The 2014/2015 release schedule has been a pretty interesting time, and not least because we’ve seen pretty much every major manufacturer biting the bullet and coming to market with a sincere bid for the large-form smartphone space, aka the ‘phablet’ space; even Google and Apple muscled in on it. Why has this occurred? Well it’s probably due to a combination of factors, for one it’s apparently quite lucrative as you seem to be able to charge top-dollar for these bigger blowers. But one important point amongst the many must be the fact that since it burst onto the scene in 2011 Samsung’s Galaxy Note phablet series has gone on to be one of the most consistently well-performing range of handsets in terms of sales and reviews, in spite of much initial sniggering and skepticism from doubting rivals and press.
Samsung’s latest Note handset is the Galaxy Note 4, which launched in September 2014 to much praise and acclaim from consumers and professional critics alike. So far it seems the best efforts of many major competitors have failed to take its crown, while Samsung continues to carefully build on its feature set to create and ever more cohesive device.
That could be about to change, however, as there’s a heavily rumoured competitor said to be waiting in the wings, gearing up for a launch in the not-too-distant future; the LG G4 Note. LG is preparing to release an LG G4 soon, but the word is that the LG G4 will no longer be the top dog in LG’s line-up. According to statements from company executives, LG will add a new device to its handset range positioned above the LG G4 as a more premium product, and this rather conveniently lines up with continued rumours of a high-grade LG G4 Note phablet handset.
The battle lines are drawn. Let’s take a look at how this could play out.
As always, we have to be clear that this is a speculative comparison piece based on a combination of what we know (in this case, the actual specs of the Galaxy Note 4) and some things we don’t know for certain. The LG G4 Note is a rumoured handset and none of the details we have heard so far can be considered 100% accurate at this time - we don’t have a complete picture; there are holes. We are merely taking a look at what may be, giving those rumours the benefit of the doubt and taking them as relatively accurate for the sake of discussion. At the end of the day it’s just a bit of fun!
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs LG G4 Note: Direct Spec Comparison
The Galaxy Note 4 may be quite a divisive handset in terms of appearance, the faux leather back panel idea is certainly an improvement on Samsung’s older tacky plastic approach with a nice soft-touch feel, but it is still textured like leather which may or may not be your thing. At the very least Samsung ditched the fake stitching this time around, so it's nice and clean. The metal surround is a big plus, giving the phone a more solid and quality feel than previous iterations, but the really great thing is the overall shape, proportions and weight, which go a long way to making this large phone feel not so large at all in the hand. It also looks rather sharp overall with a curvier frame and that bevelled edge around the display (yes you can fit a credit card in there - so what?)
We don’t know a great deal about the LG G4 Note’s design - the really confusing thing is that leaks and rumours of both the LG G4 and the G4 Note are emerging in tandem, and it’s often difficult to discern which information or images align with which device. We hate to point out the bloody obvious, but the LG G4 Note will likely be bigger than the regular LG G4, which is currently rumoured to be about 5.1in or thereabouts. From what we can make out it seems as though the LG G4 Note will share a lot of design cues with the LG G4, which in turn has a lot in common with the LG G3 if leaks are correct, with a few nods to the LG G Flex series for good measure.
What we’re seeing is a very similar overall shape to the LG G3, complete with the rear mounted power and volume rocker combo, possibly featuring a metal build and, if it follows the LG G4 closely, a slightly curved G Flex style display. On the leaked LG G4 images the control setup has changed slightly, this is believed to be to accomodate a fingerprint scanner, and while we don’t know for certain if this is also coming to the G4 Note, it seems pretty likely.
