Samsung Galaxy Note EDGE Review: The Phone That Started It ALL

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Pros

AWESOME display; Great Design; High-end specs; Great battery life; S-Pen is just fantastic in its fourth iteration; Plenty of storage; Unique curved OLED panel

Cons

Not ideal for southpaws; Curved OLED aspect is limited to Samsung apps; Handset’s a bit on the pricy side

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was awesome and the Galaxy Note EDGE is essentially the same deal, just with a funky new display. We LOVE this phone, although given its price a lot of people might be better off with its less-eccentric launch partner…

Say what you like about Samsung but the company certainly isn’t afraid of trying new, innovative, and interesting things once in a while. On more than one occasion the firm has been the first to hit the market with some new fangled tech, and on a few times it’s been something no-one else had the gall to try – like the first Galaxy Note phablet, for example. Sure, sometimes it gets a bit ahead of itself and does something too wacky, or implements a good idea in a slightly odd way, but sure enough sometimes things work out great.

Samsung wasn’t the first to market with a curved display design, however, as we’ve seen curved display panels before on things like LG’s G Flex. But previously such clever design has still prompted questions over the practical purpose – why does a phone buyer need a curved display? The Galaxy Note EDGE seems to be a bid to address that very astute question, and it does appear that there’s more on offer here than a curved screen for the sake of it.

We’ve been putting it through the paces for the past week or so in order to find out if it actually is worth more money than the already excellent Samsung Galaxy Note 4?

The Samsung Galaxy Note EDGE is a proof of concept, a means for Samsung to be able to say, “Hey, look what we’ve done!” And that’s great –– we need more conceptual stuff like this in tech. It is rather gimmicky, yes, but the handset itself is already built on some VERY strong Galaxy Note 4-type foundations. And it shows, too –– the handset itself is bloody brilliant, bringing nearly everything that made the Note 4 great and adding in a few extra bits for good measure.

The EDGE display –– especially inside the Galaxy S6’s metal chassis –– costs Samsung A LOT to make, even more than Apple’s top of the range iPhone 6 Plus. According to IHS Display, the Galaxy S6 EDGE costs Samsung $290 to build. But a HUGE chunk of that cost is the display itself which costs $84 per unit. Factor this into the mix and it’s no wonder Samsung charges a premium for its EDGE version handsets.

The EDGE seems to be popular with a fair few consumers as well, as noted by Phone Arena. “According to South Korean publication Dt, the Note Edge has sold-in some 630,000 units. That’s a very small portion of total Note sales, of course – Samsung sold as many as 4.5 million units of the Note 4 in the first month of availability, for example. Still, it appears that the Edge is well on its way to hitting the million units sold milestone.”

As predicted in this review, the Galaxy Note EDGE was a proof of concept device, a means for Samsung to test the water ahead of committing to a HUGE run of Galaxy S6 EDGE units. Consumers and reviewers alike seem to adore what Samsung is now doing in the design department; no other handset manufacturer is even remotely close to achieving was Samsung has with its EDGE series handsets. 

The result of all this hard work –– and the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 EDGE really were a labour of love –– was a HUGE reception at MWC 2015, tens of millions of orders from networks, an insanely positive response from consumers and reviewers alike and, most importantly, a very positive improvement to Samsung’s bottom line in 2015/16.

Design

Samsung is enjoying something of a renaissance of late, with pretty much back-to-back solid releases for the latter part of 2014. First came the Galaxy Alpha, a solid handset that, for all intents and purposes, is the handset the Galaxy S5 should have been all along. Then came the Galaxy Note 4, yet another HUGE step forwards for the company’s indomitable Note brand. And last but by no means least is the Galaxy Note EDGE, essentially the Galaxy Note 4 with a twist (or an edge, if you prefer puns).

Launched alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the EDGE has been surrounded in mystery ever since with many assuming it’d only see the light of day in Korean markets, as has been the case with other releases from the phone maker. A lot of the reasons for this were to do with its OLED panel and the production constraints associated with building it… this is why the handset, despite being widely available in the UK, is still considered a limited edition unit.

Moving forwards, Samsung seems keen to impress on all that it can now build these types of displays in larger quantities, which is good news for consumers and even better news for Samsung’s additional business dealings a display-maker for hire.

Like the Galaxy Note 4, the Note EDGE is a very well put together handset. It’s slightly smaller than the Note 4, although not by much, and feels similarly robust and well weighted in the hand. Samsung knows how to do phablets, and both the Note 4 and, by proxy, the Note EDGE show just how far the company has come in the past couple of years. EVERYTHING has been refined and the end result is one of the best big smartphone experiences money can buy.

The EDGE features metallic edging just like the Alpha and measures at a respectable 151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3 mm. It feels premium in the hand and, because of its careful design attributes, is also pretty easy to use one handed. Next to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus (my daily driver), the Galaxy Note EDGE feels A LOT more manageable.

