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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: Still an amazing phablet

Our Rating :
£399.99 from
Price when reviewed : £600
inc VAT SIM-free

The Note 4 is still a fantastic phablet with a stunning screen, excellent design and long-lasting battery

The Galaxy Note 4 was released back in September 2014. Following the recall of the Note 7, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ replacing the Note 6, and the Note 5 being a US exclusive, it makes the Note 4 one of the last phablet-sized smartphones Samsung launched in Europe. There are rumours of a Note 8, but until they become a reality, the Note 4 is the last of its kind. So, is now actually the perfect time to buy a Note 4 and save yourself a bit of money in the process?

Possibly. With current SIM-free prices hovering around £390 (originally reviewed at £600), that’s still a lot of money for what’s essentially a two and a half year old phone. It might have a metal frame, but it is starting to look a bit long in the tooth in terms of design compared to its S series stablemates.

However, there’s no denying the Note 4’s excellent build quality. Rather than take its design cues from the Galaxy S5, the Note 4 is essentially a giant Galaxy Alpha, borrowing the metal trim from its smaller cousin. It’s a massive improvement over the plastic phones from Samsung’s past, and helps make it feel much more rigid, without dramatically affecting the weight of the phone.

The Galaxy Note 3 used a USB3 port, which allowed quicker data transfers and quicker charging from an appropriately equipped PC or laptop, however it wasn’t popular apparently, as it looked kind of ugly. The Note 4 returns to a typical USB2 port, though there is support for Quick Charge 2.0 from the Snapdragon chipset. As we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s flagship phones, the Note 4 also comes with a fingerprint scanner built into the home button and an optical heart rate monitor on the back of the handset.

It’s similar to the Alpha then, but not identical, as Samsung’s also added what it calls 2.5D glass to the front of the handset. This gives the front panel a slightly rounded edge, making it look a touch more stylish than the completely flat Alpha and catching the light around the sides, though we wouldn’t say it makes a significant difference to how the screen looks during everyday use.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: Display

With a pixel density of 515PPI (pixels-per-inch), the Note 4’s 5.7in screen is visibly more detailed than its peers, the Galaxy S5 or the iPhone 6 Plus, which have PPIs of 432 and 401 respectively. Text in particular was noticeably sharper and darker when we compared them side by side, making desktop sites much easier to read. Since then its been surpassed though, by the Galaxy S6 at 577PPI and the new LG G4 at 538PPI.

This is still a fabulous smartphone display though, as it uses a Super AMOLED panel. These have always scored highly in our screen quality tests, and the Note 4 is no exception. Our colour calibrator showed it was displaying a full 100 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut on its default settings, and its black levels were a perfect 0.00cd/m2, so you can be sure that your videos and photos will always look their best. These results are also much higher than the measurements we got from the iPhone 6 Plus, which only covered 90.5 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut and had blacks of 0.40cd/m2.

Where the Note 4 falls down slightly is its low maximum brightness level. At just 265.71cd/m2, this is much dimmer than both the Galaxy S5, which measured 339.43cd/m2, and the iPhone 6 Plus, which was almost twice as bright at 572.14cd/m2. However, we found the Note 4 was still bright enough to use outside even in bright sunshine, although you’ll need it at maximum brightness to cope. Those who spend a lot of time in deserts and on beaches might want to look elsewhere, but most us poor brits need not worry.

At the other end of the scale, the Note 4’s contrast levels were off the charts, as our colour calibrator couldn’t even give us a score. This means that images will not only have plenty of detail on show, but that they’ll also look great from almost any viewing angle, as we could still see our high contrast test images clearly when looking at the screen side-on. This is particularly useful if you’re using the bundled S Pen stylus to jot down a quick memo while the phone’s on a table in front of you, for example, as you won’t have to pick it up and look at the screen face-on to see what you’re writing. Continues on Page 2

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ProcessorQuad-core 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
Screen size5.7in
Screen resolution2,560×1,440
Screen typeSuper AMOLED
Front camera3.7-megapixel
Rear camera16-megapixel
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 4.4.4
Battery size3,220mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£600
Price on contract (inc VAT)£130 on £33-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
Part codeSM-N910F

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