Samsung defined the Phablet category with the original Galaxy Note. 4 iterations later, Samsung is coming out with one of the best devices in this very popular category. No.1 has been making Samsung clones as long as there have been Samsung devices. We took a very close look at the S5 clone and compared it to the real deal last year. If you’re wondering what’s the point of getting a look alike, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to dive right in and let you know what you get for the extra $500 when you pick up the original Galaxy Note 4.
The No 1 Note 4 looks identical to the Galaxy Note 4. With the screen off I’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart from each other (well, you’d be hard pressed if you overlook the fact that No. 1 devices don’t have Samsung written on the front or back). We’ve got a 5.7-inch display and the same aluminum chassis that measure 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm. Under the hood, however, is a different story. The MediaTek MT6582 processor comes paired with 1GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The rear sports a 13 MP camera and a 5 MP shooter on the front, along with a 2800 mAh battery packed inside.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 also comes with a 5.7-inch display, but instead of a 1280x720p resolution, it’s got a significantly higher-quality Super AMOLED panel at 2560x1440p. Under the hood is a Snapdragon 805 processor with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a MicroSD card slot that is good for cards up to 128 GB. The Galaxy Note 4 is a specification beast. Its 16 MP camera has image optical stabilization and is one of the best camera’s on the market. Battery-wise, the Galaxy Note 4 has a larger 3220 mAh battery which does add to the weight (176 grams).
Now that you’ve got the rundown of the specs, let’s get into the nitty gritty. Not everyone needs a Smartphone that comes with the best specifications on the market. Sometimes you just want a good-looking phone that does the basics, and that’s what we’re going to be looking at today.
You can buy FOUR No 1 Note 4’s for the price of ONE Galaxy Note 4!
Design – Looks Identical & Feels Almost the Same
The two phones look identical apart from the No 1 carrying the No 1 branding, rather than Samsung’s brand name. After all it’s a clone it’s not trying to be a Fake. That’s the funny thing – people often think that clones are trying to pass themselves off as the real deal. No 1 is, in fact, quite proud of their brand (they’ve even called themselves No 1).
Taking a closer look at the phones, the curves are identical and the proportions match exactly. If you weren’t looking at the logo’s you wouldn’t be able to tell which is which.
Once you have the phone in hand, you can tell which is which with out even looking. The weight is less on the No 1, which is because of it’s smaller battery. The other difference is that the buttons just don’t feel as solid. They rock a little too much, especially the home button in the front. You can see in the photo below that the No1 home button just doesn’t sit flush.
The No 1 also doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor on board, which is very sucky because the feature is still there. Though it says it registers your fingerprint, it won’t let you back into the phone. The tragic thing about doing this is that it doesn’t ask you to set up an alternative password, so I had to figure out how to factory reset the phone. I even had to retake all of my comparison photos, which I compiled for over a week. Yes I know I should have backed up, but if you use as many phones as I do auto backup isn’t always a smart plan.
Display – A little Washed Out But Bright Enough
The display gives the clone away immediately. It isn’t as vibrant, bright, clear and sharp. The resolutions are also drastically different. When checking the viewing angles, the No 1 has a definite white hue and does provide privacy protection. If you’re riding public transportation and some salacious photo comes up and you frantically look around to see who might have caught you, you’ll be able to get away with looking at it, because the viewing angles are pretty poor. Having said that, without comparison and looking directly at the display it is bright enough.
The No 1 also doesn’t offer the ability to bring the brightness down to 1 nit, and though the display just isn’t as bright, it is bright enough for usable outdoor viewing. The white film from the viewing angles definitely does appear more easily when using the display outside, which creates a narrow field of view. In addition, the No 1 display isn’t as sensitive as the Note 4 around the edges. I did happen a few times that I was had to double or even triple press an icons, but it’s not something that you’ll notice in the day-to-day operations of the phone.
Technically, both handsets have an S-Pen but that is only in theory. When you initially pull out the S-Pen from the No1, it launches a the Air View options wheel. Pressing the button on the side of the S-Pen is meant to open or close the Air View menu, on the No 1 it doesn’t do anything.
At first glance, you’d think the functionality is the same, but when you start to actually look into it the No 1 doesn’t have the exact same features. The Air View on the No 1 is more akin, feature-wise, to the Note 3.
The Note 4 has Action Memo, where you can write notes, as well as Smart Select, where you can clip small areas of the display. You can even use Image Clip, which lets you cut out image. And Screen Write lets you take a screen shot and make notes on it.
Taking a closer look at the No 1, we can tell you the actual hardware found in the pen isn’t great. It has a metal tip, which is actually putting glass against metal. Let’s be honest, this isn’t a good feeling the S-Pen on the Note 4 is rubber on glass, which is a pleasure.
