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Samsung Galaxy Note 6 vs Galaxy Note 4 comparison: high Notes

Folks online often cite the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as one of the best Android smartphones ever. If you happen to own one, then I expect your sights are set squarely on the next iteration of the series. The Galaxy Note 6 will be released later this year and the rumors are piling up. What’s going to change and what’s going to stay the same? Here are my current thoughts.  

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The Galaxy Note 4 (left) and the Galaxy Note 5. Where is the Note headed next? / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 6: Design

The Galaxy Note 4 was where Samsung began making serious strides to improve one of its (perceived) biggest weaknesses: device design. The Note 4 succeeded in many ways but it was the use of the metallic rim on the device, the cold, flat metal and chamfered edges, that immediately hooked us at AndroidPIT and hinted at the high-quality to come in software and performance.

To that end, it wouldn't be unfair to say that the two-year-old Galaxy Note 4 can stand shoulder-to-shoulder (or power button to power button) with 2016’s flagships. Two generations is a long time in smartphone years and it’s a credit to the Note 4 design that it still holds up today.

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The Galaxy Note 4 (front) and Note 5 housed many physical similarities. / © ANDROIDPIT

So where is Samsung headed next with Note aesthetics? Cast a glance at the interim device, the Note 5, for some clues. This was the first in the series to go all metal and glass and the same appears to be on the cards for the sixth-generation device.

The Galaxy S series often acts as an indicator of upcoming Note design practices but this time the current flagship is an unreliable barometer. The reason is that the Galaxy S7 took many design cues from the Note 5, making it harder for Samsung to iterate on this again and ensure the Note 6 delivers a fresh appearance.

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The Galaxy Note 5 (left) housed a glass rear as expected on the upcoming Note 6. / © ANDROIDPIT

What I do predict – and in 2012 we did predict Google+ would outgrow Facebook, so, you know, we’re basically wizards – is a metal body with curved glass rear, greater screen-to-body ratio than the Note 4 (in excess of ~74 percent), microSD support, water resistance, fingerprint scanner and heart-rate monitor. Pretty safe bets, there.

As for exclusions, don’t expect a removable battery: why would anybody want one now when you can buy a cheaper and more convenient portable battery pack? Also, an IR blaster (featured on the Note 4) may not appear on the Note 6 (Samsung dropped it on the recent S7).

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The Note 4 design shares more in common with the Galaxy S5 than Galaxy S6 (left). / © ANDROIDPIT

With Samsung already delivering premium quality with its Notes, no doubt it will attempt to add some “flashy” new features to help with the Note 6’s marketing. A combined stylus and kickstand is one of the potential options, as is the laptop dock idea (both previously rumored but I wouldn’t count on either).

Why does anybody want a removable battery? Just buy a portable charger.

Whatever happens, it’s unlikely that Samsung will rely solely on a “Note 5 with better specs” approach. We’ll hope for a new key feature but we’ll expect a gimmick or two.

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Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 6: Display

The Galaxy Note 4 sported a QHD display, another of its features helping it to remain competitive in 2016. The Note 6 will likely feature the same resolution, though Samsung could surprise us with a 4K display since Sony previously set this precedent. Unlikely, however.

What has greater potential is the possibility that Samsung will release Note 6 with a curved display.

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The S6 Edge+ (left) from 2015 and the Galaxy Note 4. / © ANDROIDPIT

By now, Samsung has released a number of curved screen phones and rumor has it that the Korean giant is prototyping two Note versions: one with a flat display and a curved variant.

Of course, Samsung has already released a curved phablet this year, the Galaxy S7 Edge, and unless it pursues only curved devices from here on out, I see no reason why the Note 6 would take this approach (famous last words *gulp*).

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Samsung delivered a great curved phablet earlier this year: the Galaxy S7 Edge. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 6: Camera

The Note 4’s camera was superior to much of the 2014 competition and with the Galaxy S7 showing once again how proficient Samsung can be in this category, expect more great things from the Note 6.

