The Case for the Samsung Note

 Courtesy Samsung

Samsung knows big screens. Since the company released the Note a few years ago, users have grown familiar with the series’ larger design well before the iPhone 6 Plus hit shelves (and before Samsung released ubiquitous, pun-filled commercials). And aside from its size, the new Galaxy Note 4’s vibrant 5.7-inch display (the 6 Plus measures 5.5 inches) shames the puny pixel count of the competition with Super AMOLED technology that yields a seriously impressive resolution of 2560 x 1440, if anybody cares to count that high.

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The Note 4 feels more solid than its older siblings, despite sharing a removable plastic back that now comes in a faux-leather finish, which is easier to handle when it’s cradled in the palm of your hand. You can replace the battery with a couple of snaps of the frame, then charge the depleted one. Appearance aside, the Note 4’s leg up on the competition is its Gorilla Glass-encased display. Websites jump out more boldly, and colors are deeper and richer than ever, which was especially evident when streaming video. Another distinguishing feature is the device’s stylus, which took a little getting used to, but it proved superior to our fingertips. It doesn’t take much effort to jot a quick handwritten memo on the touchscreen, or use the “action” button to execute commands (the screen is twice as touch-sensitive as its predecessor).

Think the Note 4 is too big to handle without using all ten fingers? It allows you to shrink app windows by dragging them diagonally. The main screen can display any number of apps, documents, or calendar entries, freeing you to tap or type without having to hold it with both hands. In our tests, we noticed the phone hardly dragged and was more than user-friendly, especially when we wanted to take photos. Its 16MP camera comes with a dual-LED flash and a new Optical Image Stabilization system, which smoothes out jittery snapshots and elongates exposure time in low light to produce clear images. And the front-facing camera has a 90-degree lens, the better to include you, your crew, and even your favorite photo-bomber in all of those cherished selfies.

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Under the hood is a formidable engine — a 3220mAh battery, which should last you the entire day, unless you’re binging on Netflix with the screen at its brightest setting. Also good news is the inclusion of a rapid-charging cable that delivers 50 percent of the battery’s capacity in just half an hour. And if you are any bit paranoid about security, the fingerprint scanner gets to knows you like your own mother. Another notable feature is the heart monitor, in addition to Samsung’s S Health app. Unlike your mom, it will not admonish you to finish your vegetables, but it measures calories burned, steps taken, and even dietary behavior.

Sure, the Galaxy Note 4 is not cheap — the 32GB version runs around $700 without a contract, $299 when you make a two-year commitment to a carrier — but its cinema-quality display is well worth the price of admission alone. [samsung.com]