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printed October 23, 2017
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Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 for AT&T

Form Performance Basics S Pen Extras Wrap-Up Comments  15  

Screen

The Note 4 has the same 5.7-inch screen size as the Note 3, but jumps from 1080p HD to quad-HD resolution. That means the screen goes from 2 million pixels to 3.7 million pixels, all crammed into the same dimensions. To call it amazing would be an understatement. The resolution is flat-out incredible. Everything on the screen is razor sharp. Samsung stuck to Super AMOLED technology for the panel. It's very bright and I had no trouble using it indoors or outdoors - even on a sunny afternoon. Viewing angles are superb; there's no change in brightness or color when the phone is moved around. Samsung's Super AMOLED displays do tend to over-saturate colors, and that's readily apparent on the Note 4. Colors look almost unnaturally strong. Despite pushing the colors a bit, you simply can't ask for a better display.

Signal

Our review unit performed very well on AT&T's network in and around New York City. It remained connected to LTE nearly 100% of the time. I saw it dip down to HSPA only a handful of times in areas where AT&T's cell sites were likely over capacity (such as a concert, sporting event, etc.) I didn't have any trouble making calls or surfing the web even when under the weakest coverage in the tri-state area. Data was definitely slower in those conditions, but still decent. The Note 4 did not drop or miss any calls during the review period. I'd call it an excellent cellular device.

Sound

I'd rate phone calls at just above average on the Note 4. The quality of calls ranged from crummy to really good, with most falling in the "OK" spot. Some people I spoke to sounded a bit robotic, and there was interference on several occasions. Earpiece volume is quite good, however. I had no trouble hearing calls in all but the loudest spaces. For example, the raucous crowd of a professional soccer game was unable to drown out a call. The Note 4 has noise elimination, which means the same crowd was inaudible to the person on the other end of the line. This feature can be turned on or off. The speakerphone isn't quite as loud as I'd like it to be, and the quality of calls definitely dips a little bit. I've heard louder, higher-quality speakerphones for sure (think HTC's BoomSound). Ring tones and alerts are generally quite loud. I didn't miss any calls for not hearing the ringer. Incoming bleeps and blurps for text messages and emails are also attention-grabbing. I thought the vibrate alert was a touch on the weak side. It's fine if the phone is in a tight pocket, but you might miss it otherwise.

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Battery

The Note 4 has a massive 3,200 battery packed inside. It provides an adequate power supply for the Note 4, though it's not quite as good as the iPhone 6 Plus. The quad HD display requires lots of power. When I checked what was draining the Note 4's battery, the screen was most often the main culprit. All that said, I routinely achieved a full day's use from the Note 4 without waver. If I unplugged it at 8am, it generally had 30% power left by the time I went to bed around midnight.

Like many modern smartphones, the Note 4 has several tools to help manage battery life. The phone has both "Power Saver" and "Extreme Power Saver" modes available. The former covers the basics, such as dimming the screen and turning off extraneous apps and radios when not in use. The latter takes a more aggressive approach and shuts down major systems. It can grey-scale the screen, simplify user interface, and otherwise lock down anything beyond the core communications tools to save battery life. Most people people, however, shouldn't have to go to these extremes in order to get a full day from their Note 4.

The Note 4 uses Samsung's quick-charge technology. It can achieve a 50% charge in just 30 minutes when used with the included charger. The device also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, and will charge expediently when used with QuickCharge 2.0-compliant chargers. Samsung recommends Note 4 owners use the included charger when possible.

Last, the Note 4 does support wireless charging when fitted with an optional rear cover.

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