I can't see why Samsung would release the S7 Edge and a curved Galaxy Note phablet so close together

The current speculation suggests the Note 6 will have a 25 MP camera and f/1.4 aperture lens, which would certainly provide strong low-light performance, but also sounds a little too good to be true.

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In daylight, taking photos was a pleasure on the Note 4. / © ANDROIDPIT

Given current smartphone camera quality, a revolution here is unlikely. It might be the best camera on Android when it’s released, but I wouldn’t expect it will be far ahead of the competition: I've heard no murmurings of any camera tech revolution on the horizon.

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The Note 4's low-light performance is slightly underwhelming by today's standards. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 6: Performance specs and software

The Note 4 carried 3 GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 805 processor: expect more RAM and a faster processor on the Note 6. There's not much else to say on that front. Performance hardware is unlikely to add much to the Note 6 experience but the phone may operate a little faster than the Note 4.

The Galaxy Note 4 is up and running with the latest version of Android, that is Android Marshmallow. The Note 6 will likely arrive with the same and receive a fairly quick update to Android Nougat (is that confirmed, yet?). The Note 4 probably won't receive the next major version of Android and this presents one of the key areas where the Note 6 will provide a real purchasing incentive to existing Note 4 users. 

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Samsung's Notes have spearheaded multitasking on Android. / © ANDROIDPIT

Not only will the Note 6 receive whatever spectacular improvements Google comes up with for Android N but Samsung’s TouchWiz interface may also receive an overhaul, along with the Note series' S Pen software, Air Command.

Performance hardware is unlikely to add much to the Note 6 experience but the phone may operate a little faster than the Note 4

Throughout its life, Air Command has gone through several small but necessary improvements. The latest version looked better than ever and was also at its most functional. Though we have no idea what the future holds for this IP, Samsung usually tends to prioritize it.

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Air Command has gone through several iterations: what's next? / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 6: Battery and storage

The Note 4’s battery has a 3,220-mAh capacity and featured wireless and fast charging capabilities. It is also removable.

The Note 6 is rumored to have a 4,200-mAh battery: one of the largest capacity batteries on a modern flagship. This, sadly, is mere speculation at this point.

Galaxy Note 4
Are we really still hung up on removable batteries? / © ANDROIDPIT

It’s also believed that the Note 6 will adopt a USB Type-C connector. Naturally, many devices are adopting this technology but – and this is a big "but" – if the Note 6 does have USB Type C, it will render itself incompatible with Samsung’s Gear VR headset.

No doubt Samsung intends to pursue virtual reality further: meaning the Note 6 launch may coincide with a new version of the Gear VR. And, honestly, I confess I'm excited by the prospect of the Note 6 with a new VR headset.

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Samsung has held tight to microUSB on the Note 4 (top) and Note 5 (bottom). What about the 6? / © ANDROIDPIT

The VR and AR landscape is going to boom following the release of the Rift and Vive, and of all the ways the Note 6 could improve on the Note 4 and 5, VR is possibly the most likely (and I think most interesting).

I confess I'm excited by the prospect of the Note 6 with a new VR headset

It has also been suggested that the Note 6 will come with 256 GB of internal storage. Good for file hoarders but no doubt unnecessary for most users. Hopefully, this is reserved for the premium model, with the base model holding less internal storage space for a lower price.

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Samsung could now compete with the huge batteries found in the Huawei Mate series. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 6: Price and conclusion

The Galaxy Note 6 will probably be one of the most expensive Android phablets ever – even for the entry level (lowest storage space) variant. The Note 4 can be found on Amazon right now for around $450 but expect the Note 6 to cost in excess of $700.  

Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Best price

In previous years, we've had clear indications of the Note series' direction but the Note 6 is a tough one. I mean, right now we don't even know if it will have a curved or flat display.

