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Initial impressions: Android, Samsung Galaxy Note 4,Touch Wiz: great stuff, miss lots of WP/Nokia Lumia things

| November 27, 2014 | 29 Replies

MNBIMG_1850Note 4

I’m guessing this will also be a series as well (TIME PERMITTING), at least at first, as I find myself in this vast Android world.

Here’s the previous post: http://mynokiablog.com/2014/11/26/im-trying-out-android-on-the-samsung-galaxy-note-4-what-ill-miss-from-nokia-lumia-1520/

With the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, I’m essentially trying a few different combinations here:

  1. Android 4.4.4
  2. Samsung – The Galaxy Note 4 variant
  3. Touch Wiz

The Android experience isn’t as straight forward as say, the Windows Phone (8.1) experience. Pretty much all WP devices, be they Nokia or a HTC, high end or low end, are all very consistent in the user experience. There are a few changes of course (lumia specific apps, lumia specific innovations) but otherwise mostly very same. With Android, and especially based on the comments from the previous post, it seems there are many other recommendations on the Android handset that I should have chosen, with user DBS saying that was the worst brand to try Android on (although some have commented that they are trying Android with the Note 4 too – maybe a newbie thing?)

Anyway, my experience will be based on the whole thing put together initially.

Hardware:

  1. It feels fairly solid. It’s not the prettiest of designs. I find my 1520 a bit more eye catching.
  2. Screen looks great! I think I can appreciate the extra bit of sharpness with those extra pixels. Out of the box, the brightness is set to FULL so you get to really see how good it is at the start. When you set it to auto, it is a bit more ‘meh’ in comparison. The colours are nice. It’s VERY sad that it doesn’t have glance. Very. Oh, no double tap to unlock. Sad face.
  3. Camera – I miss having that hardware button. Simple and always works, regardless of what’s on the homescreen and can be activated from anywhere. (If only Lumia Cyan and Nokia Camera on 1520 was faster at opening – but that’s a software thing as). Camera quality – too early. Not too bad I guess.
  4. The fingerprint reader is something I have been using to unlock the phone. Working about 97% of the time. I’m quite surprised. Would be neat if it could do other stuff other than unlocking (say opening apps). I think it can have some web login access in browser.
  5. Heart Rate monitor – who actually uses that? Success rate of about 1%.
  6. S-pen. Let’s not forget the defining feature of the Note 4: The stylus input! I haven’t used it that much yet. Still learning. The stylus feels nice, it’s responsive
  7. Hardware Home button: – Not a fan of having to push the home button.
  8. Front camera – wider angle than my 1520 and has an even wider selfie pano function. Colours atm looking more natural on 1520 but that might be the AMOLED saturations coming through on Note 4.
  9. Battery: Difficult to tell with a new device. It came out of the box at 70% which I felt depleted fairly quickly. But then again, first time with a new device you’re doing so much which understandably kills the battery. I think it should be alright.
  10. LED indicator. I really wanted to have that in WP, but I guess not at the expense of glance. I can tell so much more in Glance.

Software:

What I expected from Android and the Note 4 was somehow increased productivity. The calendars would be better, the browser would be better, there’d be more apps, these widgets would supposedly be better, the multi window would be awesome..

Well, some yes, some no. There was the initial teething stage (and I’m still there now but potentially got through the worst of it) where a lot of things seemed unnecessarily convoluted. Thanks for the help folks on twitter and here. I wouldn’t have found out half the things without searching the web or relying on your suggestions.

Settings:

Settings still baffle me. It seemed like a lot of the things I wanted to find weren’t there. It reminded me of the first time I used a higher end mobile phone (Sony Ericsson T68i) and basically just had to open everything and learn by memory rather than rely on some intuitive organisation. It was nice to have some different options (like what would be the default browser/launcher).

Notifications:

I prefer the way email messages are displayed on my 1520/WP as individual equal rectangles of which all can be swiped away by dragging one OR opening a particular message by tapping. They all just seem to get grouped together. I like that I could answer one message and still see notifications of other emails I haven’t read/replied to. I think text messages this way.

I can’t seem to be able to access my notification bar when the phone is locked. Perhaps that’s a settings thing?

Not too sure about S-finder being placed here. I guess it means you can use it in most places. Would be nice to be able to find apps when I’m in the app tray.

I like that I can quickly access ALL settings toggles by the corner button. Totally saves having to open settings to see the rest of them. This is a big plus.

Regarding Apps:

Here is still early days yet. The very first couple of hours was a pain – only because I was getting ERROR after ERROR after ERROR. Apps refused to install. It was annoying and not a good first impression but I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt that it’s not always like that (I don’t think it was like that when I used the S2). Otherwise, yeah, apps. In terms of quality – it’s difficult to discuss at this stage. Yes I have a banking app but my particular bank has an awful one. I might as well use the web version because theirs is sluggish and micro text. I already miss 6sec. Being able to download videos from BBCiPlayer is cool (although the download never finished as the download speed suddenly decided to die on me so I cancelled it. Again, early days yet).

