Thursday

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Review

Review               Specification                                                   
Design                                                             

It's all about the curve. The right-sloped edge of the Note Edge looks downright sexy, and it's sure to grab attention. The edge of the device doesn't come to a sharp point, so it's fairly easy to hold with your thumb resting on the right side. Like the Note 4, the Note Edge has an aluminum frame that runs around the whole design, giving it a solid feel.



Too bad the curved screen forces some ergonomic trade-offs. Samsung moved the power button from the right side to the top, making it more difficult to reach (although you can use the Home/fingerprint sensor button to wake up the device). The volume rocker is on the left edge.

The back panel has the same luxurious soft-touch, leatherlike material as the Note 4, which provides a sure grip. It's also removable. The Note Edge comes in Charcoal Black and Frost White.

Measuring 5.9 x 3.2 x 0.32 inches and weighing 6.1 ounces, the Note Edge is slightly thinner and lighter than the Note 4 (6 x 3.1 x 0.33 inches, 6.2 ounces). The Nexus 6 is a heftier 6.5 ounces and 6.3 x 3.3 x 0.4 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus is in the same ballpark as the Edge (6.1 ounces, 6.2 x 3.1 x 0.3 inches).


Display                                                                                          

By packing the same quad-HD resolution into a smaller 5.6-inch space, the Galaxy Note Edge's Super AMOLED screen is even sharper than the Note 4's (540 pixels per inch versus 518 ppi). In a 4K trailer of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the smoky ruins left in Smaug's wake looked eerily beautiful. I could also make out individual strands of Legolas' bright blond locks.


Typical of AMOLED displays, the Note Edge can display a wide range of colors. In fact, it can produce 157.9 percent of the color gamut, compared with 165 percent for the Nexus 6's 6-inch AMOLED panel and 95 percent for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. That higher number isn't necessarily a good thing, though, as the Edge's screen has a slight blue cast. On the Delta-E color accuracy test, the Edge scored 4.6 (0 is best), compared with 1.9 for the iPhone 6 Plus and 6.5 for the Nexus 6. The Note registered 4.2.

Although the Note Edge's screen kicked back some glare outdoors, it's more than bright enough to use in direct sunlight. The display registered a very high 503 nits on our tests, which is well above the category average (366 nits) and nearly double the Nexus 6 (273 nits). However, the iPhone 6 Plus hit an even higher 537 nits.- See more at: 

Hardware                                                                                     

The EDGE is based on the Galaxy Note 4 and is therefore largely the same with regards to specs. You still get that uber-powerful Snapdragon 805 quad-core CPU clocked at 2.7GHz, 3GB of RAM, and a 16MP camera with OIS, as well as microSD support up to 128GB alongside either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage.

There are a couple of caveats, however: the display is slightly smaller on the EDGE and the battery isn’t quite as large at 3000mAh. With connectivity, you have all the usual bells and whistles –– Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, DLNA, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac –– as well as support for ultra-fast LTE-A 4G speeds, which will soon become the norm in the UK thanks to EE’s expanding rollout of its LTE-A services.

Generally speaking though, like the Galaxy Note 4, the Galaxy Note EDGE is a supremely powerful handset that ships with an excellent camera and plenty of additional features besides. I really do like Samsung’s S-Health, for instance, as it presents certain metrics (steps and calories) in a very simple manner, unlike Apple’s Health app, which I tend to find slightly hard work.

Software and Apps                                                                      

The Note Edge runs on Android 4.4 KitKat with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI and it’s largely the same as the Note 4. There’s less of the bloatware than in previous years, but we'd still like to see more stripped away for future handsets. Enhanced features introduced with the Note 4, like Multi-Window, are present, but the curved display adds some unique, if far from perfect, functionality.

The main use is to house commonly used apps you’d normally find arranged at the bottom of the screen. That’s things like the web browser, camera and Google Play shortcut. The little star above the row of apps allows you to edit those favourited apps, while swiping up from the bottom gives you quick access to the Edge screen Settings. You can still access this by swiping down from the top of the screen to access, but it's a handy alternative.


Above the little star, you can swipe down to see additional features that work on the second screen. There’s a 10cm ruler – we measured against a normal ruler to verify its accuracy – a simple stopwatch and count down clock, a shortcut to the torch flash on the back and the ability to activate the voice search. While the ruler is a nice touch, it's safe to say you can live without most of these Edge screen features.

There's scope to customize the Edge screen further, too. You can manage the panels to dictate what’s displayed, like notifications, quick access apps, phone calls, S Health data and even news delivered by Yahoo News. You can download additional panels but essentially most are news feeds. Express me handles what’s displayed on the panel when the phone is locked, while information stream lets you choose what Yahoo!-powered feeds appear.