What we do know is that Samsung really delivered on the Galaxy S series this year, with what we currently believe is the best Android phone in the world. Maybe that's reason enough to get excited for the Note 6?

What do you hope for from the Galaxy Note 6? Tell us in the comments.

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Readers' favorite comments

  • Greg1100 May 10, 2016

    A spare battery takes far less room in a pocket than a battery pack. PLUS, if phone freezes- and they do, a quick battery removal sorts that out straight away, without having to faff about with key combinations. If there are any.
    People in offices forget that there are others who have no access to a wall charger by day or at night.
    This is why we like and want removable batteries.
    I personally would rather have a phone with a removable battery than all this water resistant stuff. Anyone who gets their £600+ phone ANYWHERE near water, is a braver person than me.
    Electronics and water never did mix too well.

  • Alex Robinson May 10, 2016

    The idea of carrying a charger around is ridiculous. This kind of garbage comes from the likes of IPhone users. I never plug in my phone and never run out of juice because I always have one full battery in my pocket and one in the charger. Samsung needs to pay less attention to the pundits who put form over function and pay more attention to its loyal fan base. Samsung also needs to revive the FM radio. The hardware is there. Why disable it? Also, if it has USB C, it better be able to do HDMI out.

  • Derrick Moore May 10, 2016

    It literally takes less than 30 seconds to swap a battery... Not an inconvenience at all..

  • No Name May 10, 2016

    I concur with the majority of commenters on the removable battery issue! The writer has a serious case of stuffiness on the subject, and another serious case of naive office worker "Headupassitis"... I think it's also called rectalcraniopathy. Apparently, he thinks everyone works around electrical outlets or cigarette lighter outlets.

    The even bigger issue for me is the occasional need to yank the battery to completely unfreeze the phone.

    And the biggest issue is, with an unremovable battery, that the life of the phone is limited to the life of the battery. I will NOT watch a YouTube video and spend an hour fucking up my phone permanently trying to replace a battery that should be replaceable in one minute.

    And furthermore, how in the hell is someone (not me because I won't do it anyway), going to watch a video while replace the battery on the only device you likely have available for watching the damn video? Riddle me that riddle!

    Honestly, these special hothouse flowers who work in offices and write tech articles are a special breed of naive! They can't conceive of any world...except for the kind that they themselves live in.

    I am an otr semi truckdriver. Most drivers have only ONE connection to the internet on the road, and must be on the road for weeks or months. They don't have the option to drive the semi into a car parking lot at Sprint or Verizon and swap out phones...let alone in the middle of the night on a weekend in BFE Montana!! Let alone further, sit there a couple of weeks potentially to wait for the replacement repaired device to be returned to them.

    Personally, I have two devices, but that is rare. I have my primary Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and my old Note 2 for a backup. But I will NEVER give up the security and convenience of a consumer replaceable battery.

    In fact, I avoided the Galaxy Note 5 which I had been looking forward to, because it lacked the replaceable battery and a micro-sdcard. Both of which I will never accept a phone without. Yes I know ALL the pluses and minuses about the presence or lack of each. And the pluses are decidedly on the side of the personal power and options that having each feature gives you.

    Those who don't want a micro-sdcard are free to not use it. Those who don't want to replace the battery or yank it to fix the freezing problem, are free to never take the back off their phone and can just take it in to the repair center as is their preference and perfect right to do. They can buy another phone when the replaceable battery warps, and throw away the perfectly good phone and have it sent to a toxic waste dump in rural China if that's what blows their dress up. Personally, I would rather replace the battery and keep on using it...which is why I can say this. Under NO circumstances will I be buying a Samsung Galaxy Note 6,UNLESS it has both a micro-sdcard AND consumer replaceable battery.

    In fact I am seriously going to be looking at the successor to the LG G5, I just need it to come with a stylus. I can't understand why I am limited to looking at Samsungs for a stylus phone.

