Note 4, 64-bit, and Android L: what you need to know

by: Gary SimsOctober 10, 2014
1.5K

samsung galaxy note 4 first impressions (11 of 20)

With the rollout of the Samsung Note 4 already underway, the concerns that Samsung makes one model with a Qualcomm processor and one model with a Exynos processor is rearing its ugly head again, just like it did with the Note 3. But this time, the questions about which countries get which model seem to be even more intense than normal. This is because the Exynos processor is actually 64-bit capable.

The Cortex-A57 runs 32-bit software almost 1.5 times faster than a Cortex-A15.

In some regions, Samsung will be shipping the Note 4 with the Exynos 5 Octa 5433. It is a 64-bit, octa-core processor with four 1.3 GHz Cortex-A53 cores plus four Cortex-A57s. Conversely, the Qualcomm variant will ship with the Snapdragon 805. The 805 is a 32-bit quad-core processor with four 2.5 GHz Krait 450 cores. Since the Note 4 doesn’t use a 64-bit processor across all its models, Samsung is selling the Note 4 as a 32-bit device, and nowhere (as far as I know) is Samsung marketing it as a 64-bit device. As such, Samsung will treat all Note 4 devices equally, it won’t favor one variant over another.

Some people are worried about the “future proofing” of the Note 4. The worry seems to be that, if Samsung keeps the Note 4 as 32-bit only, when some models are capable of running in 64-bit mode, then the Note 4 has no future, it is doomed to be old before it has even been released. Such thinking really isn’t warranted. Let me explain.

First of all, 32-bit smartphones are in no danger of extinction just yet. Almost every smartphone launched this year was a 32-bit phone including all the big hitters like the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One and the offerings from Sony and others. 

Android isn't going to drop 32-bit support just yet.

None of these phones can be considered obsolete by any measure. The 64-bit Android smartphone market is still very much in emergence. For example, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 isn’t officially due until Q1 2015. This means we will continue to see 32-bit phones being released all through 2015 and probably well into 2016, especially in the low- and mid-range. In fact, in emerging markets we may well see 32-bit phones in the majority still in 2017. When the price of 64-bit silicon comes down to the price of today’s 32-bit chips, then 64-bit processors will start to become the norm.

Secondly, Android isn’t going to drop 32-bit support just yet. Considering the long term viability of 32-bit smartphones, support will continue for them in Android for many years to come. In fact, there is no technical reason why 32-bit support would ever need to be dropped at all. We already know that the Note 4 and Galaxy S5 will probably get Android L before the end of the year. Although Android L supports 64-bit processors, it runs equally as well on 32-bit processors. All the benefits of Android L, including the switch over to ART (the new Java virtual machine), can be enjoyed by users on both 32-bit and 64-bit devices.

Cortex-A57 is ARM’s fastest 32-bit processor

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Of course the Cortex-A57 is designed to be a 64-bit processor, but actually it is a mighty fine 32-bit processor as well. According to ARM, the Cortex-A57 runs 32-bit software almost 1.5 times faster than a Cortex-A15!

ARM AArch64 Performance Improvements

Also, 32-bit code running on ARMv8 processors like the Cortex-A57 get access to some of AArch’s unique features, like its hardware level cryptography instructions and more advanced SIMD instructions.

Many people think in terms of the mythical 4GB memory barrier when talking about 64-bit computing. Although 64-bit addressing does allow more memory to be accessed, ARMv7 processors have been able to access more than 4GB of memory for a long time. Using a feature known as Large Physical Address Extensions (LPAE), a Cortex-A15 processor can address 1024GB of memory!

Anyway, in terms of “future proofing,” memory is irrelevant. You can’t upgrade the memory in your smartphone. Since Samsung decided to ship the Note 4 with 3GB of RAM then there is no way you will ever need support for more than 4GB, regardless of which processor (Qualcomm or Exynos) you have in your device.

Summary

To recap:

  • The Note 4 is being marketed as a 32-bit device
  • 32-bit smartphones are here for a long time yet
  • Android L supports 32-bit and 64-bit devices
  • Android will continue to support 32-bit devices for many years (if not indefinitely)
  • The Exynos 5 Octa 5433 is a great 32-bit processor (as is the Snapdragon 805)
  • Note 4 owners don’t need support for more than 4GB

So if you are still dithering about buying a Note 4, you can stop worrying now and go out and get one!

