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Catchup: A week or so on Android/Samsung Galaxy Note 4/Touch Wiz – Has some pluses but Grass Certainly isn’t Greener.

| December 11, 2014 | 21 Replies

MNBIMG_1858This post was meant to come in after a few more days into Android but there were some uni deadlines that needed to be prioritised.

This was written after a week’s use and unfortunately got buried under a pile of other things but the last post about Tom giving up on WP reminded me to post it.

A few things have changed for me since then but generally, I’m liking a few more bits, I’m disliking a few more other bits. I do get some buyers remorse in terms of agreeing with you guys that this might not have been the best Android to choose (Lollipop on the Nexus 6 might have been better).

Again, it’s worth considering that my first real foray into Android camp is with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. There’s particular hardware considerations as well as TouchWiz to consider.

Hardware:

Likes:

  1. The screen is nice, sharp and vivid. In comparison to the 1520, the IPS LCD produces a lot more natural looking colours and it is brighter in auto mode (plus better in sunlight). Overall it’s still a positive experience on the display. Set to full brightness, it sears your eyes but then that means your battery drains like a brand new industrial sink.
  2. Build does feel solid. It seems less Samsungy. The menu button feels off and the placement of the volume buttons means they’re inaccessible when in a case.
  3. The fingerprint reader is easy when using two hands because I often use my index finger. When using one handed, using the thumb often gets it incorrect. It’s not as easy as the fingerprint reader appears to be on an iPhone (you just place a finger print, no swiping needed). But Sammy’s implementation does work most of the time.
  4. The LED notification light. It’s a nice touch. Would rather glance but this is better than nothing. Reminds me of my N900.
  5. Speakers are nice and loud. 1520 is better but this is good enough.
  6. Fast Charge: Using the charger provided
  7. Super Sensitive screen: Like what was introduced with the 920. It’s getting cold now in the UK so I’m having to use gloves. A stylus could have worked but that’s too fiddly. I have to remember to turn it off though cos it eats battery.
  8. 4K recording. Sammy had it on the Note 3 and it’s supposedly even better on the Note 4. I don’t have a 4K screen to view it on but it seems good enough.
  9. OIS: I don’t think it’s quite on par with 1520 but I really appreciate this being there. I do like that it doesn’t seem to have that weird AF pulsing in video.
  10. Stylus. I’m a big fan of ‘hover’. More on that on the software side.

Dislikes:

  1. Camera button – the lack of it is really annoying me. No matter how long it took Lumia Camera to start, it seems just as annoying to start it with software keys (when there’s an additional homescreen layer) [I’ve since had to employ a shortcut app to make the home button double tap activate camera – or triple when locked 🙁 ).
  2. Camera quality still feels very “meh”. Perhaps more conditions to test them in. The camera isn’t that much faster to start (vs Lumia Camera) and I feel like a lot of the pictures just doesn’t look that nice. Friends that have seen it say it’s good though not as good as my Nokias.
  3. Battery life seems decent. Full day with mixed use. Nope, nope, nope. First couple of days yes. After some setting up, I have to charge by about 5pm again. [After setting up Android some more, it’s even worse. I pack TWO Nokia DC-19s to make sure I have a full day. By 12 noon it’s already just under 50%. What’s more fun is if you use hotspot. Every few minutes you go down by 1%.)
  4. The lack of glance and double tap to unlock is really grating on me. How can the screen just do nothing when it’s on standby?
  5. Heart rate monitor and O2 sats monitor – an absolute JOKE. It takes so long to get a reading and I doubt it’s correct. I’ll check on Monday with the actual clinical O2 sats probe (which also measures heart rate). I’d rather they had placed a second LED in that space.
  6. Sunlight readability a bit of a mixed bag. You don’t get that highlighted contrast that makes the screen pop outdoors like you do with Nokia Lumia. It’s ok though I feel like I’ve joined the “shade my screen with other hand” gang.

Software:

Likes:

  1. I really like using Chrome browser. I can do a lot more of the wordpress stuff directly on the wordpress site. I wish it wouldn’t try to compress mobile view though (especially when even in portrait, the Note 4 has more horizontal pixels than my mac has in landscape). [I’ve been able to post with a lot more ease using the chrome browser. I haven’t had a mobile wordpress site posting as easy as this since using the n900 – that little thing was like using a desktop]
  2. S-pen – it’s like using my Nokia N900 again. I can hover and use it like a mouse that would highlight over certain things (great in browser). Usually trying to go into a website’s menu would lead to me clicking the drop down instead of being able to look at the options first. I do wish that S-pen’s clipped images would automatically save as jpeg and go in gallery so I can upload them via browser.
  3. Multi-window. When it works (as not all apps have this feature). It’s great having one thing open
  4. Camera – voice activation. This is neat: I like being able to take a picture by saying ‘cheese’ or ‘shoot’ and record video by saying ‘record video’. It helps ease the lack of camera button in a way (which I did not think I would miss that much).
  5. Camera – Panorama and Dual Shot – easier pano than Lumia and dual shot does have it’s random and rare uses.
  6. Optional keyboard. I love swiftkey. Possibly because it isn’t as annoying to use as the default sammy keyboard. Swype is great at swyping but doesn’t transition well into thumb typing. Swiftkey feels like my wordflow WP keyboard with some nice extras like themes, split options, changing size, undocking etc.
  7. Lots of personalising (except the theme). Which is great because I need to replace a lot of things.
  8. Lots of quick toggle access in notifications. Not just the 4/5 that you get with WP. You can swipe to view more or press a button to view all.
  9. Greater range of apps/stores. There’s more rubbish to wade through but there are also quite a few great apps. I think I’ve settled on a calendar app that finally fills all of what I’ve been wanting from a calendar app (Business Calendar Pro and there’s an even cooler beta.).
  10. Widgets – they have potential. They’re definitely in the like because it’s better than that dead homescreen you have on iOS where it’s a simple sea of icons. I like being able to interact with these.

