Alongside the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung also announced the Note Edge. As with the Galaxy Round, many simply wrote it off as an experimental gimmick at the time. Needless to say, with the Galaxy S6 Edge, the company ticked the right boxes for the public to take note of the curved screen, which became instantly popular with waiting lists still ongoing around the world. The hype surrounding the Note Edge seemingly died down in South Africa, as it did not launch according to the same timelines as the Note 4, in Q4 2014. Instead, South Africans would have to wait until the end of Q1 2015 to get their hands on one, with most having already taken the option of the Note 4 instead, or then waiting for the Galaxy S6 Edge, which had already been announced at that point.
While the option was there to have reviewed the Note Edge before the S6 or S6 Edge, the popularity of the latter overtook the rush to put out a review for the former. But now it’s finally time for the Note Edge to get its turn in the limelight. And the results may even surprise you.
Design and Display
Taken at face value, the Note Edge appears to be very similar to the Note 4 when you remove the edged screen. But when you compare the two side-by-side, you’ll begin to notice a few changes, some good, some not so good. Starting with the design and build, the front view is identical, with the same button and sensor layouts. Even the finishing here looks the same. Moving down to the bottom, it’s more of the same, the centred microUSB port, with S-Pen to the right. The rear, also, matches. But that’s where the similarities end. The power button on the right hand side have been moved to the top, and whereas the volume rocker remains on the left, it feels rather less premium than the original. Then there’s the platinum finished edging, only a single-rimmed edge on the Note Edge, over the double-rim on the Note 4. Overall, though, the resemblance is there to see, just not as polished.
The main difference between the two was always going to be the screen and display. The Note Edge has a slightly smaller, 5.6” screen, compared to the 5.7” of the Note 4. While the 5.6” screen is wider, it isn’t as long in terms of its height. The Note Edge has a 1600x2560px resolution display, with 524ppi pixel density, which is higher than that of the Note 4. The Quad-HD+ tag means you get 160px extra on the side for all the side panel, Edge functionalities. The screen looks just as great as it did on the Note 4, with its bright colours, with strong contrast to boot. The screen is protected using Corning Gorilla Glass 3, instead of 4 found on the Note 4. The wider frame does create some concern amongst certain individuals, but if you weren’t comfortable with the Note 4, you wouldn’t expect to be here either. The handling of the Note Edge is a lot different to many other phones, but after one or two days of daily usage and you’ll hardly notice the difference.
While the Note 4 itself comes in two variants, one using Samsung’s own Exynos 5433 chipset, while the other using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset, with the inclusion of LTE. The Note Edge only ships in one version (if you don’t count storage capacities as a version on its own that is), that including the latter chipset for LTE. This means the Note Edge has a Quad-core 2.7 GHz Krait 450 CPU and Adreno 420 GPU. Compared to Samsung’s Exynos 5433 chipset, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 doesn’t quite match up. Although you won’t notice any lag or jitters, there are some frame drops when running the more graphic intense mobile games. Then there’s the same heating issue we’ve read so much about in a dispute between Samsung and Qualcomm. It doesn’t concern me who’s at fault really, just that there is a slightly higher operating temperature on the Note Edge than on the Note 4, discharging the battery slightly quicker on the former. It doesn’t leave you in good spirits, especially considering that the Note Edge has a 3000mAh battery, which is 220mAh less than on the Note 4. But given that smaller sized screen, it may, over longer periods, not matter all that much. But results do clearly indicate that the Note 4 has a better battery life, sometimes one or two full hours of additional usage under normal, everyday activity.
Do You Note…With an Edge?
Samsung used the catch phrase “Do You Note?” as part of its marketing campaign for the Note 4. But the question this time around is whether you’ll use the Edge, or if it’s simply a gimmick to sell more devices, which it almost completely was on the S6 Edge. But, unlike the Edge found on the S6, the Note Edge has a much more functional offering, which is both strange, and respectable at the same time. Even with its default settings, there’s a lot about the Edge that proves useful, even after weeks of using the Note Edge. There’s the standard panel, which presents shortcuts to all your favourite and most-used apps (customisable). This menu is available from within any other app, in addition to the lock screen, and even when the screen is turned off. In fact, all panels are available in this manner. The good thing for users is that Samsung has a separate downloads page for all your Edge requirements. This means you can include different panels on the Edge, which can be traversed by means of a left or right swipe. Other panels include the S-Planner, S-Health, RSS fee, Notifications menu, to name but a few. Then there’s the shortcuts menus that can be swiped from either the top or bottom of the Edge from any other panel. The swipe from bottom provides a link to the settings menu for the Edge, where users are able to manage panels, change the style of the Edge, set the font and text to be displayed when the Edge is minimised, information stream, timeout settings, and the use of the Edge screen on the left, which we’ll touch on later. Swiping down from the top opens provides quick links to a ruler, timer, stopwatch, flashlight and microphone, again, all within the Edge panel itself, with no need to open another app. Since these features are available from within any app, you don’t ever have to stop what you’re doing to use it, with even calls, emails and other notifications accessed from it. It would have been useful to be able to read an incoming text or email from the Edge itself, but instead selecting those messages opens the apps for those.
The functionality doesn’t just stop at shortcuts though, with many of the bundled apps, such as the camera also having additional functionality for the Edge. For example, when using the camera app, the main screen is used to display the image to be taken, whereas the Edge houses the controls for the camera. The included Flipboard app that’s build into the homescreen, uses the Edge to jump to the different categories, separated by their colours. Playing music also opens a separate control on the Edge panel. Since the Edge is positioned on the right side of the phone, it would seem that the Edge is more suited to right handed users. But, there’s an option in the settings menu that allows you to switch the Edge to the left when the phone is flipped upside down. This means that all the functionality will now be on the user’s left hand side. The only real issue with this is that the phone is now upside down, with the home button on the top. Still, this is one way of solving the issue.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is a lot more rounded and useful smartphone than the other Edged smartphone available, the S6 Edge. While I assume that the size of the screen had something to do with the limitations on the latter’s Edge functionality, I can’t see it as the reason to remove so many of the Edge’s functions and usefulness because of it. If had the option of the Note Edge when I bought my Note 4, it would’ve been an easy option for me, and the many multitudes of people I’ve shown off the device too, all of whom own the Note 4 themselves.
With a small difference of R1000 on top of the cash price, the Note Edge isn’t a great deal more than the Note 4. And when you consider the usefulness of the Edge, plus the added technological challenges Samsung will easily highlight as to the cost difference between the S6 and S6 Edge, the Note Edge is truly worth it. With the possibility of even more enhancements in the future, plus rumours already surfacing for the Note 5 and co, there’s a lot happening on the Edge right now, most of which are exciting. Given that Samsung will be using its own Exynos chipset in future variants, the Note Edge 2 is something worth looking out for.