Samsung will announce the successor of the popular Galaxy Note 3 later today, at a press event dubbed Unpacked 2014 Episode 2 (which you can watch live, should you wish (opens in new tab) – the shindig begins at 14:00 GMT).
This is the second most important unveiling of the year for the South Korean maker, after Galaxy S5. Naturally, that means that our expectations are high for what will arguably be the Android phablet to beat in the second part of 2014, if the success of its predecessors is any indication.
So far, Samsung has officially disclosed little about Galaxy Note 4, only revealing the silhouette of the new phablet in one of its most recent teaser videos, and not much else. That is far from a complete picture, so here is what else you can expect from Samsung's Galaxy Note 4.
Power, power, and more power
It's no secret that Samsung likes to use the most powerful processors available – from Qualcomm and its own collection – in Galaxy Note devices. Last year's iteration launched in two versions, one with a Samsung-made Exynos 5 Octa 5420 eight-core processor (four cores running at 1.9GHz, and the rest at 1.3GHz) and the other with a Qualcomm-made 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor.
This year, Galaxy Note 4 is likely to retain the same version structure. I expect Samsung to make use of an even more powerful Exynos 5 Octa iteration, hopefully 64 bit-compatible, as well as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 805 processor. The latter, however, is based on older ARM technology, which is not 64-bit enabled. It is unlikely that Samsung has been able to get the newer Snapdragon 808 or Snapdragon 810, based on the information available so far. Either of the two versions should be matched with at least 3 GB of RAM.
Look at me!
Traditionally, each Galaxy Note was announced with a display size increased by 0.2in over its predecessor. Galaxy Note launched with a 5.3in screen, Galaxy Note II arrived with a 5.5in screen, and Galaxy Note 3 joined the pack with a 5.7in screen. It would make sense for Samsung to design Galaxy Note 4 with a 5.9in display.
That, however, is not what the current information surfacing around the internet suggests. Galaxy Note 4 is expected to retain the 5.7in display size. That said, the resolution will definitely increase to 2560 x 1440, up from 1920 x 1080. This should give it a more impressive pixel density, one that more closely matches LG's G3 (opens in new tab).
It is also expected that Galaxy Note 4 will make use of AMOLED technology for the display, as is typical of every flagship smartphone and phablet that Samsung has released so far. Love it or hate it, LCDs are not the Galaxy Note's cup of tea.
Another area which Samsung is expected to improve upon is the image quality delivered by the two cameras. Galaxy S5 introduced phase detection with its main shooter, and that will be carried over to Galaxy Note 4. What this means is that the focusing should be much faster than before, and more dependable in action-packed scenes. Hopefully, Samsung will open the aperture more than before, to allow the sensor to receive more light and, therefore, work better in poorly lit conditions (I'm not betting on it, though).
Of course, it goes without saying that the main Galaxy Note 4 camera will top its predecessor in the resolution department. Galaxy Note 3 has a 13 megapixel shooter, and its successor is expected to up that to 16 megapixels (opens in new tab). The secondary camera is also expected to see a resolution increase, to a more detailed 3.7 megapixels.(opens in new tab)
Charge you later
Another area of interest in Galaxy Note devices is the battery life, which has traditionally been a strong suit of the series. Last year's model packs a 3,200 mAh unit, and it is unlikely for Samsung to use a lesser battery in Galaxy Note 4. That said, a larger capacity unit would make it difficult for the South Korean maker to keep the handset thin, or decrease it compared to Galaxy Note 3. Still, a small increase would make sense.
While we're on the matter of battery and battery life, I do not believe that Samsung will enable wireless charging out of the box in Galaxy Note 4. The necessary hardware adds considerable thickness, which is something the South Korean maker wants to avoid. To give you an idea, Galaxy Note 3 comes in at 8.3mm thick without it, while with it, G3 measures 9.1mm in the same plane (with a slightly smaller 3,000 mAh battery).
Android L is still undergoing testing, so Galaxy Note 4 will have to make do with the nearly one year-old KitKat. That is not a bad thing, really, as version 4.4 is mature enough at this point. It will be completed by Samsung's well-known skin, TouchWiz. The user interface offers features that allow users to fully take advantage of the stylus, and Samsung will definitely add a few new tricks to the software of this year's Galaxy Note.
You should also expect to see a slightly changed TouchWiz with more polish than before, a version which is an evolution of the UI iteration first seen on Galaxy S5. I expect Samsung to reveal a modest update, from a visual standpoint, with more changes reserved for the under-the-hood bits.
Everyone with an interest in Galaxy Note 4 expects Samsung to make improvements in these aforementioned areas – but there are other changes worth mentioning. The fingerprint sensor and heart rate monitor first seen on Galaxy S5 will definitely make an appearance, with software additions to match the newfound features. The phablet's shell will be dust and water-resistant (IP67-rated), much like Galaxy S5. And there is talk about a UV sensor, to let users know when it's time to step out of the sunlight.
For full live commentary and analysis of the Unpacked 2 event and the build-up to it, see our coverage here: Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Gear VR launch live: News, pictures and analysis from Berlin (opens in new tab).