  • Michael K May 10, 2016

    The more you use your phone, the faster the battery will deteriorate. If you are a power user you will need another battery after about 8 months to a year. Batteries are much easier to carry around than a battery pack. I have 3 extra batteries for my Note 4.

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  • Batteries take a finite number of charges. Then they are a paperwright. Why would I want to have to buy a new phone or get to a service when the battery is finally unchargeable?
    Getting on a plane to go away for 3 weeks I took extra batteries, kept on contact and got lots of photos. My friends unchangeable battery phone died waiting to board. Battery pack was useless. Two paperweights to lug around. Trip was made difficult, at least I had photos to share. Buying a new phone was not an option travelling through europe. Keep telling people they don't want a changeable battery, but it shows you are naive or bought or something .


  • After changing 3 batteries, and 2 phones in 1 year by AT&T Note 4 has a serious issue with battery that all the above couldnt change!
    We have the latest tech, but its being done in the worst way possible.


    • I am a heavy user of the Note 4 and have had it for 18months. I also have an IT degree. You seriously don't have a clue. The Note 4 is still around because of the stupidity of Samsungs marketing department deciding that they know better than the consumer.
      The Note 5 was not picked up by people like me who carry around a spare battery. As for your ridiculous comment about shutting the phone down before turning ot off! What absolute rubbish. The phone is frozen, by definition you can't turn it off. On the other hand it does nothing except turn the phone off when you do take the battery out.
      Because I the Galaxy Note 5 came without a changeable battery r and SD card, I went out and bought a Microsoft phone. What an absolute waste of $1,200! Samsung had better get it right this time and give the consumer what they want because in all seriousness that couldn't have gotten it more wrong last time.
      That is the loyal note users left or tried to leave in droves.
      As for the battery life. My Note 4 lasts as ;omg today as it did the day I bought it. I have a spare 4200MAH battery which I have used on a few occasion.
      NH


      • So how long does your battery lasts on one charge? I can understand that wondering in the hospital from one place to another can suck battery heavily, due to wifi. Shut the wifi off and I can get 10 hours. Again I would be only reading news and keep on clearing the memory the whole time, still battery gets losts fast on wifi at work. I have 500+ apps, still I tried the note 4 with 50 apps, I still got same thing.

        But: why is my friend getting normal loss on her battery although she uses it far much more then me? She also wonders in the hospital from one place to another!

        And why was my battery doing better job outside work and now I cant get full day? I only use original chargers


  • You bang on about using wireless chargers and battery packs but who wants a battery pack connected via a micro USB adapter or USB c in your pocket?? Thanks asking for damage to the socket. Im a geezer and don't carry bags. Phone battery cases weigh too much and are too bulky. A spare battery is thin and lightweight. Easy to swap over. Stop saying we don't need replacable batteries else these stupid manufacturers will never change!


    • Couldnt be more correct. AtT changed my note 4 battery 3 times, changed the phone twice in 1 year, and still I bought an expensive Samsung 9500mAmp battery pack. 1st 3 charges it was giving me fast charging then stopped. I got another one that didnt do fast charging from day one. Im stock with it. Imagine: Beside the power pack the 1st 2 phones had Zerolemon 10000mAmp battery instead of original. All that was (still, without the zerolemon this time) not enough, although I was literaly using my phone at work only for a combined hour or 2 for news, no media or social.
      Is it the WIFI there? Well could be, but another girl has a Note 4 and she does far much work on it and lasts bw day to day and a half. An IT guy told me his iPhone reached 80% in by noon (after 5 hours of work). The 1st 2 phones with zerolemon were dying out and inside work in max 8 hours. My shift is 10 hr.
      My 3rd phone lasted a day at the begining outside work, but now its declining.
      Bottomline: it has to be removable.


  • Dirk Faam May 10, 2016 Link to comment

    Ridiculous if Samsung forgets to put in a removable battery. Again!
    As a longtime Samsung customer I said goodbye to Samsung after the note 4.
    And it seems to me they don't get me back.