The night clock feature takes full advantage of the bedside table scenario where you don’t have to lift and awaken the display to view the time. Here you can adjust when the night clock jumps into action to save some of those power reserves when it’s not really needed. Lastly, Edge screen text let’s you adjust and personalise the text message that’s shown on the panel.

There’s screen orientation support here as well, so when you flip the side upside down the panel will change as well. That makes it more accommodating for left handed users although you are still stuck with having to use phone upside down, which is slightly ridiculous.

For all these options, though, we were left unimpressed by the utility of the edge screen. There's some benefit and appeal being able to free up the screen when you are watching video, for example, but most of the applications are tenuous at best.

There are other problems, too. Content is displayed on the Edge screen facing in rather than facing out from the display and there's no obvious way to change this. Samsung has missed a trick here. When it's lying flat on a table, it would actually be quite useful to be able to glance over at the Edge and see messages and tweets as they come through.

S-Pen and S-Pen apps                                                               

No Note phone is complete without the S-Pen and it remains one of the key attractions of this phone. The S-Pen technology is based on a Wacom digitizer and while the look of it has slightly changed in comparison to the one included on the Note 3, it’s the changes in accuracy and pressure sensitivity that really matter.

In the box alongside your Note Edge, you still get the option of removable plastic and rubber nibs depending on the type of interaction you are planning. Pressure sensitivity is an impressive 2,048dps (degrees per second) to help produce a more accurate, fluid writing and drawing experience.


The app support is the same as it is on the Note 4 and pulling the S-Pen out from its cosy little compartment activates the S-Pen launcher. Here you get access to apps like Action Memo and Smart Select, while pre-installed Samsung apps like S Note and S Calendar are fully integrated with the S-Pen technology.

Apps like S-Note use the edge screen area to shift the shortcuts that normally reside at the top of the screen to the edge, freeing up space. It’s nice to have a full canvas in drawing apps, but we’re sure people didn’t have that much of a problem the way things were set up already.


Performance                                                                               

The Note Edge has the same core specs as the Note 4. That’s means a Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of RAM and an Adreno 420 GPU. It’s a monster of a phone that runs just as smoothly and impressively as the Note 4. Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay doesn’t measurably impact on performance either, though we’d still prefer a pure Vanilla Android experience.

The benchmarks back up just how well the Note Edge manages everyday and more intensive tasks like video streaming, gaming and multitasking. Until the 64-bit Snapdragon 810 turns up in smartphones in 2015, the 805 and the Tegra K1 are the very best Android phone chips around.

Its showing in Geekbench 3’s multi-core test sits comfortably in the 3,000+ range, averaging a score of 3,200. That’s roughly the same as the Note 4 and significantly higher than the iPhone 6 Plus (2,863). If power is your main concern here, then the Note Edge is not going to let you down.

Camera                                                                                        

I tested the EDGE’s camera pretty extensively, building up a repertoire of different types of images captured in a variety of settings. As usual, I was more than impressed by the Samsung’s imaging prowess. However, I sent the bloody phone back without getting the image samples off it –– something I’ve literally NEVER done in the past. So, yeah, I’m feeling slightly stupid now.

Nevertheless, I can at least fill you in on some of my findings about the Galaxy Note EDGE’s imaging capabilities. Like a lot of the device, the camera is exactly the same setup aboard the Galaxy Note 4, meaning you have a Sony-built 16MP rear shooter with OIS and a 3.5MP unit on the front for selfies. Image quality is excellent with zero noise and rapid focus. Images captured with little to no effort have a satisfying vibrancy and high level of detail. The resulting shots also look AMAZING on the EDGE’s awesome OLED panel.

As per usual, you get Samsung’s excellent camera application, which is fast becoming one of our favourite on market, a variety of different shooting modes, including HDR and Panorama as well as a multitude of filters and editing options for putting the final touches to your shots. The EDGE’s shooter is great at macro shots and can produce some outstanding results in gloomy, low-light thanks to the increased exposure time born from its latent OIS capabilities. Like the Galaxy Note 4, the EDGE can also shoot 4K video.

I’m just gutted I don’t have any photo samples to share with you. However, for a basic idea of the type of performance you’ll get do check out the camera section in our Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review. Fingers crossed I can source another review unit for picture samples! 

Battery                                                                                         

Despite being smaller, the EDGE’s battery performed more or less the same as its bigger brother’s. It managed a full day of heavy use with plenty of juice left in the tank. In our Django Test, the EDGE scored an impressive 76% (the Galaxy Note 4 only did marginally better with 78%), meaning you’re not likely to notice much of a difference with respect to battery performance in your day-to-day.