Ph­ablet king

Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY -

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Also con­sider: am­sung birthed the ph­ablet (too big to be a phone, too small to be a tablet) mar­ket with the f i rst Note de­vice in 2011. De­spite much ridicule, the Note has been a niche suc­cess. Its lat­est ver­sion is big­ger than ever and our re­view unit sports a white ‘ leather’ back that re­sem­bles sty­ro­foam. It’s a bulky, ugly mon­stros­ity of a gad­get. And I love it.

De­spite its large size, thanks to a mas­sive 5.7” screen, the Note 4 is sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able to hold and use – even with one hand. Once you’ve made the fin­ger ad­just­ments nec­es­sary for phones larger than 4” you’re in com­pen­sa­tion ter­ri­tory any­way, and the Note 4’s slim body makes han­dling quite doable even if it still takes up more space in a pocket than most peo­ple will be com­fort­able om­fort­able with.

Sam­sung still has no class when it comes to in­dus­trial de­sign. sign. The Note 4 feels pla­s­ticky and thee plas­tic leather back is hor­ren­dous – prob­a­bly the worst piece of plas­tic ever at­tached to cir­cuitry. How­ever, the company has cleaned up its act on the soft­ware front.

Whereas pre­vi­ous re­vi­ous Gala x y dev i ces pre­sented an abom­i­na­tion of An­droid, clut­tered up with bloat­ware and Sam­sung’s Touch­wiz ouch­wiz (the name is your f irstrst clue) user in­ter­face, the Note 4 is re­fresh­ingly dif­fer­ent. Much of the bloat­ware is still there, but it isn’t in your face and the in­ter­face has been ti­died up quite a bit. I’d still pre­fer to use the stan­dard, outof-the box An­droid in­ter­face you get from Google, but I’m ac­tu­ally okay with Sam­sung’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion thereof.

The other thing that sets the Note 4 apart is its sty­lus, which Sam­sung calls the ‘S Pen’ and can be used for in­ter­ac­tion in­stead of your fin­gers. The S Pen has al­ways been one of the most sen­si­tive and ac­cu­rate styli avail­able for mo­bile de­vices and on the Note 4 it’s bet­ter than ever. Sam­sung also in­cludes its Pen.Up! app for shar­ing art you’ve cre­ated on the Note with other users and it’s amaz­ing to see what is pos­si­ble with this de­vice.

The S Note soft­ware has also been im­proved and syncs with popular cloud ser­vice Ever­note. With S Pen in hand, this makes the Note 4 a pro­duc­tiv­ity pow­er­house, es­pe­cially for cre­ative pro­fes­sion­als. You can take pic­tures and doo­dle on them, at­tach notes to PDFs, sign doc­u­ments or just about any other pur­pose you could imag­ine for a dig­i­tal pen.

Bat­tery life is also re­mark­ably good on the Note 4, but the caveat here is that it takes very long to charge when us­ing stan­dard power sources like your lap­top’s USB ports. Sam­sung in­cludes a “rapid charger” in the box, and you’ll want this close at hand for charg­ing the Note 4 – with­out it, it will take the bet­ter part of an af­ter­noon to charge up.

As a sum of its parts, the Note 4 is a ter­ri­ble propo­si­tion. But as a whole this is one of the best An­droid phones I’ve used. I gen­er­ally don’t like over­sized screens, but the Note 4 pulls it off com­mend­ably. The S Pen is a wel­come ad­di­tion and the whole ex­pe­ri­ence of us­ing the de­vice is pleas­ant. This may also just be tes­ta­ment to how far An­droid has come since its nasty, frag­mented early days, but there’s prob­a­bly more to it than that. The Note 4 has a cult fol­low­ing and I’m start­ing to un­der­stand why.

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