It’s also worth pointing out that the LG G3, G4 and G4 Note all seem to have the same approach to display-to-body ratio; the screens are massive and take up most of the fascia. Lastly, the LG G4 Note is beleived to have a stylus just like Samsung’s equivalent, and some images seem to have shown this, although what’s not clear is whether this is exclusive to the G4 Note or whether it will also feature aboard the regular LG G4. Again, the lines are blurry on these leaks and rumours.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs LG G4 Note: Display
Since taking a bit of a critical hammering for colour accuracy and fuzzy Pentile setups on past handsets, Samsung is at the top of its game when it comes to display panels. It’s still using Super AMOLED for those super deep blacks, and tuned to a punchy, high contrast style, but now you don’t have to worry so much about blue, green, or purple tints on everything, or pixelation on the edges of text and icons. Whites are much purer, although brightness was never really an issue, and a couple of the perks of good quality OLEDs are the viewing angles and readability in bright sunlight. So yeah, the Galaxy Note 4 display has a lot going for it with this kind of setup; imagery and videos are incredibly lush and vivid, and you can enjoy using the Note 4 in virtually any lighting conditions, even with people viewing over your shoulder. On top of all that the display resolution is suitably robust cramming in 515 pixels-per-inch on the expansive 5.7in panel; not only is there a lot of space to see and do things, but said things are going to be pinpoint sharp as well.
While that might sound like a fairly unbeatable setup, previous LG handsets have proven the company has the chops to at least match Samsung at its own game –– the LG G3’s display, for instance, was fantastic. Again, details are a little sketchy for the LG G4 Note, we’ve seen talk of a 4K display, which would be a first for a smartphone. However, the most persistent rumour suggests LG is sort of going halfway (perhaps so as not to rinse the battery too much?) with a ‘3K’ resolution, predicted to be 5.5in and around 2880 x 1620 pixels, resulting in something like 600ppi on the pixel density –– sharp!
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs LG G4 Note: Camera
OK, so here’s the thing, both Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 and LG’s G3 were top of my list for favourite camera setups for phones in 2014. While you could argue that neither provided the very, very best image quality on the market, it was still extremely (and I mean extremely) good in both cases, but more than that each phone was tremendously easy for the casual user to get to grips with and consistently deliver excellent results that you’d be proud of sharing on Facebook. I personally used the LG G3 to capture all my holiday snaps that year and got plenty of compliments about them, but having used the Galaxy Note 4 prior to that I’m pretty confident it would have yielded similar results had it still been in my possession.
According to the rumour mill, the LG G4 Note will carry a 16MP sensor, which is basically the same rating as the Galaxy Note 4’s setup, so in other words it should easily be just as good. The Note 4 features optical image stabilisation (OIS), but then so did the LG G3, so there’s a good chance LG will keep it on the G4 Note. Although we haven’t heard anything specific on this front, LG was rather proud of the LG G3’s laser autofocus module and we have heard it may return on the regular LG G4, so that’s also another possibility for the phablet - though frankly, how much difference it actually makes is open to debate.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs LG G4 Note: Software - Android
Both phones are Android devices, so for the most part are going to function very similarly aside from the specifics of each manufacturer UI overlay. The Galaxy Note 4 shipped with Android 4.4 KitKat but Samsung is rolling out the 5.0 Lollipop update right now. Meanwhile we haven’t heard anything about what the LG G4 Note will be running specifically, although it’s fairly safe to assume that any major flagship launched from now on will be on Android 5.0 Lollipop at least (possibly 5.1).
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs LG G4 Note: Processor
While I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, the last three generations or so of major flagship devices running the Snapdragon 600 chipset and upwards are all still perfectly capable of running pretty much any apps or games you can find on Android’s Google Play ecosystem, so at the moment the subject of processing power is largely an issue of future-proofing and just how much excess muscle can be brought to bear for poops and chortles.
With that said, the Galaxy Note 4 is on the previous generation of Qualcomm hardware with a Snapdragon 805 (and from now on Samsung may just stick to its own Exynos silicon), a quad-core chip on the older Krait 450 architecture. It’s fast, but the LG G4 Note is believed to be packing Qualcomm’s latest and greatest octa-core Snapdragon 810, using much lighter architecture for faster speeds and (if you don’t buy into the overheating reports) cooler running temperatures. In short, better performance, as well as a wider range of built-in jazzy things like 4K video encryption, more LTE bands, and so on.