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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 first impressions: a loaded phablet that costs many banknotes

|October 14 2014 |Android Phones, Samsung

“The fourth-gen Note phablet from Samsung boasts loaded specs and drool-inducing features”

Just a few weeks after Samsung unveiled its fourth-generation Note phablet in Berlin, it has decided to add to the Diwali festivities in India by making the loaded device available in the country. The Galaxy Note 4, as it’s called, combines top-of-the-line specs with tons of new features – both hardware and software – along with an enhanced S Pen, to present a truly powerful combination of brawn and brain.

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In fact, from what we can make out, the Note 4 is possibly the most loaded phablet money can buy right now, with the possible (and debatable) exception of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. However, we all know what looks great on paper may not work out to be a compelling option, so we’re waiting to get our hands on this noteworthy (pun unintended) beast for a full-fledged review to figure if it’s worth all the brouhaha. We did manage to spend some time with it at the launch event, so here are our initial thoughts.

Design-wise, the Galaxy Note is as Samsung-y as it can get. By that we mean it doesn’t stray far from the design language the brand has used on its Galaxy S5 and Note 3 devices earlier – so you get the same rear with the soft-touch finish and the typically-design fascia with the physical home button.

The metal band on the sides adds the much-needed premium feel to the build, but maybe the designers should have gone with a chrome finish instead of coating it with the same colour as the device. The shiny chamfered edges look nice though.

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Port placement is fairly typical too, so you’ll find the micro-USB port at the bottom with a silo for the S Pen at one corner, the power key on the right and the volume rocker on the left. The top is home to the headset socket and an IR blaster that converts the device into a universal remote. Apart from the screen, the front includes the physical home button with an integrated fingerprint scanner borrowed from the Galaxy S5, flanked by backlit capacitive keys for back and recent apps. Above the display, you’ll find Samsung branding, the earpiece, a notification LED, the sensors and the 3.7MP front shooter.

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The rear sports a perforated pattern and features the lens for the 16-megapixel primary camera. Apart from an LED flash, you also get a heart rate monitor and for the very first time in a smartphone, a UV sensor to indicate the sun’s radiation. The captured data syncs with Samsung’s S Health app, of course. A speaker is placed closer to the bottom.

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The rear cover can be pried open to reveal the replaceable 3,220mAh battery, along with slots for a micro-SIM and a microSD card. Worth noting that said battery supports fast charging and can be charged to 50 per cent levels in just about 30 minutes. Of course, you still get the Ultra Power Saving Mode to fall back upon just in case you’re away from a power source and need to keep the device alive for as long as possible.

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The software platform on offer is Android KitKat 4.4.4, with Samsung’s Touchwiz UI on top. Tons of apps and UI tweaks, including S Health and S Voice, come pre-installed. It wouldn’t be a Note without an S Pen in tow (or a Samsung Galaxy without tons of software features), and we weren’t disappointed with what we saw.

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The S Pen has been boosted with better pressure sensitivity and other new features, including calligraphy abilities. As per Samsung, the S Pen works as a pen and as scissors too, helping you cut and collate content from various sources for sharing. The Multi Window feature, a staple on many Samsung Galaxy smartphones has also been injected with steroids, and we can’t wait to spend quality time with the device to check out these features properly.

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We did check out the camera interface and clicked a couple of quick snaps though, and found it to be as loaded as before, with tons of modes (including downloadable ones) and tweaking options. The shutter speed seems super-fast, and our test shots looked quite good. We’ll have more on this in our camera review of the phablet though. Ironically, the subject for our test shot could just end up feeling the heat if the Note 4’s camera is as good as advertised.

Speaking of steroids, the zippy Snapgragon 805 SoC clocked at a whopping 2.7GHz and 3GB of RAM ensured we didn’t hit any speed bumps, and the usage during our brief hands-on time was as smooth as the proverbial baby’s bottom. That 2K display looked really scrumptious too, but we want to find out how it impacts battery life.

This is just the beginning of the saga when it comes to the coverage of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 from our end, and we’ll have lots more to talk about this pricey (FYI, it's priced at Rs 58,300) yet very noteworthy phablet when we get to review it.



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