By Rich W Woods
It’s been a month since I wrote my review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review: A Perversion of Innovation. It was just as I described in the title. It was a fantastic piece of hardware with a blazingly fast processor, a beautiful AMOLED display, and a stunning 16 MP rear camera. Despite all of that, it was a terrible phone. It was a perversion of what a phone with those specs should be.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was a niche phone. There are those that like Samsung features, features that don’t work particularly well but they get the latest features. By smart phone standards, the Galaxy Note 4 was a bad phone. By those standards, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge was even worse.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: Specs
|Processor||2.7 GHz Snapdragon 805|
|Display||5.6″, 1600×2560, 524 ppi, AMOLED|
|Body||151.3×82.4×8.3 mm, 174 g|
|Camera||16 MP, 5312×2988, 3.7 MP Front|
|Video||4K – 30 fps, 1080p – 60 fps, Front 1440p – 30 fps|
|Storage||32/64 GB, Expandable to 128 GB|
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: Display and Body
Obviously, the big difference between the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is the edge display. Just in case you don’t know what the edge display is, it’s an extension of the main display that wraps around one edge of the phone.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes in at 153.5×78.6×8.5 mm and the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge comes in at 151.3×82.4×8.3 mm, meaning that the Galaxy Note Edge is 2.2 mm shorter than the Galaxy Note 4 and it is 3.8 mm wider than the Galaxy Note 4. The extra thickness is noticeable and combined with the design of the edge display, it makes the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge very uncomfortable to hold. If you play games on your phone at all, don’t get this phone.
The display on the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is beautiful as is all Samsung devices that use AMOLED displays. The resolution is a bit too high. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference between the 524 ppi display of the Galaxy Note Edge and the 750p display of the iPhone 6. Because of the needlessly high resolution, it drains the battery as well as taxing the processor.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: Rear Camera
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge uses a 16 MP rear camera, which is plenty. For such a high resolution camera, it’s actually pretty fast. It focuses fast as well. A 4K display uses 8.3 MP, so there is room for 2X lossless zoom there.
The aperture on the rear camera of the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is F/2.2. This is average for a smart phone camera. Aperture literally means the size of the opening of the lens. A smaller aperture means a larger depth of field, meaning that the background of the image will be more focused.
Please note that you can enlarge the images by clicking or tapping on them. To view the full size images, there is a link in the gallery.
I’ve talked about the camera on the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge to death. It’s a fantastic smart phone camera. It handles low light well but it doesn’t necessarily handle bright light well. In most situations, it takes beautiful photos.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: Front Camera
Ok, not just the front camera. I’ll cover the rear camera a bit more in a second. The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge uses a 3.7 MP front facing camera, which is exactly 1440p. It also takes 1440p video, which is sort of a useless feature because there are no 1440p TVs. Then again, Samsung is all about those useless features and again, some people like that.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge (as well as all modern Samsung phones) also have a rear cam selfie feature. This allows the user to select where he wants his face to be in the image and when the camera detects the user’s face, it beeps and takes a photo two seconds later. It’s a pretty cool feature for those that like to take selfies. The photo doesn’t always come out at the perfect angle but with a 16 MP selfie, there is plenty of room to crop.
|Front Camera||Rear Cam Selfie|
While both cameras take great photos, it’s pretty clear that the rear camera takes better photos. I should mention that it’s not because of the resolution. Resolution just doesn’t matter in a photo unless it is cropped.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: Apps and Settings
Before I get into the stock apps and settings, I want to take a second to talk about third party apps. Many third party apps simply aren’t compatible with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. Of course, the user could side-load an app but these things really should work out of the box.
As far as preinstalled apps and settings go, I was pretty impressed. My Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review unit shipped with 67 preinstalled apps and had five pages of settings. The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge only had 45 preinstalled apps (note that this one didn’t have carrier apps) and all the settings are merged onto one page.
The amount of preinstalled apps is very important on a Samsung device because there are just too many. When there is 67 preinstalled apps, these apps have background processes. While the phone is built to handle those background processes, once you add your own apps and they start running in the background, combine that with a 3.7 MP display and the phone is going to get slow.
S Voice is one of the worst features that Samsung provides. For one thing, it is constantly trying to use itself. While I’ll be walking around with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, it will constantly be waking up in my pocket. Many times, when I wake the phone it will be on the S Voice screen.
Aside from S Voice waking when the user doesn’t want it to, it’s just not good. If you look across the board at Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Motorola’s Moto, Samsung’s S Voice comes in at a distant last place. Of course, S Voice can be disabled.
Let’s compare S Voice to Moto since most readers of this review will flip out if I compare it to Siri. If you ask the Moto X “What’s up?”, it will respond by telling the user the time as well as reading all of his notifications. Ask S Voice what’s up and it will reply “Nothing much. I just wanted to see you”. Tell Moto “Good night” and it will not set off any alerts until the user says “Good morning”. Tell S Voice “Good night” and it will respond but still give notifications all night.
