Samsung’s New Phlagship Phablet
The Note 4′s removable battery is an ample 3,220mAh unit, and the company touts its “Rapid Charge” feature, which can juice the battery 50 percent in 30 minutes. Similar to the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Tab S, the phablet also has an “Ultra Power Saver” mode that the company claims can last 24 hours with just 10 percent battery life.
I can say with confidence that it feels good in the hand. The metal-framed Note 4 has a soft faux-leather back like its predecessor, but there’s no fake stitching this time around. Its S Pen also works more like a mouse on this version; you click the stylus’s side button and drag the pen across text to highlight it, and the same actions allow you to drag-and-drop onscreen items precisely. Along with the user-accessible battery, there’s also a microSD slot that lets you add up to 64GB of extra storage.
All the Note 4 specifics haven’t been revealed just yet. Samsung says it will be available with a 2.7GHz quad-core CPU (likely to be a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chip, although Samsung wouldn’t comment on the specifics) and with dual quad-core CPUs like the Exynos-based Galaxy Tab S. The pricing has yet to be announced, but the phone will launch on all all four major U.S. carriers in October.
Gear VR: A Phablet-Driven Oculus Rift
Built-in lenses with a 96-degree field of view sit between your eyes and the screen, and there’s a touchpad on the headset’s right temple for navigating on-face menus. The sides of the mask also host volume controls and a menu-back button, and there’s a focus-adjust wheel on top. The whole thing clings to your face with Velcro straps.
It is much, much more immersive than you’d expect from a phablet strapped to your face. I experienced a four-part demo that included 360-degree footage of a Coldplay concert, an Avengers virtual environment, a playable space game, and mild-nausea-inducing helicopter videos that made me feel like I was floating hundreds of feet off the ground at high speeds. I’ve done similar demos with the Oculus Rift, and I’d be hard-pressed to find a difference in performance. (It’s worth noting that the display on the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 is made from the panel of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3). The fact that it was almost entirely powered by a phone and not jacked into a computer was mind-boggling, and the wireless freedom contributes to your range of motion.
For content, Samsung has inked a partnership with Oculus that will make games and movies downloadable for the Gear VR setup through the Oculus Store. Not all Oculus content will be compatible with the Note 4/Gear VR tandem; games and videos will need to be optimized for mobile in order to work.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: A Note 4 With an Extra Side Screen
You can also set it up to scroll sports scores or Tweets like a ticker, display weather information, or scroll through stocks. It basically acts as a custom notifications panel, moving that information to the side of the device so that it doesn’t hog any valuable screen real estate.
When you’re using it as you would a normal phone, that vertical side strip offers quick access to a list of your most-used apps. Some of the in-app controls handled by that edge screen are ingenious little tweaks. For example, when you’re using the camera, the slanted edge houses the shutter button and all the settings controls. It’s a much more natural setup for hitting the touch-shutter button—it now rests right under your index finger on an comfy slant—and it provides a full-screen viewfinder view.
No pricing was revealed for the Note Edge, but it’s expected to be available this fall in the U.S.