"A first look at Samsung's dual-screen flagship, the Galaxy Note Edge"
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge was unveiled along with its more staid sibling, the Note 4 (review | FAQs) at IFA last September. Initially expected to be a limited edition smartphone, Samsung surprised us by launching the device in India last month at the staggering price of Rs 64,900. The Note Edge shares most of its specifications with the Note 4, but ups the ante (and the price) with its unique curved display on the right side. We’ve gotten hold of the device, and we’re going to begin the review process with an unboxing and first impressions.
Like the Galaxy Note 4, the Note Edge comes packaged in a deceptively compact retail box. The rather drab exterior is compensated by the fact that Samsung has used recycled paper and soy-based inks for its production.
Opening up the box reveals the Note Edge sitting pretty on top, inviting you to gawk at its sloping display. Below it is a cardboard flap, which can be pulled open to reveal the quick start guide, warranty and other documentation. Underneath you’ll find a 2A wall charger which supports adaptive fast charging. There’s also a USB cable and the 3,000mAh removable battery. The wired earphones and extra tips for the S Pen were missing from our review unit, but should come packaged in the retail box.
Putting the box contents aside, it’s time to take a look at the smartphone itself. With its right side gently cascading down to meet the back panel, the Note Edge looks nothing like any smartphone we’ve seen before. If you were to avert your gaze from this discerning feature though, it would be hard to spot the differences between it and the Note 4. The front of the device is almost entirely taken up by the Super AMOLED display, which measures 5.6-inches in size and sports a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels.
Above the screen you’ll find the earpiece, notification LED, sensors and front camera. On the fascia rests the trademark Samsung home button which integrates a fingerprint sensor. It is flanked by by two capacitive backlit keys for multitasking and return functions. The left spine is home to the volume rocker, while the power button has shifted from its conventional spot on the right to the top, where it is joined by the headphone jack and IR blaster. A micro-USB port is on the bottom edge, with the slot for the S Pen on the extreme right.
Turning the smartphone over, you’ll find Samsung’s signature textured back panel, the same one we saw on the Note 4. The large 16MP primary camera is on top, and the dual-LED flash and heart-rate sensor are tucked away in a recess below. The single loudspeaker is at the bottom. On removing the back panel, you’ll find slots for the battery, microSD and microSIM cards.
The Note 4's display is one of the best we've seen on a smartphone recently, and the Note Edge lives up to expectations. The screen is vibrant, sharp and responsive, and the edge display is equally impressive. Thanks to the soft curve, scrolling horizontally or vertically feels smooth and natural. There are various panels on the edge display, and you can scroll through them by swiping from the left or right. By default, the edge shows you a vertical favourites bar, letting you easily access your frequently-used apps at a touch. You can edit which apps show up here, and even group them together in folders. There's also a panel that displays notifications and the weather. Swiping up from the bottom lets you access the settings for the edge screen, where you can select, re-order and even download more panels.
Swiping down from the top brings up various utility functions like a torch, recorder, timer and our personal favourite, a virtual ruler. There are tons of cool features that Samsung has integrated into the edge screen, and the company has even released up an API that lets developers create custom panels. What we really liked about the edge screen is that it discreetly slides out of view when you open an app, but can easily be brought back by swiping in from the right.
The remaining features of the Note Edge are similar to what we’ve seen on the Note 4. It’s powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor clocked at 2.7GHz, paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage (around 24.44GB user available) that’s expandable via microSD up to 128GB. It runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat layered with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, that brings the usual smorgasbord of features like Multi Window, Private Mode, Ultra Power Saving Mode, motions and gestures and the usual S-Pen functionality.
From what we've gathered so far, the Note Edge isn't just a one-off device, and Samsung will be using the edge screen in its future flagships. To tell you more about what this unique display offers, we'll be extensively testing the smartphone over the next couple of weeks to bring you a detailed review.