Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Hands On

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to check out Samsung’s latest flagship device, the Galaxy Note 4. I’ve been a fan of this ‘phablet’ line of devices and the fourth edition didn’t disappoint.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The Note 4 is a beautiful device and feels great in your hand. The first thing I noticed (and was somewhat concerned about) was the 5.7-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440) Super AMOLED screen which is stunning. I’ve always loved the experience of using the Note devices for taking photos…to the extent that I kind of understand why there are so many iPad photographers out there – it’s a great way to see what you’re shooting on a large screen. But I’ve also always been concerned that the screen is TOO good…and anything you shoot won’t look as good on any other device…especially after uploading that photo to Facebook or Instagram.

The Note 4 experience of shooting and reviewing your photos actually IS better than on my iPhone 6. For one thing, the screen is brighter and more vibrant (more on this in a bit) on the Note 4. The photo review also uses the entire screen due to the aspect ratio of the display to the camera’s resolution (assuming you shoot with the 16:9 16M photo option). You don’t have any resolution choices on the iPhone.

Photo review on the Note 4

On the iPhone 6, you get a less vibrant, although truer representation of the image with black bars since the resolution doesn’t match the screen’s aspect ratio. This has actually been bothering me (about the iPhone) the more I get used to shooting with the Note 4.

The Note 4 also brings a few new ways to shoot photos. An interesting one is the ability to use the built in heart rate monitor as a shutter release while taking a selfie with the front facing camera. Simply put your finger on the sensor, frame your shot and release your finger from the sensor and the shot gets taken. Another interesting mode is the ability to take a ‘wide selfie’ by basically using the front facing camera to take a mini-panorama. You start the photo in one position, then pan to include a wider field of view. This also gives you a higher resolution image with the front facing camera which shoots at 3.7M at f1.9.

If the front facing camera isn’t good enough for your selfies, you can use the rear camera and it can detect when your face is centred (this is adjustable) in the shot and it will auto take the image. Lots of great new modes to take advantage of the improved cameras.

For a non-scientific comparison, I shot (roughly) the same photos with both devices (with the rear cameras) in a few locations to see which was better. I’ll let you decide which is better. Click to view full size (uncropped images in their native resolution can also be downloaded):

My only real complaint that I alluded to is that the Note 4’s screen is almost too good and still over saturates images artificially. This is fine if you only use this phone to look at everything because it is gorgeous. But as soon as you upload your images to Facebook, Flickr, etc. and look at them on another device/screen, they fall a little flat to me.

Ironically, I recently bought an Apple iPhone 6 and balked at the iPhone 6+ as being too big for carrying in my pocket. But during the course of this review (more than two weeks now), I’ve carried the 6 and the Note 4 around in the SAME pocket for the most part and it actually hasn’t been an issue. The Note 4 is a little shorter (but thicker) than the 6+ but I think I’d be fine with either device in my pocket. So much so that I even checked the return date on my 6 to see if I could switch up.

The Note 4 can also shoot 4k HD video…make sure you have a memory card installed to capture at this quality as it chews megabytes up by the second of footage.

With all the new features that Samsung has added (a lot more than I’ve covered in this post), it’s hard to argue that this isn’t their best smartphone yet…and would definitely be my number one pick in an Android smartphone.

The Note 4 will be available on October 24th from carriers across Canada.

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