Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: Four of a kind

Four of a kind

GSMArena team, 10 October 2014.

Display goes QHD

As customary for the series, the display of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is the highlight feature alongside the S Pen support. This is the first year when the diagonal remains unchanged at 5.7", but the resolution got a massive boost to QHD - 2560 x 1440 pixels. This means that despite its ample surface, the Super AMOLED panel offers a mind-blowing 515ppi - way above the 300ppi Retina threshold and easily better than any of its direct rivals.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The QHD screen is a beauty to behold

Samsung has again went for the diamond-shaped PenTile matrix, although given the sheer number of pixels their sub-pixel arrangement will hardly affect the perceivable sharpness of the screen.

Here's how the layout looks under a microscope. The diamond-shaped PenTile uses OLED sub-pixels of different sizes as each color has different levels of power efficiency and longevity. Sub-pixel rendering is employed to properly distribute each of the primary colors.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The default screen mode comes to underline the Super AMOLED panel's key strength, high contrast, by producing overly saturated colors that make every image look like it's going to pop out of the frame. Yet if you are a professional that requires absolutely accurate colors or simply aren't a fan of the slightly unrealistic images there's the professional photo mode, which turns the panel into a proper photographic tool - with colors as true as possible.

The Samsung AMOLED panels have been improving at a great pace with each new generation and this latest effort is further proof of that. Giving you a choice between saturation and accuracy, and comfortably beating its rivals at either end is an impressive achievement, but with the inherent AMOLED strengths in the equation, you get arguably the most impressive screen in the market.

Yep, the practically infinite native contrast and the low reflectivity that makes sure you enjoy most of it in brighter environments are still here, alongside the impeccable viewing angles. There isn't much else one can wish for.

But enough words, let's give you some more numbers. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, as we said, has a practically unlimited contrast ratio, as it's capable of displaying black by simply turning off individual pixels - AMOLEDs light up only the parts of the screen that display a color different than black.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 0 291 0 399
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 0 149 0 379
Apple iPhone 6 0.17 207 1230 0.61 740 1213
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 0.17 208 1197 0.52 705 1361
LG G3 0.14 109 763 0.72 570 789
Samsung Galaxy S5 0 274 0 529
Oppo Find 7 0.22 248 1135 0.4 448 1123


The Super AMOLED panel on the Galaxy Note 4 isn't the brightest when compared to some LCDs, but it can go higher than its predecessor. Note that some users report that the Auto Brightness mode can push the brightness higher than the brightness slider would allow you to. We didn't observe this in our test lab.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows Phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Under direct sunlight, the Galaxy Note 4 is able to retain excellent contrast and stay legible even in the most brightly lit environments.

You can find all about our display testing routines here.

Redesigned S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes with a redesigned S Pen, which is notably slimmer than the one inside the Galaxy Note 3, while retaining the same elliptical shape. The slimmer body would have made it a bit hard to handle, but Samsung has successfully offset this by adding fine ridges on its surface, improving the grip.

The overall result is on par with the previous generation - the new S Pen has very similar handling, while the button on its side isn't much different either. This is to say it's not exactly the most comfortable button around - far from it - but it's about as good as can be expected given the size of the stylus.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The updated S Pen handles similarly to its predecessor

Along with the S Pen, Samsung has also replaced the Wacom digitizer on the Galaxy Note 4 itself, making it more sensitive. The new digitizer can recognize 2048 different pressure levels - double that of predecessor and, while you won't be able to actually make 2 thousand lines of different thickness, you definitely gain more control and handwriting feels even more natural now.

Battery life test

The battery life was a bit of a question mark hanging over the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, considering the screen resolution has nearly doubled, with the battery capacity remaining almost unchanged. 3,220mAh sounds like a pretty ample battery, but we were curious how it compared to the stellar endurance of its predecessor.

As it turns out, our worries were in vain as Samsung has done more than enough on the back-end to compensate for the new more powerful chipset and the higher-res screen. The new phablet managed to last longer than the Galaxy Note 3 by just over 10h, posting the overall great score of 87h.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

UPDATE: After Samsung updated the Galaxy Note 4 to Android 5.0.1 Lollipop we decided to run a new test and found that the phablet is a little more enduring on the new firmware. The differences are very subtle - the call test was exactly the same, the browsing test was a little better and finally the video test was superior by the most points. Add the great stand-by and we get 3 hours more on Lollipop.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (Lollipop)

An important note is due here though - while the Galaxy Note 4 score is excellent, the competition has moved forward too, so its rating isn't as impressive as it would've been last season. Our proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our battery test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating.

Learn how we test here. You can also see our detailed battery life post for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 here.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

  • Anonymous

Why may note4 is poor signal. Even my data. :(

  • Anonymous

Samsung Galaxy Note 4