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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 lacks killer features

By Himanshu Juneja
Last updated on: September 18, 2014 18:41 IST
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Users of Note 3 can easily stay a bit longer with their devices and wait for price cuts, as Note 4 doesn't bring enough killer features onboard to qualify for an automatic and an immediate upgrade, says Himanshu Juneja.

Just a few days before Apple unveiled its next line of iphones -- iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus -- Samsung had tried to grab world attention with its set of offerings and capture the imagination of interested buyers without any other product to steal its thunder for a while.

The highlight of the event was without doubt the Note Edge, its curved display to be more precise, and the 'Gear VR', the Virtual Reality headset which comes with Note 4. The headset is a new way for consumers to view and experience content in virtual reality.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The Note 4 comes with a 5.7-inch, Quad HD display, 2560×1440 resolution and of course a Super AMOLED screen. For protection, the screen has been rendered with Gorilla Glass 3 variant.

Much like the earlier Note 3, Note 4 also carries two variations of processors:

The 2.7 GHz quad-core processor with Snapdragon 805 chipset

1.9Ghz Octa core processor with Exynos 5433 chipset

It will be interesting to see which variant hits the Indian market.

The phone comes with 3GB worth of RAM and 32GB worth of onboard memory. For the heavy memory users, the phone allows one to expand the memory via microSD card. The maximum size of memory card only being 64GB did cause disappointment.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 reminds a lot about its immediate predecessor, the Note 3. Samsung has reduced the flab from the earlier model and rendered Note 4 with less weight and reduced dimensions. This should help users grip the phone easily. The back side has seen improvements as well, with the plasticky feel being reduced and the stitching marks taken out altogether.

As a result, overall grip on the phone has been improved.

The metal rim has been given a matte finish, and that imparts a good premium feel to the device. The camera with its LED flash module retain their places from the Note 3, and the heart rate monitor makes an appearance. The stylus retains its spot from the earlier design as well.

The Note 4 display may not be having a flexible display, but it is not without its own tricks either. The panel looked glossy and is a bit raised as well. Samsung has tried to make the display as the USP for the Note 4. The display is visibly sharper than the Note 3. The pixel density has been bumped up from 386ppi to a whopping 515 ppi.

The front camera goes to 3.7MP instead of the 2MP from the earlier version.

Speaking about the changes from Note 3, the rear camera in Note 4 has also been upgraded to 16MP from 13MP on Note 3, and comes with Image Stabilisation this time round.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

This variant is carrying a slightly lesser display real estate when compared to the Note 4, but not by a huge margin. The screen is a Super AMOLED 5.6-inch Quad HD+ with 2560 x 1440 + 160 (carries a further 160 extra pixels).

The phone mirrors the Note 4 in many ways. The processor is 2.7 GHz quad-core (no other variations here), has 3GB of RAM and similar onboard memory of 32GB, expandable upto 64GB via microSD card.

The Note Edge and Note 4 carries the same camera specifications as well, with front camera being 16MP and 3.7MP for the rear one.

The Samsung Note Edge uses the flexible display technology of Samsung, which was revealed by the company last year. Barring a fitness device and a passable phone, the flexible display hadn't seen any major application since then. With Note Edge, Samsung has got a good product to show off more practical usage of the technology.

The display is normal for most of the part, but the right edge of the display curves itself to the end rather than ending on a flat note. This curved section can be used for quick access to favourite apps like News, Twitter, Weather, Stock news, or even the all useful flashlight.

This seems like a good idea to keep the essentials on a separate section and provide them a well defined space. Note Edge should grab more attention, but one cant help but feel that third party app/content developers need to step in more to create the buzz around this feature.

Gear VR

Gear VR

Built in collaboration with Oculus technology, the Gear VR offers a new dimension in viewing the content on the mobile. Once the VR headset gets attached to the Note 4, the sensors take into account, the user's head position and instructs the phone to display the relevant section of the 360 degree image. The Gear VR has a touchpad, a volume button, and a back button.

The Gear VR offering full 360 degree 3D video should excite gamers in particular. Samsung has mentioned about providing optimised content for the Gear VR like Movies, 360 degree videos, gaming and educational content as well.

The providers' list is quite good as well, with names like IMAX, Marvel, Dreamworks VR etc. on board.

Hopefully, this should bring audience a step closer to Virtual Reality based content and gaming systems.

Samsung has smartly thrown the Gear VR headset with the Note 4 to prop up its value.

Note Edge's curved display itself is doing the rounds and should carry good interest for the device, and Gear VR will be doing the same job for the Note 4. By making it non-compatible with Note Edge clearly spells out the strategy to give Note 4 the extra boost.

Verdict

There is no doubt that the Samsung's event overall seemed less on content. Apart from the fact that both the phones seem to be more of a necessity release to carry on the note legacy forward, lack of features makes them seem like incremental upgrades.

The Edge display is something which can be classified as moderately to good in terms of new feature, and a lot will depend upon how third party players support it to make it a success story.

The VR headset is a first of its kind, and it will be some time for its polished content to emerge and fully exploit its prowess.

One of the cringe worthy feature is that the phones are woefully short on the onboard memory, and the maximum size limit for expandable memory card is painfully less as well. Samsung really should have addressed this issue.

Expecting the Note variants to be nothing short of Rs 45000, if Samsung decides to price Note 4 and Note Edge similarly, or within striking distance, buyers will do well to opt for the Note Edge.

Otherwise current users of Note 3 can easily stay a bit longer with their devices and wait for price cuts, as Note 4 doesn't bring enough killer features onboard to qualify for an automatic and an immediate upgrade.

Also See: Gadgets Special

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