In the grand scheme of things, the Note EDGE is basically the Galaxy Note 4, just with a fancy new curved OLED display. The specs, hardware and overall design are pretty much identical. The only USP here is that curved OLED, which, I might add, is done beautifully aboard this handset. The EDGE is coming to the UK, but it will be a limited edition unit, meaning not everybody will be able to get their hands on one –– and even those that do will likely pay quite a premium for the pleasure compared to the cost of the Galaxy Note 4.

And if the bog-standard black version with silver trim doesn’t float your boat, you might want to hold fire on buying one as a new version of the EDGE has popped up online with a very fetching gold trim. The image of the new version was leaked by Samsung Viet and looks to be an even more limited edition version of the already pretty limited edition Samsung Galaxy Note EDGE, meaning you might not be able to get your hands on one very easily. Still, it does look very, VERY tasty as you can see below:

Now that’s out the way, lets get down to business and talk about this device’s BIG USP –– the display.

Display

And what a display it is –– nothing else I’ve seen this year comes close. The blacks are void-like, the colours vivid, and the contrast and viewing angles are excellent. And then you have the curved element on the right hand side, which slopes down to create a secondary display for additional screen options like folders, app controls, personalised messages, and ticker-style notifications. I’ll be the first to admit the EDGE looks like a gimmick phone, but after using it for a while a strange thing happened; I started to “get it” –– and that never happens with Samsung’s usual gimmicks (hello, EVERYTHING that shipped inside the Galaxy S4).

What’s even more interesting about this curved OLED display, however, is that Samsung is rumoured to be packing one on the front (and sides) of next year’s Galaxy S6; only that handset will apparently have two curved edges instead one. Either way, the EDGE is here and it really is an excellent conduit for showing off just how good Samsung is at displays. Whether or not curved OLED panels become a mainstream thing in mobile (we think they will) is sort of beside the point, because even without the EDGE, the display by itself is still bloody spectacular.

As noted earlier, the EDGE’s panel is slightly smaller than the Galaxy Note 4’s 5.6in setup, but the extra curved bit on the right hand side does add in an extra 160 vertical pixels, which translates into a 16:10 aspect ratio at 2550 x 1600 pixels. With the pixel density you’re looking at a pant-soiling 524ppi, making the EDGE’s display setup one of the most advanced panels currently in existence in the mobile space.

So, What Can You Do With The EDGE?

At the moment, not that much… but lets not forget this is a limited edition handset. As of right now, the edge on the EDGE is limited to core Samsung applications –– things like the Messages and the Camera app, for instance. It could, of course, be opened to third-party developers in the future but even then it’d be unlikely many would actually bother updating their applications for such a niche product –– regardless of whether it is widely available or not.

On the home screen, you can assign applications, shortcuts and folders to the EDGE. In the case of Folders, as you can see below, these are easily viewable on the display despite its bent nature. And when you tap the Folder it goes into full screen mode on the main portion of the display. Ditto for shortcuts and widgets and whatever else you have stashed in there. It also does notifications too, although you do have to read them sideways.

The EDGE becomes handy when you’re inside other applications, however, because you can quickly bring up the shortcuts to other applications installed on your phone and switch between the two. In certain applications, say, the camera app, for instance, the EDGE houses software keys for things like the shutter. Alternatively, if you open up a music playback application the play, pause and skip keys are stored within the bent portion of the panel, giving you quick and easy access to controls.

The curved OLED has a few additional neat tricks –– it can pull in what’s trending on Twitter, for instance –– that might come in useful to some people, but for the most part it is only Samsung’s core applications (stuff like S-Health) which truly take advantage of the curved portion of the display. Samsung has opened an official EDGE application store, but there’s literally sweet FA in there, so for the time being you’re stuck with core TouchWiz stuff like S-Health and S-Calendar.

And because this is a Note device, you also get a stylus –– or, an S-Pen, if you want to get technical. As on the Note 4, Samsung’s fourth-generation S-Pen is fantastically well executed, and is about as close to scribbling on paper as you’re likely to get on a mobile device. The S-Pen also takes advantage of the EDGE by moving all the usual editing and highlight options over to the curved bit of the display, giving you more screen real-estate to work with.

And if that wasn’t enough, Samsung has also built a ruler, flashlight, timer and voice recorder directly into the curved aspect of the EDGE (these are accessed by swiping down from the top of the EDGE’s column). Plop it on your bedside table at night and the EDGE component doubles as an alarm clock while the main portion of the display sleeps.

Strewth! – Android Lollipop 5.0.1 Hits Galaxy Note Edge In Europe & Australia

As of February 13 2015, Samsung’s Android Lollipop 5.0.1 update for the Note Edge has been spotted rolling out to devices in Europe, it started in Poland but has quickly hit other regions including the UK, France, and Germany.

Australia is a pretty significant market for Samsung so it’s perhaps not surprising that it has begun rolling out the Android Lollipop 5.0.1 update for Galaxy Note Edge handsets in the land down under too. If you live in the region be sure to check your Note Edge for OTA updates.

