Two Galaxy Notes with many similarities, but one big difference — we're going to help you decide which to buy
When Samsung refreshed the Galaxy Note series this year, it gave people an interesting decision to make — Note 4, or Note Edge. With so many similar hardware specs, design elements and software features between the two, it can be tough to understand which model is right for each person. All of the major U.S. carriers carry both the Note Edge and Note 4, as is the case with retailers in other areas, and if you're buying unlocked the price difference of $150 is notable but not a complete deal breaker in itself.
Heading to the store, having narrowed it down to one of the two leading Notes from Samsung, which one should you buy? We're going to break it down and help you choose between the Note 4 and Note Edge.
Where the Note 4 takes the lead
The Note 4 is the gold standard for Samsung in 2014, packing in all of its latest innovations into one (big) device. Not only does it have a huge and gorgeous QHD display, it backs it up with great internal specs, several great software features that take advantage of the screen and of course has the S Pen if you're in to that sort of thing. It's a little big for some people to hold, but if you're comparing it to other large phones Samsung has done its best to lay it out best it can.
Compared to the Note Edge, the Note 4 has the distinct advantage of being a "traditional" smartphone, with buttons and edges in the places you expect. There's no learning curve when it comes to holding and operating the Note 4, regardless of whether you've used a Samsung phone before or not. And it's just downright easier to hold in general with standard screen bezels on all four sides of the display.
The advantages go beyond the physical aspects, though, as the Note 4 carries all of the same deep software features as the Note Edge, without the fiddly Edge Screen bits. You still get multi window multitasking, great S Pen features and all of Samsung's (love it or hate it) software experience.
Then of course there's the price — the Note 4 can be had for a good $150 less than the Note Edge when buying unlocked, and that's nothing to shake a stick at when you're talking about phones in the $700 range.
Where the Note Edge comes out ahead
The Note Edge is something entirely new for Samsung — the first time it has released a device with such a crazy hardware feature as a mainstream phone that anyone can easily go out and buy. The Edge Screen may be a gimmick for most things, but it shows Samsung is thinking outside of the box, and for what it aimed to do it's executed well.
Do you like starting conversations with strangers? Maybe the Note Edge is for you. There's no way you can use the Note Edge every day and not strike up conversations with curious onlookers — but whether that's a good or bad thing is up to you. It's an attention grabber, to be sure, and for those of us who like having a phone that stands out from the crowd the Note Edge accomplishes that goal perfectly.
But when it comes to actually using the phone, the Note Edge doesn't offer so much value. While the software works, is bug free and handles the minimal tasks it sets out to do properly, there's little reason to actually bother with the Edge Screen at all. The third-party panel (the software for the Edge Screen) options are sorely lacking right now, and Samsung's pre-loaded panels are minimally useful. The benefit of being on the Note Edge early on, though, is watching the software evolve before your eyes. As more developers get on board with the Edge Screen and make new panels you'll be the first to see them, and Samsung will surely be updating the core software experience with future OS updates.
You need to pay about $150 more for the Note Edge compared to the Note 4 though, and except for the questionably-useful Edge Screen the phones are basically identical. Same internals, cameras and hardware across the board, aside from necessary changes to accommodate the curved display.
So, which one should you buy?
It's going to be a pretty clear choice for most people to go with the Galaxy Note 4 over the Note Edge. The Note 4 is pretty expensive on its own, and adding another $150 to that price for some limited extra functionality is a tough pill to swallow. While the Note Edge certainly sets itself apart from the crowd, and keeps you on the bleeding edge of new smartphone tech, this is one of those times that being an early adopter doesn't clearly pay off in any way. The sales numbers will surely back this up through the lifecycle of these two phones — and we're sure you won't regret going with the Note 4.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.