The Note series has seriously paid off well for Samsung, ever since the Galaxy Note was launched. Taking that ahead, Samsung took a step to come up with a variant, alongside the successor to the Galaxy Note 3. Thus, during IFA 2014 in Berlin, there were two Galaxy Note phablets launched – the Galaxy Note 4, and the Galaxy Note Edge. There are many similarities between the two devices, but one feature sets them apart – the curved screen on the Note Edge.
We have spent considerable amount of time with both the devices together, to check how they differ, and if you as a buyer are confused which one to end up with, here’s our review of both the devices together, and checking the differences you can understand which one suits your needs.
What specs are the same on both devices
- Same internal powering in both the devices: Snapdragon 805 processor (2.7 GHz quad-core) with 3GB RAM
- Both coming in 32GB and 64GB internal storage options and expandable with MicroSD (up to 64GB)
- Both have the OS version: Android 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz UI
- The camera combination is kept the same: 16-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and a 3.7-megapixel front camera
- Heart rate sensor, Finger scanner and IR Blaster
- Connectivity options: 11ac Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth GPS, Bluetooth 4.1, MHL 3.0, a UV sensor and 4G LTE Cat 6
How do the Note 4 and Note Edge differ
First off, the most important one – display. It’s the QHD display with 2560×1440 pixels screen resolution for both, but the Note 4 comes with a standard Super AMOLED display, while the one on the Note Edge comes with the extra 160 pixels of width due to the curved extra screen on the right side. This extra screen, which Samsung calls as the “Edge Screen” has a content totally different from what you see on the primary large screen. You get to see notifications, app icons, few options, S Health widget and other options and these can be accessed from any app, or even from the lock screen.
Design – The Note 4 still is comfortable to hold even though it has a 5.7-inch display, but the Note Edge with the extra curved screen on the side, is wider and not really comfortable. We’d explain about this further down below.
Battery – No big difference but still a noticeable one, as the Note 4 has a 3220 mAh battery while the Note Edge comes with a 3000 mAh battery capacity.
Camera Comparison – Note 4 vs Note Edge
The two phablets come with the same cameras on the front and back. And the capture quality too is almost the same, but for my personal view, the pictures taken on the Note 4 looked more natural and color reproduction felt a little better on that, when compared to the ones on Note Edge.
On the software side, Samsung has made quite a lot of changes to the camera app interface in the Galaxy Note Edge, so that the edge screen is taken advantage of, by giving the options and shutter button on appropriate places based on the orientation of the screen. When the Note Edge is held in landscape mode, the shutter button is given on the right top corner, on the edge screen. And in portrait mode, it again is on the edge screen but towards the center of it.
In the following pictures, you’ll be able to decide which is capturing better pictures, and we have divided them separately so you can have a closer look to check.
How does the Galaxy Note 4 win?
Talking about the practical use, the Galaxy Note 4 still holds an advantage over the Note Edge, for quite a few reasons. First, the Note 4 is the actual upgrade from Note 3 with the power-packed features, the gorgeous QHD display with bright colors, excellent internal specs and the very much improved S Pen.
But isn’t all this available even in the Note Edge? It indeed is, but you expect large phones to have buttons at particular places like you have always been seeing them. For example, the power button on the Samsung smartphones usually is on the right frame, but in the Note Edge, it is pushed to the top and is always hard to reach there to lock/unlock the screen.
Note 4 on the software side hasn’t seen anything less when compared to the Note Edge, as you can still play around with the multitasking and S Pen features, keeping you in the “traditional smartphone” loop if you have been a Samsung Note user already.
The unnecessary touches that happen on the Note Edge when you are trying to lift the phone from a flat surface when the screen is turned on, are limited to only this device as the Note 4 is still a standard smartphone with bezel and proper frame on all sides of the screen. And because the side has no proper frame in the Note Edge, the sharp metallic line that marks the end of the curved screen gets a little slippery and you don’t really feel comfortable holding the Note Edge in the hand.
Not to forget, there is always a fear of this device getting cracked more easily on the front because although we are assured that the screen protection it has got will be enough to keep the problems away, the device seems easily prone to scratches or cracks, and would you love taking that extra risk and spend over $700 for the Note Edge?
Moreover, the Note series has been famous for its S Pen and the extra functions and user experience you get with it. The S Pen on Note Edge is no different, and you can take the full advantage of it on the flat screen, but towards the Edge screen on the side, the S Pen slips either up or down when trying to drag the panel from the top or from the bottom. Not the worst experience, but not really good to use.
Finally, the price – in the U.S., the unlocked Galaxy Note Edge costs about $150 more than what you pay to get a Note 4. Would you really want to pay that much when there is nothing different than the Edge screen? that too, after already getting into the category of $700+ smartphones?
Samsung has tweaked a few apps, especially the camera one with some shifts of the buttons and such, which does make it easier to capture the pictures, but at the same time it accidentally clicks pictures as the button is on the corner and you tend to hold the device at that particular point, until you start getting adjusted to it.
Samsung made a blunder with the orientation, where although they gave a 180-degree rotation option for left handed users, it looks real bad and the engineering is all done mainly for the right handed users.
How is the Galaxy Note Edge better?
Most importantly – this is Samsung! A brand that was always known to do nothing special, out of the box stuff. The Note series was the best they had come up with, but with Note Edge, those barriers are broken and Samsung has done something really cool. Although this doesn’t solve much practical purpose as said above, a smartphone with a curved screen extending from the front is something you have never seen on any other device.
You can show off, and you can actually boast about the device you are holding in your hand because even the Note 4 doesn’t look this beautiful. The screen is turned off, but the edge screen shows the time and weather, changing colors based on the time. It does attract some onlookers and many would be curious to know what device is this.
Although Samsung has given some settings to help you change what to show on the edge screen, it is not really evolved, and these are just a few software tweaks done by the company. But that doesn’t mean you should be disappointed with this. The Edge is still new, and it is just a matter of time before developers hop on and get going with some more tweaks and make the Edge screen look classy and useful.
The few shortcuts and options that are included in the Edge panels, are actually useful for daily usage. For example, you don’t really have to start searching for the Clock app to start a stopwatch, or have a separate app for flashlight, because all these are available as direct options on the edge screen.
So, what should I choose? Note 4 or Note Edge!
From my personal point of view, I would stick to the basics and traditional choices, thus Note 4 seems to be a better option, but there are reasons for me to back this:
- No big reason other than the confusing edge screen to pay $150 extra
- Not easy to get adjusted to that very thin and sharp frame on the side, and there is a risk of this phone slipping down
The Note Edge isn’t a bad product at all, and Samsung hasn’t made something as a prototype to test. It is a perfectly made handset with all proper functionality but there is no real reason why early adopters should jump the line and ignore the Note 4 to get the Edge.
We are pretty sure not many would want a device just to show off, and thus the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 would be an ideal choice to end up with, and we are happy to even call the Note 4 as one of the best smartphones / phablets of the year 2014, while push the Note Edge into the Niche category rather than keeping it in the standard list of devices. You know the reasons for that!