A while ago I made a prediction that there would only be one device launched at Unpacked: the Galaxy Note 5 Edge. I was convinced that Samsung would boldly adapt the Note series to the new Edge idea and the world would never be the same again. It seems I was wrong, but the fact that I was wrong actually raises some interesting questions.
Over the last few months I had even started to think that maybe Samsung had a good reason to produce two large-screened devices instead of just one combined. When I finally saw the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ for myself though, I was convinced that I was right all along: there really shouldn't be two phones.
Not only are the two phones nearly identical to look at, they're the same internally as well. They share a specs sheet right down to the tiniest detail, which in itself pretty much all comes from the Galaxy S6. Excepting the obvious difference of a curved screen and a stylus, along with the software features they pair up with, the two new phones are the same.
So what gives? Samsung told me that it had identified two clearly distinct user groups for their devices: casual consumers of media like games, movies and so on, and multitasking business types. That fact, combined with the relative lack of Note series penetration in Europe led the company to build a bigger S6 to sit rather awkwardly alongside the Note 5 instead of just making a Note 5 Edge.
The idea is that multitaskers will use the S Pen on the Note 5 and everyone else can watch wall-to-wall movies on the S6 Edge+ curved display. But wouldn't a curved display on the Note 5 satisfy both groups? Why make two phones when one would suffice? Because Samsung, that's why.
If you don't like the S Pen, don't use it. Both devices are going to cost about the same anyway (the S6 Edge+ is actually more expensive) so you can't even argue that customers would be paying for stylus features they didn't use. No, Samsung clearly doesn't think that a Note 5 with a curved screen makes any sense.
But is the S6 Edge+ the right answer to this problem? The decision to bring out a larger version of a phone six months later – but with a practically identical specs sheet – is a weird one.
Samsung could be accused of trying to match Apple's product portfolio in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but Samsung invented the larger-display category with the original Note, so that's not it. So why does the S6 Edge+ seem so out of place and pointless?
Is there really even that much of a market for a bigger S6 Edge? And why is that perceived market global while the market for the Note 5 is only in North America and parts of Asia? By denying Europe a Note 5, Samsung has essentially killed any chance it might have had of luring consumers back to the Note series. You can't win a race you're not in.
Which brings us to the Galaxy Note Edge. As oddly exciting as it was, Samsung admitted all along that the Note Edge was a niche product. But the fact that the Note 5 doesn't even have one curved screen demonstrates that the S Pen and curved edges don't play well together, at least from Samsung's perspective. Which makes it seem likely that there won't be a Galaxy Note Edge 2 either.
If I'm right about this – and I'll remind you how we started this little story – I'll be disappointed on two fronts. I won't have gotten my Galaxy Note 5 Edge and I won't even get the runner-up prize of a Galaxy Note Edge 2. See our article on five things the Note Edge can do that the Note 4 can't.
So what is the future of the curved screen if it is not applicable to the Note series? Is the Note series on the way out? Are the S series and Note series slowly converging? There's not much to distinguish them from one another now anyway. Next year's Unpacked might give us the answers, but it might just throw up even more questions.
What do you think Samsung is up to? Will we never see another Note Edge?