Software, Performance and Camera
As this phone is very much still a Samsung Galaxy Note, most of its features are identical to the Galaxy Note 4. This includes all the rest of the software, aside from what I already mentioned on the previous page that relates to the Edge screen.
The Note Edge comes with Android 4.4.4 ‘KitKat’ out of the box, and I believe Samsung will update it to Android 5.0 in the near future, just like the Note 4. Samsung’s TouchWiz UI has been applied with exactly the same style as the Note 4 and many other Galaxies as well, and all the flagship features are intact. As such, heading to the software section of my Note 4 review will tell you all about what you’re getting with the Note Edge.
You’ll also find the S Pen to have exactly the same functionality, which means there is nothing new that specifically makes use of the Edge display. I still really like the ability to annotate documents and quickly jot down notes with the S Pen, even if I didn’t use it every day. The stylus is very responsive and the pressure sensitivity is generally great, and it even works on the curved part of the display if you want to use it for smartphone navigation.
The Galaxy Note Edge’s performance shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC, which features a 2.7 GHz quad-core Krait 450 CPU alongside an Adreno 420 GPU, a dual-channel LPDDR3 memory controller capable of 25.6 GB/s of bandwidth, and a Hexagon V50 DSP. The SoC – the APQ8084 – is built on a 28nm HPm manufacturing process.
Connectivity wise you get all the latest technology: Category 6 LTE capable of 300 Mbps downstream and 50 Mbps upstream, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 and IZAT Gen8B GPS+GLONASS.
This SoC is the last flagship chip from Qualcomm that only supports 32-bit instructions. It’s also the very same chip that’s featured in most variants of the Galaxy Note 4, so I’m expecting to see identical performance, especially as all the other hardware remains the same. This includes the 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal NAND (plus microSD expansion) that comes with the device.
I’ve also heard that there is a second main variant of the Note Edge that’s powered by Samsung’s Exynos 7 Octa 5433 that we saw in the Exynos variant of the Note 4. However as the Note Edge is already a limited-release handset, it may be hard to find the Exynos variant. After doing a quick search through most retailers, I could only find Snapdragon models, whereas both variants of the Note 4 and Galaxy S5 are easily found.
With both the Note Edge and Note 4 being powered by the same hardware, it was no surprise to find both devices performing identically, whether that’s in benchmarks, around the operating system and apps, or in games. This was despite the device having to render the OS to an extra 409,600 pixels; the Snapdragon 805 is more than fast enough to power the non-intensive Edge screen apps.
Games do not render to the full 16:10 display, instead rendering to a screen area of 2560 x 1532 that’s slightly larger than regular 16:9 1440p. Although there are a few extra vertical lines to render to (7% more), again there was no noticeable performance difference in games.
The performance similarities between the Note Edge and Note 4 can be seen above in a selection of benchmarks that I ran. Even the NAND is identical in both handsets, which again isn’t all that surprising. If you want the full performance breakdown of the Note Edge/Note 4, head over to my previous review which goes into a lot more detail on the Snapdragon 805 and Exynos 5433.
The final aspect of the Note Edge that I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on is the camera. This is because, again, it’s the very same camera module found in the Note 4. Once again, this means you’re getting identical camera performance with all the same features. I’ve included some photos below that I specifically took with the Note Edge, but overall you’ll find it takes photos just as good as the excellent Note 4.