Update: We're currently putting the Galaxy Note Edge through our in-depth review process - but in the mean time, here are some early thoughts and a deeper review of the curved screen:
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is a phone that's got me hit under the collar. It's another evolutionary step forward in the way we're going to be using phones, right?
I mean, it has to be. The rounded spine, with the screen curving away and tucking itself under the chassis, is surely the blueprint for the Samsung Galaxy S6 in 2016.
Well, that is, assuming the idea of a curved display on one side isn't a novelty and redundant beyond being a clever marketing gimmick, of course.
And it needs to be more than that. Early prices seem to have the Note Edge at around £50 more than the impressive Samsung Galaxy Note 4, with the curved model costing a huge £650. Is the curved screen worth it?
Of course there's more on offer here that makes the Edge a really promising device: a huge 5.7-inch QHD (1440 x 2560) screen even without the curved spine is really pleasant to look at.
That's also coupled with Samsung's Super AMOLED technology, which again makes the Note range the best phone screen I've seen on the market.
The camera is improved, the S Pen is starting to show glimmers of offering really useful functionality to the average consumer (not just the business warrior hell-bent on dropping the notepad) and the raw power of the Snapdragon 805 chipset (or the octacore Exynos option from Samsung) means this phablet can go on, and on, and on.
And while Samsung unquestionably created the phablet market, it's now got some serious competition to contend with. Apple's new iPhone 6 Plus is some people's idea of 'the only large phone' on the market, and the Google Nexus 6, while not mega-cheap as before, is still a very well specified device without the need for bells and whistles.
Samsung's also facing a profits slide that it's desperate to arrest, and that will only be achieved through going back into its R&D labs, putting on a stylish thinking cap, and coming up with something truly innovative that wows the public.
Last year's Galaxy Round, the brand's first curved display in a phone, was a step towards that but didn't really do much beyond, well, being a bit curved. The Note Edge combines an innovative design with actual real-life usage, which means it could be more of a hit than Samsung's other novelties.
Let's get this out of the way first: you won't like the Note Edge the first time you pick it up. I almost want to applaud Samsung's designers for taking such a bold step, keeping the same high resolution display from the Note 4 but then adding in a few more pixels to bring us this clever spine which can independently show information.
But the problem is the phone gets wider as a result, and you really feel like you need to wedge it into one palm.
It's true that any phablet performs better when held in two hands, but when pulling out the S Pen from the bottom right hand corner (which pleasingly can be pushed in either way, a feature Samsung added in with the Note 3 and has removed tremendous frustration with Samsung's phablet series for me) you still have to hold the phone steady in one hand, which can be a little tricky.
That said, there is an acceptance that the Note Edge is going to be a larger device - after all, that's why you're buying it, right? - and it doesn't take more than a few days to really get used to the idea.
By putting the digital spine on the right hand side of the phone though, Samsung was forced into a big design decision: where does the power button go? Sadly, it didn't make the right call, as the unlock key has been moved to the top of the device where it lived many moons ago.
With a phone that measures 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm, this is mightily hard to hit and means you have to use two hands to lock the device. Hardly the easiest. It should have either been on the left hand side, or nabbed something from South Korean rivals LG and plopped it on the back.
Failing that, Samsung should have joined the swelling ranks of smartphone manufacturers allowing you to double tap the screen to wake the device. It's not a patented idea, and thankfully it's baked into Android Lollipop (which is arriving in 2015 for this phablet) so could be an option.
The good thing that slightly helps is the home button, which again doubles as a fingerprint scanner, will allow you to unlock the phone and get swiping straight into the action.
In terms of the rest of the design, it's typically Samsung. Anyone that's read any of the other reviews will realise that's not necessarily a good thing, but it's not terrible either in this case.
The metallic rim of the Note 4 and Alpha are missing, presumably to add in the curved spine on the right side, but the overall build quality is good, the frame surrounded by a strong case and there's very little creaking.
I'm not a fan of the leatherette feel of the back cover, but it's removable again and allows you to swap the battery and microSD cards easily, which I'm pleased to see Samsung continuing with.
The infra-red port and headphone jack both reside on the top of the device, making it easy to use the Note Edge as a daily media device, and the speaker (which I'll talk more about in the next section) is placed towards the bottom of the phone on the rear.
The camera on the Note Edge (a 16MP) affair) protrudes quite dramatically from the back of the phone, although not to the point that you'd notice it in the pocket.
It's weird how much other phone brands can get away with the camera unit sticking out the back of the phone when Apple gets castigated for a couple of millimetres, but I'm glad that's the case. I'd rather have a better snapper than an aesthetically more pleasing handset, and the Note Edge does both pretty well.
The lightness of the phone, at 176g, is nothing to get excited about (it's actually one of the heavier on the market), but then again it's not too heavy either. In the palm it's nicely balanced, and pulling out the S Pen is an easy task thanks to the whole thing being so grippable.
That said, I did find myself holding it in a weird way so as not to touch the spine in general use. I never really had an instance where I accidentally did anything with that element, but it didn't stop it being slightly in the way all the time.
While there are some cool parts to the Galaxy Note Edge, the big reason to buy it is obvious: the curved element at the side.
