Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy S4: 5 Things Buyers Need to Know

Current Samsung Galaxy S4 users weighing an early upgrade are likely taking a look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung’s new Galaxy Note and a device that’s scheduled to hit the U.S. in October. With a Galaxy Note 4 release date in sight, we take a look at the key things buyers can take away from the Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy S4.

In early September, Samsung took to the stage in Berlin, Germany to announce several new products for the fall. First, we saw another intro for the Samsung Gear S, an Apple Watch competitor and a device that appears to be a solid alternative to current Android smartwatches. We also saw the Gear VR virtual reality headset make its first appearance.


The star of the show though was arguably the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 successor and a device that’s poised to strike in the United States in October. As expected, the Galaxy Note 4 is a tantalizing flagship smartphone and one that should be tempting for those looking to upgrade to a new Galaxy smartphone this fall.


Many Galaxy S4 users are weighing their options. The Galaxy S4 is getting older and with carriers offering early upgrades, some users are thinking about making a switch. While the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are both worth looking at, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is another flagship that Galaxy S4 users familiar with TouchWiz will want to consider.


While we can’t tell you what to do, we can push you in the right direction. Ahead of the Galaxy Note 4 release, we take a look at the five most important things buyers need to know about the Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy S4. Keep in mind, this is aimed at Galaxy S4 upgraders though it will apply to those looking at buying either the Galaxy Note 4 or Galaxy S4.


Galaxy Note 4 Release Date

Earlier this month, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 release date was confirmed for October. Now, two weeks later, we finally have concrete and specific Galaxy Note 4 release details to share with you.


AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon confirmed the Galaxy Note 4 release date for October 17th, or, a little over a month from now. Expect that date to remain concrete as we move forward.

AT&T and Verizon are currently taking pre-orders for the Galaxy Note 4. T-Mobile will start taking them on September 24th and Sprint will take them on September 26th. It’s not clear if U.S. Cellular will take them or not.



What this means is that you probably won’t be able to physically compare the two for at least a few weeks as Samsung works to deliver the Galaxy Note 4 to the United States. As we’ve pointed out many times, we highly recommend absorbing this advice and then checking the phones out for yourself. Picking a smartphone is an extremely personal decision.

Galaxy Note 4 Size vs. Galaxy S4 Size

The Galaxy S4 is a Galaxy S. The Galaxy Note 4 is a Galaxy Note. Galaxy Notes are traditionally bigger than the Galaxy S and that’s exactly what we have here with the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 4. The Galaxy Note 4 is a massive phone, larger than the 5-inch Galaxy S4, and larger than most smartphones on the market right now.

While we can’t compare the two physically, the photo below will give you an idea about the Galaxy Note 4’s size. Even for you Galaxy S4 users, its size is going to take a bit of an adjustment.



Here’s how that breaks down:

  • Galaxy Note 4 – 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm – 176 grams
  • Galaxy S4 – 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm – 130 grams

The Galaxy Note 4 is taller, wider, thicker, and heavier than the Galaxy S4. That weight difference is going to be noticeable and so is the overall size.

What this means is that the Galaxy Note 4 is going to be a little harder to use with one hand and it’s also going to be less pocketable. Those of you who are accustomed to storing your phone in your skinny jeans might have some trouble fitting the Galaxy Note 4. It’s not the same size difference that you’re going to get from the Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 5s but the Galaxy S4 is clearly the smaller device.

Galaxy Note 4 Specs vs. Galaxy S4 Specs

Not all of you will want or need to compare specs, especially given the Galaxy S4’s age, but if you do, you’re going to find that the Galaxy Note 4 comes with a spec list that puts the Galaxy S4 to shame. We’ll point out some of the key differences that you should be aware of in the build up to the Galaxy Note 4 release in October.


Galaxy Note 4 Specs

  • Snapdragon 805 processor (U.S.)
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat
  • 5.7-inch Quad HD display – 2560 x 1440  – 515 pixels per inch
  • 32GB storage with support for 128GB microSD cards
  • 3.7MP front-facing camera
  • 16MP camera with Optical Image Stabilization
  • 4G LTE
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • UV sensor
  • Heart rate sensor
  • NFC
  • 3220 mAh battery
  • S Pen

Galaxy S4 Specs

  • Snapdragon 600 processor
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • 5-inch Full HD display – 1920 x 1080 – 441 pixels per inch
  • 16GB / 32GB storage (select carriers) with support for 128GB microSD cards
  • 2MP front-facing camera
  • 13MP camera
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • NFC
  • 2600 mAh battery

DisplayMate, one of the leading voices on display technology, calls the Galaxy Note 4 display the best they’ve ever seen. Earlier this year, the publication claimed that the Galaxy S5 display, a display that has now been trumped by the Galaxy Note 4, was better than the iPhone 5s’ Retina Display. In other words, the Galaxy Note 4 display is going to produce better looking content than the Galaxy S4’s. It’s that simple.