  • Pedro

    I worried about the fact that Samsung will bring the exynos chip to Peru

  • Rohan J Singh

    i’ve read at few places that the exonys models do slow down and lag much more than the snapdragon ones in day to day use and the difference is quite a lot over a period of time .. can anyone confirm it from personal experience ?

    • I’ve used an Exynos Note 2 and Note 3, and I can gladly tell you that Exynos has improved alot since the S3 and Note 2 days back in 2012. The Note 2 did slow down after about year of use. But the Note 3 is superb and has retained excellent performance since Day 1. The Note 4 should be as good as the Note 3, if not better with its new 5433 Exynos!

      • Rohan J Singh

        thanx

    • Seth Forbus

      I had a Exynos Galaxy Sll that annoyed me to no end. I prefer the snapdragon myself. That was a long time ago though, things may have changed.

  • madfish

    Out of the 2 I would prefer the Exynos version but we look to be getting the 805 in the UK :(

    We all know benchmarks aren’t everything but the Exynos models do seem to perform considerably better…

    Unsure if I should wait a short while for the 810 SoC phones early next year or plump for the gn4 snapdragon now and wait 2 years…

    • MasterMuffin

      Exynos is good if you’re happy with Touchwiz

      • Beci

        you are right man. Touchwiz is the only one who makes the problem for Samsung smartphones.
        Look at iphone 6 with the ios 8, with 1 GB RAM is far away quickly than Samsungs phones with Touchwiz (3 GB RAM)

        • MasterMuffin

          No what I ment was the custom ROMs don’t work that well thanks to Exynos, so you can’t change like you do with Snapdragon

          • madfish

            So, snapdragon better for custom ROMS? Interesting…

            Altgough to be fair, I don’t mind touchwiz, there are some usefull features in amongst all the bloat…

          • Sky

            yea from what i understand , exynos doesn’t play well with programmers/Devs , and if i’m correct it’s samsungs fault as well..But qualcomm SoC’s are a lot better for custom stuff..
            the 805 is a beast of a Proccessor regardless of 32bit , still getting the Note 4 for sure.

          • shane

            actually with the move to 64-bit Android OS and the note 4 exynos being one of the first phones capable of taking advantage of this, I believe the dev support will be comparable to that of the snapdragon processor

          • MasterMuffin

            actually all popular exynos devices have good dev support, it’s just that there’s only so much they can do without all the necessary sources

          • That’s something I won’t agree totally with you. My experience with exynos running cm was flawless, trust me

          • Shubhs

            I was looking for this for a long time, flashed a no of ROMS, all underperformed

        • Daniel D

          Iphone 6 probably works faster not because of touchwiz. Is because Android it’s packed with a lot of features and customization meanwhile ios its just a bunch of apps on the screen and that’s that. And yes touchwiz does slow it down a bit more but that’s only because touchwiz is packed with even more features than Android. Can’t even remember how many times I switched from cyanogenmod to touchwiz and back. Either I missed touchwiz capabilities and it was less bugy or I missed cyanogenmod’s smoothness customization and less lagy. There is advantage and disadvantage in both.

          • Maranello Santiago

            You sound like me. I keep jumping back and forth between both. Its like I can’t stay on either or for too long.

        • Richard Couillard

          Do you know what RAM does for computing? CPU and GPU are speed RAM stores data that can be randomly accessed at anytime making running more task less of a load for your CPU. iOS does not have the taxing processes and options that Android has. iOS has virtually no multitasking abilities, no widgets, no random sensors, IR blaster, multiwindow, S beam, ect. Touchwiz isn’t really a problem anymore and really hasn’t been since the S3.

          The Note 3 runs without a hitch with touchwiz in my experience, I use a custom launcher and a few customizations and “black market” apps and my phone in its current state never has any issues and loads everything near instantly.

        • Jayfeather787

          Kill yourself.

        • jomaker

          Android KitKat is partly responsible as well. Not just the Touchwiz. Android Lollipop should make things run much smoother!

      • How about exynos running cyanogen mod? You won’t regret. I used to have cm on n8013 Samsung tablet, it was the perfect duo.