Dislikes:

1. I miss pinning things! Pinning train times, pinning albums/playlists. Urgh.

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2. Smart select snipper tool – seems quite a faff to select an image but then it isn’t saved as a .jpeg.

3. Themes/TouchWiz

I had some preconceptions that Android had so much personalisation behind it. You could change launchers which would change icons and wallpapers and lockscreens how you want it. Well you can do that. But the core touchwiz colours – with the dark notification screen and the light settings menu – it seems you cannot change these by default. I’m NOT going to root my phone or other stuff just to do this.

I remember the jokes on WP where you could only switch to dark/white themes and your palettes – as much as it’s nice to have different launchers, I actually feel being able to change a consistent theme system wide is a whole lot nicer. Not a superficial change where you then still end up seeing the old core stuff exactly the same as is.

The whole appearance as I’ve said feels very disjointed and the more I use it, the more it annoys me. Not to mention that it looks ugly. I feel at times I’m using Windows 95. It’s just not classy.

I’ve used NOVA launcher (paid) for now as it gives me the best balance of features/appearance.

4. OK Google and S-voice.

The more I use it, the more awful it feels compared to Cortana. Cortana sounds better and integrates things better (like my facebook events as well as rest of calendar stops). Cortana really is a lot more personable. She’s a lot more likeable. She’s nicer, more thoughtful, has more human responses. Don’t even get me started on S-Voice. That feels like the robotic poundland counterpart of Cortana. Kinda like that DVD that can only be sold in bargain basement shops and still will never ever be purchased because it’s so bad.

Always listening Google Now barely ever works. It did on day 1 but ever since that day I feel like I’m talking to a disobedient child that never answers when they’re called. If it does, it cannot carry out the action until I touch the screen. Perhaps it’s only really meant to work on the likes of Moto X?

5. Individualised email

On WP, I could have a unified inbox or separate ones. I’m yet to find this option. I’ve put my gmail into gmail and my uni emails (x2) into the email app. It just seems to integrate them together without an option to separate. I don’t want to add any more email addresses to avoid risk of confusing/missing critical emails from uni.

6. Apps aren’t necessarily better on Android. I was happy to find out my bank had an app I could download but oh boy that felt worse to use than the web version. Things like Whatsapp – it actually feels better on WP now.

7. Notifications that just get bunged together when you have multiple items from that app. More than one message from whatsapp? Tough luck you won’t see what is said in notifications.

8. Settings are awful. I complained before that I thought WP’s settings menu was appallingly laid out. TouchWiz settings are worse! It takes my friends on Galaxy ages to show me something in settings because even after years of using their phone, they still don’t know where things are. I had an impression that things were grouped in more logical categories but it doesn’t feel that way.

9. Lag. Lag everywhere. Pressing the multitask button after doing some action gets a sluggish response. It gets better if you press it again and again showing that this delay is in fact, NOT intended. Also, things aren’t always running in the background. I’ve had games restart completely on me after pausing them and web pages deciding to reload.

10. Widgets inconsistency and poor design. It just looks so messy and cluttered. The 1520 full of tiles still looks organised and clean.

11. Camera UI: I like that there are a lot of features, including slow mo, 4K video and there are even attempts to copy Lumia lenses. However, the settings menu is organised in such a horrible way that things take too many taps to access. Why is flash hidden away? Something that people want to turn on and off quickly most of the time? Also, those lenses that I spoke of, e.g. their Refocus equivalent – well that feels like a really bad ‘me too’. Their Smart Cam equivalent is also pretty bad as is their ‘cinemagraph’. I just really hate taking pictures on here. Also I’m yet to find an equivalent as good as Fantasia Painter (not to mention that Adobe PhotoShop express crashes as soon as I try to do something) or 6tag for instagram. How do I manage multiple accounts?

 

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A few more things to add – my homescreen still looks super cluttered, but I’ve tweaked it so much using Nova launcher and lots of different widgets. Basically to get it right out of the box is easier on WP. BTW – folders are just folders for icons.

I’ll post this now as is and will update when I can otherwise I’d never get around to posting planned posts.

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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