Better Camera Gives Samsung a Note-Worthy Phone

With Apple's release of larger-screen iPhones last month, Samsung's flagship Galaxy phones no longer have the distinction of being "the next big thing," as Samsung's ads like to tout. But there's still plenty to like in Samsung's phones, including the new Galaxy Note 4 phone out this week.

Sharper resolution, better cameras and battery life give the Note 4 a stronger edge than the phone's previous incarnation. However, just like the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, the 5.7-inch Note 4 will be too big for a lot of customers, unless you want to watch lots of video but not carry around a large tablet. Many people will be happier holding and carrying the 5.1-inch Galaxy S5 or the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.

The Note 4 will cost $300 with a two-year service contract. Contract-free prices range from $700 with Verizon to $826 with AT&T. The Note comes with 32 gigabytes of storage, which is starting to become the standard starting point.

THE DISPLAY

The Note's screen resolution is sharper than most other phones, though it doesn't make a lot of difference when viewing video, as the quality of streaming video is often poorer than what the screen can display. What matters more is Samsung's use of AMOLED display technology, which produces richer colors than conventional LCD screens.

The better resolution does help with smaller text, but with such a large screen, you rarely need to read text that small.

THE CAMERA

Like the iPhone 6 Plus, the Note has a rear camera with optical image stabilization, which is a technology to counter shaky hands. Beyond reducing blur, it allows the camera's shutter to open a tad longer, so the camera can avoid a technique that introduces distortion in photos.

All photos benefit, but this is particularly important in low light and at higher zoom, when the camera is more sensitive...

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