Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review

CPU And System Performance

In this section, we evaluate system-level performance by running a series of synthetic and real-world workloads, along with some browser-based Web tests. There are several facets to overall device performance, including single- and multi-threaded CPU performance, memory and storage speed, and GPU rendering, all of which will be probed by our suite of benchmarks. If you're interested in learning more about how these benchmarks work, what versions we use, or our testing methodology, please read our article about how we test mobile device system performance.

The Galaxy Note 4 uses the same Snapdragon 805 SoC as the Nexus 6, so we should see similar levels of performance. In Basemark OS II, they do indeed perform about the same. The Exynos 7420's four Cortex-A57 CPUs in the Galaxy S6 outperform the Note 4's older Krait 450 cores by 34% in the single- and multi-threaded CPU System test despite Krait's clock speed advantage. Interestingly, the Adreno 420 GPU in the Note 4 offers similar performance to the PowerVR GX6450 in the iPhone 6 Plus and the Mali T760MP8 in the GS6 for this OpenGL ES 2.0 based graphics test.

The Note 4 performs well overall in AndEBench, pulling ahead of the Nexus 6 in the 3D Graphics and CPU-centric Platform tests. In CoreMark-HPC, another test for single- and multi-threaded CPU performance, the GS6 once again outperforms the Note 4 by 31%. The GS6 also outperforms both Snapdragon 805 devices in the Memory Bandwidth test even though they all have the same theoretical max bandwidth of 25.6 GB/s.

We previously discussed the Nexus 6's storage performance issue, which results from using full disk encryption. It's no surprise then to see the Note 4 pull well ahead of it in this test. It is a little surprising to see it match the performance of the UFS 2.0 based NAND in the GS6 though.

In Geekbench, both the Note 4 and Nexus 6 perform virtually the same. Compared to the Snapdragon 801 phones, the Note 4's Krait CPU is clocked 8% higher and performs 6% to 14% better in the two single-core CPU tests depending on which device we're comparing. There's a wider 20% gap in memory performance over the 801, but in everyday use the Snapdragon 805's advantage will not really be noticeable.

On the surface, the Cortex-A57 CPU seems to give the GS6 a noticeable advantage over the Note 4 in single-core performance, posting a 50% higher integer score and a 34% higher floating point score. Remember however, that the A57 uses the newer 64-bit AArch64 ISA, which includes additional SIMD cryptography instructions. This was discussed in our Snapdragon 810 Performance Preview, where we broke down the performance gains in each Geekbench Integer subtest. If we remove the encryption tests, notably for AES and SHA1, then the GS6's advantage in single-core integer performance drops to 20%. The floating point delta stands, since it does not include any encryption tests.

Turning away from the synthetic benchmarks to a more realistic workload, the GS6's performance advantage drops to 13% overall. Breaking this down further shows the newer GS6 with a substantial 64% advantage in the Web Browsing test and 26% in the Writing test. The Note 4 manages to best the GS6 in the Video Playback test however.

Performance between the Note 4 and Nexus 6 is pretty close, with the Note 4 holding a slim lead in most workloads. Compared to the previous generation Snapdragon 801 in the LG G3, the Note 4 performs 25% better overall. The 805's advantage diminishes when compared to other 801 devices however: 20% better than the Sony Z3, 15% better than the HTC One (M8), and only 2% better than the Galaxy S5. Differences in CPU governor behavior accounts for the variation. For the G3, LG shows a preference for battery life over performance (likely to offset the effects of the QHD display) maintaining a lower average CPU frequency than the higher performing Galaxy S5.

There's no real performance difference between the Note 4 and Nexus 6 for web browsing. The performance delta between the Note 4 and the GS6 varies between essentially nothing in JSBench to 26% in Browsermark.

The Note 4 is a bit slower than the Nexus 6 when it comes to scrolling a web page and UI responsiveness in general. Where browser scrolling is mostly a smooth affair on the Nexus 6, there's definitely some stutter with the Note 4. When scrolling within a web page, the Note 4 sets the CPU frequency to 1190MHz compared to 1497MHz for the Nexus 6 running Android 5.1 (it used 1728MHz with Android 5.0). The two devices also use different touch input boost frequencies: 1267MHz for the Note 4 and 1497MHz for the Nexus 6. The smoother experience on the Nexus 6 comes at the expense of battery life however.