Feature-wise, the No 1’s Air View panel has an extra feature, which is search but the other features included are just a little different once you actually start using them. First thing you’ll notice is there is no smart hover, so you can’t get a preview of what you’re about to select. Smart Memo is also included: it is functionally identical. It lets you hand-write and save notes. Gallery is a short cut. Screen Write works the same, letting you take a screenshot. However, it doesn’t have the same editing functions as the Note 4 that allows you to add notes and write directly on the screen shot. A quick launcher is also included, which isn’t found on the Note 4 but was found on the Note 3. It allows you to bring up a box of any size that will contain shortcuts to apps that you find useful.
One thing that I need to bring up about the S-Pen is that you have no way to launch Air View apart from pulling the pen out of the handset. If you’d like to launch multiple tasks then you have to put the pen back in and pull it out. During the 30 minutes that I spent testing out this feature, it actually stopped working. I restarted the phone twice and now have no way to actually launch it. Huge fail, if you ask me.
So if the S-Pen is the reason that you’re keen on picking up the No 1, then this is the feature that does justify the $500 jump in price. This combination of hardware and software remains unrivaled in other handsets, and the finesse required to pull it off is above the $160 price range. But if you don’t use the S-Pen, then keep reading because this device might just be for you.
Software – TouchWiz Look a Like?! No Problem
Samsung has been accused of overloading TouchWiz with too many useless features. They pulled back on the Note 4, but that’s not to say that there isn’t a ton of functionality. The No 1 does a pretty good job of including a lot of the features from the Note 4.
The lock screen is identical. You can open the camera directly and customize information that appears on it. The notification bar at the top is very close too, but the screen resolution makes the text feel less sharp. Regardless, you have the same ability to access a very large menu of options from a single panel. I’ve put the two quick launcher versions in the gallery below for you to examine. Things like Download Booster are fun, but they aren’t in my essential must have hit list. They kept the ability to adjust brightness there which is something I always tend to look for in a quick launcher bar.
The set-up between the two handsets is very similar. The app drawer is in the same place. They default using the same wallpaper, which makes differences at first glance seem rather minimal. But when you do take a closer look there are quite a few.
Pinch the home screens of the Note 4 and you’re presented with a the ability to change wallpapers, widgets and customize home screen settings. Do the same thing on the No 1 and the standard panel-rearranging screen for Android appears.
How much will the version of Android have to do with it? Well, the Note 4 isn’t on Lollipop (yet!). It’s running Android 4.4.4, while the No 1 will not get an upgrade to Lollipop and is running Android 4.4.2.
What about Gestures?
To be honest I really couldn’t get them to work! There were a bunch, like drawing a C to get the camera app to open but I couldn’t get anything to trigger. Though I do have to say this, on phones where this feature is available to me I never use it.
Smart Scroll and Smart Pause are included. When the display detects your eyes the angle of the screen will adjust itself. You get to the bottom of a page and it will move up automatically. With Smart Pause, the video will pause when you look away from a video. I didn’t find that the Smart Scroll worked, but the Smart Pause did when a more dramatic head gesture was made. It wasn’t the causal eye flick that you see in the Samsung commercials. However, tip of the hat – they did get it to to work even a little! Lol.
When you start to get deep into the phone’s usage, you start to uncover some quirky little mishaps. For example, if there is no SD card inserted you can’t read the media you’ve loaded on the device. It can’t be found through the file manager or the apps themselves. Pop in an SD card and you’ll have no problems playing media from any location. You’re going to need to be a user who doesn’t mind trouble-shooting and playing around with your device… and you will have to forgiving when things just don’t make sense. Any hard-core Android fan would find this insufferable, but a casual user would probably shrug and be glad they found a solution.
Performance – MediaTek Quad Core Processor in the House
Not everyone needs a Snapdragon 805 processor, for some, a phone that simply works at a reasonable pace is more then enough. If you tweak the No 1, you might get that under it’s hood is a very respectable MediaTek quad-core processor. It’s the MT6582, clocked at 1.3Ghz. What might be causing the UI to slow down is the version of TouchWiz No1 has installed, because there is no reason that a 5.7-inch display at 720×1200 wouldn’t be able to handle 2 or 3 apps open at once. That, unfortunately, is the case here. 1-2 apps is doable (as long as they aren’t graphically intensive). More then that and there is a noticeable lag in the transitions.
The performance of the handset wasn’t anywhere in the same league as the original Note. Issues like the lag when opening too many apps (3) at once is simply unacceptable. I guess it’s ok if you are into using one app at once.
|No 1 Note 4 (MT6582)||Samsung Galaxy Note 4||Gionee Elife S5.1 (MT6592)|
|GFX Bench T-Rex||6.4fps||25 fps||10.9fps|
|3DMark – Ice Storm Extreme||2007||19974||7152|
Memory – 1 GB vs 3 GB
When it comes to RAM, it’s nice to have 3 GB. It future-proofs you against all applications that are going to be released next year, which might require extra room to get things done quickly. However, if you’re picking up the No 1, you’re not going to be one of those users who sit at the bleeding edge of what a Smartphone can do. You’re just going to be satisfied with a smartphone that does the basics. So the 1 GB that you get on board with the No 1 should do you just fine. This means that you will have to wait twice as long for things to happen.
