Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Innovators take chances.  Without people taking chances we would not make progress.  Can you imagine a world without smartphones?  Prior to the iPhone, the smartphone market was definitely a niche market, only uber tech people used smartphones.  Data plans and hardware were expensive, and the majority of cell phone users owned flip phones from Motorola, notably the RAZR, or they probably owned the candy bar shaped phone from Nokia.  Outside of that niche market, no one thought they needed to email or view the internet from their phones.

In came Steve Jobs with the iPhone, offering a solution for the masses.  Without Steve, who knows how smartphones would have evolved.  He took a big chance on something he believed in, and it was something that Steve Ballmer shunned, and then eventually admitted that was his biggest mistake.  The iPhone was a massive success and turned Apple into the largest company in the world based on market capitalization.  The iPhone gave us a mass market of smartphones and changed our lives dramatically, while the conservative Microsoft missed out on their chance to change the world.  To me, that’s what you call innovation.  At the time it was released, many people didn’t realize how much of an impact the phone would make.  It was a year later when we first saw crazy long lines at Apple when the second iPhone was released.  Innovation is not necessarily instantly recognized as time is required to prove its value.

In 2011 Samsung took a large leap forward and figured they would make a large-screened phone with a stylus and call it the Note.  When it was released, many reviewers thought the Note was a gimmick.  If you remember, the iPhone did away with the need for a stylus, something all Microsoft phones used, and replaced it with your finger making the ease of use much greater.  Steve Jobs was quoted, “ who wants a stylus?”.  Apparently Samsung had a different answer than Apple to that question, in addition to a different answer to one handed use.  Samsung took a chance on a large smartphone, and guess what, it worked and it worked so well it shaped the future of smartphones.  In my opinion, as people started to buy larger smartphones their need to supplement their small phone with a tablet went away which is one reason to explain why tablets are suffering in sales.

From 2011, we went from 3.5” phones to 2014 we now see phones averaging well into the 5” range.  Even Apple, the company who so adamantly pushed for one handed use, made a large iPhone coming in at 5.5” this year.

Samsung is not afraid to fail.  They understand that failure is not always negative as long as you can learn from it and apply what you learned to the next project.  They were massively successful with large smartphones and without their innovation we would not have large-screened phones like the Nexus 6, LG G3, Sony Xperia Z Ultra, OnePlus One, and the iPhone 6 Plus.  So, thank you Samsung.  When you aren’t afraid to fail is when you have a chance at success.  After Steve Jobs passed away, Apple stopped taking chances and let other manufacturers take the lead which is why they now copy Samsung.  Now, Apple just sits back on the sidelines waiting for Samsung to blaze the trail and capitalize on what works and not what fails.

In 2013 Samsung released the Galaxy Round, another first for the industry.  It had similar specs to the Note 3, but the release was limited to Korea.  Reviewers of the Round generally settled on the conclusion that the curved screen offered limited value. That failure did not stop Samsung from making the next iteration of a curved screen, and in 2014 we got the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Edge.  It’s essentially almost identical to the Note 4 in hardware, with the addition of a curved screen on the right side of the screen.

2013 Galaxy Round
2013 Galaxy Round

 

This time though, the phone was released to more countries than Korea which leads to my review of the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge.  The majority of this review will focus on the edge portion of the phone.  The performance, camera, software, is all similar to the Note 4 and will be covered in a subsequent review.  I do own both Galaxy phones, the Note 4 and the Edge, and I know this is not the first review to be released, but I did use it for a solid month before writing this review to give you the most honest opinion I could muster.

photo 3_1

 

 

Design

 

The foundation for the Note Edge, is the Note 4 which almost across the board of reviewers is a huge success.  Samsung definitely upped their chances at acceptance of the Edge by starting with such a great phone as a foundation.  The Edge is still made of plastic, but the plastic does not at all feel cheap.  It has a nice soft feel to it that does not attract fingerprints and still feels quite sturdy at the same time.  Being made from plastic, and not metal also keeps the weight down as well as not being so smooth that it is hard to grip.  The soft touch actually feels quite nice.