The Galaxy Note 4 display also provides far more real estate for gaming, browsing the web, and more. Again, that comes with a cost which is its overall size. There’s more space but it’s less pocketable.

Galaxy Note 4 Features - Sensors

The Galaxy Note 4 will feature Optical Image Stabilization with its 16MPcamera, technology that minimizes shakiness to deliver better looking photos and video. The Galaxy S4’s 8MP camera does not come with OIS. And while we don’t know how well the Galaxy Note 4 camera will perform just yet, there’s a good chance that a sensor from 2014 is going to best one from 2013. After all, the Galaxy S5 camera is better than the Galaxy S4’s.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 comes in two sizes (16GB and 32GB for AT&T and Verizon), the Galaxy Note 4 comes in one. Both devices come with expandable storage and removable back plates that allow users to install an extended battery for more juice.

Galaxy Note 4 Features vs. Galaxy S4 Features

The Galaxy Note 4 also comes with a number of new features that are worth pointing out. Many of these features aren’t found on the Galaxy S4 though it will be up to you to decide if the bells and whistles are worth the cost.

  • UV Sensor – Allows you to measure UV radiation with your phone. This is something that could help to prevent health issues and it’s something that isn’t found on the Galaxy S4.
  • Heart Rate Sensor – The Galaxy Note 4 comes with a heart rate sensor tucked away near the camera. The sensor can help track your pulse and ties into the company’s new S Health 3.5 application. The Galaxy S4 does not have one.
  • S Pen – This is one of the biggest differences between the two. The Galaxy Note 4 comes with a bundled stylus called the S Pen that can take advantage of unique apps. It also allows you to write and draw on the screen. It can be seen in action in the video below. The Galaxy S series does not come with an S Pen or S Pen support.

  • Fast charging – The Galaxy Note 4 comes with fast charging capabilities that will allow users to charge at a much faster rate than usual. The company says a full charge will take approximately 30 minutes or so. The Galaxy S4 doesn’t come with fast charging capabilities though it does come with a much smaller battery. Don’t let this feature sway you.
  • Fingerprint sensor – The Galaxy S4 doesn’t come with a fingerprint sensor for added security and convenience. The Galaxy Note 4 does.

Galaxy S4 vs. Galaxy Note 4 Software & Upgrades

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 currently runs Android 4.4 KitKat as its base operating system. And while these two devices both run Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, they aren’t anything alike.

The Galaxy Note 4 runs Google’s Android 4.4.4 KitKat operating system as a base though the software has been modified with a new version of TouchWiz that’s designed for the S Pen and mulitasking in mind.

Samsung’s made some significant improvements to this year’s S Pen including increased sensitivity on the Note 4 screen to make the note taking experience on the Galaxy Note 4 feel more like writing on paper. More sensitivity also leads to better looking text from handwriting. Samsung’s also made some significant improvements to the S Pen’s applications including, Air Command, S Note and Voice Memo, and more.

More importantly, the company has improved the Galaxy Note 4’s multitasking, multitasking that the Galaxy S4 simply cannot match. One of the reasons is a feature called Multi-Window View. It can be seen in action on the Galaxy Note 4 in the video below.

Multi-Window View, at its most basic level, allows users to run multiple applications on screen at the same time. With the Galaxy Note 4, Samsung has made some admirable changes including the ability to access applications in full, split or pop-up screens. Galaxy Note 4 users will now also be able to reposition apps on the screen with just one swipe.

We could see some of the new features, Multi-Window View for instance, arrive for the Galaxy S4 down the road though that’s far from guaranteed. Samsung likes to outfit its old devices with new software features but it never releases the whole feature set.

One last thing we should point out. Samsung devices typically get two years of software support. The Galaxy S4 is approaching its second year of life which means that its window is closing pretty quickly. The Galaxy Note 4 on the other hand should get updated for the foreseeable future. Keep that in mind before buying the cheap Galaxy S4.

For more information about the Galaxy S4, have a look at our most recent review.