        • MasterMuffin

          It works well, but some stuff on it won’t ever work and it can never utilize the SoC fully

          • Rory

            Why would you want a custom ROM on a Note 4? People buy the Note series for it’s software features/S-Pen capabilities.

          • MasterMuffin

            Don’t ask me, but there are peoplw like that

          • WHO?

            Better memory optimization, faster, fix bugs, etc….

          • Rory

            Fine, but no S-pen (=note 4) features. Basically turning your 5.7″ note into a 5.7″ nexus and your s-pen into a toothpick.

          • WHO?

            Rooting your phone and putting a custom ROM dosent mean you lose touch wiz. Most Note 3/4 Roms are touch Wiz based. They are not AOSP (although there are a few around though). Yes that would be very boring running strickly android and no point of having a note 4.

          • Rory

            I did not know that, I’ve always known custom ROMs to be AOSP. Never owned a note series but plan on getting the Note 4. What’s scary is how the Exynos is achieving 4500 on Geekbench multi vs Snapdragon 3300. Such a dilemma.

          • Otto Andersson

            The note 4 pen is actually pretty useful, but I never used my pen on the note 2. I got tired of TouchWiz and just wanted to mess around with Cm. Also, I wanted to at least have the rooting capability of adjusting or eliminating system sound files. Mostly I want to erase all the Korean apps I don’t want to use. But, all the roots I’ve seen have made silly compromises like the phone not functioning to make phone calls.

          • Rudra Newaz

            So how to activate 64bit on note 4 its been 2 years now …why is it 64bit chip but runs only 32bit….should be way to activate…and will android 7 be the last update for note 4 or is 6 the last?

          • Rudra Newaz

            why do u need 4gb ram to run 64bit thats nonsense….iphone 5s is 64bit with 1gb ram rofl

      • Joe

        i have the galaxy tab pro 10.1 running with exynos and cyanogenmod is now supported :)) it runs soooo smooooth now

  • And?

    And finally, if i upgrade my Galaxy Note 4 with Android L. I can hope the 64 bits function of the Exynos 5433 ? ….

    • MrMagoo

      Did you read the article?

    • Toss3

      Depends on Samsung at this point; either they decide to release a 64-bit kernel or they won’t.

  • Juan Carlos Rodriguez

    This time i believe the one to blame is Google, because they still run android on 32-bits, even knowing Android L is coming we just do not know when will this launch and if processor companies are able to be prepared for such a change, in this case Apple has been able to achieve these things, because they can make their own processors as well as run their OS under 64-Bits, they had made it easy for every developer to make their apps run on 32 and 64 bits. So maybe it is not samsungs fault after all

    • Xavier_NYC

      Actually Apple doesn’t make their own processors. Samsung does which is quite funny actually considering they hate each other lol.

      • AnonGuy

        Apple designs their own SoCs and ISPs. It’s why their GPUs, and came phones perform so darn well.

        • Xavier_NYC

          No, their phones perform well because there’s no added features.. It’s the same phone year over year with minor addition and that’s why they work so well. If there were features that were actually useful you really think the iPhone would be able to get away with just packing 1GB of ram inside it? That’s why I laugh when I see benchmarks. It’s like saying a Ford Fusion is better than a Ferrari because it gets better gas milage when in actuality the Ferrari has a more advanced engine. I’ve owned every Iphone up to the 5s and unless you JailBreak it and put Cydia on it, the phone is not that great.

        • Apple uses a PowerVR GPU from Imagination.

    • Beausym

      There is no fault here. Google’s Android L is 64 bit capable. It does not solely run on 64 bit processors, or else there would be no point in releasing a developer preview. Secondly, chipmakers, namely Qualcomm, Samsung, NVIDIA and MediaTek, have been developing 64 bit processors for a couple of years now, and are only just now releasing them to the various manufacturers. Not Google’s fault. Samsung decided to put the 64 bit operations of their newest in a dormant mode because they aren’t necessary at the moment. Helle even the next Nexus phone won’t have a 64 bit processor, and don’t you think Google would have tried for that, too?

    • tnsi

      Google isn’t to blame- ARMv8-A (64-bit ARM CPU) has been available for a while now. Support for 64-bit ARM was added to the Linux Kernel back in 2012- and is present in most linux distros.