Correction – The frame is made of metal just like the Note 4.  Thanks to the readers of Androidguys.

The first couple of days I used the Edge, I became more aware of how I actually hold my phone.  I am a right handed person; I write, throw, eat, and do the majority of things right handed, and I hold my phone in my right hand the majority of the time.  This was a problem for me as the curved screen is on the right side of the phone, so my palm and fingers would bump the side.  The two solutions to this problem were to either learn to use my phone in my left-hand more, or to flip the phone over. Flipping the phone over was an absolute no for me.  I didn’t want the power button on the bottom, and I certainly did not want the home button to be on the top of the screen.  So i learned to use the phone in my left hand and once I did that i learned that I loved the Edge and the curved screen on the right side of the phone.

If you’re worried about accidentally bumping the right side of the screen, don’t, as long as you hold the phone with your left hand.  Samsung intelligently added a slightly longer bezel to the bottom side of the curved edge so that your fingertips could not reach around and accidentally bump the screen.  It’s such a fine detail that most people don’t recognize it until it is in their hand.

 

Edge Display

20141125_135225

 

We’ve all been trained to expect our main apps to go on the bottom portion of the screen from the first day we started using smartphones.  Out of the box, most phones have the phone, texting, internet and email apps at the bottom.  Of course, we all personalize that bottom row by putting the apps in place of what we think is the most important and most accessed.

With the Edge, you can put your most used apps on the edge screen which gives you a larger view of the main screen.  Once I got used to this change I enjoyed it.  Is it enough reason to buy the Edge, the answer is no, but usage doesn’t stop there.

One of my favorite uses for the edge was the ambient clock that you could program to stay on for 12 hours.  Why I like this feature may not apply to everyone, but I have a difficult time sleeping so I give myself every chance i can to get a good nights sleep. I don’t have a clock in my room except for the clock on my phone.  Before the Edge, I would click on my Note 3 and the whole screen would light up which was never comfortable as all of that light was a shock to my eyes.  Most of you know the feeling of seeing light after waking up and know that it is not pleasant which is why I love the ambient clock.  It stays on while I sleep, and is dim enough to not bother me when I am in bed, but bright enough for me to be able to turn my head and see what time it is. And if any of you have trouble sleeping like me, one of the first things you do when you wake up in the middle of the night, is check what time it is.  Again, this is another feature that is not enough to justify buying this phone, but it is a feature that I love.

The feature of the ambient clock could also be used inside of a purse- I don’t use a purse, but I do know I have seen many women digging around their purses just to find their phones and check what the time is.

 

Clock on edge screen
Clock on edge screen

 

 

The uses of the Edge don’t stop there.  I found myself falling in love with the other screens designed for the curved screen.  One display I used with regularity was the S-health app, as it showed my pedometer count.  Very few people I know actually use the pedometer features on their phones, but I have used mine everyday ever since I started using the Note 3.  It really helps you stay aware of how active/inactive you may be and may not have realized and seeing the steps on the secondary screen is much simpler than unlocking my phone and looking at a widget that takes up one-third of the screen.

My absolute favorite feature was the ability to view my notifications while I watched a movie or played games.  I watch a lot of videos on my phone, and checking notifications always meant a pause.  With the Note 4 Edge, I could leave my video running while swiping the independent screen and read my notifications without interruption.  When you are on a phone call, the curved screen stays on with a view of your apps, so multitasking while on a phone call is a simple process.

Currently there is still a very limited selection of apps designed specifically for the edge screen, but they are rapidly being released as more and more people buy this phone.  Apps are available from Yahoo, Twitter, and a wide variety from Samsung.

