Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review

by: Joshua VergaraNovember 22, 2014
1.6K

The Bottom Line

PROS
  • Curved screen is first of its kind in the market
  • Note 4 design returns, until you get to the right side
  • Performance is top tier
  • Camera is still quite powerful
  • When the curve proves useful, it's great
  • Hardware offerings are robust
  • S Pen is still its ace in the hole
CONS
  • The curved display remains weird even after you get used to it
  • Ergonomics take a hit when the curve is factored in
  • When the edge doesn't work, it's infuriating
  • High cost brings the curve's existence into question
8.7
The Galaxy Note Edge is unique, but that might not be enough for many.

Up until recently, most smartphones have generally had the same form factor – a slab of glass, surrounded by a square body – and that gets boring. It’s not often that we see a new form factor readily available for the public to purchase. In fact, it almost never happens when it comes to the smartphone world. Believing that the industry needed a slight push on the hardware front, Samsung announced something very cool alongside the Galaxy Note 4, back at IFA 2014.

Related: Best cases for the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge.

That device is the Galaxy Note Edge. It resembles the Note 4, but it’s still different. Instead of offering a plain slab of glass on the front, the side of the display gently curves around the right edge. Samsung is obviously trying to push the boundaries on how we use our devices, but is that enough to warrant purchasing this device over the Galaxy Note 4? Does it offer enough of a mainstream feature that people will get behind?

Find out this, and more, in our Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review!

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Here is where the Note Edge really stands out from the competition. It looks exactly like a Galaxy Note 4, but with one huge change. Obviously we’re talking about the right edge of the display. It changes the way we use the phone, sure, but in all other aspects, you can absolutely tell that it’s a Note device. The Edge uses the same faux-leather back, glossy-plastic front (complete with a big, tactile home button), and brushed-metallic sides as the Note 4.

The right side of the device almost looks as if someone melted the glass and let it cool. The curve is where we see the new handling experience that the Edge brings, in software and in hardware. Due to the added slippery-ness of the edge, there’s a slight lip on the screen, which Samsung hopes will help aid in holding it. Although we haven’t dropped the phone quite yet, we’re even more nervous to than on most other phones. Now that the display wraps around to two edges of the device, there much more of a chance of cracking it once it’s dropped. Since the right edge is the main feature of the phone, cracking it would be detrimental to the user experience.

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The button layout has been switched up quite a bit on the Edge, moving the power button to the top of the device. It’s definitely a change, especially since basically every other Samsung phone has had the power button on the right side. Waking the device is still very easy, thanks to the tactile home button, but it’s still odd getting used to reaching up top to put it in standby.

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The other edges of the device still have the brushed-metallic look to them, and gives the Edge a nice, premium feel in-hand. The back is still removable, and covered in the familiar faux-leather plastic backing from the other Note devices. We’re happy Samsung decided to include a removable back and premium materials around the device, as it still makes for one heck of a great feeling phone.

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Let’s be honest, this device looks weird. A good kind of weird, though. It generates a lot of looks from people, and is usually followed up with, “What’s going on with your phone?” Albeit generally positive reactions, it still gets a lot of looks in public. Let’s just say that this device has piqued our interest in terms of design. We aren’t picking it up everyday because it’s the best all-around device, but mainly because it’s something new. It changes the software and the hardware experience completely, and we’re continually excited to see how it fairs from day to day.

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Obviously the display on the Note Edge is one of the biggest differences between this handset and the more traditional Galaxy Note 4. The 5.6-inch display not only looks unique, it actually has slightly more than a Quad HD resolution at 2560 x 1600. Of course, the 160 extra pixels on the right side of the display don’t really improve the viewing experience in any way, as they are reserved for a number of panels and controls.

The display might have a unique edge to it, but the rest of the characteristics are pretty typical of Samsung, meaning the same signature saturation and high fidelity. Text is sharp as ever, and I still enjoyed media and games just as much as I did on the Note 4. That said, I have to admit that the extra curve can be more than a little distracting at times, and I wasn’t too happy anytime I accidentally triggered it and thus covered a sliver of my Netflix or Youtube video up top.

