Galaxy Note Edge: curves in all the right places?

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“A superb-looking handset that offers something brand-new in the market. Let’s hope Samsung doesn’t make the Note Edge a limited edition,” were the words of Tech Radar.

Considering that when a new and wildly anticipated device enters the market it is typical for it to get ripped apart by the ruthless consumer tech press, Tech Radar’s approval of the Galaxy Note Edge certainly compels us to learn more about the curved screen smartphone.

And curved it definitely is. Whilst Apple made its latest iPhone bendy – at least that’s what the internet fracas like you to believe – Samsung have opted for a stylish curved screen, meaning it should slip straight into the back pocket of a pair of skinny jeans without too much trouble (and without the risk of bending in your pocket).

Dubbed (by Samsung) as taking the “Galaxy Note experience to the next level”, the Note Edge, Samsung claims, “provides people with a new way to access information, engage with their mobile device, and express their personality and tastes.”

So in what ways exactly can the Note Edge enable us to “express our personality and tastes?”

A memorable screen

What’s particularly striking about the Note Edge is its rounded screen, which, quite inventively, only curves off on the right hand side, with the curved edge, as Stuff TV points out, effectively acting as a small second screen.

Asides having curves, as it seem, in the right places, there seems to be a couple of other innovative little features embedded deep into the Note Edge’s spec, such as being able to discreetly view notifications and display the time by swiping the curved edge while the rest of the screen remains blank.

Also, if you swipe or flick the side display, the screen turns into one of a handful of widgets, including app-icon shortcuts, a Yahoo sports ticker or a list of current trending Twitter hashtags. Through various Samsung apps, it turns into menu-bar controls for a sketch program or into camera button controls. Another fairly novel feature related to the Note Edge’s curved side is that when the smartphone is left on standby, the edge softly glows with information about the time, date and alarm.

For anyone who has aspirations to track their heart rate whilst on the go, the Note Edge also has a heart rate monitor, a feature that was of course originally found on the Samsung Galaxy S5. This also acts as a trigger to operate the camera, which would prove invaluable for selfie-fans.

A camera designed for selfie fans

Which brings us on to the camera. Similar to the Note 4, the Note Edge has a 3.7MP camera with f/1.9 aperture. The rear sensors are a 16MP resolution. In a review of the Note 4 and Note Edge cameras, GSmarena shows a number of shots taken by the two cameras in various formats and we have to admit, it’s pretty impossible to tell the difference.

We also have to confess that asides its curved wraparound display that’s always going to look impressive, the Note Edge’s spec is pretty darn similar to its older sibling, the Galaxy Note 4. The screen sizes are almost identical, the Note Edge sporting a 5.6-inch screen versus the Note 4’s 5.7-inch screen display.

S Pen

Though one feature of the Note Edge that’s been deemed as being “vastly improved” is the S Pen, yet admittedly, the accolade was made by the Note Edge-worshipping Tech Radar.

The Edge’s S Pen has two additional pen styles, the fountain and highlighter. Asides being able to use the pen to shrink applications, it can also be resonant of a mouse, enabling users to take grabs from websites and set up their own clippings service.

So what’s the verdict? Well Samsung has certainly succeeded in building a quirky-looking smartphone, the problem is, apart from its spectacular curved edge, it’s not wholly different from rivals and predecessors.

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With this in mind, would you be willing to part with £650 for a smartphone, which greatest asset is, by all accounts, a uniquely curved edge?

In Other News… Samsung Unpack Galaxy Note 3

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While the highlight of last night’s Samsung Unpacked was the Samsung Gear, we also had the chance to get hands on with the newest edition of the Note family. The Galaxy Note 3 has a more premium feel than the previous model, having a stitched leather back – rather than plastic. It is available in several colours and has two flip cover styles, one with a window.

The Note 3 has maintained its slim profile, being 8.3mm deep. However it’s still very much a phablet, rather than phone, coming in at 5.7 inches long. The bright clear super AMOLED screen is 1080p and the Note 3 also features a 13MP camera.

The S Pen has increased functionality based around a dot, circle and square system. Hover the pen and you will see a dot and by clicking the S Pen’s button you get the air command menu. This includes action memo, scrap book, s finder and pen window.

Action memos can be typed, handwritten or photos. Scribbled phone numbers can be easily added to your contacts and meeting dates/times added to your calendar. The scrapbook tool is a great way of collecting content from various websites, emails, etc. and can be organised into your own folders. You simply draw a circle around the content you want, including text and images and it will save it for you. We found this easy to use but it did tend to grab more information than we wanted.

The Note 3 colour range
The Note 3 colour range

The S finder search function should be great, Samsung claim it can search not only typed data but also your handwritten notes – we found it struggled with this, but perhaps that was because it wasn’t calibrated to our handwriting!

The pen window enables you to draw a shape, which gives you an area to display any of your most used apps. So you can draw a calculator the size you want, where you want, and it will then appear overlayed on your current screen. Again, we found this a little limited, with it refusing to create a window if the box was too small.

Overall the Galaxy Note 3 continues to offer increased functionality (largely thanks to the S Pen) compared to most other phablets and it’s more stylish to look at. However we found some of these new features fiddly to use and it may be the case that Samsung should now focus on refining these features before launching any new ones.

The Note 3 has been designed to complement the Galaxy Gear watch and it will be interesting to see how well they work together, watch this space for more on that.