Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: Hitting the right Note for image quality

83
DxOMark Mobile

Introduction

Released back in September, 2014the Galaxy Note 4 is Samsung’s Mobile/Tablet hybrid for consumers who can’t decide between the two.  Physically bigger and with a larger screen than the S6 Edge, the Galaxy Note 4 features the same 2560x1440px resolution and 16Mp rear camera as its smartphone sibling. Notching up impressive stats in our industry-standard image quality tests, the Galaxy Note 4 a serious contender for mobile shooters.

Achieving an overall DxOMark Mobile Score of 83, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 ranks in second place in our mobile device image quality database.

Just nestling under its smaller sibling, the Galaxy S6 Edge, which is on top with 86 points, Samsung smart devices now occupy the top two spots in the rankings. It’s a result that will put a smile on Samsung executives’ faces, as these latest image quality results push the previous champions, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, down into third and fourth place, respectively, with an overall joint score of 82.

With the Galaxy S5 coming in as the previous best-performing mobile device, Samsung and Apple devices are going toe-to-toe at the top of the leader board to try to knock the other out. Unlike the recently-tested S6 Edge, however, which was a bit stronger for photo compared to video (88 to 84), the Galaxy Note 4 is a little more consistent across the two mediums, achieving sub-scores of 84 for photos and 83 for video.

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Photo: Excellent results across the board

One of the strongest aspects of Note 4 image quality is exposure, which is good both indoors and outdoors. The only slight downside occurs when shooting high dynamic scenes outdoors, with resulting images slightly burnt out in the brighter areas, but this isn’t unusual for mobile devices.

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The Note 4 delivers vivid, pleasant and realistic colors, too, with accurate White Balance, which is particularly good when shooting outdoors. Artifact handling is strong, too, with no noticeable color fringing and or ringing evident, and although sharpness is better at the center compared to the edges, again, this isn’t unusual for this type of device. Flash results were excellent, too, with good detail preservation and accurate White Balance when using flash as the only light source, although when mixing flash and tungsten light some White Balance errors occurred. 

Autofocus is accurate and smooth with very little overshooting, although the Note 4 scored lower here, as its focus was a little slow to change between scenes. We also noticed the device had a tendency to refocus for no apparent reason, which was odd and a little annoying.

The weakest area of Note 4 photo performance was for Noise and details, however. Despite reasonable detail preservation when shooting outdoors, in low-light Noise becomes an issue, and although it’s not too destructive in homogenous areas, it is more apparent than was the case with the older Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone.

Video: Well-exposed videos with very little Noise

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An outdoor scene shot with the Samsung Galaxy. The colors are vivid, pleasant and realistic.

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Again, in good light, detail preservation is excellent and slightly improved over the Galaxy S5

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Shooting in good light, no color shading occurs (left), and it’s well-controlled when shooting indoors under 100 Lux tungsten lights, too (right)

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Under lower-light conditions of 20 Lux, details are visible, but the Note 4 displays more Noise than we saw on the Samsung S5; however, it’s not too destructive in homogenous areas

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In extreme low-light tungsten light conditions of just 5 Lux, White Balance on the Galaxy Note 4 turns slightly yellow

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Examining the 100% crops, edge sharpness isn’t as strong as resolution towards the center

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The Galaxy Note 4 handles contrast edges extremely well with no noticeable color fringing

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There’s barely noticeable ringing at 100% scale

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Although vignetting occurs, the flash is central in the image and records good exposures with fine detail, although mixing flash with tungsten turns white balance red/yellow (bottom left)

84
DxOMark Mobile
photo
83
DxOMark Mobile
video

Photo Pros

- Good exposure both indoors and outdoors

- Overall good color

- Very good detail preservation all across the image

- Autofocus is accurate and smooth

Video Pros

- Good details and very low noise

- Images are well-exposed

Photo Cons

- Some noise in low-light conditions

- Often re-focuses for no apparent reason

Video Cons

- Good details and very low noise

- Images are well-exposed