Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review – the best in the big smartphone business

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Samsung’s range of Note devices has blazed a trail for big-screen smartphones, but it wasn’t until the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 appeared this time last year that it really nailed the formula. Twelve months on, it isn’t surprising that its successor – the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – is more of a refinement than a dramatic overhaul. See also: the best smartphones of 2014.

The screen is the same size as its predecessor’s – 5.7in across the diagonal – and from the front it doesn’t look awfully different. A closer look reveals the Note 4 is slightly taller (by 2mm), narrower across the front (by 1mm) and the same thickness, 8.5mm from front to back. It’s a large phone, but not unmanageable, and to our mind it’s a little easier to hold than the more slippery Apple iPhone 6 Plus. For a phone with a screen this big, it’s a decent compromise, although not the easiest thing to hold in one hand. Visit: the best Android phones of 2014 too.
In terms of looks, it’s all change: the Note 4 does away with the Note 3’s slightly cheesy faux leather stitching in favour of cleaner, curved edges, and it also moves on from the ribbed, plastic chrome edging of its forebear. Just like the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, the Note 4 is framed with robust, luxurious-feeling aluminium, complete with shiny, exposed bevelled edges that catch light attractively.

All-round, it’s a solid-feeling and handsome handset, and it’s practical as well. The screen is topped with Gorilla Glass 4 for scratch and shatter resistance, and, in true Samsung style, the plastic rear panel at the rear clips off to reveal the phone’s micro-SIM slot and a huge, removable 3,220mAh battery. The Note 4 also has a microSD slot – capable of accepting cards up to 128GB in capacity – which is a relief, since Samsung removed this feature from the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. One2more

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