 pixels.

      I don't need glasses for reading, but I'm not interested in tiny text anyway. Printers have long been able to produce tiny font size, but they don't cram pages with more text, they use a standard ideal size.

      So I don't need any more pixels, I don't need any more screen size.

      I want a phone that goes comfortably in a pocket, can stand being dropped on concrete or soaked with rain, can hold a strong signal in fringe reception areas, has a battery that can sustain a lot of use over a standard day, doesn't have a painfully scattered user interface like Android and doesn't have to use expensive proprietary accessories like Apple.

      Unfortunately the obsession with screen size and useless extra pixels seem to have distracted the phone makers.

  15. Hoe

    SD Card Support

    I have a Note 3 and a Note 10.1, they are both listed as supporting only 64Gb SD Cards but I can tell you that both work with the 128Gb Scandisk cards.

  16. Creamy-G00dness

    Air Gestures

    "so the Note 4 doesn't have the air gestures"

    Erm.....sat here with my new note 4 and it does indeed have air gestures. the option to turn it on has moved to accessibility - dexterity in the settings is all.

    A proper review/er seems to be in order.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't upgrade

    As a note 2 and 3 owner I wouldn't upgrade. Not much over a note 3 that's practical. Think I'll wait for v5 or v6 subject to some big fixes. The vpn bug really pisses me off and until they fix that I won't buy another Samsung.

    I also won't buy if they don't honor app store languages since living in Asia but having my settings as UK I still get the useless app store versions listed all in Chinese. No fucking good if your can't speak Chinese is it (hint - look at my language settings).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Won't upgrade

      I get that on my WinXP PC, I am in the UK and the set-up is UK, but Google and FireFox occasionally give me Chinese instead of UK English when updating.

    2. Nate Amsden

      Re: Won't upgrade

      what is "the vpn bug" ? does it impact note 3? I occasionally use Dell Sonicwall VPN on my note 3 without any issues (with their app).

    3. nobody2

      Re: Won't upgrade

      What's the VPN bug on the Note 4?

    4. Vince

      Re: Won't upgrade

      I won't be upgrading from my note 2, because it does all I want from that device.

      For email and messaging it's pants, which is what my BlackBerry is for, especially since I swapped to the passport and have blend.

      For photos, the Lumia 1020 does the job and is excellent.

      There's nothing different enough in any newer android stuff that is sufficiently interesting that I would change, just bells and whistles that don't improve my productivity, which is actually why I own a smartphone.

  18. ClarkMills

    Hi Res/no button good for Oculus Rift

    My 50+ yo eyes will NOT appreciate the hi res BUT if I were to don a headseat then I would.

    Also the lack of h/w buttons frontside is a big plus.

    Add to that that my last screen (glass) broke where the button hole is, I deem it a weak point first-hand.

  19. Stuart Halliday

    Gee, another Reviewer who can't review.

    No mention of the 3GB of RAM which means I have a phone that can take a serious amount of Apps doing real work without slowing down to redraw the Launcher.

    Swapping between Facebook and Firefox is fast and doesn't lose your place when you've scrolled down Facebook.

    It's got a decent volume at last, the screen is really bright and is crystal clear, even when reading tiny text.

    Camera is rubbish at living room light levels, but then they all are.

    Easy to root to get that micro SD patch for 4.4. Looking forward to Android 5.

    A decent phone.

  20. Jimbo in Thailand

    It's too freakin' thin... and other gripes

    Nice waaaay-over-the-top hi-res display that will gobble up extra resources while taxing the battery more for no real benefit... but hey... it does give the owner bragging rights, eh? Personally, I simply don't like these paper thin phones as not comfortable to grasp. I still find my Note 2 with its 64GB mSD card and 6500mAH extended 'fat' battery does everything well and I typically only have to recharge it every 4-5 days so no need to upgrade for a while.

    Another gripe is Samsung's premium pricing (for those of us who don't get subsidized pricing from our cell tower overlords). Thankfully, that trend can't last much longer with 'new' competitors like Huawei, Oppo, and OnePlus, among others, nipping at Samsung's heels with similar features, quality, and much lower prices. I was considering the Note 3 LTE model with its 4k video shooter but will wait until my Note 2 dies again (mainboard sh1t the bed last time - after the warranty had expired, naturally). Hopefully, by that time there will be more compelling choices out there.

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 4... meh... (Too bad there's not a Reg icon for that!)

  21. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Headmaster

    A quantum leap...

    ...is a very small thing indeed.

    Sorry, that one's always bugged me.

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