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The Galaxy Note 4 is not the last great Note Samsung ever made


Last updated: May 10th, 2016 at 19:59 UTC+01:00

The Galaxy Note 6 is on the way, and the Galaxy Note 5 is the current reigning Note device, but the Note 5 has had its share of critics (whether or not its criticisms are justified will be left up to your own conscience). The Galaxy Note 5 ditched the removable battery and microSD card of Note devices past, changes that some consumers view as compromises. Some individuals in the anti-Note 5 camp have done everything they could to convince Note 5 owners that the Galaxy Note 5 is the worst Note Samsung has ever made.

I once read a comment made on a Galaxy Note 5 post that said, “OG Note 4 owner right here,” as though announcing his love for the Galaxy Note 4 was a badge of courage, a badge of honor that soldiers wear during wartime.

For this commenter, as is the case with some anti-Note 5 advocates who happen to own the Galaxy Note 4, consumers are in a wartime in which the Galaxy Note 5 is winning – and they must do everything in their power to remind consumers of “the last great Galaxy,” as one commenter said in regard to his wait-and-see approach with the Galaxy Note 6.

The Galaxy Note 4, contrary to this “old-guard” group, is not the last great Note Samsung ever made, nor is it the last great Galaxy the Korean giant has ever made. It is but one of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series, and each Note has been excellent to use, with innovations that carry the Note series further than its predecessors. There are three reasons why I have this perspective about the Galaxy Note 4, and you’ll encounter them below.

Reason #1: “The Galaxy Note 4 is the last great Note” argument disregards Samsung’s innovations over the last 2 years 

The Galaxy Note 4 is a great Note device in its own right, but to argue that it is the last great Note or even the last great Galaxy from Samsung is to disregard Samsung’s innovations in 2015 and 2016. Samsung’s octa-core Exynos 7420 processor (which proved a must-have for Meizu and a flirtatious idea for BlackBerry), the company’s camera tech (especially the new Dual Pixel Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) technology in the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge that we presume will come to the Galaxy Note 6), in-built wireless and fast wireless charging, and Samsung Pay are all examples of innovations that arrived in 2015 and 2016 (Dual Pixel is one of Samsung’s latest innovations). When the Galaxy Note 4 arrived in 2014, it didn’t have any of these to brag about.

If you’ve used these new features in the Galaxy Note 5 often, you’ve come to appreciate them. Now, put down your Note 5 and return to the Note 4. It won’t take 5 minutes to retire the Note 4 permanently.

Reason #2: “The Galaxy Note 4 is the last great Note” argument leads to absurdity and is anti-tech

Those who argue the Galaxy Note 4 is the last great Note Samsung ever made are embracing an illogical argument that leads to absurdity.

Galaxy Note 4 fans can say the Galaxy Note 5 is inferior to the 2-year-old Note, but I could make the exact same claim for my Galaxy Note 3 and claim that it too, is the last great Note Samsung ever made. You could tell me that the Quad HD display in the Note 4 is better than the Full HD display in the Note 3, but I could play devil’s advocate and say, “I don’t need a 1440p display when my 1080p display works just fine.” I could go through every point a Note 4 fan could make about the Note 4 and disregard every tech spec and innovation. In the end, though, that doesn’t change the fact that the Note 4 is a better phone than the Note 3 (even if it doesn’t appeal to me or someone else).

If Note 4 owners really feel that their older device is better than the Note 5, and that the old is better than the new, they should abandon their more current device and trade it in for a first-generation Galaxy Note – which is absurd to even contemplate in the first place. Few Note 4 users will do this, however, because, apart from the fact that the first-generation Note is impossible to buy and use at this point, Note 4 users believe that their fourth-generation Note is better than the first-generation Note. To believe that the first-generation Note is superior to the fourth-generation Note is an anti-tech stance that embraces the retreat, not the progress, of technology (and to believe the Note 4 is better than the Note 5 embraces the same thinking).