  • Marian Zamfir

    Note 4=32 bit => Samsung=little company

  • Akki

    Just a simple reminder to 32-bit extinction.. There is nothing going to happens near to this till 2016. (Guaranteed.).
    And might be even true with 2017 as quoted by Android Authority..

    Simple, Google is having a update cycle of 1.5-2 yrs approx.
    So if Nexus 5 ends its software support in Oct,2015, then the NEXUS 6(X), which almost going to spot 805 SoC, will end its support in Oct, 2016 which still works on Cortex A-15 MT configuration..
    So no worries till Q1 2017. xD

  • Kasi Viswanathan

    what ever it is 32 or 64 , the only word to describe is ” awesome”

  • Ali Safa

    TouchWiz is the only problem for Samsung, Snapdragon is great, especially if u use the z2 u will notice how fast and smooth it is, unlike the S5, some lacks will be noticed, but is Exynos would solve this problem? Or more lacks will be noticed?

  • Jake Passafiume

    these oems need to remove their skins and put stock android, my friends htc m8 which has sense the fastest skin on android installed a google edition rom and it was so much faster than my friends iphone 6, with art enabled.

    • Rasmus Kristensen

      Ive had stock. I just prefer to have multitasking and spen, etc. And its not like its SLOW, its quite fast and snappy :P .

      • Terrence Thompkins

        Exactly, I don’t care about the minor speed increase with stock. I just find it rather boring compared to skins. I had a Nexus tablet and I was bored within a week.

    • Ismail Akram

      that’s not true man, Nexus 5 seems sluggish in compare to HTC M8. Stock Android is Smooth, but Sense is Smooth and fast too

  • TheTruthSquad

    There is no reason for 64 bit processors because it is only to address memory over 4gb. We went to 64 bit processing on mainframes in the mid 80s because we had online systems that needed it and the machines had the resources to provide it.
    64 bit addressing on a phone is hype until they start putting more than 4gb of RAM on them and systems need it.

    • tnsi

      RAM is not the only reason for using a 64-bit architecture. Being able to address more memory is only one slice of the pie; You mainly get access to more registers and a more modern instruction set, which is more useful for OS developers (basically Google and Apple).

      To begin with, there’s no reason to put more RAM on mobile devices. RAM takes up space and sucks more battery/energy; More ram = more battery = larger device. While there is a trend going towards consumers using larger devices, the goal shouldn’t be to make your system more inefficient by expanding RAM capacity until you actually need it for the OS and applications… not a large area of concern for mobile devices and embedded systems that make use of ARM.

    • 64-bit on mobile has very little to do with 64-bit addressing. As I mention in the article, the Cortex-A15 can address more than 4GB using LPAE. For more information on why 64-bit is important on mobile please read my previous post: http://www.androidauthority.com/arms-64-bit-architecture-is-good-for-developers-407346/

    • Andrew T Roach

      Google ARMv8 instructions friend.

      Mobile processors =/= PC processors.

  • crutchcorn

    Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one looking forward to 64bit for legit reasons

  • Kyle Hopping

    so this whole article is rather moot considering the Exynos 5433 in the Note 4 doesn’t run in AArch64 and probably never will. this was all covered on Anandtech less than a month ago.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/8537/samsungs-exynos-5433-is-an-a57a53-arm-soc

  • NoldorElf

    I don’t think that the 32bit vs 64 bit issue is, as the article hints, a reason to skip the Note 4. Even if there was a 64bit version available this minute, we’d still need at least 4Gb of RAM to take advantage of it and applications that could use the extra RAM. That could take years to fully mature, although I fully expect the next generation of flagships to ship with at least 4gb.

    There are other issues that I am interested in seeing:

    1. Will the Exynos version get good quality AOSP ROMS? Owing to Samsung’s documentation issues, the Note 3 Exynos variants and the Note 2 (all Exynos) had issues getting these ROMs.

    Compounding this issue, the Exynos is a faster chip overall at both GPU and CPU. Not sure about battery life though.

    2. Quality of speakers. The Note 3 was a downgrade here compared to the Note 2. Note 4 seems to have better speakers than Note 3, but I would like a side by side comparison with the Note 2. I would have liked to see stereo speakers.

    3. Headphone quality out – heavily DAC reliant. In general, Wolfson = good quality, Yamaha = mediocre quality. S1 had Wolfson. Yamaha DAC was on S2 Snapdragon and Note 1. S3 and Note 2 used Wolfson. S4 and Note 3 I think varied, with Snapdragon getting the Yamaha.

