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Reader Ratings And Advice: Flagship Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The Samsung Galaxy Note series is usually highly rated, and the Note 4 doesn't disappoint. It received an average score of 4.5 from our readers; most gave the device a 4 or a 5, but there were some 3's and even some 1's from those who still can't stand Samsung's software interface and its build materials. We received input on the Note 4 from 107 readers.

The qualities that best define the Note 4 include its excellent quad-HD (2560 x 1440) Super AMOLED display, fast performance and unique S Pen. Note 4 owners even report that the S Pen is significantly better, and more natural to use, than the one on older Note devices.

Samsung's cameras are usually quite good and competitive as well, but the company seems to have outdone itself with the Note 4's camera. Many of our readers were pleasantly surprised with how good the Note 4's camera is, making the gap between smartphone camera and DSLR even smaller. The battery life seems great, too, with some users saying that it can last up to two days with moderate usage.

Samsung's phones aren't known for having the best build materials, but some of our readers said that the new metal frame the company put in the Note 4 at least makes it feel much better than previous Samsung phones.

The biggest con of the Note 4 remains the TouchWiz software, which many readers said is too heavy. The device also comes with too much bloatware preinstalled, which affects a large portion of both internal storage and RAM out of the box. Some Note 4 owners even wish Samsung would have put 64GB of storage in the device by default so they would have more room left for their own apps, and also because the Note 4 is meant to be a productivity phone. It's also a device capable of 4K video recording, which can end up filling the storage quite quickly.

One small annoyance seems to be the high price of the phone, but most users seem to be willing to pay the cost for such a high-end device.

If you're a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 owner and you haven't given us your feedback yet, the form is still available. Below, you can see some of our readers' most representative comments for this device.

Top Ten Comments:

Comment: "I personally like this phone. The features are great. S pen is much more usable that the older notes. The camera is fantastic. Not quite a DSLR, but the capabilities are approaching the small hand held stand alone cameras. There is no option for more home screens. You only get 4. This forces the users to place everything into folders for use and organization. It makes a one step process turn into two to get an app running. The display is fantastic. I’m going to have to get a stronger pair of readers to get the most out of it. Fit and finish are OK. There is some gaps at the top where the glass mates with the frame. Dirt and debris gets caught in it, making it somewhat annoying. The battery life is fantastic compared to my old note. So I'm deciding to keep the phone. It’s an expensive toy and somewhat overkill for a smartphone, but you only live once. Enjoy it."

Comment: "I have owned many smartphones, most notable every iPhone since the 3G, and the Galaxy Note 4 blows them all out of the water in every aspect.I love the screen, it is honestly the best display that I've ever seen in my life. The touch responsiveness and accuracy is very high as well. I think most people take it for granted, but I remember the days of the Blackberry with the tactile feel (the whole screen would flex/click when you press down on it *shudders*), and it is a noticeable improvement over the iPhone 5. Also Samsung managed to fit more hardware, with a bigger screen, in a physically smaller phone than the iPhone 6 plus. Combine that with an unbelievably stable build of their touchwiz UI on 4.4.4 and it honestly rivals iOS.The only things that I don't like about the Note 4 are the preinstalled bloatware, and some of the more useful features require some digging around in the menus as well as remembering where said settings are, in order to fully utilize them."

Comment: "Screen Resolution is great. Processor is very fast.Setup was easy and was able to get all my software and files moved over easily. Volume is as good as other smartphones (still wish somebody could make these tiny speakers sound a little bit better when listening to music.. :)"

Comment: "Beautiful screen, excellent build quality and decent upgrade from the Note 3 but not as much of an upgrade to entice Note 3 users. It feels more like a Note 3.5 rather than a Note 4 but it's hard to improve on what was a great product."

Comment: "Great phone - very fast and very usable within my working envirnonment.Bloatware will eat up more than 70% of the memory on startup. Knox security is problematic when rooting the device."

Comment: "The screen is great, the stylus works naturally and fluidly, the camera is better than I expected and has me taking an interest on learning more about photography. The Battery life typically lasts me two full days at work with no charge (streaming music via bluetooth, wifi on, answering calls, responding to emails etc no gaming). the only thing I'm not fond of is touchwiz which isnt as invasive as it used to be. I immediately loaded up aviate to avoid the touchwiz "home". The speaker sucks for dedicated music but I'd never use it for that anyways..."

Comment: "Great build, great features, great hardware, mediocre software less-than-pleasing price."

