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Over the Edge: why I'm getting the Galaxy S6 over its curved brother
To say that I was smitten with the Galaxy Note Edge might be an understatement. My very first post on Android Authority was a mini-expose on the (then) Japan-exclusive product. I defended it against the harsh criticisms that people lobbed at it. I used it with love. Funny then, that not only am I disinterested in the Galaxy S6 Edge, but I actually plan to get the standard S6 instead. As for what could cause such a shift, there are two main reasons: the software and the pricing. After discussing both, I will move onto the third (overarching) problem: the concept.
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Note-worthy for what it’s missing
Despite the fact that I loved the Galaxy Note Edge, I will accept that most people didn’t get it, in both the literal and figurative sense. The product cost at least a few hundred more than the standard Note 4 and made use of a curved display that critics immediately labeled as a gimmick.
Having used the Note Edge for some time, I (and many other owners) don’t feel ‘novelty-approach’ is a suitable conclusion. The Edge Display SDK has provided a small trove of interesting panels for the device, and basically all for free. Even if you were to buy the pricey product and not use a single optional side panel, the fact that icons and messages will appear there by default means that you’re bound to use it in some context or another.
Take a look at some sample pictures from the Galaxy Note Edge:
In the top left, you can see various icons along the right side of the display, these were instant shortcuts and served as an “always present” way of multitasking without any superfluous pop-ups. The center picture shows the various Edge panels that can be selected and cycled through at any given time. On the right, you can see how Samsung mapped the camera function to the Edge display, something that bothered me personally but did make perfect sense. Finally, on the bottom left you can see how the Edge panel could be used to display a customized message, along with the various notifications that would run like a stock ticker.
Now compare this to the functionality of the S6 Edge:
The Galaxy S6 Edge annoys me, for the simple fact that it’s basically useless in my opinion. Let’s put aside the logistics for a second here and just take the smartphone at face value: Samsung has created a product that has a display with two curved edges and essentially stripped away their very functionality and purpose. The Note Edge SDK can not be used with the S6 Edge, and as such all of the existing content panels are useless. To make matters worse, you can’t do anything beyond the 4-core functions present in the S6 Edge and thus there is no potential to tweak or tinker. Edge Lighting, People Edge, Information Stream, and Night Clock: all of these could technically be done on a normal “flat” phone, just with slightly less comfort.
Why did Samsung strip away the real functionality of the Edge Display?
Edge Lighting has the side of the screen light up when you get a phone call or receive a notification. People Edge allows you to color-coordinate the lights with up to 5 contacts. Information Stream is similar to the ticker feature mentioned earlier on the Note Edge, and Night Clock is also related to lights. That’s it. Nothing impressive whatsoever, if you ask me, at least nothing that justifies making use of such a new piece of display technology.
Why did Samsung strip away the real functionality of the Edge Display? Simple: the S6 variant is much thinner than its Note sibling and, therefore, the curves are much less subtle. This in turn means that there is simply no place to put icons and the like. Unlike the Note Edge, the S6 Edge’s display is one single screen as opposed to “two”.
A Problem of Pricing
Another large issue I have here is the pricing structure. The Galaxy S6 Edge is significantly more expensive than the standard S6 and yet the only thing it brings to the table is the curved display. Granted that will cost more to create, but when you think about all the Note Edge could do, and all the S6 Edge can’t, how is the exorbitant pricing justified? Especially because you’re getting less phone for the money than you would with the Note Edge. By this I mean the Note Edge is a significantly larger product with a larger battery and SPen, and so forth.
Samsung is charging an arm-and-a-leg for the S6 Edge because it can. This year more than ever, its products are finally being characterized as premium and precious, something that has been a characterization for Apple ever since the iPhone 4 released, and especially with the iPhone 5. Taking into consideration how expensive the Galaxy S line has always been, basically we’re saying that Samsung finally has a more legitimate claim of “value for money”.
Customers might very well be interested in the Galaxy S6 Edge, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will buy it, all the more so when they go to the store and see the price tag.
Still, given that the Galaxy S6 Edge costs almost as much as the Note Edge did, it remains to be seen just how popular the device will be. Reports have been coming in of Samsung ramping up production of the S6 Edge, but even if they are true, the numbers are based entirely on retail-side expectations, the same lofty projections which resulted in the horrendous Galaxy S5 sales situation last year. Customers might very well be interested in the Galaxy S6 Edge, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will buy it, all the more so when they go to the store and see the price tag, and perhaps compare it with the Note Edge.
While the extra cash required to obtain the S6 Edge actually doesn’t factor into my decision, the fact that the standard S6 costs less, and is basically the same phone, will make some buyers pause.
A Sad Strategy
Let’s not beat around the bush here: if the Galaxy S6 Edge was truly a unique product, it would exist as one, and probably wouldn’t be releasing simultaneously with the standard flagship. Therein lies the problem with the S6 Edge, or at least how I see it: the device is little more than a slightly modified S6. Instead of making a separate, legitimate product a la the Galaxy S Active or Zoom series, Samsung has taken the easy way out and just provided a slight cosmetic change to an existing one a la the Mini series.
The Galaxy S6 Edge should, in my honest opinion, be a product that stands above the S6 in every way, shape, and form. People are complaining about the lack of a removable battery and lack of microSD card support. Two things that the real Edge should have. At the very least, the rear could have been made out of metal (like the Galaxy A and E series) so that the higher price could be less prone to problems; glass just isn’t as durable as metal. If you’re going to be charging more, then why not actually offer more?
The Galaxy S6 Edge should be a product that stands above the S6 in every way, shape, and form.
Now I am well aware that the Galaxy Note Edge itself wasn’t so much a new product as it was a modified Note 4. Perhaps nowhere could this be seen as obviously as here in Japan, where the standard Note 4 wasn’t released at all. This is a fair conclusion, though given the heavy amount of optimization Samsung did with the Edge variant, there was some real work put into making it different, and that permeated throughout the entire experience.
How is it that Samsung failed to see the true value of a product like the Edge series and instead relegated it to being a “plus” version of existing hardware, as opposed to existing as a separate brand entirely? The Galaxy Edge series should be positioned as a major step higher than the S or Note lines, and showcase some truly impressive features that not only can’t be done on a normal phone, but also take full advantage of the curved portion(s). The Note Edge did this in my opinion. The S6 Edge does not.
In short, the issue is not so much that the Galaxy S6 Edge isn’t a good phone, rather it’s actually the same phone. It’s the same as the Galaxy S6. Sadly, I don’t need two of the same phones. What do you think, do you agree with my thoughts on the Galaxy S6 Edge or do you prefer the double-edged Galaxy S6 variant over the Note Edge’s implementation?