IFA: Samsung Launches Galaxy Note 4 Phablet

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Samsung looks to tempt users with the next generation Galaxy Note, and ditches the plastic casing

Samsung has unveiled a plethora of improvements and finally ditched plastic in the design of the latest version of its Galaxy Note phablet.

It comes as the company seeks a solid seller ahead of the launch of the long-rumoured, large-screened Apple iPhone 6, and slower-than-expected uptake of its flagship device, the Galaxy S5.

Galaxy Note 4

The electronics giant revealed its new large-screen Galaxy Note 4 at the IFA trade show in Berlin on Wednesday. Most notably, it has had its plastic casing replaced with a metal frame, lending a more premium feel to the device. The previous Note 3 had a faux leather back and plastic shell, and critics would often complain of its plasticky feel.

Note4The 5.7 inch screen is a Quad HD Super AMOLED display (2,560 x 1,440) housed within a aluminium frame surrounding a plastic chassis. Dimensions are 152 x 80 x 7.6 mm and it weights 163g. This means it is both thinner and lighter than its predecessor.

Under the hood, Samsung has increased the power as the device now boasts a quad core 2.3GHz Qualcomm 805 processor, compared to the Note 3’s 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800. It also comes with the same fingerprint sensor as the S5, and a heart rate sensor on the back.

The 13MP rear camera has been increased to the 16MP, still some way short of the Lumia 1050 for example. The front-facing camera has been upgraded from 2MP to 3.7MP, and likewise the battery has been improved.

Samsung also says the new Note 4 has an improved pen stylus, and in an effort to attract gamers, the company also unveiled an immersive virtual reality headset.

The headset is called the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition  – powered by Facebook-owned Oculus, this accessory uses the Note as a high-resolution 3D-enabled screen, and its sensors as a motion-controled interface. This allows the user to use the device for gaming and watching movies.

Big Seller Needed

But has the new Note done enough to be the much-needed growth driver for Samsung going forward?

“I think this is mostly an incremental change,” Forrester analyst Thomas Husson told Reuters. “What is missing is a total experience on top of the device to really differentiate in the interchangeable Android device ecosystem,” he said, referring to the closely coupled software and services Samsung needs to distinguish its devices from dozens of cheaper rivals.

“It is an acknowledgement that Samsung took a wrong turn with the move into plastic cases and that its designs didn’t move fast enough to keep pace with many competitors,” added Ben Wood, a mobile industry analyst with CCS Insight.

“The importanceNote4Edge of metal cases is that it directly translates into bigger, edge-to-edge screens.”

Samsung is in need of a strong seller, after it recently posted a 20 percent fall in net profits, amid a slowdown in the saturated smartphone market, coupled with intense handset competition. In China for example, Samsung has been overtaken by Xiaomi in the last quarter.

There is no UK prices announced, but the previous Note 3 is on sale for approximately £400, so users should expect to pay slightly more for the Note 4. Samsung also used the same event to unveil the Galaxy Note Edge.

This is an interesting development, as the slightly smaller screen is curved on the right-hand side of the device. Essentially, the main screen is flat like previous phones, but the right edge extends and curves until it reaches the back.

This unique curved touchscreen is to allow the user quick access to frequently used apps, alerts and device functionality. The curved screen can also display notifications at the top and bottom, even when the user is viewing a video.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 4

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