Track Tech: Verizon Wireless’ Samsung Galaxy Note 4 & Samsung Gear Fit

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Over the past year I’ve reviewed multiple Verizon Wireless devices here on Track Tech. Smartphones and tablets have been the extent of the technology until this point, but over the past month I have been able to experience two products completely new to me – a “phablet” & a fit watch.

SAMSUNG GEAR FIT

The newly coined term phablet refers to a smart device whose size is somewhere a phone and a tablet. The one that I had the privilege of using was the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 powered by the Verizon Wireless 4G XLTE Network. I used it in conjunction with the Samsung Gear Fit watch. The watch is also compatible with 7 other Samsung Devices including the Galaxy S4, S5 and Note Edge. I don’t think I went a single day during my demo with the Gear Fit, where I didn’t receive a handful of questions from people about what it was and how it worked. It’s a great conversation starter – and not just in person. It does far more than some of the other tech-savvy fit watches on the market right now. The Gear Fit monitors what you would expect it to, with a built in pedometer, heart rate monitor and even a sleep analyzation feature, but it also gives you social media, email, text and phone call notifications in real time. I like that I could customize what kind of notifications I wanted to be updated on using the Gear Fit app on my synchronized Note 4.

Minimizing Distractions on the Job

PhotoGrid_1421260173927I work in a busy healthcare setting and being able to see that I had notifications with the simple turn of my wrist (with that notice drawing my attention by a small vibration in the watch that was unnoticeable to any bystanders) saved me so much time every day. I discovered that the need to check my phone during the day was minimized because I could check the watch face to see if there was anything of legitimate importance. Sometimes there was an email that required a time-sensitive response, but other times it was just a text about 15% off a massage at my favorite spa. Now, don’t get me wrong, relaxation time at the spa is a high priority on my list too… but I think you get my point.

Watch Me Charge

I enjoyed only having to plug the Gear Fit in for charging about twice a week. The charging itself only took a matter of an hour or two to achieve a full battery. This was very convenient since I tend to be out and about in the city more often than I am complacent at home. The Gear Fit always gave a warning when the battery was reaching its low point, but even when I couldn’t get it on a charger right at that moment, it continued to work for a few hours past the initial notice.  The conveniences didn’t end there – within the first few days of wearing it, I decided I wanted to delete the social media notifications, texts, etc. that I had already read and responded to. I was deleting each item one by one and found that to be quite time-consuming. I soon realized though, that by pressing and holding my fingertip down on the icon in the notifications screen, another screen would pop up asking if I wanted to delete ALL the notifications from that particular app (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Gmail) – I was excited to discover this and it made the one negative feedback I had about the device, a non-issue! It’s truly a great piece and the lightweight nature of it made it incredible comfortable. I have never worn a watch and I rarely wear bracelets – I’ve always found those items to be excessive and get in my way since I’m sitting at a keyboard for more than half of my day. The Gear Fit never once felt bulky or obtrusive to my daily routine or my workflow – if anything it enhanced it.

Screenshot_2015-01-14-20-50-28The Samsung S Health app was a great way to see my fit progress and keep it all tallied in an organized fashion that allowed me to compare data day to day and even break down things like particular exercises, oxygen saturation (using the finger sensor on the back of the Note 4), stress level and UV exposure.  You hear commentary nowadays about how technology is ruining people’s lives and how it’s pulling us all away from a more active life. First off, I think that’s a lot of dramatization – everything should be done in moderation or it can lead to unhealthy habits; I also think that technology like this with Samsung proves that it’s all in how we use it – Gear Fit and the S Health app can actually encourage us to live a healthy and more active life, and show us the progress we are making over time.

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 4

It’s no secret that I’m an Android OS fan – I divulged that in my last review. One of the reasons for my infatuation with this particular OS is because it is constantly evolving with the times and the users themselves. The Google Now app that provides “cards” on screen with things like the kind of commute you can expect home to articles that are relevant to your interests (sports, music, travel), gives users a personalized homepage that they can reference with the swipe of a finger. The wide variety of Widgets that come pre-loaded like the Dual Clock and the Accuweather tile with a “window to the outside” keep us connected and informed no matter where we are; some Widgets download with third-party apps like Twitter or Facebook – allowing you to put a shortcut on one of your customized homescreens, keeping you up-to-date on the latest in your feed and also allowing you to update the world on your happenings in the most convenient of fashions.

Surprising Find: I received many requests from friends and family to hold the Note 4 – most thought it looked far too big to be comfortable holding or to use with one hand. Most of them were as intrigued as I was upon trying it out, to find that they quickly adjusted to the 6″ handset and it was not nearly as bulky as they anticipated. Give it a try and I bet you will feel the same way – in the world of technology, smaller is no longer the better option. Samsung is ahead of the curve yet again – with other manufacturers replicating their “phablet” model, proving again that the next big thing truly is here. 

