The first reviews are out on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, unveiled last month in Berlin, and they’re generally positive.
“The best big-screen phone you can buy right now,” screams the headline of a review by Brad Molen for Engadget.
“A phablet that can teach Apple a few things,” is how Venturebeat’s Devindra Hardawar depicts the device.
“The best Android phablet rules with a pen,” says CNET.
“I’m not sure where the good story is on this,” Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld.
“The Galaxy Note 4 is continuing down the Samsung innovation path on the larger display, and Apple with the iPhone 6 Plus is entering a segment where Samsung has most of the mindshare, if not also the revenue,” he continued.
For a change, neither of these giants is suing the other, and that could be because “there might be an understanding between them that if they spend so much time in litigation, it will only serve the competition,” Orr suggested.
On the Look and Feel
Reviewers noted Samsung’s first-ever use of metal in the Note 4’s case, but not all approved of its overall look and feel.
The Note 4 “has a much more elegant appearance” than the Note 3, Molen said.
It’s possible to hold the Note 4 in one hand without hand fatigue or accidentally dropping it, he wrote. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, Is “tougher to hang onto with one hand” with its large bezel, rounded sides and slippery aluminum build.”
However, “the Note 4 still falls short of the LG G3 and HTC One M8’s luxe metal contouring and finishes and the Sony Xperia Z3’s modern edges,” CNET pointed out — and the iPhone 6 Plus “maintains a more seamless build quality.”
Loving That Screen
The Note 4’s screen was widely praised.
“It’s beautiful, with bright, nice contrast,” Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC, told TechNewsWorld. “Some people say if you get a screen with a lot of white background you’ll see blue or green tinting on the display, but how often do you get a completely white screen? You just look at the Note 4’s screen and say ‘Man, that’s pretty.'”
CNET also likes the “brilliant high-resolution screen” and ZDNet’s Matthew Miller says the Note 4 “knocked [the display] out of the park. The … iPhone 6 Plus is the best smartphone LCD display ever tested, but the Note 4 beats even that device” with colors “that pop like nothing you have seen before” and fonts that are “crisp and clear.”
More to Like
The stylus won kudos, and so did the camera, which adds optical image stabilization (OIS).
The Note 4 “takes excellent outdoor shots on its 16 MP camera with [OIS],” CNet says.
Other plus points include the rapid battery charging and the removable back, and the stripped-down user interface.
“There were so many features and so much software in previous iterations that people didn’t know what they were or how to access them,” Llamas said. “Boiling them down has been a big help.”
Cavils and Cautions
“While it’s a great upgrade in many respects, the Note 4 also doesn’t include much that would compel owners of last year’s Note 3 to upgrade,” Hardawar said, while CNET pointed out the Note 4 “costs significantly more than some other phablets, like the LG G3.”
“Every flagship is overpriced,” Llamas said. “Wait a couple of months and the price will come down.”
Another issue is the space between the front glass panel and the edges, which has drawn complaints, Molen noted, although “I didn’t find it to be as huge a problem as it was made out to be.”
The Age of the Phablet Dawns
Phablets will take more than 32 percent of the smartphone market in 2018, up from 14 percent this year, according to IDC, as the shift toward large-screen smartphones continues.
That’s being driven by demand in emerging markets, where “people either have no mobile device experience, or this is their first smartphone product, what we call ‘mobile first audiences,'” Orr said. In developed economies, aging baby boomers are pushing demand.