Samsung has been known for the repetitive stuff, and we indeed saw the latest flagship Galaxy S5 to be no different. Only after that, the company had some change in plans and the metal corners came in, with the introduction of Galaxy Alpha and then the same in Galaxy Note 4. Now, innovation takes a step ahead as Samsung comes up with this Note Edge, having a curved display continuing on the side towards the corner. Looks cool, obviously. But how good will that look and work out practically, let’s find out in the review.
The Galaxy Note Edge is basically the cousin of the Galaxy Note 4, offering the same specs, with the only difference being the innovative part included in the Note Edge – the Edge display, which wraps around the right side of the phone, extending towards the corner. But the display doesn’t come as a part of the standard UI, but has some extra software features for the user experience enhancement.
Digging into the specs, no real difference from the Note 4 as you see a Quad HD display on the front, the 16-megapixel camera with flash and a heart rate monitor just below to it on the back, and the front home button having a finger scanner. Internally, there is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of RAM, Adreno 420 GPU, 32GB internal storage and Android KitKat with the refreshed TouchWiz UI, having dedicated options for one-handed operation, the S Pen and for the Edge display. While the Note 4 had a 3220 mAh battery, the Edge comes with a slightly smaller 3000 mAh battery.
With regards to the design, the power button gets shifted to the top, from the right frame where Samsung has always placed the power button, which is something Samsung had to compromise with, and it isn’t easy to reach with one hand. The metal finish on the frame is almost the same as what you see on the Galaxy Alpha or on the Note 4, but the metal frame continues in a weird shape at the junction of the Edge Screen and the back plate.
Above the display, we have the earpiece, the ambient light and proximity sensor and the 3.7-megapixel wide angle camera for selfies. The metal band on the top is something that gave us a hard time while making calls, as it is a little raised and pushes itself onto the ear and is painful during long calls. Below the display, is the same combination of a physical home button with finger scanner sensor, and the two touch sensitive navigation buttons on the either side. There are two microphones in the bottom, with the MicroUSB port and the S Pen pocket and the top has the third microphone and the 3.5mm headset jack, IR blaster along with the power button.
The indentations on the Note 4 are all gone on the side frame, and now we see a fully flat one running from the top to bottom. The chamfered edge on the back side doesn’t come with the metallic mirroring type of effect that you see on the Note 4, thus a little compromise with the looks.
So, the Note Edge isn’t really easy to hold, and being wider than the Note 4, it is not possible to easily use this with one hand. It has a shorter and wider display, and it isn’t a 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution but a 160 pixels higher width because of the edge screen, taking the resolution to 2560 x 1600 pixels. It always feels better to use the home button to activate the screen, than to reach the top for the power button.
Here comes the interesting part – the display. It will be more interesting to see how well will one be able to do the daily tasks and find the Edge screen to be any useful, and for me, it has been a crazy adventure than a productive addition to the device. The standard front display of the Note Edge has nothing to worry about, Quad HD resolution under 5.6-inch screen and with the brilliant color output, pixel density and readability.
But, the curved Edge screen shows you something else. The 160 x 2560 pixels resolution screen that curves down towards the side, has its own content that shows up along with notifications, and anything that you wanted it to show. Interestingly, Samsung has optimized several apps to get the edge screen to some use. The Edge screen doesn’t get involved in showing video or game content, and that is only good as you don’t have to pull down the notification panel to get the latest missed notification while you were busy playing a game.
Touch sensitivity was good, and although in the earlier stages I felt it to be taking touches too unnecessarily, the regular usage doesn’t have much errors. The Edge Screen and its functionality is different from the main screen, and that is evident with the screen turned off, where you can trigger the Edge screen to show notifications and time/date information.
There’s a night mode for those who wanted to just check the time when the screen is turned off, and the Indian unit has this 180-degree usage for the left handed users. Weird enough, I know but Samsung has chosen to give the edge screen with only the right side as the base. The 180-degree rotation rotates the edge screen, and for someone who wanted the edge screen functioning on the left, they’ll notice the home and navigation buttons as a part of the screen, but you won’t find it easy to use the phone upside down.
Just like the Note 4, the Note Edge offers a lot for multi-tasking, one-handed usage and there are deep embedded options that can help one use the phone in a much better way. But, it is still TouchWiz and you cannot get away from the little lags on the high graphic loaded content.
Multi window has been a great addition to the Note series already, and that is quite evident here as well. Now you get the option to open the multi window in split screen view, by tapping on the option directly on the multitasking screen. The vertical carousel view of multiple apps is something similar to what you see on Android Lollipop, but the Note Edge is still on the KitKat version.
With regards to the hardware, both internally and externally, you have all these in the Galaxy Note 4 already. The removable back cover gives access to a removable battery, SIM card and MicroSD card slots. The speaker grill is located on the back, and although the output is good, the experience isn’t great because of the placement.
The S Pen functionality seems a little weird, where you might find it good only if the Edge is placed on a flat surface, because it is quite hard to hold the phone and use the S Pen with the other hand. For someone ready to adjust, there is a lot that the S Pen can do, just like the one in Note 4.
The 3000 mAh battery on Galaxy Note Edge lasted easily for over a day, thanks to the 3-4 hours of screen-on time which is commendable, and if I had chosen to conserve more power with some optimisation, it could have done more. While I see about 20-25% power left during the end of the day, the fast charger given in the package, helps get the device charged quickly.
Now, coming to one of the areas where Samsung has been doing great on the Note series. The 16-megapixel camera of the Note Edge can take brilliant pictures, with good colors and the HDR takes it to the next level. But while Samsung did bring about some changes to the camera application with the on-screen options pushed to the Edge Screen, that is a blunder on the other side as you always now have to use both your hands for two reasons – 1. the shutter button is not easy to reach when holding the phone with one hand and trying to capture using the same, and 2. the options pushed to the corners need a better handling of the phone, or get ready to see some shakes while you try to reach the shutter button.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Camera Samples
Low light photos come out clean, less grainy and less shaky with the help of Optical image stabilisation, and although we might see this to be poor in quality on too low light conditions, the Note Edge can be one of those devices at least showing up something in the frame, than just complete darkness.
To sum it up, the Galaxy Note Edge is refreshing, new but far from the best. First off, the pricing is ridiculous although Samsung hasn’t compromised with the specs, but at the same time, there are rare chances that someone might want to risk and choose a device with a curved side screen when there is no real need of it.
Some things that I hate about the Note Edge, are as follows –
- The metallic rim on the top that marks the edge of the Note Edge. It is pushed out a little, and it is painful to the ear while talking on the phone.
- You always have to be extra careful about the Edge screen, its protection and also to see that you don’t accidentally touch it and open some apps unnecessarily.
- The speaker on the back, not an appropriate location at all.
- Apps optimized to take the edge screen’s advantage, actually most of the times, make the user experience worse.
What do I like about the Note Edge?
- The innovation. Some might feel it a bit of exaggeration but Samsung has finally come up with something cool, different and not followed the footsteps of competition, at least what it was criticized for.
- The camera quality is great, both for the photo and video recording.
- I loved the Voice recorder app, where it takes advantage of the multiple microphones included.
- The Edge Screen – although is impractical for some, I feel its addition is more justified for shortcuts to apps, notifications without the need to wake the screen up, and to get access to some quick options like ruler, torch, voice recorder and such.
Note 4 vs Note Edge, we’ve already discussed why we like the Note 4 over the Edge, but here a few photos for you to find the differences.
All in all, the Galaxy Note Edge is more good than bad here, and the only problem is convincing myself to spend that amount when I could keep the experimentation away and get the Galaxy Note 4.