Comment: "I don't like the carrier bloatware or the sluggish response of TouchWiz. An unlocked Google play edition of this phone with stock Android would probably dominate everything else on the market, performance wise. I also don't like the meager storage capacity -- why does everybody seem suck in a rut on phone storage? A phone of this caliber should have at least 64gb and probably more like 128gb min."

Comment: "Love the screen response, size, resolution.Plenty of storage space and RAM.Still getting used to the S-pen.It is the perfect size, until you put a case on it. Then it's no longer a one-hander.The bundled S-health apps are great encouragement for a more fit life.For movies, games and other graphics, very quick. Great engine under the hood."

Comment: "Overall I think this is a great phone, screen res bright and clean and crisp and looks class. Audio is lacking in depth, and also missed a trick with not launching with new android version. The lack of branding as a 64bit processor might have made the closeness of launch to the Alpha more of a stand out feature. Also the lack of peripherals at launch is another sore point, cases and screen protectors etc are a major add-on purchase, and Samsung have missed a trick by not having these available at launch too."

Comment: "Improved screen, camera, build, and processor compared to its predecessor. 64gb storage default would have been nice given its emphasis on media and productivity."

Comment: "Camera is great!, Screen is Great! but Needs a better finger print scanner. also like the metal case edges, makes it feel much more premium"

Comment: "Best phablet, best stylus support. Samsung touchwiz bloat prevents this getting a 5."

Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.
  • Janithdalw
    In my opinion best phones are,

    The best Hardware => iPhone 6 Plus

    The best Phablet => Note 4

    The overall the best phone => Note 4

    Better value for money => OnePlus One

    I don't know why Tom'shardware added the G3 into the list. It has a poor battery life and the display also not so good despite the 2K resolution. I would rather replace it with the Z3.
    Reply
  • Vorador2
    I'd say:

    If you have deep pockets and want a phone that provides a great (if constricted) experience, get the iPhone 6

    If you want a design that can turn heads and feel rock solid at the same time, get the One M8. Or better, wait for the upcoming refresh.

    If you can get an invite, get the OnePlus One. It's hard to get ahold of an unit, but it's probably the best device in relation to cost, and best device all around. If you can't, get the Moto G.

    And if you want the best big phone/phablet of the market, get the Note 4.
    Reply
  • Tomtompiper
    If you want a good phone around the size of an iPhone 6 go with the Sony Z3 Compact, it beats the iPhone hands down. I like big screens so my choice was the Note 4, and I'm very happy with my decision. The S pen is fantastic and the video quality is outstanding. If I was being ultra critical I would ask that the plastic inserts in the metal frame were better colour coordinated. http://www.gsmarena.com/compare.php3?idPhone1=6538&idPhone2=6378
    Reply
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    Tom's, where is the Sony Xperia Z3 (and the smaller Z3 Compact?) I feel that you're missing out on what I feel is the best phone, with the best camera and, in my opinion, the least amount of customization to Android and what customization there is, is extremely intuitive useful.

    Or is this a primarily a US-based line-up, where you'll have to list the Xperia Z3v, the Verison version, which I don't think is on par with the international Z3?

    @Tomtompiper: I miss my stylus from the P990i days... :-)

    Thank you.
    Andrew
    South Africa
    Reply
  • Matous Mojzis
    Where is Sony Z3 or Z3 Compact ?
    Reply
  • wtfxxxgp
    I think that you should have done a very brief survey for all respondents to first complete before commenting on the handsets. That could have provided better context for the results. Not sure if this was done or not to be honest, but if not, then it would surely add value. Just as an example, 2 users have completely opposite opinions about battery life - yet the one uses the phone more for work-related activities, sees the occasional small video and chats - no gaming or movies or tinkering with apps and does not have LTE connectivity so doesn't use it. The other person that hates the battery is a heavy gamer when they're bored, or watches a full episode or 2 of a series on the daily commute and tinkers a lot with new apps etc. Suddenly very obvious why one person says that the battery life is great compared to the other one that thinks it sucks.
    Reply
  • firefoxx04
    Weird. My S5 has no lag even with "restrict cpu performance" enabled to increase battery life.

    The bloatware isnt even active.. its just installed and hangs out.
    Reply
  • randomstar
    I am a bit biased towards windows phones, and would love to see at least one of the top models here. I have not found anything that I feel compares well against my older 928 Nokia on the new iPhone.
    Reply
  • beetlejuicegr
    Where is the Nexus line?
    Reply
  • Lkaos
    Funny people saying an iPhone has the best sound when the phone's speakers are MONO and not STEREO....

    Reply