  • Model SM-N915G
  • Model name GALAXY Note Edge
  • Country Australia
  • Version Android 5.0.1
  • Changelist 4144270
  • Build date Fri, 13 Feb 2015 23:58:14 +0000
  • Product code XSA
  • PDA N915GXXU1BOB7
  • CSC N915GXSA1BOB7
  • MODEM N915GXXU1BOB7

Samsung Galaxy Note EDGE Will Be Updated To Android Marshmallow February  2016

We’re now hearing details of exactly when we should expect to see Samsung’s range of Galaxy devices pushed onto Android Marshmallow 6.0. There have been multiple leaks inside November 2015 showing Samsung’s update roadmap, with the most recent emerging on November 19 via PhoneArena’s anonymous inside tipsters. Consistently, these leaked details have shown the Galaxy Note EDGE will be updated, along with the Galaxy Note 4, in February 2016, following updates being issued to the Galaxy Note 5  and Galaxy S6 edge+ in December, and the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge in January 2016.

According to an official Samsung blog post which followed the launch of the Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 phablets, the company has been hard at work on implementing Android M features into its next version of TouchWiz, destined to land inside a number of high-end Galaxy devices. Amongst the devices mentioned in leaked details, the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge are listed for the impending update.

The post includes an infographic detailing the key features included in TouchWiz, such as improved power saving, memory tracking, app managment, and more.

Specs, CPU And Connectivity 

The EDGE is based on the Galaxy Note 4 and is therefore largely the same with regards to specs. You still get that uber-powerful Snapdragon 805 quad-core CPU clocked at 2.7GHz, 3GB of RAM, and a 16MP camera with OIS, as well as microSD support up to 128GB alongside either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage.

There are a couple of caveats, however: the display is slightly smaller on the EDGE and the battery isn’t quite as large at 3000mAh. With connectivity, you have all the usual bells and whistles –– Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, DLNA, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac –– as well as support for ultra-fast LTE-A 4G speeds, which will soon become the norm in the UK thanks to EE’s expanding rollout of its LTE-A services.

Generally speaking though, like the Galaxy Note 4, the Galaxy Note EDGE is a supremely powerful handset that ships with an excellent camera and plenty of additional features besides. I really do like Samsung’s S-Health, for instance, as it presents certain metrics (steps and calories) in a very simple manner, unlike Apple’s Health app, which I tend to find slightly hard work.

In addition to this you get 50GB of Dropbox storage when you first sign-in, as well as Android KitKat 4.4.4 (although an update to Android Lollipop is planned before the close of the year), and other useful things like MHL and active noise cancelation inside the microphone for better call quality.

Camera

I tested the EDGE’s camera pretty extensively, building up a repertoire of different types of images captured in a variety of settings. As usual, I was more than impressed by the Samsung’s imaging prowess. However, I sent the bloody phone back without getting the image samples off it –– something I’ve literally NEVER done in the past. So, yeah, I’m feeling slightly stupid now.

Nevertheless, I can at least fill you in on some of my findings about the Galaxy Note EDGE’s imaging capabilities. Like a lot of the device, the camera is exactly the same setup aboard the Galaxy Note 4, meaning you have a Sony-built 16MP rear shooter with OIS and a 3.5MP unit on the front for selfies. Image quality is excellent with zero noise and rapid focus. Images captured with little to no effort have a satisfying vibrancy and high level of detail. The resulting shots also look AMAZING on the EDGE’s awesome OLED panel.

As per usual, you get Samsung’s excellent camera application, which is fast becoming one of our favourite on market, a variety of different shooting modes, including HDR and Panorama as well as a multitude of filters and editing options for putting the final touches to your shots. The EDGE’s shooter is great at macro shots and can produce some outstanding results in gloomy, low-light thanks to the increased exposure time born from its latent OIS capabilities. Like the Galaxy Note 4, the EDGE can also shoot 4K video.

I’m just gutted I don’t have any photo samples to share with you. However, for a basic idea of the type of performance you’ll get do check out the camera section in our Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review. Fingers crossed I can source another review unit for picture samples!

Battery

Despite being smaller, the EDGE’s battery performed more or less the same as its bigger brother’s. It managed a full day of heavy use with plenty of juice left in the tank. In our Django Test, the EDGE scored an impressive 76% (the Galaxy Note 4 only did marginally better with 78%), meaning you’re not likely to notice much of a difference with respect to battery performance in your day-to-day.

Verdict

I loved the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Note EDGE is basically the Galaxy Note 4 with a funky display. For me this is just an added bonus, like getting a bowl of ice cream and then crushing a KitKat chunky on top of it, the EDGE is a nice addition to an already very attractive package. And while many may view the addition of a curved OLED panel as superfluous, it does add in a few neat tricks that, after using the phone for a couple of weeks, I actually became rather fond of –– but, again, that’s just me. The more cynical amongst us might find it completely useless.

Either way, the EDGE is a superb handset (just like its stable mate) so whichever one you go for you’re guaranteed to be satisfied with the combination of features, next-level performance and gorgeous display technology that’s on offer inside either device. Lets just hope Samsung continues this run of form into 2015 for the update to 2014’s Samsung Galaxy S5.

(knowyourmobile.com)

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