I'm not going to go into the other key features of the Note range, such as the improved S Pen or enhanced camera, as these are very similar to that which we saw on the Note 4. I'll be covering them in the review, but I just wanted to point that while they are key features of the Edge – and very good reasons to buy – you can check out the Note 4 review to find out about them, or read on through the review to see where they fit in.
An all-new screen design
I'll say it now: I can't really work out whether it's a genius innovation or design gimmick. I'd say it falls between the two, which is still good news as it means an attempt to evolve handset design has brought an improvement.
The reason I'm torn is that despite coming with quite an array of features, I only used about 15% of the options regularly. For instance, the main bar is the one you'll turn to most and here is where you'll place your most-used apps, much as you might on the bottom level of the phone for easy access.
This works really well, and a quick swipe or tap on the spine will call them up whenever you need them throughout the phone. After that, there's a sort of mash-up between the notifications panel and the most recently installed / used apps, which is less useful beyond telling you the weather.
After that you've got the contextual menus, so if you're listening to Spotify for instance, you'll be able to see what's playing and skip tracks forward and back. I was really impressed with this functionality actually, as it shows Samsung has worked hard to bring the element from the main notification pane to the spine, as there's no way Spotify coded that in already to its app.
You're able to download more edge tricks from Samsung as well, meaning this area will only grow. Sports scores, stock tickers and the ability to see how much RAM your phone is using are all options available now, and if this notion gets popular, should result in more from third parties too.
The other big win here is the ever-present tool bar that's accessed by pulling down from the top of the spine. It contains things like a timer, a torch, the stopwatch and more. The one you'll show your friends is the ruler, which is a nifty trick that will come in useful probably three times during a two year contract with the Note Edge, but hey, at least it's something novel.
However, while the options are good, Samsung has a long, long way to go before getting it right.
One of the biggest irks is the way the spine doesn't seem to be able to perform as a proper notification area. When a new song comes on Spotify, for instance, most phones will see the notification area change to tell you the name of the song. That's fine. It's out of the way.
But when you're using the spine to flip through tracks, and the navigation buttons keep disappearing to be replaced by the track notification (which you can see written on the spine already) then the whole process becomes very long-winded and requires a lot of swiping away.
Then there's the message alert: again, this would have started scrolling through the notification bar at the top of the phone on something like the Note 4. But here, it shows up on the spine horizontally. Unless you've positioned your phone exactly in your eye line on the desk, this is no use and forces you to twist your neck and palm to read the message.
You could just unlock the phone and have a look, obviously, but the point of the quick view is just that: a quick view so you know whether the missive deserves your time.
I am looking forward to seeing what Samsung does with this feature in the future though - being able to add my own message in was fun as that's what stays there when the spine is in standby mode, but then again whenever I read it I realised that it wasn't doing much.
I had high hopes for it during media browsing, but unless you're watching a video using Samsung's own video player, the onscreen buttons won't disappear to the spine (which would allow you to see the entire screen while navigating through your movie) which is a shame.
Night, night baby
I will say this though: the night mode is brilliant. When a certain time hits, the Note Edge will instantly keep the screen shut off apart from a small clock with the weather on the spine. Plug in and lay this down on your bedside table and you've got a very unobtrusive clock that doesn't burn your retinas with brightness.
Having used a lot of purported 'night mode' clocks before, which still feel brighter than the sun in actual use thanks to the LCD backlights needing to be on even in dark mode, the Super AMOLED technology delivers a tiny fraction of light and achieves a lot.
The heart rate monitor - rebooted
Hang on a minute... I'm actually coming around to the idea that the Galaxy Note Edge could have found a better use for the heart rate monitor. It doesn't feel right. It's a useless feature, right?
Well, yes... but less so than before. Where the Galaxy S5 debuted the technology, and props to Samsung for sticking with it all this time, I didn't think that it would ever be something beyond a novelty. But recent additions to the S Health app that powers it, as well as improved functionality from the sensor, mean I was more tempted to use it during my time with the phone.
Now it doesn't just monitor heart rate (actually, it doesn't do that at all on the model I was using. While it could clearly do it, thanks to other tests noting my pulse, the actual heart rate monitor failed time and time again) but also oxygen saturation levels and stress too.
It's not the most accurate, as the fact my oxygen level is perfect in one hand but poor in the other will attest (although I could have slightly poorer blood on one side of my body, of course...) and the stress calculator is a bit vague, but at least Samsung is trying to make it a more complete system.
If it is fully accurate, then it should offer you the option to alert you throughout the day to check these readings to get a better idea of what's going on with you. Just a thought, Samsung.
But it's not that accurate right now - although I do like the life coaching goals, as these do pop up when you set ideals to follow, be it through less stress or improving happiness. It's like Samsung is giving me a digital cuddle.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is definitely a gimmick at its heart, is too expensive for most tastes and won't be the silver bullet for the South Korean powerhouse in terms of rebooting sales.
But it's not a useless gimmick. It's one that, with the right amount of polish and development, could be the thing that sets Samsung apart from the rest of the competition... surely it's too early to see the tech on the Galaxy S6...right?