  • This device should come with ir blaster ....


    • No Name May 11, 2016 Link to comment

      Can you use it to blast people who want to deny others the versatility and convenience of having a consumer replaceable battery?? If so sign me up.


  • The idea of carrying a charger around is ridiculous. This kind of garbage comes from the likes of IPhone users. I never plug in my phone and never run out of juice because I always have one full battery in my pocket and one in the charger. Samsung needs to pay less attention to the pundits who put form over function and pay more attention to its loyal fan base. Samsung also needs to revive the FM radio. The hardware is there. Why disable it? Also, if it has USB C, it better be able to do HDMI out.


  • It literally takes less than 30 seconds to swap a battery... Not an inconvenience at all..


    • "It literally takes less than 30 seconds to swap a battery... Not an inconvenience at all.." Yeah buuuuuut....

      You have to do this more than once. You have to charge the extra battery, then remove it once it's charged, and then put it back into the device later when the other battery is depleted. A portable charge pack can be charged outside of the handset.

      Also, you need to switch your device off to do a battery swap. You don't to charge it with a portable power supply.

      Each to their own :)


      • No Name May 13, 2016 Link to comment

        This is OUR choice. If you don't want to swap batteries you can still use a portable power supply with a phone that has a consumer replaceable battery if you like. No one is stopping you from doing that.

        It is you, and people like you, who are directly denying us our right to swap batteries, by influencing the OEMs to prioritize form OVER function by integrating the battery.

        A phone should, within reason, serve the widest possible customer base, and this is achieved by having a consumer replaceable battery and a micro-sdcard. Those who don't want to avail themselves of these features are welcome to avoid doing so.

        As for the fetish of 'thin and light', IMHO phones became TOO thin and TOO light a few years ago! Holding onto tbem is like trying to hold onto a super slippery, very thin bar of soap. Dropping the phone is inevitable. And breakage is inevitable. Also being thinner and lighter, regardless of materials used, tends to make them more fragile, or at least more susceptible to internal damage from being dropped...because they can no longer be held onto with any certainty.

        One of the reasons I get an Otterbox is to make mine thicker and heavier...as well as to give that welcome thicker edge a rubbery surface to make it easier to hold on to. As a result I haven't dropped either of my phones in years...not once. That extra thickness and rubber grip surface are two interlinked reasons why a case (or the equivalent integrated design in a phone) makes a phone less likely to be broken...it's not just the fact that it is in a protective case. It's the fact you don't drop it nearly as much as if it were thinner & slipperier.

        So, yeah, an integrated battery lets them make the phones slightly thinner than a replaceable battery (and undoubtedly has a few other minor 'actual improvements'), but thinner isn't an improvement anymore IMHO. Thin and light has run its course and should not be considered an 'improvement' anymore.

        Instead, phones should be designed to incorporate all the advantages of an Otterbox type case, so that a case isn't necessary anymore. Putting a case on a phone is like putting a heavy fur coat on it...it is a MAJOR, MAJOR heat retainer! I've complained and complained about this to Otterbox, but to no avail. Their product is unfortunately necessary for now. But phones should be designed to make cases unnecessary in the future and to make the phone far more grippy along the edge...which necessitates more thickness...and a rubbery grip surface. This will avoid the extreme heat retention of a case. Phones are not designed with the heat retention of a case in mind, ANY case at all, except possibly the thin OEM case. And cases are NOT designed to wick away the heat using an integrated copper mesh heatsink, which I've suggested to Otterbox. This heat being held in will prematurely age a battery, but it's either that or drop and break your phone. Some OEM should start the process of breaking these tradeoffs, and should simultaneously stop the silly worshipping at the false 'Altar of Thin and Light'. Thin and light is over as far as I'm concerned! Phones will be as thin as a sharp knife before long if they keep this nonsense up, and you'll cut your fingers off trying to hold onto the edge.


