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Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review

 Review: January 2015  
 

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge has a unique curved display with notifications and alerts displayed at the edge of the phone. The phone is supremely powerful with a Snapdragon 805 processor, Quad HD AMOLED display, S-Pen functionality, plenty of memory, an outstanding camera and comprehensive connectivity. It's an absolute powerhouse, but the ultimate phone doesn't come cheap.

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A phablet with a curved edge display

The Galaxy Note Edge is a variation of Samsung's Note 4 super-phablet. It's essentially the same phone, but with an experimental display that curves around the edge of the phone on the right hand side.

It's not quite the biggest phablet in town, but it's heading that way. The Note Edge is several millimetres wider than the Note 4 to accommodate the edge display, and this makes it literally quite a handful. But with a thickness of 8.3mm, it's slimmer than many rival phablets, and not much thicker than the Galaxy S5. So it's not as bulky as all that, but it will still help if you have large hands.

The build of the Note Edge is typically Samsung-esque. It's solidly constructed, with some premium styling - most notably the metallic edging - but looks-wise it's let down by the faux-leather back and general over-use of plastic. Still, a device of this size commands respect regardless of such things, and the unique edge display adds a certain wow factor. If you depend on your phone - rather than your personality - to impress your friends, the EDGE will do it!

The main screen is the same as on the Note 4 -  a stunning Quad HD Super AMOLED display with an incredible resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. This leads to a jaw-dropping pixel density of 524ppi. There's no doubt that this is an amazing amount of detail - perhaps too much to be of real benefit - and the AMOLED technology produces very high levels of contrast for pin-sharp text and images.

Of equal interest, perhaps, is the curved edge of the screen that wraps around the right hand edge of the phone. This narrow (160 pixel wide) strip is used to display additional information that would normally be shown on the main display. The side display is a clever idea. It shows notifications and alerts such as S-Health data, and also enables you to access apps, control the music player and display a night clock. The Edge can be customised with your most commonly used apps. Putting these things on the edge of the screen provides a natural way of grouping them, and also keeps the main display uncluttered. It lets you view alerts while working on other tasks, even while watching full-screen videos. We think it works well, although the placement of the edge on the right disadvantages left-handers.

The Note Edge uses the familiar Samsung S-Pen, allowing you to hold the device in one hand and manage input with the S-Pen held in the other. It's a unique and powerful way of working that has a lot to recommend it. With each iteration the S-Pen becomes more intuitive. The pressure-sensitivity in this version is the most responsive yet, with a real sense of feedback and control. Specially-optimised apps such as a calendar-based organiser called S-Planner are included, and the S-Pen can be used for making handwritten notes during a meeting or lecture. The device can convert your handwriting into text, even recognising mathematical symbols and formulae. It's perfect for selecting and editing text too. But even if you just use it for poking at icons and entering text on the virtual keyboard, the S-Pen is a valuable addition, and a distinct benefit of the Note.

Super-fast & plenty of memory

Beyond the edge, in the depths of the machine, the device is powered by the same hardware as the Note 4. That makes it very powerful indeed. The processor is the quadcore Snapdragon 805 clocked at 2.7GHz. As we noted in our review of the Note 4, this is probably the fastest processor on any current phone. The Edge is perfect for demanding apps (and games) and is designed to handle multi-tasking, with support for split-screen use.

With 3GB of RAM available, there isn't any task that the Edge isn't a match for.

The onboard storage is 32GB, which is a good size, and with microSD cards up to 128GB supported, in addition to cloud storage, memory just isn't an issue.

UHD video & real-time HDR camera

Although primarily intended as a business device, the Note Edge doesn't skimp when it comes to the main rear-facing camera. This comes with a 16 megapixel sensor with autofocus, an LED flash, real-time HDR, optical image stabilisation, and a wealth of features such as panorama, smile shot, etc. It's a top-notch camera for still shots under all lighting conditions. We like the fact that camera settings are displayed on the curved edge screen, making them convenient to see and use.

Video recording is also first-rate, with 4K UHD recording - ideal for viewing on the hi-res screen.

The 3.7 megapixel front camera is less capable, but no slouch, and overall, this is up there with the very best of camera phones.

Connectivity

The Note Edge is a 4G phone capable of operating on 8 LTE bands. Outside 4G areas, it can fall back on 3G HSPA or GSM networks. In addition, it supports a wide range of connection options - Wi-Fi (including the latest standards), Bluetooth 4.1 and USB, in addition to NFC, ANT+ and MHL support.

The Note Edge also includes a vast array of onboard sensors. Positioning is handled by GPS, Glonass and Beidou, and as well as temperature, barometer and humidity sensors, there are also biometrics such as a heart rate sensor and fingerprint recognition. The Edge is designed to interface with Samsung's wearable devices.

Battery life

The Note Edge has a slightly smaller battery than the Note 4, which gives us a little cause for concern, as some users have complained about the battery life on the Note 4. Rated at 3,000mAh it's still pretty big by smartphone standards, but remember that this is one of the most powerful smartphones ever created, and you'll wonder if it's quite big enough. Continuous usage of the phone over a 4G network will drain the battery in 9 hours.

Conclusion - has the edge over the Note 4

OK, apologies for the pun, but the Note 4 really does have an edge over rival devices, including the Note 4. There are many phablets now available, from many manufacturers, but it's the Note Edge that hits the sweet spot for us. Here's why:

The only issues we have are the high price (not a problem if your company is buying the phone) and potentially the battery life. But if you're serious about phones and value productivity ahead of other factors, the Edge will deliver what you most need. It outranks the iPhone 6 Plus in every respect.


Samsung Galaxy Note Edge features include:

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Samsung Galaxy Note Edge user reviews

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Reviewed by Usman Ali Shah from Pakistan on 14th May 2015
Sold my Galaxy S6 Edge to buy this one, the real edge phone with must features like removable battery and external memory card support and looks decent too in plastic and metal combo.
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