Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. OnePlus One

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (left) and OnePlus One (right)

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is a high-end, feature-packed phablet boasting the latest high-end specs. But how does it compare to 2014’s (nearly-unattainable) budget hero, the OnePlus One? The OnePlus handset may offer less frills than the Samsung device, but holds its own in more categories than you might think. Read on, as Gizmag compares the two smartphones.

Size

The dimensions of the handset are remarkably similar, with the Samsung device coming in at just 4 percent wider and less than 1 percent longer than the One. The OnePlus handset is around 5 percent thicker than its rival.

Weight

The Note 4 is 5 percent heavier than the One.

Build

The OnePlus handset features a magnesium finish (though you can swap out its back cover for a variety of different materials), while the Note 4 opts for a plastic faux leather back cover with a metal strip around its edges.

Colors

The Samsung device offers a wider choice of colors than its rival.

Display (size)

The expansive displays on both devices place them firmly in the phablet category. The Note 4’s screen, though, is 7.4 percent larger than the One’s.

Display (resolution)

While the devices’ screens may be a similar size, there’s a bigger difference when it comes to resolution. While the OnePlus handset’s 1080p offering is certainly sharp, there are 28 percent more pixels per inch (PPI) on the Note 4.

Stylus

As its name implies, the Note 4 puts an emphasis on stylus input, with the new S Pen providing double the pressure sensitivity of the previous version.

Fingerprint sensor

Like many recent Samsung handsets, the Note 4 features a fingerprint sensor built into its home button, allowing users to use their fingers to bypass other security measures.

Heart rate monitor

The Samsung device has a heart rate monitor integrated into the rear of the handset.

Tap-on display

Like the LG G3 and HTC One (M8), you can double tap the OnePlus One’s display to wake it up.

Battery

The Note 4’s battery is a little larger than the One’s. Given the increased number of pixels on the Samsung device’s display, that's probably a good thing.

Ultra Power Saving Mode

The Samsung handset offers a battery saving mode that cuts off access to all but the most essential apps, significantly extending up times when you’re running low on charge.

Fast charging

Samsung is introducing some new battery tech with the Note 4, with the handset reportedly able to go from 0 to 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes.

Water resistance

Neither device is rated for water resistance.

Cameras

The Note 4 packs more pixels into its rear camera, while the One offers a higher resolution front shooter. It's worth noting that there’s more to a great smartphone camera than a high pixel count, so stay tuned for more on camera quality.

Infrared

The Note 4 features an IR blaster, meaning you can use it as a TV remote.

Split-screen multitasking

Samsung’s handset lets you split the screen in half, running two apps simultaneously. You could technically achieve a similar end on the One, but you'd need to root the device and install an Xposed module (in other words, for advanced tinkerers only).

One-handed mode

For some people, the Note 4’s 5.7-inch display might make it a little big for comfortable one handed use. Luckily, Samsung has included the ability to shrink down the device’s usable display area to the side of the screen via a simple gesture.

Similar to the split-screen issue, you'd need to hack your phone to get a similar mode on the OnePlus One.

Virtual reality

The Galaxy Note 4 is designed to provide the company’s upcoming Gear VR headset with its display and processing. While you’ll need to buy the accessory to take advantage of the feature, it’s something that helps make the new handset an enticing prospect.

The One should work well with Google Cardboard, but, unlike the Gear VR, it's a developer kit that isn't (yet) aimed at consumers.

Storage

Samsung offers fairly standard 32 and 64 GB storage options with the Note 4, and thanks to a microSD card reader, upgrading is as simple as inserting a memory card.

The OnePlus handset’s base configuration offers less internal storage, and there’s no microSD card slot on board. The good news is that there’s also a 64 GB version of the handset, and it only retails for US$50 more than the 16 GB model.

Processor

The One packs the same beefy CPU found in the HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5, while the Note 4’s newer chip offers a faster clock speed per core.

RAM

Both smartphones pack a healthy 3 GB memory.

Software

Both devices run augmented versions of Android 4.4 KitKat that veer off in very different directions.

The OnePlus One runs CyanogenMod – an open source custom firmware project that doesn’t stray too far from the stock OS, but offers a huge array of customization options. These range from the ability to ignore the device’s physical touch home buttons in favor of software keys, to entirely changing the look of the OS with custom themes.

The Note's TouchWiz UI, meanwhile, offers plenty of options as well – but its focus is more on big Samsung features that differentiate its handset from other Android handset makers. Multi Window, Ultra Power Saving Mode and One-Handed Mode fit into that category, as does Samsung's stylus-focused software for the S Pen.

Release

When the Note 4 hits shelves on October 17, the OnePlus One will have technically been available for six months.

Why the asterisk? Well, OnePlus is using an invite system that, to this day, makes the phone difficult to find.

Starting price (off-contract)

While the Note 4 packs in a lot more features than its rival, OnePlus’ handset has one big thing going for it – its price. At $300, it costs less than half of what you’d expect to pay for a flagship device.

... again, though, that's assuming you can get your hands on a OnePlus One without schmoozing an existing One owner, overpaying for one second-hand or participating in a cheap PR stunt.

Samsung has yet to announce pricing for the Note 4, but based on previously releases we’d expect it to retail for around $700.

For more on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, you can check out our hands-on from Samsung's launch event.

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