The World As I See It

Speaking of fashion, have you seen the screen on this thing?! The Samsung Note 4 is as much an aesthetically pleasing device as it is technologically advanced. The 5.7” screen on this 6” by 3” smart phone makes it one of the most impressive in the market today. The Quad HD Super AMOLED display produces the most crisp, vibrant and realistic images possible – making it a joy to work with whether you’re watching the newest movie trailer on YouTube, a music video on Vevo, or just scrolling through your Instagram feed. The home button beneath the screen, which responds instantaneously and its “class-leading 3.7-megapixel front-facing camera” that help create some of the best selfies you could hope for, are the other major features on the front of the device. The back of the camera provides the user with a 16MP camera which is capable of capturing some great images in the right lighting. Dimmer lighting and zoomed in images had a slightly grainy texture but I’ve found that to be true across the board with smartphone cameras, not just on the Note 4. The variety of camera lenses and focus options was impressive on the Note 4, and the editing software included in the camera feature was more than expected – filters, cropping, saturation, sharpness, etc.

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I was particularly happy to have both the cameras on the Note 4 when I road-tripped to Indianapolis for New Year’s Eve to watch the Verizon IndyCar Series “drop a car” at the stroke of midnight! I got great shots of the midnight countdown, a fun Vine or two, some goofy pics for Instagram and even a selfie with an IndyCar driver!

Simplifying the Process

One of the best discoveries for me personally was that the Android system now has an Office Web Access app that supports the new Office 365 email program. This is crucial for me as we use this program for our email server here at More Than A Fan. In the past I’ve had to re-route my emails through a Gmail account using the forwarding feature in order to receive notice of them on my mobile devices… so you can imagine my excitement when I found that Android and the Google Play Store now “had an app for that”.

Everyone Likes to Have Options

You know what else makes the process of email easier? Having multiple methods for getting your idea communicated. You prefer to write things down over typing? You can do that on the Note 4, thanks to the S Pen. This pen is easily accessed at the bottom of the phone, clicking out and snapping back into place securely when finished, and even forcing a vibration and warning from the main handset if you happen to walk away without the pen attached. That sure helps with never losing it! I found myself using the pen more often than not and missing it when my time with the device was over. I love writing out reminders for myself, texts to friends, status updates, etc… anything that you would normally type, you could write with the pen and it would translate it into text. It was also handy for scrolling through pages or selecting small items on a screen where precision was key.

Screenshot_2015-01-14-12-44-17If you weren’t up for literally jotting down your thoughts and replies, or maybe were pressed for time… you could also use the delay-free Voice Typing feature. This Android feature translates your speech into text for just about anything but is most commonly used for composing emails and texts. Still pressed for time and need to multi-task? Why not open two windows and get twice the work done or reference notes from one window while completing your composition in the other? Multi Window is another feature that you will most likely find yourself using pretty often and being able to use it on the oversized screen of the Note 4, you’ll soon be wondering how you lived without it!

Maxing Out the Cord

Screenshot_2015-01-14-22-49-39Getting the most out of this device is best accomplished by starting the day with a maximum charged battery. Plugging your Note 4 into a laptop is great when uploading photos and videos but to get the quickest and best charge, use the Fast Charger the wall adaptor that comes with the phone. Charging the phone in this manner will usually add an additional 50% life to the battery in just 30 minutes. If you are in a bind however, and need to save battery immediately, go to Settings and turn on the Ultra Power Saving Mode:

The Ultra Power Saving Mode turns your display to black and white, {gives you a bare-bones homescreen} and shuts off nonessential apps, allowing even a 10 percent charge to last up to 24 hours.

I am very good at plugging my phone in every evening and even though I tend to use my device rather religiously throughout an average day, it never got to the point of dying on me – so I personally did not have a need to use the Ultra Power Saving Mode. I did however, try it out to see how it changed everything and while drastic, I understood why this feature was available and I commend Samsung for creating it, as it could be used as a safety precaution in certain situations where battery power may need to be used sparingly.

Samsung is no stranger to creating things that are needed, and for that matter, creating things that we want. Heck, many times they are the industry leader in creating things we didn’t even know we needed or wanted, until we see them, use them, and they become a part of our daily lives. The Gear Fit was definitely that item for me as of recent, and the Galaxy Note 4 is the latest in their line of desirable devices and one that I would highly recommend. The unit itself is substantial enough to not feel fragile while still lightweight enough to not feel like a burden. It fits comfortably into your pants pocket or even an evening clutch while still being striking enough in size to make others take “note”. Sorry, I had to do it.

Combining these two pieces gives you a dynamic device duo that makes you feel ready to take on the world. Between Samsung technology and the nation’s most reliable network, Verizon Wireless, I guarantee you are equipped to handle anything that life throws your way. So, the only question is: What are you waiting for?

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