Wrap Up: The New King (of Gimmicks)
Let me be blunt: if you are thinking of buying the Galaxy Note Edge, buy a Galaxy Note 4 instead.
Many key aspects of the Note Edge are the exact same as the Note 4. You get the same Snapdragon 805 SoC, which is a performance powerhouse that tops most of our benchmark charts. You get the same 16-megapixel optically-stabilized camera, which delivers excellent photo quality in most situations. You also get the fantastic S Pen, and a high quality, high density display.
But the main selling point of the Galaxy Note Edge – the curved Edge screen – actually makes the handset worse. The curved display comes with a rim that’s uncomfortable to hold, and the extra width from the display’s 16:10 aspect ratio makes the handset more awkward to use one-handed. Added to these issues is a power button relocated to the top panel, in perhaps the hardest to reach location possible.
Most of the software features that make use of the Edge screen could easily be implemented on the regular, non-curved Galaxy Note 4 display. Some of the Edge screen panels – like the favorite app launcher, the music player controls and the quick tools – are genuinely handy, but could be implemented as an easy, slide-out panel on any smartphone with the very same gesture.
Of the features that truly do use the Edge screen and its curve, only the nighttime clock is actually any good. There is hope that third-party developers may take better advantage of the Edge than Samsung has managed, though I don’t see the appeal for anyone to bother. The device’s limited release and no promise of a sequel guarantees there’s not a large enough install base to make any serious development worth it.
So far I’ve got through this entire review without once mentioning the price of the Galaxy Note Edge. At $940 unlocked and off-contract (the lowest I could find), the handset is $200+ more expensive than the Note 4. Seriously?
Essentially, the Galaxy Note Edge is a Galaxy Note 4 with a gimmick attached to it, reducing the quality of the overall package and sold for a higher price. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason to buy it, especially when the excellent Note 4 is widely available for a more reasonable price.
I will applaud Samsung's willingness to try new things and for innovating. They weren’t content with releasing minor iterations of the same phones on a yearly cycle, and developed something with a cool selling point to test the waters. While I don’t think the Note Edge is worth buying, who knows what will happen to this same technology down the track. Curved AMOLED displays are certainly worth exploring, and I look forward to what the future may hold.
Pros: Same excellent performance and camera quality as the Note 4. Decent display, and the S Pen is still handy.
Cons: Uncomfortable, awkward design hindered by curved display. Most Edge screen features don't actually require the Edge screen at all. Limited ecosystem takes little true advantage of the Edge. Too expensive.