Innovators take chances. Without people taking chances we would not make progress. Can you imagine a world without smartphones? Prior to the iPhone, the smartphone market was definitely a niche market, only uber tech people used smartphones. Data plans and hardware were expensive, and the majority of cell phone users owned flip phones from Motorola, notably the RAZR, or they probably owned the candy bar shaped phone from Nokia. Outside of that niche market, no one thought they needed to email or view the internet from their phones.
In came Steve Jobs with the iPhone, offering a solution for the masses. Without Steve, who knows how smartphones would have evolved. He took a big chance on something he believed in, and it was something that Steve Ballmer shunned, and then eventually admitted that was his biggest mistake. The iPhone was a massive success and turned Apple into the largest company in the world based on market capitalization. The iPhone gave us a mass market of smartphones and changed our lives dramatically, while the conservative Microsoft missed out on their chance to change the world. To me, that’s what you call innovation. At the time it was released, many people didn’t realize how much of an impact the phone would make. It was a year later when we first saw crazy long lines at Apple when the second iPhone was released. Innovation is not necessarily instantly recognized as time is required to prove its value.
In 2011 Samsung took a large leap forward and figured they would make a large-screened phone with a stylus and call it the Note. When it was released, many reviewers thought the Note was a gimmick. If you remember, the iPhone did away with the need for a stylus, something all Microsoft phones used, and replaced it with your finger making the ease of use much greater. Steve Jobs was quoted, “ who wants a stylus?”. Apparently Samsung had a different answer than Apple to that question, in addition to a different answer to one handed use. Samsung took a chance on a large smartphone, and guess what, it worked and it worked so well it shaped the future of smartphones. In my opinion, as people started to buy larger smartphones their need to supplement their small phone with a tablet went away which is one reason to explain why tablets are suffering in sales.
From 2011, we went from 3.5” phones to 2014 we now see phones averaging well into the 5” range. Even Apple, the company who so adamantly pushed for one handed use, made a large iPhone coming in at 5.5” this year.
Samsung is not afraid to fail. They understand that failure is not always negative as long as you can learn from it and apply what you learned to the next project. They were massively successful with large smartphones and without their innovation we would not have large-screened phones like the Nexus 6, LG G3, Sony Xperia Z Ultra, OnePlus One, and the iPhone 6 Plus. So, thank you Samsung. When you aren’t afraid to fail is when you have a chance at success. After Steve Jobs passed away, Apple stopped taking chances and let other manufacturers take the lead which is why they now copy Samsung. Now, Apple just sits back on the sidelines waiting for Samsung to blaze the trail and capitalize on what works and not what fails.
In 2013 Samsung released the Galaxy Round, another first for the industry. It had similar specs to the Note 3, but the release was limited to Korea. Reviewers of the Round generally settled on the conclusion that the curved screen offered limited value. That failure did not stop Samsung from making the next iteration of a curved screen, and in 2014 we got the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Edge. It’s essentially almost identical to the Note 4 in hardware, with the addition of a curved screen on the right side of the screen. This time though, the phone was released to more countries than Korea which leads to my review of the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. The majority of this review will focus on the edge portion of the phone. The performance, camera, software, is all similar to the Note 4 and will be covered in a subsequent review. I do own both Galaxy phones, the Note 4 and the Edge, and I know this is not the first review to be released, but I did use it for a solid month before writing this review to give you the most honest opinion I could muster.
The foundation for the Note Edge, is the Note 4 which almost across the board of reviewers is a huge success. Samsung definitely upped their chances at acceptance of the Edge by starting with such a great phone as a foundation. The Edge is still made of plastic, but the plastic does not at all feel cheap. It has a nice soft feel to it that does not attract fingerprints and still feels quite sturdy at the same time. Being made from plastic, and not metal also keeps the weight down as well as not being so smooth that it is hard to grip. The soft touch actually feels quite nice.
The first couple of days I used the Edge, I became more aware of how I actually hold my phone. I am a right handed person; I write, throw, eat, and do the majority of things right handed with one and I hold my phone in my right hand the majority of the time. This was a problem for me as the curved screen is on the right side of the phone, so my palm and fingers would bump the side. The two solutions to this problem were to either learn to use my phone in my left-hand more, or to flip the phone over. Flipping the phone over was an absolute no for me. I didn’t want the power button on the bottom, and I certainly did not want the home button to be on the top of the screen. So i learned to use the phone in my left hand and once I did that i learned that I loved the Edge and the curved screen on the right side of the phone.