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Turning to the curve itself, it’s important to note that it can actually turn on independently from the rest of the display. This means you can use the curve as a clock on a night stand, or as a quick way to few basic notifications. Touch sensitivity here is as good as you’d expect, though interaction is limited to swipes and touches.

We’ll get into more details about how the curve changes the experience a bit later in the review. The big takeaway is that, yes, the display has a higher resolution but it really makes no difference in the grand scheme of things.

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The influence of the Edge’s sibling returns here with the handset packing the same Snapdragon 805, Adreno 420 CPU and 3GB RAM as the Note 4. Of course, that’s not a bad thing. The Note Edge is absolutely a beast, providing a reliable, enjoyable experience.

Like the Note 4, the Note Edge packs one of the smoothest iterations of TouchWiz to date. While there are rare moment of stutter or lag, they are few and far between. In other words, no matter what you throw at it, the Note Edge should be able to take it all in stride.

The new addition of the panels in the curve don’t detract from the general experience found the device either, as everything still runs smoothly. I do notice that some new animations have been added in to draw attention to the side, as all of the apps slide in from the edge – but these are just aesthetic changes.

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Apart from the curved display and its capabilities, the Galaxy Note Edge basically offers everything you’d get with its flagship sibling, making this one of the most feature-packed devices currently available as well. Usual Samsung features such as removable back cover, that gives you access to the replaceable battery, SIM slot, and microSD card slot, make a return here.

Call quality is decent, and while the external speaker does get quite loud, it is plagued with the issues that affect any speaker that is placed at the back of the phone. Recent Samsung additions like the heart rate monitor and the multiple microphone setup, that helps with recording specific parts of the sound spectrum, also make a return with the Note Edge.

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Of course, the main draw with any Note device is the S-Pen stylus, that provides precision usage and note taking abilities, like easily clipping parts of the screen for later usage, access to the S Note, and the Action Memo. The  S-Pen itself has also been enhanced to allow for an even finer writing experience. The S-Note application now comes with Photo Note, that captures the lines and designs of any scene, and makes them editable, which is great for making signs, blackboards, or any presentation open to your creativity. Everything said and done, while the S-Pen can prove to be an integral feature of the Galaxy Note Edge, it does feel somewhat weird, especially when you, literally, fall off the edge.

As expected from a device with such a large form factor, the battery life is quite impressive. The 3,000 mAh unit lasted for around four hours of screen-on time, with the standby time and other power consumption features allowing me to reach at least a day and a half of usage on multiple occasions. While my usage might have been a little higher than most, what is appreciated is Samsung’s fast charging capabilities, that allows you to recharge the device very quickly.

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Keeping with the Galaxy Note 4 specifications, the Note Edge features a 16 MP rear shooter, bringing with the expected Samsung quality, and various modes to videos. That said, I still had quite a significant problem with the handling experience.

With the Note Edge, a lot of the controls that are used with various applications have been moved to the “curve,” which is actually quite useful, but proves to be a terrible idea in the case of using the camera. While you still get access to some on-screen buttons to adjust the settings, the controls and the quick settings are all on the curved edge, whose ergonomics are unfortunately just not made for smartphone camera shooting.

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I was never able to snap photos with one hand, as reaching the shutter button was quite awkward, and constantly resulted in a feeling of the phone falling. The placement of the controls don’t destroy the experience entirely, but this is certainly an example of how an innovation like this does need a lot more thought put into it.

The quality of photos taken still remain the same however, including high levels of saturation that makes for overly vivid photos, which are nonetheless received well by the general user. Various modes are available, including HDR and Selective Focus, which does end up being a hit or miss feature. Low light performance is somewhat helped by the optical image stabilization, but photos do lose detail and get quite grainy the darker the situation becomes. That said, the pictures are still reliably good in well lit situations, which should be pleasing for most users.

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Finally, when it comes to software, TouchWiz makes a return in all its glory, but now with a new element to accommodate with the curved screen. Before we get to the curve, the software experience that we’ve covered in the Galaxy Note 4 review continues here, especially with regards to multi-tasking. While TouchWiz has seen an update with regards to its aesthetics, there is still an over saturation of available features, as you will see in an overly long Setting list. The ease of multi-tasking is a focus with the latest iteration of TouchWiz, and is clearly seen in the new Recent Apps screen, which also includes a new button to quickly trigger the Multi-Window feature. All the numerous multi-tasking features all make an appearance with the Note Edge as well.

