Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 – What we know (and think we know)

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is one hell of a phone – a supercharged 5.7in monster that earned five stars in our review and has sat high up our Top 10 Smartphones list ever since. And we’re already so over it.

Fickle, maybe, but ever since the first rumours starting trickling in about the Galaxy Note 4 we’ve been counting down the days till its release. Read on to find out why we’re so excited.

DESIGN AND BUILD – BYE BYE, FAKE LEATHER

It would be fair to say that opinion was divided on the Galaxy Note 3’s fake leather back.

Our review, while praising the fact that it made for a much easier-to-hold device than the slippery Note II, also added that some might label it tacky. That’s something of an understatement, so the fact that its successor will definitely arrive with a different look will be welcomed by many.

Speaking to Reuters, Samsung’s senior vice president of product strategy Yoon Han-Ki stated that the Note 4 would arrive with a “new form factor”. Quite what that will involve is open to speculation, but at the very least we’d guess it will either mean a grippy, dimpled plastic back as seen on the Galaxy S5, or a more premium metal build of the type we expect to see on the Galaxy S5 Prime.

Either way, it’ll hopefully signal the end of Samsung’s brief dalliance with skeuomorphism.

We’d also expect the Note 4 to be fully dust- and water-proof. With seals over all of its sticky-in bits, the Galaxy S5 is waterproof to the IP67 standard, meaning it can survive a 1m dunking for up to 30 minutes. As long as Samsung can work out how to seal the slot where the Note 4’s Stylus sits, there’s really no reason why the tech wouldn’t make its way to the bigger phone.

SCREEN – twice as nice?

Here’s where things get really interesting. There are already plenty of rumours doing the rounds about the Note 4’s screen, and if they all come true we’ll be looking at one very special display.

Size-wise, we’re expecting a modest jump from the Note 3’s 5.7in to 5.8 or possibly 5.9in. Why? Well Samsung’s upped the Note’s screen size with each new version, from 5.3in on the original to 5.5in and then 5.7in. It’s also done the same with its flagship ‘S’ phones, from 4in to 4.3 to 4.8 to 5 and then to 5.1in on the S5. Leopards don’t change their spots, so we’d be amazed if the Note 4 didn’t get a bigger display.

More excitingly, it also looks like being Samsung’s first 2K phone (assuming the S5 Prime doesn’t arrive before it). At its Analyst Day conference last November, Samsung showed off a graph which indicated that it would launch a phone with a 2K screen – that’s 2560 x 1440 pixels – sometime in 2014. With the S5 sticking with a 1080p display, the Note 4 looks a good bet for the upgrade. And with LG having now confirmed that the LG G3 will itself feature a 2K display, there’ll be pressure on Samsung to follow suit on one of its flagship devices.

But there’s more.

SCREEN – 3 is the magic number?

The Note 4 could also arrive with – wait for it – a 3-sided display. Yes, really.

Rumours have been rife that the handset could feature a flexible screen which curves round the side of the device. The side displays would be used to either provide information – ticker-style notifications, weather forecasts, ‘song playing’ info etc – or to allow quick access to apps such as camera and instant messaging. The advantage would be that you could run a full app on the main display – a game or film, say – but easily see notifications without having to exit the app.

Sounds incredible, but the tech all exists. Samsung showed off a flexible ‘Youm’ screen at CES 2013, and has also demonstrated curved tech in the Samsung Galaxy Round phone. A patent recently revealed by Galaxy Club demonstrated just such a phone, and while there’s no guarantee that it will become reality on the Note 4, we can always cross our fingers and hope.

Plus, LG already has a premium device with a curved, flexible screen in the form of the LG G Flex. Samsung generally doesn’t like to play second fiddle to LG, and how better to trump it than with a 3-sided Note 4?

POWER – THE BEST YET?

Right now, your guess is as good as ours. Well maybe not quite as good as ours, but close. What we’re trying to say is that beyond reasoned speculation, we don’t know what the Note 4’s innards will consist of.

A report in The Korea Times hinted that Samsung was considering kitting out the Note 4 with a 64-bit processor of the kind found in the iPhone 5s, and also that it might feature speedy LTE-A tech. Beyond that, zilch.

What we can say is that the Note 4 will be a beast of a phone. The Note series has traditionally been Samsung’s most powerful device, and in an interview with Bloomberg, Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of the company’s mobile business, stated that the Note 4 would be “targeting consumers who want more professional use and tend to be willing to pay more for handsets.”

We’d expect either the Snapdragon 801 processor that you’ll find in the Galaxy S5 or even the Snapdragon 805, 4GB of RAM (the Note 3 has 3GB) and hopefully a nice big battery. MicroSD storage is a given, to supplement the 16/32/64GB that we’ll likely get within the device.

In short, it’ll be among the most powerful phones yet.

CAMERA – SPECIAL K?

The Note 3’s 13MP camera is a cracker, producing superb pictures which rival those from the LG G2. But expect the Note 4 to be even better. The Galaxy S5 got a spec-bump to 16MP plus a clever software mode that enables it to refocus shots after you’ve taken them. We’d be very surprised if the Note 4 didn’t get an upgrade to at least match the S5, but it’s quite possible it’ll surpass it.

The Galaxy K Zoom – Samsung’s new half-phone-half-zoom-lensed-camera – has a 20.7MP sensor, and it’s not impossible that’ll find its way into the Note 4. Here’s hoping.

The Note 3 can already shoot 4K video, so there’s not much more that can be improved on this front. 8K, anyone?

PRICING AND RELEASE DATE

The Note 4 will almost certainly be announced at the same time as the IFA 2014 show, which is due to kick off on 5 September.

All previous Note releases have coincided with the German tech show, so there seems no reason to expect any change this time round. As for pricing – well as we’ve already seen, Samsung are after the premium market here, so don’t expect it to come cheap.

As always, we’ll update this story with every new snippet of info we get, so keep checking back for the latest.

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