Overall, the Galaxy Note 4's system performance is very good, matching or slightly exceeding the performance of the similarly equipped Nexus 6. Since the Krait CPUs in Snapdragon 805 receive only an 8% bump in frequency, we don't see a substantial difference in performance between the Note 4 and the older Snapdragon 801 phones. And while the newer Galaxy S6 definitely offers better performance, the Note 4 really is not that far behind.

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  • kamhagh
    this came out long ago!
  • ZolaIII
    All in all nice review but I somehow feel you skipped a litle audio section. Not that I blame you much for it as Qualcomms solution is nothing special & it's far behind WolfsonMicro's WM5110 used on Exunos equipped models. Looks like you still didn't got to the bottom of bus frequency scaling dependencies on this Qualcomms SoC gen. ??
  • Vorador2
    Quote:
    this came out long ago!


    It's a tradition. Everybody reviews phones in the week before or after a phone is released.

    Tomshardware is better than that. Fashionably late to the party.
  • styx rogan
    this came out like 2 years ago
  • jafrugh
    Quote:
    Quote:
    this came out long ago!
    It's a tradition. Everybody reviews phones in the week before or after a phone is released. Tomshardware is better than that. Fashionably late to the party.


    Well if you think Toms's Hardware needs to be quicker on the draw for phone reviews, go to this article: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/mobile-editors-wanted,29105.html
  • vertexx
    What, did your sister site send you their press sample from last October?
  • Vlad Rose
    Quote:
    this came out long ago!


    I thought the same thing considering I'm using a Note 4 Edge right now... lol
  • alex davies
    Quote:
    this came out long ago!


    The difference between our review and others is that we tested the Note 4 running the Lollipop update, which only came out recently.

    We also compare its performance to newer devices such the Galaxy S 6, so you can see how the Note 4's older SoC compares to the latest and greatest.
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    All in all nice review but I somehow feel you skipped a litle audio section. Not that I blame you much for it as Qualcomms solution is nothing special & it's far behind WolfsonMicro's WM5110 used on Exunos equipped models. Looks like you still didn't got to the bottom of bus frequency scaling dependencies on this Qualcomms SoC gen. ??


    I agree with you regarding our audio testing. I'm definitely not happy with it. We need to acquire some testing equipment, but the hardware we found cost $30k!!! Needless to say, we're still using my ears, because they're cheap.

    If you, or any of our readers, could point me towards some audio testing equipment that mere mortals can afford, please PM me.

    I did not investigate the bus scaling on the Note 4, partly because this review was finished by then and partly because the Note 4 did not exhibit "unusual" behavior. We will be examining this for the GS6.

    - Matt H.
  • 10tacle
    Nice review and very useful to people like me needing an upgrade after skipping two generations of smart phones. I usually keep mine 3 years, and my Droid Bionic is like running a Core 2 Duo desktop these days. I'm still debating between the Note or Galaxy. Apples are out because 1) I don't like the fact that the battery *cannot* be removed to completely shut the phone off, and 2) no MicroSD slot for memory expansion.

    There will come a time when all smart phones from all manufacturers no longer allow SD memory upgrades, and I think that time is coming sooner rather than later. After all, one can go buy a 128GB $100 MicroSD card, but if Apple users want a 128GB phone, they have to shell out another $200 clams from the base 16GB model, and they don't get the extra "free" GB memory to start with after upgrading that came with the Android.

    But with that said, there are some people reporting about overheating and battery drain with their Note 4. Battery drain can be a problem with the provider though like a cell tower being down. Plus, the Note 5 is coming in a few months, possibly in July. I'm hoping it still has an SD slot otherwise I'll get the 4 and hope the serious overheating and battery drain reports are a fluke.
  • Cash091
    Rumored 980Ti benchmarks pop up today, wonder what Toms has to say...

    ...Note 4 review...

    Hm... Maybe chrome didn't update the site. What's the date of the article? May 22nd... hmm....
  • Vlad Rose
    202972 said:
    I'm still debating between the Note or Galaxy. Apples are out because 1) I don't like the fact that the battery *cannot* be removed to completely shut the phone off, and 2) no MicroSD slot for memory expansion.


