Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Moto X (2014)

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (left) and Moto x (2014) (right)

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Motorola's and Samsung’s latest smartphones are two of the biggest Android releases of late 2014 – and two very different kinds of devices. Read on as we compare the features and specs of the Galaxy Note 4 and 2014 Moto X.

Size

We're comparing a phablet to a more typical (at least by today's standards) flagship smartphone. The Galaxy Note 4 is 9 percent longer and 10 percent wider than the new Moto X. The Note is, however, 14 percent thinner than Motorola's device.

Weight

The Note 4’s larger size shows up on the scales as well, with Samsung’s smartphone weighing in at 22 percent heavier.

Build

The Note 4 opts for a faux leather finish with a metal band around its edges. During our hands-on time with the device, we found it to feel a lot like the Note 3 in the hand.

If you visit Motorola's Moto Maker site, you can customize your Moto X in plastic, leather or wood finishes.

Colors

You have four color options with Samsung’s handset vs. an enormous selection of Moto X color combinations.

Display (size)

The 2014 Moto X is much bigger than its 2013 predecessor, but we're still looking at two separate categories of device here. The phablet Note 4 gives you more than 20 percent extra screen over the new Moto X.

Display (resolution)

The Note 4’s display isn’t just larger, it’s also sharper – offering 19 percent more pixels per inch (PPI).

Both displays should look plenty sharp for most eyes. The Note's Quad HD will likely serve more as bonus pixels that add some extra eye candy. 1080p screens are still very sharp – it's not as if there's a problem that Quad HD displays are fixing.

Display (type)

Both devices pack Super AMOLED displays. This makes the Note 4 the first device with a display that's Quad HD and Super AMOLED.

Active Display

The Moto X features what the company calls Active Display. When the device’s display is turned off and a notification is received, it will pulse on the screen, only illuminating the pixels necessary to display the alert. This isn't just convenient, but it eliminates the need to switch on the display to check notifications – which helps to improve battery life.

The Note 4’s Super AMOLED panel means it’s technically capable of the same trick. Samsung doesn’t include any software for this, but there are apps on the Play Store that mimic the Moto X's Active Display.

Stylus

Active stylus input is an integral part of the Galaxy Note experience, and the latest iteration doesn't buck the trend. The new S Pen, which can still be tidily slotted into the handset, has twice the pressure sensitivity of the Note 3’s stylus.

Twist-to-launch camera

You can jump right into the Moto X’s camera by twisting it back and forth (kinda like you're opening a door). This shortcut works even when the phone is sleeping.

Hands-free voice

The Moto X lets you activate Google Now even when the phone's display is switched off. You can also replace the standard “OK Google” hotword phrase with something more to your liking.

The Note 4 doesn’t feature this functionality out of the box, but installing the Google Now Launcher and enabling hot word detection lets you activate the service from anywhere in the OS. The only exception to this is if the display is switched off and the device isn’t hooked up to a charger.

Fingerprint sensor

Like many leading handsets, the Note 4 includes a fingerprint sensor. You activate it by swiping a finger across the physical home button, letting you skip the usual security key to unlock the device.

Heart rate monitor

The Note 4 includes a heart rate monitor built into the back of the device.

Water resistance

The Moto X can cope with the occasional splash of water, but neither handset will survive being fully submerged.

Battery

The Note 4’s battery is much larger than the Moto X’s. Considering its powering over 3.6 million pixels, that’s probably a good thing.

Ultra Power Saving Mode

Samsung includes a terrific power saving mode on the Note 4 that cuts off access to all but the most essential apps, boosting uptimes when it's almost out of juice.

Fast charging

According to Samsung, the Note 4’s battery can go from 0 to 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes, providing you’re using the supplied charger.

Cameras

The Note 4’s front and rear cameras feature a higher pixel count than the Moto X’s, but that’s rarely the whole story. We're still cooking up our Moto X review, so stay tuned for our camera impressions.

Infrared

The Note 4 features an integrated IR blaster, meaning you can use it to control your TV and set-top box.

Split-screen multitasking

Samsung’s handset can run two apps side-by-side, so you can do things like, say, crunch some numbers in a calculator app while browsing figures in a PDF email attachment.

One-handed mode

The Note 4’s 5.7-inch panel can be a bit large for some (if not many) users, especially if you’re trying to use the handset with one hand. To combat this, Samsung includes a one-handed mode that shrinks down the useable display to one side of the screen (via a simple swipe gesture).

Virtual reality

The Note 4 is designed to provide the processing and display for Samsung’s recently announced Gear VR headset.

The new Moto X should work with Google Cardboard – but it's a developer kit, and not yet aimed at consumers.

Storage

The Note 4’s storage options are more expansive than the Moto X’s. Samsung’s phablet also has a microSD card reader, which can augment your internal storage.

Processor

Both smartphones offer powerful quad core processors, but the Note 4’s Snapdragon 805 is the newer chip, with the higher clock speed.

RAM

The Samsung handset offers an extra gigabyte of RAM over its rival.

Software

Motorola has taken a hands-off approach to Google’s OS, shipping the Moto X with near stock Android 4.4 KitKat. The only changes have been made to accommodate for the device’s extra features, as listed above.

Similarly, Samsung has altered the software to make way for key Note 4 features such as split-screen multitasking and S Pen input. However, the company also significantly changes the look of Android, opting for a more vibrant aesthetic.

If you’re not a fan of either approach, you can always customise the look and functionality of the OS using a custom launcher.

Release

Samsung has confirmed that the Note 4 will hit shelves in the US on October 17.

Starting price (full retail)

The standard price tag for a flagship handset in 2014 is around US$650, making the Moto X’s price point worth paying attention to.

The Note 4 is already up for pre-order with several carriers, and is running at around $700 full retail.

Starting price (on-contract)

If you live in the US, you're more likely to see these prices. Here the Moto X can save you $200.

For more on these two, you can check out our full reviews of the Galaxy Note 4 and Moto X.

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