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Hands On with Samsung's Galaxy Note Edge

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Sep 3, 2014, 12:28 PM   by Rich Brome
updated Sep 3, 2014, 12:31 PM

The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge isn't the first phone to ship with a curved screen, but it's the first with a non-uniform curve that's mostly flat but spills over the edge to cover both the front and the right side. It's similar to a concept phone Samsung showed off a couple of years ago, but now it's here, it's real, and you can actually buy one soon. We spent some time with it; read on for our first impressions.

The Galaxy Note Edge is essentially a Note 4. The only difference is that "edge" screen that curves over the side. All of the other specs are the same as the Note 4, and most of the same carriers will offer both models, including all four top U.S. carriers.

 

Galaxy Note Edge Body

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The sides are part of the metal frame, just like on the new Note 4, and feel just as great. To accommodate the screen, the metal band makes a sort of s-curve (ahem) around the bent glass. It makes for a particularly fetching intersection of glass and metal at those corners. The glass loses the large bevel at the edges, and that's a good thing; it cleans up the design a bit.

In a similar vein, the front pinstripes are more subtle compared to the Note 4. Also, the pleather back loses the cheesy iridescent sheen and feels more rubbery, for a better grip. In sum, the Note Edge fixes the design issues that make the Note 4 look busy and confused. The Note Edge feels good and looks classy doing it.

I did notice that the Note Edge felt a tad wider, thicker and heavier than the Note 4. Just a smidge, but enough to give me more pause about whether I'd be willing to carry it around as my main phone (compared to the Note 4.)

The screen is very similar to the Note 4, in that it's a huge, gorgeous, quad-HD Super AMOLED panel. (That quad-HD resolution is just amazing to behold; everything is stunningly smooth and sharp.) The Edge simply adds a centimeter or so (and 160 extra columns of pixels) to the right and bends it around the side. So you actually get a tad more than quad-HD resolution if you count the extra curved part.

While the curved section of the display is physically seamless with the main display area, Samsung has crafted the software such that the curved part acts more like a secondary touch display. This "Edge" display changes function as you change apps, but can also be changed at will, and is customizable.

 

Interface

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

For example, on the home screen, instead of having several app icons docked at the bottom of the home screens, they appear vertically on the Edge. In the camera app, the camera controls appear there, which isn't terribly ergonomic, but it does free the whole main display to be a nearly unobstructed viewfinder.

There are also widget-like apps that run on the second display, such as timer, voice memo, new Tweets, etc. Naturally, notifications can appear there. There is also an SDK for third party developers to leverage the Edge display in their own apps.

The Edge display is navigated with gestures that are mostly intuitive. A widget icon at the top summons the widgets. Some screens have a settings icon at the bottom. Most functions are simply touch-screen buttons. But you might need to be told that you swipe left and right to switch functions/apps. It's an easy enough gesture to learn, and feels really nice running your finger over the curved glass. But if you use apps that employ a swipe-from-right-edge gesture, it could be a problem.

In sum, the Note Edge feels like a Note 4 with an extra dash of sex appeal and one really cool extra feature. But is it useful? I'm undecided until I spend more time with it, but I'm leaning toward no. That doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it, though.

The original Note broke new ground with its size, power, and features. It was the ultimate phone to show off to friends. But the Note's novelty has worn off; the Note 4 doesn't stand out from the competition quite the way the first one did. The Note Edge brings back that "wow" factor. It's seriously cool technology, in a form factor that makes a lot more sense than the Galaxy Round or LG's G Flex. You'll have a lot of fun fiddling with the screen and showing this baby off. And when the novelty of the Edge screen wears off, you're still left with a sexy version of the Note 4, which promises to be a very good and powerful phone.

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Subject Author Date
Samsung: King of gimmicks... Broken Sep 4, 2014, 5:10 PM
Nope Meepmeep Sep 4, 2014, 1:21 PM
this is going to be expensive linkfeeney Sep 4, 2014, 10:15 AM
Question for RICH BROME Doom Wolf Sep 3, 2014, 1:57 PM
 
 
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