    That excludes the Galaxy 6/ 6 edge as well then. Those were 2 deciding factors for me as well when I accidentally broke my last phone. Samsung decided to be more Apple like with their 6 and removed the MicroSD card slot and removable battery option. As I result, I ended up with a Note 4 edge.

    There are rumors though that there will be 'pro' version of the 6 that adds those 2 features back in.
  • 10tacle
    Yeah I knew the G6 was out, but I would not rule out getting a G5 for dirt cheap. It's still better than what I have now. I'd rather spend my money on PC tech anyway like I just did with $350 on a second GTX 970 for SLI (and got two free games with it, Witcher 3 and Batman Arkham Knight when it is released...yaaay!).
  • JOSHSKORN
    Can we get a review of the TRS-80??
  • whiteodian
    Too much bloat. It's a nice phone for sure, but layer on the AT&T, then Samsung's crap and it gets a little sluggish. I had my work buy me this phone and it just isn't quite as snappy as my old Nexus 4 (yes, my Nexus 4). What really pisses me off is that I got the Android Jelly Bean update. When I was prompted for the update, I said no, I didn't want to update. I plugged the phone in and went to bed. Woke up to the mess that is Android 5.0.1 and a wonderfully reduced battery life. Maybe about 33% less battery time. I need to root this thing.
  • becomecooler
    I think I'll wait 3 months and see what the Note 5 has to offer.
  • NormM67
    What's with all this Galaxy vs Note talk. Both the Note 4 and S6 are 'Galaxies'. Get it right guys...
  • Master0Fevil22
    I have and Love the Note 4. Kudos to Samsung on this one!

    TO THE AUTHOR,

    "Irregardless" is not a word. If something is regardless of xxxx, then x is going to happen anyway. If it were Not regardless (aka irregardless) then it wouldn't be anything at all. This hurts my brain. Please stop using this "word".

    Thank you
  • 10tacle
    Quote:
    What's with all this Galaxy vs Note talk. Both the Note 4 and S6 are 'Galaxies'. Get it right guys...


    Okay....Note 4, Galaxy 6 it is for comparison. I think most non-anal people knew what I was referring to, but whatever.
  • g00ey
    If you want to know what's really bad with this phone, or cons if you will I can add the following:

    1. On those later generations of Samsung phones there is a fuse that will get blown if one roots the phone or installs custom firmware on it (warranty void flag 0x1). This fuse will remain blown even if one restores the phone back to unrooted stock firmware. Towelroot can no longer circumvent this flag as it did with prior Samsung devices, yet, and who knows when it will be able to do it once again! The consequences of this blown fuse is that Samsung Knox won't work and so won't Samsung Pay. Also, this will make Samsung void warranty in countries where it is legal for Samsung to do so.This is a really BAD business practice! A smartphone today is no different than a computer, so imagine if Microsoft did the same thing with computer hardware. Microsoft locks down the hardware and denies the end-user admin privileges (i.e. root). The secure-boot "feature" of the UEFI was strongly moot and is now abandoned by private desktop and notebook users. Also, Apple tried the same 'warranty void' trick with the jailbreak thing and they lost while Samsung is so far roaming free, at least in the U.S..

    2. The way the update to Lollipop is handled. Many users experience substantial issues with the update from KitKat, mostly with the apps that stop working after the update. There is no readily available option to seamlessly revert back to KitKat and downgrading to the prior firmware means that all data will be lost and all settings need to be reconfigured manually. Setting the updates to 'automatic' means that update from KitKat to Lollipop will happen automatically without asking the user first. This means that the phone will be unavailable for half an hour whether you like it or not. On Windows 7, automatic update may mean that the updates are checked automatically and upon availability the user will be notified and prompted before download and install. This is not the case with the Note 4. Lollipop is indeed an improvement over previous versions of Android, but just not on Samsung devices. Samsung has failed with TouchWiz and pretty much f*cked things up here. There is also no way to disable those update notifications should you opt to stay with 4.4.4.

    3. Bug history and version history. Samsung is really bad at documenting and following up on things on the version history. I guess that there are several builds of say KitKat 4.4.4 featuring different updates to TouchWiz and other Samsung-specific parts of the operating system. But there is no way for the user to know what has changed with the different builds, he is completely left in the dark.