Samsung's Galaxy Note phones have a well-deserved reputation for delivering long endurance. The new Galaxy Note 4 looks to keep that streak going, packing a high-capacity 3,200-mAh battery. While good, it’s runtime isn’t best in class.
On our battery test, which involves continuous surfing over 4G at 150 nits brightness with background data and other radios turned off, the Note 4 lasted 8 hours and 43 minutesWhile the new phablet's staying power is long enough to provide all-day power for most normal users, it's behind several competitors, including the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Apple's new 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus lasted exactly 10 hours on our test while riding on AT&T 4G LTE, the same network as the Note 4 we tested. The AT&T version of the Galaxy S5 endured for 9 hours and 42 minutes, about an hour longer than its big brother. The AT&T HTC One M8 lasted 8:42, nearly identical to the Note 4.
Though there are some phones that last longer on a charge, the Note 4 is comfortably above the 8-hour and 22-minute smartphone average and the LG G3 (7:12). It's also way ahead of the Fire Phone, which didn't even last 7 hours on our test.
We don't know precisely why the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 Plus lasted longer, but the Note 4's larger, higher-resolution display is one likely culprit. Where the 5.1-inch Galaxy S5 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus both have full HD, 1920 x 1080 displays, the Note 4 is one of the few phones that has a 2560 x 1440 display -- and more pixels usually means more power.
What carrier you have also plays a significant role in battery life. The Galaxy Note 4 we tested is the AT&T version, but in our experience, handsets on T-Mobile's network can last as much as two hours longer.
The Note 4 has a few battery saving features that didn't improve its endurance on our test, but would help real-world users who don't use their phones continuously. Power saving mode turns down the CPU clock, stops background data and, depending on your settings, turns the screen black and white when your phone's battery gets down to 20 percent (you can also make it run all the time).
Ultra Power Saving mode is even more extreme, limiting what apps you can run in addition to turning the screen black and white and lowering the performance. Samsung claims you can get up to 24 hours of standby power.
Like its other flagship phones, Samsung's new phablet also has a removable battery, so users can either carry a spare or purchase a third-party extended battery. More good news: with the bundled charger, the phone can go from 0 to 50 percent in 30 minutes, making it easier to juice up.
Bottom line: The Note 4 offers fairly good endurnace, but if you want marathon-like battery life you’ll need to make some tweaks.