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Monday, August 4, 2014

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: The features, launch date, price, and specs we expect from Samsung's next stylus-ized 'phablet'

There are quite a few rumors floating around about what to expect from the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, but so far, nothing in the revelations of these reports couldn't have been deduced through a brief knowledge of Samsung's Note-taking family.
Here's a combination of rumors and guesswork about the fourth-generation stylus-strutting device. As always, check back for updates with really juicy details and official news, when we get it.

Debut date

September 3 is the most recently rumored date for the Galaxy Note 4 launch, which coincides with the IFA conference in Berlin. Although members of the public can flock to the show starting September 5, press like CNET will be on the ground the previous week, meeting with vendors like Samsung.
Definitely look for Samsung's official invitation for its Unpacked event to take place that week.

Design and build

How do you know a Note is a Note? When it's got a supersize screen over 5 inches (or 5.5 or 5.7 inches) and a stylus tucked into a hollow on its back.
In terms of looks, the Note has usually followed the design aesthetic of spring's flagship Galaxy S, though last year's Note 3 surprised us with some faux-leather (plastic-molded) "stitching." If it sticks with the S5 look, the Galaxy Note 4 will probably have a slightly dimpled backing. It will for sure pack in a heart-rate monitor on the back, and a physical home screen button on the front that doubles as a fingerprint scanner.
Like the Galaxy S5, the Note 4 will likely be water-resistant for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter (about 3 feet), as well as dustproof and shockproof. Expect it to arrive in some form of black and white, with at least one other color option.
Rumors point to a 5.7-inch high-resolution display, which makes sense. Samsung has slowly been increasing the size of its Note screen by 0.2-inch increments, though that's no guarantee that Samsung will bump this Note up to 5.9 inches. The phones are a handful as is.
As for the stylus itself? Samsung has been working on streamlining it for comfort, as well as shaping it so it won't roll away when you get it down. Last year's Note 3 stylus was a bit smarter than before, letting you know with a chirp on the phone when you wandered too far away from it. I'm hoping that the button on this year's stylus is harder to accidentally press and bakes functionality into the top of the S Pen.

OS and apps

I can forecast with confidence that the Note 4 will run the same TouchWiz interface as the Galaxy S5 on top of Google's Android 4.4 KitKat. Samsung has never been shy about stacking on the software features, from a mode for hiding secret files on your phone and on-screen shortcut tool to new camera settings.
The Note 4 should have these as well, plus even more built-in apps and modes to work with the stylus. Samsung often uses the Note smartphone and Note tablets to introduce new multitasking features, some of which make their way back onto next year's flagship phone. Split screen and hover are two.
Samsung is adept at netting partnerships with other companies, like Dropbox and Blurb. I wouldn't be surprised to see another deal with a video or e-reader partner to leverage the Note 4's larger screen, or an expanded deal with a writing app, like Evernote.I'd guess that Samsung will have rejiggered a few things with the interface of stylus tools, so it won't be an exact match to last year's interface.

The stuff inside

Here are the specs I'm looking for: A 2,560x1,440-pixel AMOLED screen resolution. A 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor. 16-megapixel rear-facing camera. 3-megapixel front-facing camera. 3GB RAM. 32 and 64GB storage options. Up to 128GB of microSD expansion. Bluetooth 4.0 low energy. Minimum 3,000mAh battery.

Pricing and availability

The Galaxy Note 4 pricing may creep up a bit for an off-contract device, but should hold relatively steady compared to last year's model. In the US, the Note 3 cost $300 on contact and around $700 off, while it came to about £550 in the UK and AU$1,000 in Australia. It should enjoy a wide distribution in carrier and retail stores.
Samsung is all about its global rollout, so it's tough to say which market will get the phone when, though mature markets like the US, Europe, and Asia are typically more open to a higher-priced phone like this. The company has been good about placing phones on pre-order and shipping the first wave of device a few weeks after the official announcement.
And what does Samsung have to say about all this? "Samsung is committed to relentless innovation and new products are always in development, but at this time we don't have any information to share on the speculation on the product you mentioned."
However, the company, in an earnings report, all but confirmed the Note 4 as one of its two upcoming devices.
We'll find out soon enough!
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