The first things to know about the Note Edge before you consider buying
With its crazy curved design and intriguing software, the Galaxy Note Edge is a sight to be seen. Thankfully Samsung has struck deals to have the Note Edge easily available, with the top U.S. carriers taking on the device, but it can't hurt to do some research before you head to a store to try one out. We've already given our comprehensive take on the device in a full review, but you can't fit everything into a single article.
Before you head out to try a Note Edge for yourself, see our top 10 things to know about the phone. The list may have you running out sooner (or even buy it sight unseen), or possibly ready to do a bit more research first. Read along with us and learn a bit.
1. It's mostly the same as the Galaxy Note 4
The naming and release timing might have tipped you off, but the Note Edge is in many ways identical to the Note 4. The designs are nearly identical — aside from the curved edge, of course — all around, and the internal specs match up point-for-point except small differences in battery size. You're getting the same wonderful screen quality and resolution, improved camera and software features as the Note 4 — just tweaked a tad to accommodate the edge screen. And that's a good thing, because the Note 4 really hit it out of the park this year and is one of our top picks for a phone in 2014.
More: In pictures: Samsung Galaxy Note Edge versus Note 4
2. The palm rejection software stops unwanted edge screen touches
One of the continuing concerns we hear about using the Note Edge is how easily you can accidentally activate the screen with the curved edge. Thankfully the answer is "not very easily," as Samsung has done a great job with its palm rejection software to keep that from happening. The edge screen is only looking for very specific touches — mainly directly horizontal and vertical swipes, as well as direct taps on icons — and it does a great job of rejecting everything else. Your palm touching the screen or even putting an errant finger on the edge isn't going to send the phone into a fit.
3. You can use the Note Edge with your left hand ... sort of
Almost as frequently as the worry about accidental touches we heard concerns about using the Note Edge while holding it in your left hand. The solution to this problem isn't as elegant, and really comes down to two points. First, the Note Edge is hard to use in one hand, regardless if it's your left or right. The phone is wide and somewhat awkward to hold, so most folks are going to be holding it in one hand and touching the screen (or using the S Pen) with their other hand — that's just a reality of a large device.
But if you do need to use the Note Edge one-handed, Samsung has a setting in the edge screen area called "Rotate 180°" that lets the entire phone interface flip so you can actually hold the phone upside down and use it. Now with the edge screen on the left, you can manipulate it with your thumb while holding it in your left hand. Back, home and recents keys will show up on the bottom (physically the top) of your phone, and it'll work normally — the only problem is now you're holding your phone upside down, and may get a few weird looks from folks on the street.
4. There are third-party panels for the edge screen, but they're limited
Panels, or the software than runs on the edge screen, are what unlock the potential of the Note Edge. At launch there were about a dozen available panels, most of which from Samsung itself but with a handful from third-party developers including Yahoo and Twitter. We're now several weeks removed from the launch of the phone and we have only seen one more panel arrive in the Galaxy Apps store. That's not instilling us with confidence, and while the panels that are pre-installed do their jobs, we aren't expecting the amount of software available for the edge screen to dramatically expand.
5. The S Pen is here and powerful as ever
The Note Edge, despite its crazy curved screen, is still very much a Note device. The S Pen is identical to that of the Note 4, and everything you can do with it in the software has been replicated here. You can even use the S Pen to tap and interact with the edge screen, so you never have to clumsily switch back between fingers and the pen to get things done. There aren't any Edge-specific S Pen features aside from an S Note panel, but we're not sure many people are looking for more than that.
6. The extra width makes the Note Edge harder to hold one-handed
There's an inherent compromise when you decide to buy a larger phone — you get more screen and features, but less one-handed usability. The Note 4 in itself was just barely usable in one hand, made a tad better by its software features, but the Note Edge is even wider and more awkward to hold than that. With the extra millimeters of width and the curved edge on the right side, the Note Edge gets pushed over the edge (get it?) into two-handed territory for most folks.
7. There's less metal in the body than it first seems
We touched on the slight design differences between the Note Edge and Note 4 earlier, but one of the big casualties when adding the curved screen was a reduction in metal throughout the device. You still feel the cold touch of metal around the edges of the phone, and have the shiny chamfered edge along the top, but it doesn't quite hit you as much as it does on the Note 4. Due to the curved edge there has to be more plastic in this build, and while we know it's necessary it's still a shame to have the Note Edge feel a bit "cheaper" in the hand than the Note 4 — particularly considering it's about $140 more expensive.
8. The power button is on the top, and that's a bummer
The Note Edge feels a lot bigger than it is thanks to the extra width and curved screen, but another small tweak that hurts its usability is the fact that the power button got moved to the top of the phone. It can't be on the right side because of the curved screen, and for some reason Samsung didn't want it on the left, so it had to go to the top. Fortunately you can use the physical home key to turn on the screen and unlock the phone, but when it comes to turning off the screen when you're done with it there's no option but to reach for the power button or let the screen time out. A software feature to double tap the screen for sleep would definitely help — maybe in future software versions.
9. There are only two color choices
If you decide to go with the Note Edge, you're going to be stuck choosing between just black and white colors. While that'll cover a vast majority of people, there aren't the gold and pink versions available like there are for the Note 4. But don't worry, plenty of people will have their eyes on your phone anyway — it doesn't need to have crazy colors to get attention.
10. You're probably going to be paying extra for the Note Edge
Even though it's nearly identical to the Note 4 in terms of hardware, Samsung has put a pretty meaningful price premium for the curved screen on the Note Edge. At the time of writing the U.S. carriers are putting about a $140 premium over the price of the Note 4, with retailers outside of the states marking it up even more — folks in the U.K. can expect to pay about £749. Whether that extra dough is worth it to have this interesting phone will be up to you.