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Multi-tasking is of course a very a big part of the Note experience, is actually at its most capable on the Note Edge, especially when you factor in the curved edge. A panel full of icons or folders that you can customize allow for shortcuts to your favorite apps at all times, which is one of my favorite aspects of this new curved display. A variety of other panel specifications like data tracking, a dedicated news ticker, one that will show notifications in real-time, and a ruler for quickly measuring anything are available here. You also have the ability to personalize the panel in which you have the ability to include a small phrase or drawing, to truly make the “edge” your own. The curve also ends up being the control panel for most applications, but this does end up being annoying in some cases. While not having the controls on screen while watching videos is appreciated, the horrible camera controls are a let down.

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The software does use the curve to a good extent, even if not every situation yields a good experience. It definitely is a great place to put perpetual shortcuts, and a good way to easily check the time, but whether these features are enough to justify the need of an “edge” is still unknown.

Pricing does prove to be an issue in the case of the Galaxy Note Edge, with the device on occasion costing $150 more than the Galaxy Note 4, which is essentially the same device, save for the edge. Whether that edge is enough to justify the difference in price is entirely up to you, but all said done, the overall experience is mostly the same with the comparatively cheaper Galaxy Note 4.

So there you have it – the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge! Different, is the best way to describe the experience while using the Galaxy Note Edge. While the steep price point of this smartphone is certainly a drawback, the allure of something new is definitely undeniable. While the differences between the Galaxy Note Edge and the Galaxy Note 4 may not be enough to justify the signifcant difference in price, if you’re someone who is craving exclusivity, and basically just want something unique, the Galaxy Note Edge may just be the device you seek.

  • Vishal

    What about left handed people ? It will be too hard for them to reach the edge on the other side.

    • Dondre Goodfella

      If your turn the phone upside down it switches to the opposite side. Id imagine that would make the phone feel weird though

    • Colin Huemmer

      On the contrare. I own a Note 4 and have played with the Note Edge. I found it would be much easier for a lefty as their palm would not hit the screen as a righties hand does. It almost makes more sense for a righty to use the lefthanded mode

      • V-Phuc

        Agree. As a right-handed person, I tend to hold my Note 3 with my left hand 99% of the time, especially in the portrait mode.

    • Rob

      Get the note then. It that there is always going to be something wrong. Maybe Samsung should just stop making phones that are new and make them metal with last year’s specs and everyone will be happy.

      • Happy

        Talk about yourself. I don’t care about metal, but I crave for a phone that will be so innovative that it will blow me off my feet. Then I will be buying. As things stand – boring stuff.

  • Marty

    I really don’t see the point of the Edge functionality. To me it’s nothing but gimmick.

    • The BIG POTATO..

      I find it useful.

      • Jckncoke

        I find it useful too. Just a few things I like.
        – I actually find the night clock very useful. I don’t have an alarm clock anymore since my phone has always been on the nightstand but having the Edge lightly glow the time, weather and alarm time allows me to just glace over instead of physically picking it up and pushing a button.
        – I’ve set up my “Favorite” apps Edge panel for quick shortcuts that would have normally cluttered my home screens. You can also set up folders on the panel to group apps like games.
        – Even with the limited feeds right now, I enjoy having sports, news and stock ticker info scroll over the edge while I’m doing something else on the main screen. I no longer have to close down my main screen just to do a quick check. Hopefully more and more developers build feeds for these panels. This also cleans up my homescreens because those would have normally been widgets.
        – Back to the favorites panel, I like having to be able to jump straight to another app without having to back out of the one I’m currently on.
        – Getting a call the old way was annoying because when a call came in, it took over the entire screen, now the call is handled on the Edge panel and I can answer/reject from there and not interfere with the main screen when the call comes in.
        – I also like not having to turn on the main screen when I’m in a meeting to check notifications, scores, and other feeds… a simple swipe back and forth and the edge screen comes alive; simple and discreet especially in meetings.
        – I thought i’d never use the “Built in Tools” but I was at Home Depot yesterday and needed to measure something and I actually used the ruler! I’ve also used the flashlight. makes access to these tools simple and again with out having to turn on the main screen.
        – There’s also an events panel that shows you what you have on your calendar that comes in pretty handy

        So yeah I find that the Edge makes things much simpler and to this point I haven’t run into any problems with it considering it’s so new. All these little things makes things more efficient and definitely changes the way i use a phone now.

