Samsung’s latest phablet improves, but doesn’t revolutionise like its predecessors
Samsung carved out its very own niche in the market when it first launched the Galaxy Note series. Although numerous competitors have been released since, the Note still stands as the premier phone-come-tablet device, with the Note 4 the latest in line. Due to what we’ve seen in the older versions of the Note series, the Note 4 on the outside is a noticeable upgrade. The more premium use of materials leaves the Note 4 looking like one of the best Android devices we’ve ever had the pleasure of testing. The faux leather back adds to the quality feel, while the odd spot of metal shines through on the edges. This is without doubt a premium phone, targeted at the very high-end of the market. As well as including a removable battery, there’s the addition of a microSD slot, as well as the standard microUSB port, power button, volume rocker and a designated holster for the accompanying S Pen. All in all, apart from the premium finish, there are no major changes between this and the Note 3 in the design department.
Another area in where there’s no change from the Note 3 is with the size of the screen. At 5.7-inches this is still a massive device to hold in one hand, but the extra thinness of the Note 4 makes the task a little easier. The screen itself is a noticeable improvement, however, and the bump to quad HD helps make everything seem vibrant. Colours especially look good here and both icons and lettering are as crisp and clear as we hoped for. For a device that specialises in multitasking, moving around the device is a real pleasure. The quad-core processor is fairly standard, but powerful enough to blast through anything you throw at it. There’s also the small matter of the S Pen, which has fast become one of the staple productivity tools for all Note users to master. There are no new design things to note about the minuscule pen, but it’s easier to use at an angle and a wide range of shortcuts that can solely be accessed through use of the S Pen.
It’s testament to Samsung’s vision of being the best Android manufacturer out there that arguably the biggest change in the Note 4 is with TouchWiz. All the usual S Pen-enabled apps have seen updates; while there are new sidemenus to quickly move between apps and screens. It’s just a pleasure to use and although it’s still not as simple as stock Android, the gap is gradually closing with every update. The other major change is the 16-megapixel camera. This time around there’s a helpful image stabilisation feature to help keep blur to an absolute minimum, while low-light photography is taken care of with the designated night mode. Images can sometimes look over saturated, but this is still a big improvement over previous models. To use all of this, you’re going to want a battery than can keep up. The 3220mAh battery here is a behemoth and will undoubtedly keep you going for a couple of days before requiring a charge. It’s removable, but finding how to get into the back was slightly confusing at first.
Can Google and HTC’s new tablet justify the expensive price tag?
The Nexus 9 isn’t HTC’s first tablet. You may remember the HTC Flyer, a 7” Android Honeycomb device or if you’re particularly well versed on Android history, the HTC Jetstream, a 10” tablet exclusively sold on AT&T in the US. The Nexus 9 isn’t HTC’s first Nexus either – the Gingerbread equipped Nexus One remains one of the most fondly remembered Nexus devices of all time.
In recent times however, HTC have been quiet on both the Nexus and tablet fronts. Although the Nexus One was well received, it didn’t really represent a major sales success for HTC – that was reserved for the Desire, effectively based on the same design. The Flyer was a good device hamstrung by poor software and the Jetstream was too expensive and not widely distributed.Design and build quality
Can HTC finally have a Nexus and Tablet success with the Nexus 9? HTC might be renowned for their design skills, but the Nexus 9 looks like a Nexus first and foremost. It shares its design language with the Nexus 5 and the 2013 Nexus 7, with a soft touch back, large, horizontal Nexus branding and a very plain front. The metal edge of the Nexus 9 is a rare nod to HTC’s engineering abilities.
Follow these top tips to ensure the brand-new Android 5.0 operating system doesn’t break your phone
After a long wait, Android Lollipop will be available from Monday 3 November. We’re all excited to get our hands on Android 5.0, but it’s of paramount importance that you make sure your smartphone is ready for it before you feverishly download the OTA. With each update comes new and exciting features, but if you’ve got a cluttered, or simply underpowered device,make sure you follow the 10 top tips below to make your device is fully prepared to install Android Lollipop in all its glory.1. Scan for malware
Although you should be scanning your phone regularly for malware, it’s especially important to do it to prepare your phone for an update. Existing malware can stop the installation of a new update or make some apps unusable. If your scan does show your device is infected, make sure to remove every file that contains it.2. Remove residual files
If you’ve previously deleted messages and uninstalled apps, chances are that they’ve left behind some residual files. Although they won’t take up too much space individually, they can account for large amounts of storage grouped together and cause several slowdown issues that will impact on your device’s performance. Using the Cache Cleaner+ app you can do a thorough scan for residual files on your device and permanently delete them.
Rugged, tough and a decent choice for the rough and tumble of the great outdoors
Rugged phones have carved out their own niche in the smartphone market. Although they aren’t selling in the millions, they’re providing the more adventurous user a device that can keep up with their busy lifestyle. As with any device of this type, the design of the S50 has largely been compensated with a real robust look, instead of a good-looking phone. Each part of the device is coated in reinforced plastic, with each port stored under a protective door. All the usual ports are included, along with the addition of a microSD slot. The back and corners of the phone are rubberised, but the camera sensor protrudes a little, which isn’t ideal. It’s big, chunky and really awkward to hold, but to compensate this, if you do drop it you won’t find a single bit of damage.
The 4.7-inch display has also been reinforced and while viewing angles on the IPS screen are great, the overall quality is average. Colours look dull throughout and there’s some very obvious pixilation in parts. This combination doesn’t translate well for the 8-megapixel camera either, with both photos and videos tending to look washed out and grainy. Although shooting options are varied, you’ll soon realise it’s not worth your time exploring them when the results aren’t up to scratch.
For it’s distinctly mid-range price, the Snapdragon 400 processor is fairly standard and the quad-core configuration here keeps things running smoothly. Although users will find several fairly useless Cat apps to look through, there’s a largely unskinned version of Android running here. It’s not the most seamless integration of KitKat we’ve seen, but there are no glaring errors to note. We also appreciate the addition of a microSD slot, which many of the bigger manufacturers tend to now leave out.
There’s everything from a great backup system to a new fitness app from Google in this week’s Google Play apps of the week.Floatify
Add head-up notifications on to your lockscreen. Whenever a new notification appears, the app adds a quick overview of it for you to open up or simply dismiss.
Get all the information you need for your Samsung Galaxy device with this new bookazine
Keeping up with all the features Samsung packs into their devices can be difficult, but with the help of a new bookazine, the process is made simple.
Samsung Galaxy for Beginners: Second Revised Edition is packed full of the best tutorials and features that show you what you need to do to get more from your device. Keep reading and you’ll find essential guides to some of their latest devices, and why you should be interested about them.
Priced at a lowly £9.99, Samsung Galaxy for Beginners: Second Revised Edition is on sale right now. Follow this link to download right away!