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Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 8: How big is the leap to Samsung’s latest?

Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 8: Thinking of upgrading from your old Note 4? We’ve got a complete guide on what to expect.

In August 2017, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 8, the latest addition to its range of powerful, feature-heavy Galaxy Note smartphones.

The handset is undoubtedly one of the most attractive and powerful handsets currently available, but is it worth the upgrade for former Note owners?

Credit: Max Parker / Trusted Reviews

The Note range is a little tricky. The last model, the Galaxy Note 7, was recalled and killed off just one month after it launched. Samsung cited a battery flaw in select handsets that caused spontaneous fires, and decided to scrap the phone altogether.

Then there’s the case of the Galaxy Note 6, a phone that never even existed. It was reported that Samsung would skipping the number to better align itself with Apple’s naming conventions, and the rumour turned out to be true.

Prior to that, we had the Galaxy Note 5, another flagship Samsung Note phone. This one did actually release, but the UK wasn’t included in the launch – sorry, Brits.

So that means the last proper Note launch the UK saw was the Galaxy Note 4, which launched all the way back in 2014. This was one of Samsung’s most popular Note phones, so it’s a certainty that there are still plenty in circulation here in humble Blighty.

So what’s new for owners of this fast-ageing smartphone if they upgrade to the Galaxy Note 8?

Related: Best Android phones

Credit: Samsung

Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 8 Design: What’s new?

Smartphone design language has changed significantly since 2014, despite it only being a relatively short time ago.

The Galaxy Note 4 had a large, blocky body with a rough, textured rear. It was thick for its time, at 8.5mm, and weighed 176 grams. It was also considered to be a large handset thanks to its then-huge 5.7-inch screen.

But the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a world apart. It’s thicker and heavier, sure – but it’s also got a much larger 6.3-inch screen. More excitingly, the Galaxy Note 8 features Samsung’s ‘Infinity Display’ – first seen on the Galaxy S8 – which means that most of the phone’s front is occupied by screen.

Credit: Max Parker / Trusted Reviews

This meant that, unlike the Note 4, there’s no longer a ‘Home’ button on the front of the phone. In fact, there’s no Home button anywhere. Samsung has scrapped the concept, preferring software alternatives instead. The fingerprint scanner that appeared on previous Note handsets, meanwhile, has now been shifted to the back of the phone, next to the camera. It is a rather inconvenient location.

That’s not the only thing that’s different between the Note 8 and its ancestor. The Note 4 came with a removable back and easily replaceable battery. This was before the time of battery packs being ten-a-penny so there was real value for power users to keep a second battery with them at all times. These days it’s less of an issue. You might not be able to flip a battery in and out, but the lack of removable panels means a phone can be made water-resistant, and the Note 8 is.

While you don;t get a removable battery, the good news is that the beloved S-Pen stylus, a long-time staple of the Note series, has been retained for the Galaxy Note 8, so Note 4 owners need not fear losing out.

Credit: Samsung

Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 8 Specs: What’s the difference?

The quickest way to showcase the immense changes that have been introduced since 2014 is with a comparison table, which we’ve included below. However, we’ll outline a few of the key changes in brief, first.

For a start, you’re getting a bigger 6.3-inch display with a Quad-HD+ resolution. This means you end up with a slightly higher pixel density of 523-pixels-per-inch (ppi), compared to the 518 ppi offered by the Note 4. All-in-all, the viewing experience will be vastly improved thanks to the additional screen real estate and improvements in display technology. Colours appear more natural, for example.

You’re also getting a much faster chip: either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Samsung Exynos 8995, both of which are built on the latest 10nm manufacturing process. The old Snapdragon 805 that featured in the Galaxy Note 4 was built using a now-ancient 20nm process, which means it’s both less powerful and more power-hungry.

Credit: Max Parker / Trusted Reviews

The Galaxy Note 8 also features an additional 3GB of RAM (6GB total) and an extra 32GB (64GB total) of storage as standard, making it a huge upgrade all round.

Perhaps the biggest change is the new camera on the Galaxy Note 8. Samsung has finally adopted a 12-megapixel dual-camera system, so you’ll get an f/2.4 telephoto shooter paired with an f/1.7 wide-angle lens – both of which featured optical image stabilisation. The result is epic low-light performance and vastly improved depth of field. By contrast, the Galaxy Note 4 has a single 16-megapixel f/2.2 rear-facing camera, which is absolutely beginning to show its age.

The final point to note is that while the Galaxy Note 4 was upgradeable to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, the Note 8 ships with Android 7.0 Nougat on-board – and will likely get an Android 8.0 Oreo upgrade at some point. This means the Note 8 has Google Assistant support and Samsung’s own custom-built Bixby digital assistant.

Credit: Samsung

Here’s a proper breakdown of the specs:

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Screen 6.3-inch Super AMOLED curved Infinity Display 5.7-inch Super AMOLED
Display 1440 x 2960 pixels (523ppi) 1440 x 2560 pixels (518ppi)
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 / Samsung Exynos 8995 Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 / Samsung Exynos 5433
Storage 64GB (plus MicroSD slot) 32GB (plus MicroSD slot)
Memory 6GB 3GB
Rear Camera 12MP dual (1x telephoto f/2.4 OIS / 1x wide-angle f/1.7 OIS) 16MP (f/2.2 OIS)
Battery Capacity 3300mAh 3220mAh
Fingerprint Scanner Yes Yes
Water-resistance IP68 certification No
Iris Scanner Yes No
Headphone Jack Yes (3.5mm) Yes (3.5mm)
Charging Port USB Type C Micro USB
Stylus S-Pen (4096 levels of pressure) S-Pen (2048 levels of pressure)
Colours Midnight Black (UK), Maple Gold (UK), Orchid Grey, Deep Sea Blue Frosted White, Charcoal Black, Bronze Gold, Blossom Pink

Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note 8: Should you upgrade?

When the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 launched way back in 2014, it priced in at a fairly hefty £629. But compare that to the Galaxy Note 8’s staggeringly high £869 starting price – ouch!

It’s still possible to buy a Galaxy Note 4; in fact, they’re available on Amazon in ‘Charcoal Black’ for £515 right now:

But there are far more modern phones available for the money, including the similarly priced Samsung Galaxy S8 (2017), which costs just £548.95 right now:

So the real question isn’t whether you want to buy a Note 4 or Note 8, but whether you want to get a Galaxy S8/S8+ or Galaxy Note 8. For that, it’s worth checking out our handy comparison guide below:

Are you going to upgrade to the Galaxy Note 8? Tell us why (or why not) via Facebook or Twitter.

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