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The possibility of installing from multiple sources was good. I think the process is simpler on Windows Phone for the newbie user as there’s just one place. I had to go through Samsung’s store to get HERE Maps. I went to Amazon’s store to get Amazon Instant Video (which isn’t on WP at all so that was nice I guess). BTW office on Android – I thought that was recently updated but the store says the version of Android that I have isn’t compatible. There’s a neat lockscreen app from Microsoft that I installed (only to get some calendar entries into the lockscreen – Samsung disabled lockscreen widgets. My lockscreen seems utterly useless to me except for telling me I have walked X amount of steps – oh wait and some message notifications – again perhaps warning about ‘early days’ yet again as there may be things I complain about that just needs time).

It was nice to try Nokia Z-launcher. However, as demoed in some videos, writing “I” comes out with “l”. Even visually that’s confusing in certain fonts, but one was I for instagram, the other is L for lack of getting it right. I can’t wait to see and experience the full implementation on the Nokia N1.

Calendar: 

It’s ok. There’s the particular week view I wanted (achieved on WP only by some really good third party apps). I like that with S-pen I can draw on the calendar. Like actually draw like circles over dates, arrows etc.

Homescreen:

Perhaps I’ve been indoctrinated into the world of tiles too much, or perhaps WP tiles really have come  long way. I don’t think I appreciated as much as I did until I started looking at my TouchWiz homescreen to see how empty and dead it all seemed.

Widgets are nice in that you can interact with them. I wouldn’t mind some extra functionality for WP this way (e.g. music player) but by no means is WP lagging behind here. Pretty much most apps can be pinned in WP and provide some sort of condensed view on your homescreen. You don’t get a widget for each app. And widgets that you do get will work differently on different launchers (some may not even be available). Here I was moaning that I couldn’t get every little aspect of an app being pinnable on my WP homescreen…(Pinning spotify playlists to homescreen – possible on Android? Or do I have to open the app each time?)

Personalisation:

Woo wallpapers! I put an animated one on mine. But how come I can’t change the colours of anything else (just out of the box modifications)

Camera UI

Not as intuitive as Nokia/Lumia Camera. The settings seems all over the place and hidden away. Also, the gallery takes a long time to load.

AF is nice and fast. I miss one finger zoom.

Multi Window:

MNBScreenshot_2014-11-27-09-40-31Note 4

You can get a cool multi view in a couple of ways. Either have them ‘snap’ side by side a bit like Windows 8 and you can adjust how much the other takes. Or you can have a mini window that you can resize and place on top of something else.

This is actually quite useful. I watched a bit of a video whilst browsing the web. At the same time, same phone screen.

BUT: and here’s the big Anaconda loving, Kim Kardashian wiggling BUT: It only works on certain apps. There’s like a handful that I’ll actually use. I can’t do it to most of the other apps I’ve got. It almost makes it gimmicky when it sadly could have been so great.

Voice Assistant; S-voice, Google Now.

Let’s quickly conclude on S-voice. It sounds horrible. I will only be using it just to have a fuller verdict of it.

Google Now – saying OK google with always listening even when locked (apparently only on Moto X and Note 4). The always listening doesn’t always work. There’s also a delay when you say “OK google” to when you can ask it to do something. So if you don’t pause and wait until it responds, you don’t get your command. I was expecting “OK google, remind me to ____” not “ok google” *waiting____________waiting* “remind me to …”. You need to find this in settings btw as it’s not available by default. Also when you say “set an alarm – it pauses for a bit as a progress bar goes across the page. The moment you finish asking Cortana to set an alarm, the UK one just goes “alright, I’ve set you an alarm for ….”.

WP doesn’t have always listening yet (needs Lumia denim on 1520/930). But it does have a Cortana search button. Long press and  you can immediately ask it to do something. The whole waiting thing is annoying. Does note 4 have an equivalent?

Oh and the actual voice – man, I really miss Cortana.

S-pen stuff

I need more time to get used to it. I like that I can make notes than I can call or draw on screenshots instantly.

Performance/Lags:

Yes, I’ve experienced some. Not many. I don’t know if it’s designed this way but when pressing the multitask button – what’s the purpose of the delay before opening? I don’t think it’s meant to be there since if you quickly go back to the homescreen and press the button again it opens quicker.

UI thoughts:

Perhaps what I’m looking for is Android Lollipop. Everything feels very disjointed in comparison to the consistency of Windows Phone Modern/Metro UI.

Conclusion:

Change is difficult. It’s always hard at first, especially when so ingrained into something else. I’m sure over time I’ll pick up the android nuances, the special green bot perks that I’ll be wishing is in WP.

I’m a long time WP user, there’s things I love and there’s things I hate in WP. Recently there’s been a WP backlash, a feeling of being left behind, a feeling that MS are taking too long and nothing is being done, a feeling that the OS needs an update now as it’s awful.

Well, as much as I’d love the newest update now, what surprised me about using Android for a few hours was

I’ve not tried the Note 4 as my main device yet as it’s SIM locked. Initially the issue was having a MicroSIM in the Note 4 and not the nano SIM as found in the 1520. A plastic adapter cost £5! I found one in the 925 sim tray but it had gotten stuck and bent out of place. It’ll be a bit different in normal usage.

There’s more stuff to find out. I’ll try to share what I can what with exam prep being on the forefront of things.

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Category: Nokia

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at mynokiablog.com and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and  Facebook.com/mynokiablog. Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@)mynokiablog.com or email me directly on jay[at]mynokiablog.com