    • V-Phuc

      Just like “many” people said about the Note1 when it was first released, “Why does Samsung make such a big phone, and a pen on top of it?!!!” Well…don’t we know what becomes now with the Note series? A true and unique flagship phablet.
      The Edge may very well be the first of another “Note” series.

      • Marty

        Fair enough.

      • mohsinleo05

        Indeed. Let the time decide.

    • Marc Perrusquia

      Just like the galaxy round it’s basically a demo for Samsung’s newer curved panels.

    • Agreed.

  • Captain jack

    The curved screen hasn’t many practical uses… And hence doesn’t justifies it’s extra price…..

    • Happy

      …and hence they will drop it to Note 4’s price in a month…

      • Captain jack

        Yeah as… Samsung have that reputation…

        • Happy

          When Xiaomi overtakes them, they might have to rethink their reputation :-)

          • Captain jack

            And it’s gonna be pretty soon looking at the aggressiveness of xiaomi…

          • Adam

            Do you own the edge? Because I do and there are more uses for the side than you can even imagine. I’m not even a huge Samsung fan as their memory management is garbage. However, I want to give you one example. I was scrolling thru my twitter feed and someone called, as opposed to overwriting my main screen and interrupt what I was doing I had the ability to answer the call ON THE EDGE while enabling speakerphone and never missed a tweet. Don’t comment on things you know nothing about, 30 minutes in Verizon doesnt make you a Note Edge expert – sorry bout it.

          • Captain jack

            When did I say I am an edge expert… I commented my opinion only…. Don’t get out blazing all guns just coz someone doesn’t see its true purpose right now… People these days… Really.. And moreover its not available in my country..

          • Adam

            Blazing guns? Haha, you said ‘The curved screen hasn’t many practical uses… And hence doesn’t justifies it’s extra price…..’ as a factual statement. Not ‘imo’ then continued to say how Xiaomi will surpass Samsung. Sounds like your guns were a blazin. People just like to impose their opinion as fact because of the anonymity of the Internet. Next time actually state ‘imo’ or back up your statements with fact.

          • Captain jack

            I deduced my thinking from the review posted here… And this is still the infancy stage for the curved screen. Maybe sometime later it would have real good purposes.. And I am not imposing my opinion on anyone… You don’t like my opinion.. It’s ok and upto to you… Jo one is forcing you to like my opinion.. And facts yeah…Maybe Next time..
            Btw what’s IMO cause I don’t use this term…

  • Poopik Shmill

    I just hope Samsung will not use the curve screen on the S6

    • Discuss

      stfu dude, you’re prolly the first in line to get it.

  • negative nelly

    Its ashame the edge screen doesnt auto rotate the icons. It looks like taking pictures would be easier if the edge was on bottom when in landscape. Im amlittle confused about the whole lefty thing though. Im right handed so my phone is usually placed in my left hand and swipe/press with my right is that the optimal configuration for this phone or would I run into the lefty issue?

    • Happy

      Samsung phones take pictures when you say “cheese”, etc. so no need of any button. Haven’t used the button for months.

      • Discuss

        Even the heart rate sensor works as a shutter.

      • Jckncoke

        Yup,”Cheese, Shoot, or Smile” has made my picture taking much easier and less shaky…lol!

  • Rob

    I was wondering why one of the top android makers in the world with tons of options always gets beat up. Now if there is a Nokia phone it gets higher grading every time. Even with lower resolution, slower all round etc. Will there ever be a phone that is a 9 or 10. Maybe when the phones do everything for us In our lives that will be a ten.

  • V-Phuc

    Disagree with the score. Just seems like based on a more personal prefences instead of a pure objective POV. It does deserve at least a 9 if not 9.2. Personal preferences are just like what we say,”Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

  • Discuss

    Awesome review. Please get rid of the nasty blue tint to a lot of your pics!

