At Unpacked, Samsung's annual Note-centric launch event, the Korean-based technology giant offered a two-for-one special. The major highlight was the Galaxy Note 4, the next phablet phone in a prestigious line of stylus devices, and then there was this quirky little guy: The Galaxy Note Edge.
Samsung has been known to do head-scratching smartphone projects before, like last year's Galaxy Round. But where that strange device had no North American destination plans, the Edge definitely does. Positioned as a "premium" option to the Note 4, the Note Edge copies everything from the new flagship. It comes with a 16-megapixel camera, the S-Pen, the Snapdragon 805 processor, the gorgeous QHD AMOLED display, and the 3200mAh battery. The only difference is that along the right side, the screen slightly dips, completely eliminating the bezel, and bringing a really weird addition to the Note family.
This dip actually shrinks the main screen size to 5.6 inches to make room for the crazy new edge, but the phone's overall size is the same, and Samsung moved the power button from the right side to the top of the device to compensate. The main reason for the Note Edge to exist is to make information more glance-able and available whenever you want it. It acts like a stock ticker. Swiping left cycles through custom ticker options, such as trending tweets, sports scores, news headlines, and of course, stock prices, to name just a few. The ticker bar also acts as an app tray for easy access to your favourite apps.
For some apps, like the camera or S-Note, the Edge moves editing tools and other UI keys off the screen and shoves them up into the ticker bar so you an unimpeded view of your photography. When surfing the web on Chrome, the bar recedes into the background, giving you more screen real estate to work with.
In standby mode, the ticker also has a low power "Night Clock" mode, displaying time and notifications on its angled screen. We suppose that's a helpful tool if you can't seem to summon the strength to lift your head a few inches. Also, if you're an unlucky lefty, you can switch the phone upside down and the edge screen will flip to match, but this brings in another mess of issues with the (now unfortunately placed) home button, volume rocker, etc. I'm sorry lefties, the world is an unjust place.
During my brief hands-on time with the Note Edge, I actively tried to launch apps with accidental touches, which you'd think would be plentiful on a screen that dips directly into your palm, but overall it responded well. The only real worry about is that the Edge's additional ticker screen comes with its own SDK, meaning app developers need to build for it specifically. Samsung says it isn't incredibly hard, but a unique SDK means adoption will be a slow-going process, so don't expect functionality for all your favourite apps anytime soon…or ever.
When is the Note Edge coming and for how much? We don't know yet, but we do know that it will cost more than the Note 4 since Samsung is marketing it as a "premium" option. After using both, I couldn't imagine opting for the Edge, let alone paying more for it, but if you're a collector of the weird, quirky, or truly unique, maybe the few extra bucks are worth it.