A combination of things is at play here. Not just the less sensitive touch screen and the much slower processor, but all of this combined does make for a more sluggish experience. Having said that, it only catches me once a day (max) that I waited too long for something to occur. Having to press an icon twice because I wasn’t sure it registered happened every other day and wasn’t something I considered common.
Storage – Both Have MicroSD Card Slots!
The Galaxy Note 4 has 32 GB of on-board storage while the No 1 comes with only 8 GB. The great thing about both of these devices is that they have MicroSD card slots. The No 1’s MicroSD card slot was good for cards up to 32 GB. We tried a few 64 GB cards unsuccessfully. The Note 4 gets computer size memory reserves with 128 GB support, so running out of storage for movies and music will take you quite a while.
Audio – That’s One Loud Single Speaker
The No 1’s speaker is very loud, it doesn’t have great quality but it makes up for it in volume. No one will miss out on the fact that you’re rocking that Samsung whistle. One interesting mishap that we came across with audio is that, occasionally, when you plug your headphones in the audio still comes out of the speaker. When this happened to us we just jiggled the cable and plugged it back in a few times. This seemed to sort out the problem. But for the few minutes that it took me to realize this was happening, I was making a bit of a scene on the subway!
If sharing music or a YouTube video is your main goal, the No 1 won’t let you down. In fact, we’d argue that the No 1 might even be a little louder than the Galaxy Note 4.
At 2660mAh you’d think that the No1 Note 4 would get you through the day, but it will have to be with light use. I had to have Bluetooth turned off, the first day I used it I had to charge up before leaving the office, now way I would have lasted the ride home. But checking the usage (sorry, I forgot to take screen shots) I found that the Bluetooth ate more batter than screen and Operating system. Next day, kept everything turned off Wifi, Bluetooth and the display was on 40% brightness. With more moderate use I lasted about 10 hours, though I still had to charge the phone before leaving the office. Standby time actually wasn’t too bad, without a SIM card in the phone I got over 2 days of stand by.
The pattern I discovered that did get me through the day was basically to only check my phone a dozen times. If I wanted to do any serious surfing at home while watching TV or at the office, I just plugged in. Not ideal, if you’re a heavy user or even moderate smartphone user, if you are then this isn’t the device the device for you.
Camera – It’s Got One!
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has one of the best cameras on the market. It’s fast, good in low light and comes with premium features like slow motion. The camera is a key feature that always seems to be weak in budget Chinese handsets, and this isn’t an exception to the rule. The 8 MP rear camera and 5 MP front-facing camera will do in a pinch, and if that pinch has great lighting, you’ll probably be happy with the result. However, low light is not as great as the comparison photos will show, and on the front facing camera it’s even a little more extreme.
Conclusion – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
The No 1 Note 4 has carried on the legacy of Samsung copycat devices. We checked out the Samsung Galaxy S5 Clone, the No 1 S7 last year, and as Samsung’s build quality and materials used increases, so too, does that of the clones. The all-metal chassis that surrounds the handset feels solid, and it does make you feel much more confident about your purchase. Having said that, I do have some serious concerns about the longevity of the build quality. After just 2 weeks of use, the home button feels a lot more wobbly and even though the No 1 does come with a screen protector, I’m not convinced that I won’t crack the display (although this might be more of a me thing than a device thing, hard to say).
The $500 difference in price is largely based on the specifications a 720x1280p vs 2560x1440p, a Quad Core MediaTek processor vs an Octa Core Snapdragon 805 that is the processor to beat (until Qualcomm actually really starts shipping the 810….any day now? Right?) There is also no getting around the fact that you’re making comprises around the software experience.
BUT you can buy FOUR No 1 Note 4’s for the price of ONE Galaxy Note 4!
I have to admit that this was one of the most frustrating reviews that I’ve done in a while. The handset is full of many little quirks… a series of “almost there” and “so close” situations. The fingerprint sensor fail just proves that they’ve included it to say they’ve got it, but it doesn’t mean that it actually works. So it’s a matter of do you need to have a fingerprint sensor? Do you need the S-Pen? Do you think you’d use the gestures? If the answer is yes, then you need to open up your wallet and pay the extra $500 for the real deal.
Those 5 extra Benjamin’s gets you the ability to play graphically intensive games, multitask applications with no issues, true all day battery life with heavy usage, one of the best camera’s in a Smartphone currently on the market, an S-Pen, eye tracking, a fingerprint sensor, a heart rate sensor and Samsung’s branding.
BUT If me telling you that you’d have to pay $500 for those thing just made you recoil and rethink, then maybe the handset that is essentially good for basic users and that will only cost you $160 on CECT Shop is what you’re after. You’re going to have to play with the settings to get through the day on a single charge, no WiFi or Bluetooth, the camera is ok in good lighting but it does have a nice loud speaker if sharing media is important to you. To pick up this phone, you’re going to have to be someone who doesn’t really use their phone during the day, if you want to surf for long periods of time being plugged in is something you’re going to have to accept as a reality.
A No 1 Note 4 Clone owner is looking for a Smartphone with outstanding design with low expectations of using the handset throughout the day.