Then there’s S Health. This is going to be a very useful feature if you happen to have one of the Samsung smart watches. Step counts are generally accurate but the heart rate checker and SpO2 checkers are just more useless Samsung features.
For one thing, most of the time when the user tries to check his heart rate or SpO2, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge just tells the user to try again and again. There is really no sense in having these features in a phone. It’s not a heart rate monitor. It’s a heart rate checker. Obviously, it’s not checking the user’s heart rate constantly, making it useless.
Anyone that is going to make real use of the heart rate sensor is going to invest in a fitness band such as the Microsoft Band. The Microsoft Band is constantly checking the user’s heart rate and is more equipped to handle fitness than a smart phone. After all, does anyone really exercise with a phablet in their pocket?
S Note is really one of the key apps of the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge as the S Pen is the key feature of the Galaxy Note line of phones. S Note is actually a pretty functional app.
S Note allows the user to either write notes or type notes through the onscreen keyboard and sync it to either a Samsung account or an Evernote account. It also allows the user to export the note as either an image or a PDF file.
One feature that’s missing from S Note is handwriting recognition. It would be really great to have a feature where the user can hand write notes and have then translated into neat text.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: S Pen
The S Pen has always been the feature that puts the Galaxy Note line of phones in its own class. There are simply no other mainstream phones that use a pen. LG made a G3 variant that did but that model was hardly mainstream.
The S Pen uses WACOM technology. This means that any WACOM pen will work with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. For example, the pen from a Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 will work on the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge and vice versa.
As with all WACOM devices, it is pressure sensitive; however, it is not pressure sensitive if the user is using his finger. Pressure sensitivity can be a very useful feature for a user such as an artist, but just like the heart rate sensor, is anyone really drawing on a smart phone? If the user is focused on drawing, he will likely have a WACOM tablet such as a Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 to do it.
It can also be used to present additional options. When the user tales the S Pen from it’s holster, it will display Air Command options on the screen. Hovering the pen over certain things will display additional options for that as well.
The other thing that a user can do with the S Pen is multitasking. It allows the user to use multiple apps on screen at once. Like I said, there is a niche that this feature will be useful for, but not for the mainstream.
The phone will wake when the S Pen is removed and if the phone goes to sleep before the S Pen is reinserted into its holster, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge will give the user an alert.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: User Experience
When I say that the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is a poor user experience compared to other Samsung products, that is really saying a lot. User experience is pretty bad across the board when it comes to Samsung.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is uncomfortable to hold and there is a solid chance that your favorite app will be incompatible with the device. It wakes when you don’t want it to and S Voice launches whenever it feels like.
The edge display makes it even worse. By holding the phone like a normal phone, it is all too easy to activate one of the icons on the edge display. While using the camera, the shutter button is located on the edge display. For each of the photos you see in the samples, there is another photo that was accidentally taken.
For all of those negative features, there are a couple good features that are true of all Samsung phones: the display and the camera. Samsung uses AMOLED, allowing for more vibrant colors and blacker black colors because unlike LCD, some pixels can actually be turned off.
Because of the super high resolution 1600×2560 display, the phone is a bit slow and the battery life is limited. Like most modern phones, it’s no problem to get a full day with moderate use but it’s definitely not the best. It’s just the combination of a high powered Snapdragon 805 processor and having to constantly know what’s going on on two different displays all the time. Remember, 1080p is 2.1 MP. 1600×2560 is 4.1 MP. That is almost twice as many pixels for that battery and that processor to handle.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: Samsung makes the Note 4 Worse
In almost all respect with the exception of the edge display, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The Note 4 is 1440×2560 and the Note Edge is 1600×2560 because of the extra edge display.
Samsung is a company that uses a lot of gimmicky features. This is what they are known for. They do this so in a few years, if Apple decides to use a curved glass display similar to the Galaxy Note Edge, they can say that they did it first; however, doing something first does not mean that they did it right.
Let’s take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 for a second. That phone actually made me reevaluate what I wanted from a smart phone. It was a weird time in smart phone history when the market was just becoming mature. It was a time when most of the really great features had been done and everyone was looking to see what the next amazing smart phone feature would be.
It seems like a lifetime ago but it was only a year and a half ago when Samsung released the Galaxy S4. This was a phone with so many useless features I couldn’t even list them here. Eyeball scrolling was the one that sticks out. The Galaxy S4 would scroll through an article that you’re reading by watching your eyes move. The feature didn’t work well but Samsung did it first.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge reminds me of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in that way. It feels like Samsung’s way of saying, “We did something new! This is why you should buy Samsung’s phones” and it also feels like it’s fuel for those petty Samsung and Apple commercials that they make.
It seems like every month, there is another report about how Samsung is making less money, the most recent of which was that the Samsung Galaxy S5 sold 40% less units than expected. This is not surprising. Samsung users have purchased their Galaxy phones, realized that the features that Samsung advertises are useless, and they are going with quality handset manufacturers such as HTC or Apple. It turned out that despite what Samsung said in its commercials, Apple hasn’t fallen behind Samsung, they simply make sure that features will improve the user experience before they add them.