And if Note 4 users are justified in believing that the Note 4 is superior to the first Note, then Note 5 users are just as justified in believing the Note 5 is superior to its immediate predecessor in every way.

Reason #3: “The Galaxy Note 4 is the last great Note” argument reduces innovation to microSD card slots and removable batteries

The first two reasons above demonstrate this third and final reason: that is, the arguments made to demonstrate the presumed superiority of the Galaxy Note 4 aren’t really tech-driven at all, but driven by something else. I call this something else “convenience.”

The Note 5’s battery size and performance aren’t in question, since the battery performs better than that of the Note 4; the Note 5 cameras perform better than those of its predecessor; the Exynos 7420 processor far outpaces the Note 4’s Snapdragon 805 processor. The “Note 4 is the last great Note” argument boils down to two features: the microSD card slot and removable battery/back cover.

Sadly, to claim the Note 4 is superior to the Note 5 because of these two conveniences reduces innovation to two features that have been all too commonplace in smartphones. It’s the equivalent of getting excited over Wi-Fi in smartphones when Wi-Fi chips have existed in them for the last few years. No one in 2016 finds Wi-Fi to be innovative anymore because it’s a feature that comes with every smartphone released on the market (though Wi-Fi standards continue to progress every year; example: the advancement from 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi to 802.11ac Wi-Fi).

Anyone can put a microSD card slot and a removable battery and back cover in a smartphone; manufacturers don’t break a sweat to do that. What we should deem innovation is when we see faster read/write speeds with Samsung’s new UFS flash storage that can now handle microSD cards, or when we see sealed batteries that outperform two removable batteries on a single charge. These are innovations and worth our time and discussion, not the removable battery and microSD card slot.

Simply put, removable batteries and microSD card slots are conveniences, but they shouldn’t be confused with innovations in smartphones. And really, these are just features, not innovations. What the Note 5 has over the Note 4 is its multiple innovations, not just temporary conveniences that can be solved by improving battery life and adding pre-installed storage. When Note 4 owners dismiss the Note 5 simply because it lacks a microSD card slot and removable battery, they are dismissing innovations in the name of 2 features that, depending upon perspective, aren’t as convenient as some believe.


To wrap this discussion up, it’s clear that there are still OG Note 4 owners out in the wild who persistently claim that the Galaxy Note 4 is the last great Note ever made, but tech history, the concept of innovation, and the Note 5’s contributions to the Galaxy series challenge their point of view considerably.

In the end, despite what I’ve said here about the Note 4, it is a device that does warrant our admiration. The Galaxy Note 4 has some bragging rights that shouldn’t be forgotten by Samsung faithful: it was the first Galaxy Note to feature a Quad HD display; it was the first Samsung smartphone to have Gear VR compatibility and have a Gear VR headset announced alongside of it; it was the first phone to have a slightly increased battery size from 3,200mAh to 3,220mAh but showcase Samsung’s battery and optimization prowess; and it was the first Galaxy Note device to feature Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).

And yet, apart from the Note 4’s capabilities, the Galaxy Note 5 can boast of its own advancements, such as Samsung Pay, the first Galaxy Note to feature Video Digital Image Stabilization (VDIS), Live Broadcast, the first Galaxy Note to feature Samsung’s Theme Store, the first Galaxy Note to feature Samsung’s S Pen with push-to-eject functionality, not to mention Off Screen Memo, Write on PDFs, and improved camera performance. What this goes to show us is that tech history disagrees with anti-tech statements, that tech is always changing, always progressing, always improving, and that we shouldn’t get comfortable with the smartphone we cradle in our hands now because the next-generation device will come along and challenge our notion of “great.” “The next big thing” is more than just a mantra, it’s a mindset.

The last great Note Samsung makes will be the last Galaxy bearing the name (“Note”) before the company retires the line altogether (if this ever occurs, which is highly doubtful). Until then, each Galaxy Note successor will surpass its predecessor.

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