    We seem to be heading to an era where Snapdragon has the inferior DAC and the Exynos has the good Wolfson DAC. It sucks because the Exynos variants have so little development around them.

    Without a take-apart, it’s hard to say. My guess is that LTE CAT 6 will get Wolfson, likely LTE CAT 4 too. HSPDA+ variants though will be out of luck on audio though.

    4. There are rumors going around on XDA that the speaker sensors may vary based on the variants. It’s believed the Exynos will ship with the better sensor. Again, if this is true (grain of salt here), we seem to be facing a tradeoff between better quality hardware (Exynos) and development (Snapdragon).

    Reports are that the Sony IMX240 will power the Snapdragon variants, while the Exynos will get the SLSI_S5K2P2 by Samsung. We need a side by side from professional photographers to be sure.

    5. I suspect given the negative feedback that future variants of the Note will have waterproof protection.

    Samsung has been pretty good about making prompt OTA updates for it’s flagships, so that is not an issue, unless you are dependent on carrier-based updates.

    The real question becomes, wait for Note 5 or buy now? Next year’s Note will undoubtedly have a better CPU, GPU, more RAM, 64 bit, and perhaps a higher resolution screen. Possibly better battery too – Note 4 surprisingly had better battery than Note 3. But we’re at the point where it’s not as important as before. The other is the Exynos vs Snapdragon trade-off.

    Decisions, decisions.

    • “Even if there was a 64bit version available this minute, we’d still need at least 4Gb of RAM to take advantage of it”

      I can’t stand to see this argument used. There are already 32-bit SoCs in Android smartphone that can use more than 4GB of RAM. 32-bit CPUs on Linux have never been held back by 4GB of RAM. Don’t confuse this with Windows

    • Toss3

      “Even if there was a 64bit version available this minute, we’d still need at least 4Gb of RAM to take advantage of it and applications that could use the extra RAM” – RAM isn’t the only benefit of Aarch64 and ArmV8.

  • Rick_Deckard

    This is the best review of the NOTE 4 so far! Getiing the Note 4 international version! This could be the best cellphone of the year!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0N4Jd0Vm4E&list=UUmY3dSr-0TOkJqy0btd2AJg

  • Otto Andersson

    I have tried both versions of any Samsung release with two versions and Samsung’s in house processor always felt faster. This could be in my head. However, owning the octo core variant of the Note 4 is actually a boon to myself. I can never find practical methods of rooting and installing custom roms. So, I actually feel like my phone is less future proof as a hobbyist.

  • Toss3

    Btw there’s no such thing as the Exynos 5433 anymore – it’s called the Exynos 7 Octa and it is being marketed as a 64-bit chip.

  • Discuss

    Like seriously… all these sensation words, doom, no future… cmon now. This is a damn cell phone that we’re most likely going to upgrade every other year. Ill even say that the Note 4 is still going to be one of the best phones available. You know how I know? Huh? Cause the Note 2 still is. Get out of here.

  • Panha

    About the above mentions, none is acceptable. those are only sweet talking. We are talking about the PREMIUM SMART PHONE “The Note 4”. It is not just low or mid ranges. for crying out loud, People hope to get advance specs a year a head and future proof than get old junks for just this new year.

  • BlackSnow

    The thing that i want to know is that will i miss out on anything due the my phone being 32 bit in the future and when i say future i mean in about 3 to 2 years down the road not 6 months or a year

  • ジャマル Jamaaru

    I want to understand the 64-bit like is it to the 2.7 ghZ ? or is it the other one that 1.9 ghZ + 1.3 ghZ

  • MattEgansHairLine
  • মাসরুর সাকিব

    I got the answer which one should i buy….. Usefull writing….. Thank you…. In my opinion Snapdragon 805 will be faster then Exynos 5433 thought is has higher hardware configuration. It dosent matter 32 bit or 64 bit cause Android L supports both. With 3 GB Ram 4 cores (2.7 GHz in all 4 cores) will run faster than 8 cores (1.3 GHz in 4 cores and 1.9 GHz in 4 cores) . With same 3220 mAh battery capability for both varient, its ovious that it will perform better in snapdragon than Exynos. Thank you.