The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, one of the most anticipated smartphones lately, has finally became official in Berlin. It features a 5.7" Super AMOLED screen of QHD resolution (that's 515ppi), and runs on the latest Snapdragon 805 chipset with a quad-core 2.7GHz Krait 450 CPU, Adreno 420 GPU and 3GB of RAM.
Naturally, Samsung will be offering another flavor of the Note 4 with its proprietary Exynos 5433 chipset, which packs an octa-core processor with four Cortex-A57 @ 1.9GHz and four Cortex-A53 @ 1.3GHz, Mali-T760 graphics and 3GB of RAM. The only other real difference between the two models is the Snapdragon-powered flavor offers LTE Cat.6 (300Mbps) connectivity, while the Exynos-based version stops at LTE Cat.4 (150Mbps).
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 incorporates the new design introduced by the Galaxy Alpha - a stylish metal chassis, high-quality rear plastic cover and protective screen glass with rounded Lumia-like edges.
The new battery cover of the Galaxy Note 4 is very similar to the Note 3's, the faux-leather pattern is almost identical though the stitching is missing this time around. Even though the plastic is super thin, it fits perfectly on the back and feels as solid as possible. You can't tell what it is unless you open it. The Note 3 was made the same way, so no surprises here. And we like the new cover without the stitches better.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rear cover • compared to Note 3
Just like the Galaxy Alpha, the Galaxy Note 4 features flared corners which improves handling a notch by preventing your fingers from slipping off the rounded corner. They also remind us a bit of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active.
The entire front is covered by the latest generation Gorilla Glass 3. As we mentioned already, the glass ends on curved edges, really pleasant in both handling and working with the screen.
The Note 4's screen glass vs Note 3's
Besides the 5.7" QHD Super AMOLED display, the Note 4 has a pretty much familiar control set at the front. Above the screen we find the earpiece, a couple of sensors, plus the new 3.7MP selfie camera with f/1.9 aperture. The front camera has 90-degree viewing angles and is capable of 120-degree panoramic shots.
Below the display are the Home button flanked by the capacitive Task Switcher and Back keys. The Home key integrates a fingerprint scanner, to lock/unlcok the phone and authorize transactions (it's PayPal-certified). It also enables Private mode, which gives you access to a secure part of the storage where you can keep sensitive data and photos.
The sides of the Note 4 feature a power/lock key on the right; volume rocker on the left; two mics, the S-Pen compartment and a microUSB 2.0 port at the bottom - the previous generation had USB 3.0. A 3.5mm audio jack, an extra mic and an IR blaster are lined up at the top.
There are three microphones on the Note 4 for superior noise suppression. Samsung has created a new voice recording app too, which actively uses those three mics and will let you get rid of ambient noise or irrelevant voices in your recordings later.
The sides of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Interestingly, Samsung has dropped the microUSB 3.0 port in favor of the old generation microUSB 2.0. Samsung didn't get into details about this decision, but you may consider it as a downgrade from the Galaxy Note 3. The good news is, Samsung has enabled fast charging, which speeds up the charging time by 30%.
The Galaxy Note 4 battery is just 20mAh bigger than the Note 3's at 3220mAh. How the actual real life performance is affected is yet to be determined, especially considering the new hardware and higher-resolution display.
Opening the rear cover reveals the 3,220mAh battery
Once you pop the battery cover open you get access to the microSIM slot and the hot-swappable microSD card. You can insert up to 128GB memory card in there.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes with a new camera at the back, too. It's a 16MP sensor, with optical image stabilization (finally!). It is accompanied by a single LED flash and is capable of 4K video recording.
The 16MP OIS camera and the LED flash
The Galaxy Note 4 also comes with a heart-rate monitor at the back and a tiny loudspeaker grille in the bottom left corner.
The Note 4 back and the loudspeaker
But what's a Note without an S-Pen? The new stylus looks a lot like the old one, but is slightly thinner and has fine ribs carved in the plastic for better handling, which is great. It has the same design as before, with a button positioned on one of those ribbed sides and is easy to reach.
The S-Pen • The new S-Pen vs the one in the Galaxy Note 3
The new S-Pen offers a new functionality - you can use it as a mouse on your Note 4 - just drag it around and click with it. Samsung has managed to improve the S-Pen digitizer's pressure levels from 1024 up to 2048 and added some extra levels of thickness for the drawing pens.
There is a new S-Pen widget that allows you to take notes straight on you homescreen - no need of clicking the Action key on your S-Pen. There is also a new Snap Note app that scans whatever you put in front of your camera and then reads all the text and pictures and extracts them. It works great at the venue, but we'll have to test it in more detail once we get our hands on a retail unit.
Also, the Multi Window got an update too, it is now even more intuitive and there is a Multi Window shortcut straight in the Task Switcher interface.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 weighs a few grams more than the Note 3, but you'll hardly notice it. It looks better courtesy of the metal chassis, rounded screen glass and better rear cover. The handling is great, too.
Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 3
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will launch in Frosted white, Charcoal black, Bronze Gold and Blossom Pink.
Galaxy Note 4 in black and gold flavors
We've run the BaseMark OS II compound benchmark and both Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge came on the top of our chart. Both devices offer similar performance, but that's to be expected since they are basically identical.
Higher is better
Update: Hands-on video. Here is a quick hands-on video we've made for you.
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