If you’re worried about accidentally bumping the right side of the screen, don’t, as long as you hold the phone with your left hand. Samsung intelligently added a slightly longer bezel to the bottom side of the curved edge so that your fingertips could not reach around and accidentally bump the screen. It’s such a fine detail that most people don’t recognize it until it is in their hand.
We’ve all been trained to expect our main apps to go on the bottom portion of the screen from the first day we started using smartphones. Out of the box, most phones have the phone, texting, internet and email apps at the bottom. Of course, we all personalize that bottom row by putting the apps in place of what we think is the most important and most accessed.
With the Edge, you can put your most used apps on the edge screen which gives you a larger view of the main screen. Once I got used to this change I enjoyed it. Is it enough reason to buy the Edge, the answer is no, but usage doesn’t stop there.
One of my favorite uses for the edge was the ambient clock that you could program to stay on for 12 hours. Why I like this feature may not apply to everyone, but I have a difficult time sleeping so I give myself every chance i can to get a good nights sleep. I don’t have a clock in my room except for the clock on my phone. Before the Edge, I would click on my Note 3 and the whole screen would light up which was never comfortable as all of that light was a shock to my eyes. Most of you know the feeling of seeing light after waking up and know that it is not pleasant which is why I love the ambient clock. It stays on while I sleep, and is dim enough to not bother me when I am in bed, but bright enough for me to be able to turn my head and see what time it is. And if any of you have trouble sleeping like me, one of the first things you do when you wake up in the middle of the night, is check what time it is. Again, this is another feature that is not enough to justify buying this phone, but it is a feature that I love.
The feature of the ambient clock could also be used inside of a purse- I don’t use a purse, but I do know I have seen many women digging around their purses just to find their phones and check what the time is.
The uses of the Edge don’t stop there. I found myself falling in love with the other screens designed for the curved screen. One display I used with regularity was the S-health app, as it showed my pedometer count. Very few people I know actually use the pedometer features on their phones, but I have used mine everyday ever since I started using the Note 3. It really helps you stay aware of how active/inactive you may be and may not have realized and seeing the steps on the secondary screen is much simpler than unlocking my phone and looking at a widget that takes up one-third of the screen.
My absolute favorite feature was the ability to view my notifications while I watched a movie or played games. I watch a lot of videos on my phone, and checking notifications always meant a pause. With the Note 4 Edge, I could leave my video running while swiping the independent screen and read my notifications without interruption. When you are on a phone call, the curved screen stays on with a view of your apps, so multitasking while on a phone call is a simple process.
Currently there is still a very limited selection of apps designed specifically for the edge screen, but they are rapidly being released as more and more people buy this phone. Apps are available from Yahoo, Twitter, and a wide variety from Samsung.
If you are the type who loves to personalize their phone, the Edge offers you the ability to make the phone your own. You can sign your name, or write a message to yourself and have it display on the edge whenever you wake up your screen. Is this feature a must have? Not for me, but I am sure many people would love it.
The Note 4 Edge is more expensive than the Note 4 by 100-150 dollars depending on who you buy it from as it is offered by a multitude of vendors. The Note 4 price, off contract, ranges from $700-800 dollars whereas the Note 4 Edge comes in between $900-950 dollars. It is easy to make the argument that both phones are already expensive, and people in this market may not see the difference in price to be significant, whereas people who are in the Moto G market (less than $200 off contract) would not consider buying either Galaxy Note phone. Do I think it is worth the extra cost? Yes. Absolutely. But that is because I actually use the edge screen and do not think it is a gimmick, and did not buy the phone just to show off to other people that I am different although I can see many people buying it for that reason.
I prefer that my main apps stay on the side of the screen, allowing for more viewable screen space, in addition to viewing the amount of steps I take, notifications, music controls, and ambient clock. Once more apps become available designed specifically for the Edge, I believe there will be a larger adoption of curved screens. The value of a secondary screen is something new to almost all of us, and naturally when we have been using flat phones for the past decade, and using them with success, most people will naturally think,”I don’t need that curved screen.” I bet most of you who say this probably said at one point in your life,”I don’t need a smartphone.” Or “I don’t need a larger screen.” I will go out on a limb and say that I think we will get another iteration from Samsung on the Note Edge next year, and within a couple years others will follow the success of Samsung. The curved screen is here to stay.
If you want a curved screen and see a use for it, or if you want something just to be different from every other smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Edge is the phone to get.