Samsung has unveiled its latest phablet device: the Samsung Note 4. Marketed as their flagship device, the Note 4 boasts an impressive array of upgrades and new features over its predecessors. At the launch event, held Thursday night, Samsung also showed off the Note Edge, Gear S watch and teasing the VR Gear headset.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The Samsung Note 4 is geared towards technophiles while the S range has been created for high-end mass-market consumption. Firstly, it will be available in two hardware flavours, model A will feature a 2.7GHz quad-core CPU and model B will contain a 1.9Ghz octa-core. Both versions will contain 3GB of RAM and 32GB of on-board storage, expandable up to an additional 64GB via MicroSD. (Of course the internal specs are more powerful than its predecessors otherwise it wouldn’t be an upgrade).
Boasting a 5.7-inch Quad-HD (2560×1440) Super AMOLED display, the Note 4’s screen is gorgeous in comparison to its competition’s devices. The AMOLED allows for a faster response time (one millionth of a second) and the lighting up of individual pixels and not clusters. This is an interesting feature that was spoken about but not shown.
According to Samsung, over 30% of images uploaded in 2013 were selfies – yip, selfies. Samsung has taken this into consideration and added a 3.7 megapixel front-facing camera with f1.9 lens. The viewing angle has also been upgraded to 90 degrees, which allows for wider image capture0. In order to take a selfie you will be able to tap the heart rate monitor on the back of the unit instead of touching the screen, which means more stable images and better photos without awkward thumb movements to hit the shutter button. I found the front camera to be quite laggy – it took up to two seconds to respond when moving. On the other hand, the device’s rear-facing 16Mp camera seemed far superior, having an almost 1:1 response time.
Samsung’s Note 4 comes equipped with eight microphones. Once the audio has been captured, you can isolate individual voices in playback. This is quite useful for meetings and interviews.
And now for the feature Samsung was most pleased about: the S Pen. Yes, the Note series has included styluses in the past, but this one is apparently better and more intuitive. I say apparently because I cannot give you my actual opinion on it. Due to the size of my hands and the large security device taped to the back of the pen it was near impossible for me to use it. A shame as I wanted to test out this new, supposedly enhanced, stylus. It’s touted as giving mouse-like intuitively, the ability to cut, drag, and drop almost any item, and editing of items on the screen. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a pretty nifty tool for mobile.
My favourite feature about the Note 4 is its new fast charging battery. The device can now charge from 0 to 51% battery in 30 minutes. This is due to Samsung’s in-house technology.
Other features include embedded Opera Max (which can save up to 30% data), a six-month trial of AVG, which will include a half-price renewal option, and DSTV’s BoxOffice available for it later this year.
Their technophile vision shines through with its array of interesting features, which together form a powerful business and function-centric device. Once Samsung fixes its cripple-device-after-one-year problems I may just switch from Apple to Samsung again. Maybe.
As mentioned earlier the Note 4 wasn’t the only device on display.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
The Note Edge is similar to the evening’s featured product with the exception of a curved screen. About a centimetre of the device’s right side is curved. The aim of this curvature is to act as a smaller second screen. You can add more menus and information tickers to it, which extends the “desktop”. It’s this sort of innovation that I love, but in its current state feels more like a gimmick. Time will tell how well it is received.
Samsung Gear S
Previous versions of the Gear smartwatch have required you to pair it with a Samsung smartphone. The Gear S is Samsung’s first independent smartphone watch, meaning you do not need a phone in order to use the device. Samsung’s new wearable toy includes normal phone functionality, such as messaging – with a full QWERTY keyboard, making and receiving phone calls, listening to music, and of course, telling the time. Snazzy, right? Of course it is. If you enjoy an active lifestyle, you’ll benefit from the built-in GPS, heart-rate monitor, and UV ray detector. Samsung’s Gear S is built with an AMOLED display, like the Note 4. TomTom may have to up their game with their Runner GPS watch series to compete.
Samsung VR Gear
What I thought would be the most interesting device, is Samsung’s VR Gear headset. Yes, Samsung is entering the virtual reality market – like it’s the 80s – with this piece of kit. The device is an enhancement for the Note 4. The phablet slots into the front of the headgear and interfaces with the phone’s accelerometer and gyroscope. You’re able to turn your head 360 degrees for a full view of the image on the screen. Unfortunately if you wear glasses – like me – your eyes will have trouble adjusting. No matter how much you adjust the device it still feels as though a screen is pressed against your eyeballs. Interesting, but it will need some work. A controller was also shown off, but it wasn’t available for demo.
And finally, the pricing and release dates. The Note 4 and Gear S will be available in South Africa from the 17th of October with a RRP of R11 499 and R6000 respectively. Contracts for these devices will be available from our cellular companies with an average price of R599 per month, and some will bundle the watch and phablet together. Note 4 will come in charcoal black, frost white, bronze gold, and blossom pink, but no word on which service providers will stock which colours. The Edge will be available at a later date with a “premium price point,”… and VR Gear in 2015 with no pricing details as yet.
Samsung has an excellent range of new devices and innovation for the mobile market. Now if only they could push out software updates at a faster rate.