“The new Note twins are more than mere evolutionary bumps and take the range to the next level”
Phablets have come a long way from being a non-existent category a few years ago. A major reason for making them a global phenomenon remains with the Korean giant which created the whole new segment almost single-handedly. Four years ago, it unveiled the first device in the Galaxy Note series during IFA which featured a large 5.3-inch screen – huge by any standards considering the iPhone only had a 3.5-inch display that time. Now, the brand has taken the covers off the fourth iteration of the Galaxy Note lineup.
The numero uno smartphone manufacturer is offering not just one but two variants of the next-generation Note device. While the aptly-named Note 4 carries forward the lineage of the Note series, Samsung is also innovating with the bent display running around the right side of the Note Edge. Both the offerings will hopefully be hitting Indian shores in the coming weeks. But if you're wondering if the new phablets feature just an evolutionary bump in specs or offer something radically different than the Note 3, then here's a spec-based comparison between the trio.
The very first thing you consider in a device, and especially in a phablet, is the screen size – since it's most likely to replace your phone and a tablet. However in doing so, it shouldn't hamper the handling aspect. The Note 4 offers the same screen size of 5.7-inches as its predecessor, while the Note Edge sports a marginally lower 5.6-inch display. However, the displays now offer rich visuals thanks to the high pixel density of 515ppi (524ppi on the Note Edge) with their 2K resolution. The Note Edge has an edge (pun unintended) over both the Note 4 and its previous iteration thanks to a bent display of 160 pixels around its right side. The additional screen real estate is useful for displaying options with compatible apps like camera, video or a Ticker Board, Night Clock and more. The company is also offering the SDK to developers to make innovative uses of the additional display.
While the screen sizes remain mostly the same, the new devices have slimmed down a tad, though the weights have increased in single digits. One thing that can’t be captured in numbers is the style aspect. If you have been complaining about the legacy plastic-based design of Samsung smartphones, then the newly-unveiled Note 4 will please you with its sturdy and chamfered metallic frame along the sides. The Note Edge doesn’t enjoy this luxury, but manages to be unique because of its display. The 2.5D glass makes it more comfortable to use the device. The back also features the faux-leather texture which started with the Note 3 itself.
In terms of core specifications, the Note 4 coming to India seems to have the same quad-core combination as its predecessor, but it’s based on a new 20nm manufacturing process. The four Cortex A-15 cores clocked at 1.9GHz are meant for heavy-duty tasks, whereas the other four 1.3GHz Cortex A-7 cores handle the day-to-day tasks. It’s not clear if the Note Edge will also have the Exynos SoC for the Indian market or we’ll get the Snapdragon 805-based variant which offers four cores running at 2.7GHz. With regards to processing power, the new Note twins are much better than the Note 3. In terms of memory, the devices aren't much different, as they both get 3GB of RAM and 32GB of flash memory. You can also increase the storage further up to 64GB with the use of microSD cards.
The Note 4 and Note Edge also boasts of powerful camera capabilities thanks to 16-megapixel autofocus cameras at the back. The rear shooters boast ‘smart optical image stabilisation’ to minimise the blurring of images because of hand movements. While the 13-meg camera of the Note 3 isn’t bad by any means, but the Note 4 and Note Edge seems to offer even better. The software-based features such as HDR, Dual Camera, etcetera are available in all devices, but the new Note phablets also have options like Selective Focus, Shot and More, etc. For selfie lovers, these new phablets are equipped with 3.7-megapixel sensors with f1.9 aperture in the front, which should offer good images even in poorly-lit conditions. The cameras can capture an ultra-wide angle of 90 degrees for clicking group selfies.
As far as the battery capacity goes, the Note 4 has just a minor increase of 3,220mAh compared to the 3,200mAh battery inside the Note 3, and considering that the former bears the high-density screen resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, it seems that the device can’t last long. But the brand claims otherwise as it has managed to lower power consumption of all the components in the Note 4 and hence it's touted to offer comparable battery life. The Note Edge has a lower battery capacity of 3,000mAh, but you can expect it to last a full working day thanks to Samsung’s optimisations. The devices also feature a proprietary fast-charging technology that can charge them to 50 percent levels within 30 minutes. You can also enable the Ultra Power Saving Mode to extend the battery life.
Both the Note 4 and Note Edge comes loaded with Android 4.4 KitKat overlaid with Samsung’s TouchWiz customisation and offer the usual features like Multi Window. The Note 3 is also upgradable to the latest iteration of Android. The namesake of the series – the S Pen is also available with the devices and features better pressure sensitivity making it easier to use, and boasting newer functions.
If you’re looking to future-proof your purchase, then the newly-unveiled duo offers support for Indian 4G frequencies. Other connectivity options include dual-band Wi-Fi along with support for the new Wi-Fi ac standard, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS and an IR blaster. Pretty much the only area where the older Note 3 trumps the new pair is wired connectivity – since the former offered USB 3.0 while the new Notes have taken a step backward with their USB 2.0 ports.
Just like the Galaxy S5 flagship introduced earlier this year, the Note 4 and Note Edge offer fingerprint sensors hidden underneath the home buttons as well as heart rate monitors at the back.
Concluding the comparison without even checking out the Note 4 and Note Edge for ourselves is a bit difficult. But based on specs and Samsung’s numerous optimisations, we’d say that the new twins are more than just evolutionary bumps and take the Note range to the next level. The Note Edge may seem gimmicky and ahead of time, but if developers start exploiting its functionality, then it could come in handy in many situations. The pricing remains the crucial piece of the puzzle before deciding on the final say, but stay tuned as we’ll bring you more on the devices as and when they’re launched in India.
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