If you are the type who loves to personalize their phone, the Edge offers you the ability to make the phone your own.  You can sign your name, or write a message to yourself and have it display on the edge whenever you wake up your screen.  Is this feature a must have?  Not for me, but I am sure many people would love it.

 

Conclusion

 

The Note 4 Edge is more expensive than the Note 4 by 100-150 dollars depending on who you buy it from as it is offered by a multitude of vendors.  The Note 4 price, off contract, ranges from $700-800 dollars whereas the Note 4 Edge comes in between $900-950 dollars.  It is easy to make the argument that both phones are already expensive, and people in this market may not see the difference in price to be significant, whereas people who are in the Moto G market (less than $200 off contract) would not consider buying either Galaxy Note phone.   Do I think it is worth the extra cost?  Yes.  Absolutely.  But that is because I actually use the edge screen and do not think it is a gimmick, and did not buy the phone just to show off to other people that I am different although I can see many people buying it for that reason.  And remember, probably most importantly, you get the exact same internal hardware as you get on the Galaxy Note 4.

I prefer that my main apps stay on the side of the screen, allowing for more viewable screen space, in addition to viewing the amount of steps I take, notifications, music controls, and ambient clock.  Once more apps become available designed specifically for the Edge, I believe there will be a larger adoption of curved screens.  The value of a secondary screen is something new to almost all of us, and naturally when we have been using flat phones for the past decade, and using them with success, most people will naturally think,”I don’t need that curved screen.”  I bet most of you who say this probably said at one point in your life,”I don’t need a smartphone.”  Or “I don’t need a larger screen.” I will go out on a limb and say that I think we will get another iteration from Samsung on the Note Edge next year, and within a couple years others will follow the success of Samsung.  The curved screen is here to stay.


If you want a curved screen and see a use for it, or if you want something just to be different from every other smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Edge is the phone to get.  

20141124_153108

photo 3_3

Dimension
151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3 mm / 174 g
Display
5.6” Quad HD+ Super AMOLED (2560 X (1440+160))
AP
2.7 GHz Quad Core Processor
Memory
3GB RAM + 32GB Internal memory
Supports microSD up to 128GB
Network
2.5G (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) : 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps): 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
4G (LTE Cat.4 150/50Mbps) or 4G (LTE Cat.6 300/50Mbps)
* May differ by country and carrier
Camera
Front Camera 3.7MP + F1.9/ Selfie (90º), Wide selfie (120º)
Rear Camera 16M+ Smart OIS/ Fast AF, Live HDR (Rich Tone)
OS
Android 4.4 (Kitkat)
Connectivity
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2X2 MIMO)
Download Booster, NFC, Bluetooth® v 4.1 (BLE),ANT+ ,
USB2.0, MHL 3.0
IR LED (Remote Control)
Battery
3000mAh Fast Charging
Audio
Codec: MP3, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, AMR-NB/WB, Vorbis,
FLAC
Adapt Sound, Sound Alive, Wise Voice 2.0, Extra Volume 2.0
3 Mics (Directional Voice Recording)
S Pen
15g, Hovering 15mm, Pressure level 2,048
Sensor
Gesture, Accelerometer, Geo-magnetic, Gyroscope,
RGB ambient light, Proximity, Barometer, Hall Sensor,
Finger Scanner, UV, HRM
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29 COMMENTS

  1. Good review… The only thing that is weird in your review is the whole right hand issue. I have had the Note Edge since it came out on Sprint and I am also right handed. I don’t have no problem using it in my right hand and my palm or fingers does not interfere with the curved screen when not being used. You are the only right handed person that has reviewed the edge that had a problem with the curved being on the right. Also the option to flip the screen, are for the left handed people. Overall the Edge is a great phone. The only downside to the Edge in my opinion, is the very limited accessories.

    • Yes, I definitely am weird with the whole right handed issue. And you’re absolutely right about the accessories. Maybe with the next generation of the edge we will get more accessories.

