Samsung Galaxy Note Edge hands-on review

We get up close and personal with the Note 4's curvy-screened brother

Not content with unleashing the Galaxy Note 4 on the world, Samsung has brought its wacky brother the Note Edge out to play – and it's got a curved wraparound display.

Although its eye-catching form factor will raise lots of questions – not to mention eyebrows – the Note Edge's spec sheet is identical to its sibling in almost every single way. So, is that curvy display enough to set it apart from its sibling?

Well-rounded

The Note Edge's rounded screen is instantly noticeable. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Round's full curve, the Edge's display only curves off on the right hand side of the device, with the curved edge effectively acting as a small second screen.

Thanks to its identical 2560 x 1440 2K resolution and AMOLED panel, the Edge's display appeared just as sharp and vibrant to our eyes as the Note 4's.

While the Note 4 has a 5.7in display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, the Note Edge's display is slightly smaller at 5.6in with a 16:10 aspect ratio, thanks to the nature of the curved display.

Living on the edge

Samsung showed off various different uses for the news ticker-like second screen. You can display the time and discreetly view notifications by swiping the curved edge while the rest of the screen remains blank.

We found the swipe a little tricky to master, and would have preferred a simple double tap method, as seen in the likes of the LG G3 or HTC One (M8).

In general use, you can swipe across the side display of the Note Edge to switch between various widget-like functions; you can track your calories burned and steps taken, see the latest stocks and weather information scroll past. You can also display (very thin) wallpaper on the curved surface, if you want to add a dash of extra customisation to the device.

The edge of the world

The second screen can be used as a dock for the standard phone, email, internet and message icons displayed on the side, if you want a cleaner looking desktop; and when you're watching videos or snapping photos, the camera and movie controls are displayed on the second screen, opening up the the main display and removing distractions.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge hands-on

Similarly, the Edge will also display notifications along the side of the phone, which should prove less of a distraction than the standard Android notification bar.

The Edge's screen is a definite head turner; however, its actual usefulness will depend on how many developers are prepared to add Edge functionality to their apps. Samsung told us that the SDK for the Edge's screen will be open to developers; assuming they take advantage of it, we could see some interesting app implementations once it launches.

Take note of the design

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge hands-on - Take note of the design 2Samsung Galaxy Note Edge hands-on - Take note of the design 3

Unsurprisingly, the Note Edge takes its design cues from the Galaxy Note 4; that means it's rocking the same improved soft grippy faux leather back and metal banding around the outer edges for a more premium feel. In the hand it feels like a definite improvement over the pure plastic of past Galaxy devices.

A removable battery and microSD slot are also present and accounted for - two important features for media hoarders and power users.

More after the break...

The power curve

Like the Note 4, the Edge comes rocking a quad-core 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM, which makes it incredibly powerful, on paper at least. We didn't spot any lag when swiping around, but we'll have to wait for our full review to squeeze every last drop of power from its silicon innards.

Stabilised camera

We didn't have time to thoroughly test out the 16MP camera of the Edge and compare shots with its rivals, but we have high hopes for its optical image stabilisation.

The LG G3 already makes good use of its OIS lens to capture more light in darker conditions while minimising blur; we'd expect to see more of the same from its similarly-equipped Samsung rivals.

The Edge also features a wide-angle selfie mode which you can sweep across like a panorama to capture more subjects. Both the Note 4 and the Note Edge also allow you to take a selfie by using their rear heart rate sensors as shutter buttons.

Learning curve

Samsung's tricked out the Edge with all of its standard TouchWiz software smarts like Multi Window, and there are plenty of new tricks for the S Pen too. Not only is it twice as sensitive; you can use it to select sections of the screen and paste them into a scrap book, before dragging and dropping them into messages and emails to send them off.

A feature called Snap Note also caught our eye. If you snap a photo of whiteboard or paper notes, it automatically detects the edges, compensates for any skewed angles, and converts text and diagrams into digitally editable versions.

That means you can increase the size of written text and even change its colour. It won't be useful for everyone, but for students snapping photos of lectures, slides and notes, it could be a godsend.

Initial Verdict

At first glance, it's hard to see why Samsung just didn't release the Galaxy Note Edge and scrap the Note 4 altogether.

When we asked a representative, they told us that price was one factor for releasing two separate devices. The increased production costs to create the Edge's curved display means that it won't be released in every market; although it's a pretty safe bet it will hit UK shores.

The Edge has all the tasty specs and software tricks of the Note 4, with an unusual and eye-catching design thrown in for good measure. While the second screen's usefulness is debatable at this stage, it might be quirky enough to tempt users away from the standard Note 4. If the price is right that is.

Stay tuned for our full Galaxy Note Edge review for our final verdict.

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 hands-on review

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Samsung Galaxy Note Edge hands-on

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge hands-on
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Comments

What is the whole point of this gimmicky Edge whatchamacallit?

It undoubtedly adds to the price as well!

 

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