  • maaen

    Give Samsung a chance …It is doing interesting things …..you have to respect that. I wonder if there will be a consideration like this for the tablets ….It would have been good to see the edge on both the sides but I guess things must be extremely tightly packed…..my dearest wish in samsung devices is for micro SD card serial bus with two or three slots of micro SD cards with different types of files which would be easily removable and transferable to other Samsung devices…..would be good if that were to happen….and removable battery on Samsung tablets….they will sell many more tablets that way….but it is difficult to convince them when they want keep on bringing out new devices every few months…but they are making fools out of us that way…and yet most of us never seem to complain.

  • Branmuffin Zed

    The bad = the curve is the tl;dr version of this article

  • asdfasxs

    if only samsung made this available in the middle east booooo! id buy this over the note 4 easily

  • BB BB

    Holding the edge in hand and it’s phabtastic. This is definitely the future of things and eventually all phones will have an edge to edge screen I imagine the edge 2 will go to the left edge as well and one will be able to customize the tactile volume control as a soft key on either the left or right hand side which will make this device usable for lefties.

  • Daniela

    Just ordered my Edge. Will be here Tuesday. I compared both the Note 4 and Edge and I like the extra screen space the Edge provides. I’ll pay the $100 in cost for exclusivity.

    • Daniela

      $100 extra over the Note 4..

    • Colin Huemmer

      The note Edge is a smaller phone, with a smaller screen… So that doesn’t make all that much, sense, honestly. But to each their own. I did like the Uniqueness and feel of the phone though.

    • Jckncoke

      I got mine last week and love it. So many people like to say it’s a gimmick or see no use to it but never really tried it. And I’m not saying just a an hr at the store. The first few days of owning it has already changed the way I use my phone. It makes a lot of things a lot more simpler and efficient but people don’t see that because they only go by what they think and have note experienced. It;s like trying to talk to an Android or Apple fanatic that hasn’t even given the other OS a try but thinks their device is the best. Take a look at Lisa from Mobile Tech Reviews Youtube review on this phone. I like her style because no matter what device she’s reviewing, she doesn’t go into the review with any opinion. Her reviews are always objective and thorough. I also wrote some of the things I found very useful with the edge screen in another reply above. Visit any forum of a real owner of this phone and you see they all love it but the only negative comments are from users that don’t have it or can’t open their minds to what the Edge can do.

  • Com’sence

    Galaxy Note edge $870 at T-mobile and burger flipper iPhone 6 plus 128Gb cost $950. Do the math…moron.

  • SammyBoy_ex

    The new feature seems like the Fastlane of the Nokia X series. The Nokia X’s fastlane shows recent apps, important updates, reminders and other notifications without the use of adding new screen at the edge. What could possibly the reason why Samsung created this additional screen? I’m just wondering.

  • Alexandra Jolicoeur

    It is already my number 1 goal. to buy it when i have enough money. i had a note 2 before.it was my life.sadly, cruel people there are in this world for i never imagined it would get stolen along with my friend’s s3.. so i shall have this note edge someday as replacement of my note 2. and i shall protect it like one does a baby. :)

  • Sid91

    just got the Edge after trading it with my 2 weeks old note 4 N910C (It had 4g issue with my carrier so had to sell it).

    At first I was like wtf did i just buy but after personalizing it and playing it for a day I fell in love with the fone. The fone is fun to play with, the edge really becomes useful once u get used to it. Must have side screen is the data usage and the shortcuts panel.

    The cons when compared to note 4 are the battery life is considerably less than the 4 and I noticed the fone becomes considerably warm especially from the edge even during small tasks maybe because its 805 processor and not the octa im used to in note 4.

    Can u recommend any accessories for it, The note 4’s metal got easily scuffed up and i dont want that happening to this fone

  • Drshahzadi Sana
  • Wyatt King

    I bet not one person said something negative if they asked him to see it. Why is everyone so weird about change? It’s awesome! I ordered mine last week and it’s coming in 3 days. I will be the guinea pig for everyone then remind them yrs from now when things like this are normal that I told you so.

  • Payal Kapoor

    Read More About Samsung Galaxy Note Edge : -………….

    http://techsabes.com/phonestablet/samsung-galaxy-note-edge/

  • AAreader

    i find it very attractive, although i still prefer note 4