      • I also am right handed and have no issue at all. It sits perfectly in the right hand and the thumb simply scrolls the edge screen around or taps the shortcut I want. Perfect!
        By the way, like the Note 4, the Edge has a METAL band around it, not plastic as stated in the article. Also like the Note 4, the flat part of the sides are anodised the same colour as the back with the single chamfered corner being the polished metal finish. The Note 4 has both chamfered corners polished, but both phones are metal!

        • Alches – I asked Samsung whether or not the phone was metal or plastic and got an ambiguous answer. I know the frame looks similar to the Note 4’s anodized frame, but it feels not alike. As in, my note 4 actually has properties of metal, like temperature conduction whereas the Note Edge feels like plastic but looks like metal. I have both and they feel dramatically different. If I get a straight answer from Samsung I will post it here.

          • I know some other reviewers have concluded the frame was plastic but my comments were based on the Samsung Blog in this link: http://global.samsungtomorrow.com/galaxy-note-edge-explained-4-things-you-must-know-before-you-pick-it-up/
            Personally I have no issue with the use of plastic anyway. It amuses me to see iPhone and other metal phone users, raving how beautiful they look, covering them up in plastic to prevent the inevitable scratches and stop them slipping out of their hands. May as well be plastic in the first place and be thinner in the process.

          • It’s a metal banding. The phone is just fantastic. Can’t wait for more apps to use that area in app like camera and snote. Also would like more apps for just that area like favorite apps and sports ticker. It is expensive but then it is best phone currently on the market

          • You are absolutely correct that it is made of metal. I checked it myself by making a small scratch in the side of the frame and the cut mark showed metal under the top layer. Thanks for correcting me.

          • No problem. I thought your review was excellent! Many others I have read are grossly inaccurate and extremely biased, so it was a pleasure to read an honest assesment (even if you do have an odd right handed view!!!!).
            What I love about the phone is that my home screens are no longer cluttered with shortcuts (I hate iPhones for that reason, all screens are just a conglomeration of shortcuts). With the Edge I have a full screen photo slideshow, a full screen music player, a full screen weather page and a full screen calendar and all my shortcuts on the edge, out of the way. Wonderful!!

          • I absolutely agree with your assessments. The iPhone is super cluttered…but it is designed to be “simple” so an app drawer might confuse iOS users.(LOL)
            I can’t wait to see what Samsung does with the next version of the Note.

  2. Let’s not forget, in this “history” lesson, how “visionary” Steve Jobs mocked large screen phones incessantly. He was completely WRONG.

  3. I actually don’t understand the supposed price issue. With trade in my edge cost only a little more than my S4. A bigger issue has been trying to get a case. The Samsung site has one on back order but no hint of when I can finish the purchase.
    I’m currently using a Games top case, which is a bit cumbersome but works pretty well.

  4. Also the power button in on the top! I have a note 3 and I can’t tell you how much it bothers me to have the power directly across from the volume.. since as you leverage the phone to press the volume you hit the power as well. That alone puts this phone on my want to upgrade list. BUT will it work with gear VR like the vanilla note 4?

    • Excellent point on the power button. As far as I know the Edge is not compatible with Gear Vr, but you can try Google Cardboard. There are large versions available on Amazon.com and sell for less than 40 dollars.

  5. One thing seems certain, those looking for something different might love it. Apart from its different look and its screen, the Note 4 and Note Edge share the same high-end components.

  6. First off I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question that
    I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out hhow
    you center yourself and clear your head before writing.
    I’ve had trouble clearing my mind iin getting my ideas out there.
    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes
    are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips?
    Thanks!

    • Thank you for your kind words.

      I just as much as you have a hard time clearing my thoughts…i like to blog because I love android, but I also write because the more I write the better I get at it. This is a hobby for me, my main occupation is a chemist so writing is not something that comes natural to me.

      For longer blog posts like this, I try to think of a few main points to focus on and go from there.

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