      • I already posted above my experience with Sami batteries, its nothing but night mare. I posted few comments up. Get back to it. I would like to say: I had the same exact problem with Note1 and 3.
        Actually Sami should offer 2 choices: thin small batteries if tgat what u want, and thicker with respectable mamps in them. I careless for thinnes!


      • Corrrrrrect. I demand options: instead of buying a non OEM aftermarket thicker batteries that we arent sure how good they are, let OEM make such batteries. If what u care for is nothing but thinnes, you have an option. If u care for functionality you get a real bigger battery.


      • And your point is ? I won't buy a phone with out the ability to change a battery.


  • Note 4 best Samsung phone to buy,changed to S6 Edge Plus after buying the S6 edge for a friend,battery life o.k but just missing swapping batteries,edge screens make your phone look better but using the edge functions drains the battery,tried the S7 Edge but because of waterproofing Samsung did not but loud speakers on this phone, so will stick with the S6 Edge Plus to see what the Note 6 as to offer


  • No Name May 10, 2016 Link to comment

    I concur with the majority of commenters on the removable battery issue! The writer has a serious case of stuffiness on the subject, and another serious case of naive office worker "Headupassitis"... I think it's also called rectalcraniopathy. Apparently, he thinks everyone works around electrical outlets or cigarette lighter outlets.

    The even bigger issue for me is the occasional need to yank the battery to completely unfreeze the phone.

    And the biggest issue is, with an unremovable battery, that the life of the phone is limited to the life of the battery. I will NOT watch a YouTube video and spend an hour fucking up my phone permanently trying to replace a battery that should be replaceable in one minute.

    And furthermore, how in the hell is someone (not me because I won't do it anyway), going to watch a video while replace the battery on the only device you likely have available for watching the damn video? Riddle me that riddle!

    Honestly, these special hothouse flowers who work in offices and write tech articles are a special breed of naive! They can't conceive of any world...except for the kind that they themselves live in.

    I am an otr semi truckdriver. Most drivers have only ONE connection to the internet on the road, and must be on the road for weeks or months. They don't have the option to drive the semi into a car parking lot at Sprint or Verizon and swap out phones...let alone in the middle of the night on a weekend in BFE Montana!! Let alone further, sit there a couple of weeks potentially to wait for the replacement repaired device to be returned to them.

    Personally, I have two devices, but that is rare. I have my primary Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and my old Note 2 for a backup. But I will NEVER give up the security and convenience of a consumer replaceable battery.

    In fact, I avoided the Galaxy Note 5 which I had been looking forward to, because it lacked the replaceable battery and a micro-sdcard. Both of which I will never accept a phone without. Yes I know ALL the pluses and minuses about the presence or lack of each. And the pluses are decidedly on the side of the personal power and options that having each feature gives you.

    Those who don't want a micro-sdcard are free to not use it. Those who don't want to replace the battery or yank it to fix the freezing problem, are free to never take the back off their phone and can just take it in to the repair center as is their preference and perfect right to do. They can buy another phone when the replaceable battery warps, and throw away the perfectly good phone and have it sent to a toxic waste dump in rural China if that's what blows their dress up. Personally, I would rather replace the battery and keep on using it...which is why I can say this. Under NO circumstances will I be buying a Samsung Galaxy Note 6,UNLESS it has both a micro-sdcard AND consumer replaceable battery.

    In fact I am seriously going to be looking at the successor to the LG G5, I just need it to come with a stylus. I can't understand why I am limited to looking at Samsungs for a stylus phone.


    • Frank May 10, 2016 Link to comment

      Well said mate! I have the Note 4 and refuse to upgrade (?) to another phone without a removable battery. This phone still rocks.
      There is a way to reboot a frozen phone. I used to do the battery pull, but I found if you hold the volume down/home/power buttons gets you to the download mode. You have two options: press volume up for download mode, but if you press volume down, you will reboot your phone.

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