Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: Four of a kind

GSMArena team, 10 October 2014.

Gallery

The gallery on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 can be viewed by time or by album and filtered by several categories. Event is the basic view, which groups photos based on time and location, but it's the other modes that caught our interest.

The gallery can automatically filter all photos that have people in them, but it can do the same for pets, flowers, cars, scenery and even food. If you're the type to share what you're having for lunch on social networks, you'll be pleased to hear the app handles Facebook, Dropbox and Picasa out of the box.

Pinch zoom will change the size of the thumbnails and can also open and close individual photos. Batch operations are supported and that includes not just copy/delete but also image rotation.

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Gallery

The single photo view has several shortcuts for sharing (via an app or over DLNA). The Quick Connect button in the notification area will scan for all ways you can share something in the Gallery with nearby devices.

You can easily edit images right in the Gallery itself. The new Studio option is quite powerful and can do anything from basic editing and photo collages to creating and trimming videos. It also handles the post-processing of Shot & more photos.

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Editing images

The Gallery also supports highly customizable slideshows.

Images look great on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 display. By default it uses Adaptive display so that it adapts colors depending on the use case or app but you can choose any of the other three modes - AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo or Basic. AMOLED cinema is the most saturated, contrasty of them all, AMOLED photo is less colorful but with saturated colors still and Basic voids the display of its Super AMOLED look. AMOLED photo and Basic modes offer the truest whites, especially at an angle.

Music player

The TouchWiz music player on the Galaxy Note 4 is jam-packed with features and supports a wide variety of file formats, including FLAC. Music is sorted by several categories and you can hide some categories you don't need. Folder view is available and so is scanning for DLNA servers (Quick Connect helps with this).

The Now playing screen gives you the usual options: timescroll, playback controls, an AllShare shortcut. A coverflow-like list of album art lets you know what the next song will be and is an easy way to skip right to it. The music player will also try to find the lyrics for the song you're listening to.

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Music player

There's also the Music square - the phone scans your music library rating each track in terms of tempo (Exciting or Calm) and emotion (Passionate or Joyful). It can then load a playlist matching your chosen tempo and mood. The emotion axis in the graph can be switched to Age, which makes it easy to automatically create a playlist of classics or contemporary hits.

Samsung has enabled several audio-enhancement features. The SoundAlive equalizer presets are cleverly organized into a square similar to the Music Square. The presets balance between Treble and Bass, Vocals and Instrumental. You can also just tap the Auto toggle or enable a Tube amp effect, 7.1 channel virtualization, along with Studio, Club and Concert Hall effects.

The advanced equalizer view gives you a proper seven band equalizer you can tune manually and enable additional effects like 3D, Bass and Clarity.

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Sound Alive Equalizer Adapt sound

The list of audio features doesn't end there. Smart volume will keep the sound level consistent across tracks, while Adapt sound tests the performance of your headphones and tunes the equalizer based on that.

While listening to a song you can find music controls in the notification area and the lockscreen.

Abundant video player

The video player on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 handles files from the local storage and DLNA-compatible devices. Chapter preview lets you jump to a specific scene. If you hover the S Pen on top of a video file it will start playing in a popup.

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Video player Hovering S Pen over video

If subtitles are available, the video player will automatically find and load them. You can also manually load subtitles if the video and subtitle file names don't match.

You can change the zoom mode (100%, fit to screen width and without affecting the videos aspect ratio) and there's a pinch zoom too, in case you want to get close to a specific part of the action. Instead of zooming in, you can zoom out and turn the video into a floating window with the familiar Pop Up Play feature.

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Pop out video player

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 handles videos with ease. Thanks to its capable chipset it can play even the toughest of video at up to UHD resolution but had issues with some sound codecs - AC-3 was a constant bother, in some cases AAC sound codecs wouldn't produce sound as well.

Excellent audio quality

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 performance in our audio quality test was almost identical to that of its predecessor - the Galaxy Note 3.

The phablet aced the first part of our test, where it had to show how it works with an active external amplifier. The Galaxy Note 4 achieved excellent scores top to bottom and garnished them with nicely high volume levels - not HTC high, but good enough to keep pace with the rest.

Plug in a pair of headphones and some stereo crosstalk creeps in - it's not too bad, but notably worse than some competitors, once again, from the HTC lineup. Take those out however and the Galaxy Note 4 can match or beat just about every smartphone out there.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Samsung Galaxy Note 4+0.01, -0.04-96.693.40.0015 0.0086-94.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (headphones attached)+0.03, -0.02-96.893.50.011 0.035-55.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 3+0.02, -0.07-96.592.80.0035 0.0099-96.3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (headphones attached)+0.01, -0.09-96.292.70.017 0.017-62.1
Apple iPhone 6 Plus+0.04, -0.04-94.094.00.00130.0064-72.0
Apple iPhone 6 Plus (headphones attached)+0.10, -0.04-94.093.90.00160.087-64.1
HTC One Max+0.14, -0.14-93.893.80.0009 0.015-94.1
HTC One Max (headphones attached)+0.26, -0.02-93.693.60.026 0.080-80.4
LG G Pro 2+0.02, -0.23-93.894.20.0040 0.029-93.3
LG G Pro 2 (headphones attached)+0.07, -0.02-93.793.40.050 0.039-73.5

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 frequency response
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.