Building on the success of its Note line of ‘phablets’, Samsung today announced the latest addition – the Note 4 – at the Samsung Unpacked event in Berlin.
We were there on the ground and had a chance to get our hands on one to see what’s new.
Appearance-wise, the Note 4 is just slightly thicker than the Note 3, due to the subtle outward curve of the display.
It gains premium-feeling metallic edging, which appear to be chamfered somewhat, similar to the iPhone 5S’s design.
The home button now doubles as a fingerprint scanner, and the back of the Note 4 has a leather like look and feel.
You can choose from four different colours including frosted white, charcoal black, bronze gold and blossom pink. The bronze and pink choices are quite subtle and note overdone.
Otherwise, Samsung has based the Note 4’s improvements on key purchase drivers including the display, camera and battery.
On the display front, the Note 4 has an improved 5.7 inch screen featuring a ‘QuadHD’ display that provides an HD-killing 2560 x 1440 resolution.
It’s a Super AMOLED screen, meaning that it can provide about 20 percent more colour range than a standard LCD.
We played an Ultra HD video on the Note 4 and the results were simply stunning, with incredibly fine detail and dazzling colours.
While it might be a while before Ultra HD movies are available to watch, you can create your own UltraHD videos via the phone’s camera.
Other camera improvements include a new 3.7 megapixel front facing camera with an F1.9 aperture designed for taking better selfies in low light.
Also, there’s a new ‘wide-selfie’ mode that captures a full 120 degrees of photo width, and is sort of like a panorama photo mode. Otherwise, there’s a standard Selfie mode that captures a normal 90 degree arc.
To assist when taking a selfie, the heart rate monitor sensor on the back of the phone now doubles as a shutter button.
Also on the back of the phone is the rear facing 16 megapixel camera. It too has had a tune up and now features optical image stabilisation.
Samsung had added some productivity improvements including more multi-tasking modes and enhancements to the stylus based interface.
On the multi-tasking front, it’s now easier to launch split-screen apps from the recent apps screen, and you can even minimise apps into little ‘bubbles’ similar to the chat heads found on the Facebook app.
The stylus has gained 2048 steps of resolution and gains more sensitivity to pressure, speed and pen angle.
To support this, there are new calligraphy pen and fountain pen modes, and a new S Note widget has been added for selecting pen modes directly from the home screen.
Other productivity improvements include a ‘like a PC mouse’ mode where you can draw a square around items such as photo thumbnails to select them ‘like a mouse’.
Air Command comes with Smart Select for grabbing live clips of content from websites.
The Snap Note tool is designed for snapping a pic of whiteboards and can figure out what parts are images and what parts are handwritten text. It can then convert the handwriting to ‘curves’ so you can edit it.
When testing, we were impressed with how realistically the new pens appeared, and how quickly the line drawing kept up with the pen itself.
On the power saving front, although we were not given the Note 4’s battery size, (it’s probably similar to the 3200mAh of its predecessor) it’s great to see that the Ultra Power Saving mode from the Galaxy S 5 has been adopted squeezing the very last drop of power when needed.
Also, a fast charge mode is new, which can restore up to 50 percent of the battery’s charge in 30 minutes, with the remainder of the battery being charged 30 percent faster than the Note 3.
For improving the quality of voice calls, a third microphone has been added to aid in noise suppression.
This also supports multi-directional recording so the Note 4 can identify different voices based on their location, helping isolate different voices for better conference calls when using the speakerphone, for example.
The Note 4 comes with 3GB of RAM onboard, but the processor specifications were not disclosed at the launch.
Information about other hardware specifications was a bit light, such as the processor but we can confirm that Category 6 LTE mobile network are supported.
Pricing and availability in Australia have not yet been announced other than the Note 4 will be sold in stores this year.
Watch this space as we’ll add new information when it becomes available.
Valens Quinn travelled to the Samsung Unpacked event and IFA show in Berlin as a guest of Samsung Electronics Australia.