Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Review

Design and Build Quality

Samsung has made great strides in terms of build quality with their high-end devices. The company has been making large-screened phones for years now, and it has had a lot of time to listen to feedback, learn, and refine their designs. While the Note Edge takes one huge risk in the implementation of a curved display, the rest of the build mimics that of the impressive Note 4. The phone weighs a few grams less than the Nexus 6, and is just about the perfect size to hold without feeling like you’re wielding a tablet. The Note Edge just feels good in the hand. The dimensions are right, the textures are right, and everything is quite buttoned-up.

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Let’s start with the most exciting part: the front. There’s a 5.6” Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display, and by all accounts, it’s the most vivid and crisp display we’ve seen on a Samsung device. Sitting beside the iPhone 6 Plus, the Note Edge holds its own. As is customary with Super AMOLED panels, everything is a bit oversaturated, but generally things look great. Still, it’s not overblown to the point that it detracts from the on-screen imagery, and everything we looked at on the display (including the home screen) was a real treat to the eyes.

With such a high pixel density, you won’t be able to make out individual pixels on the Note Edge's screen with the naked eye. What you will notice, however, are the 160 extra pixels along the right edge. Those are what make the Note Edge special, as it acts as a vertical scroll bar for all sorts of items. We’ll touch on the usability aspects of this on the next page, but suffice it to say, it looks great. The viewing angles are such that even though it curves down, you never have to strain or reposition the handset to see the icons there.

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Above the panel sits a 3.7MP front-facing camera, which speaks volumes about how important selfies have become. This is nearly twice the resolution of many other front-facing camera on the market today. Beneath the screen is the conventional home button, which had a very solid feel to it. Underneath there’s a microUSB 2.0 port (with MHL support for high-def output to larger displays) and a slot for Samsung’s S Pen (this is a variant of the Galaxy Note, after all).

Along the right edge is… well, a screen. We certainly haven’t been able to ever say that before about the right edge of a phone, but indeed, the panel curves all the way down until it uniformly meets what will become the edge of the phone’s backside.

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Over on the left edge sits a volume rocker near the top, while the top lip is home to a 3.5mm audio jack and the power button. The phone’s rear is coated with a faux leather backing that has become the norm on Galaxy Note handsets, dotted at the top by a potent 16MP camera, a LED flash, and an AT&T logo. We’re big fans of the tactile coating. It’s tough, it’s classy, and most importantly, it’s grippy. When you’re handling a phone this large, you need that grip to ensure that it doesn’t slip from your hand. (This was one of our biggest gripes with the iPhone 6 Plus, which is slick as glass on the rear.)

That rear cover also pops off, revealing a user-replaceable 3,000mAh battery, a nano-SIM slot, and a microSD storage expansion slot.

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The phone is as rigid as they come, with even weight distribution and an all-around beautiful look. The charcoal black finish is right at home here. In some ways, the Note Edge seems like a businessperson’s hero device. It reminds us of the impression that was once made when walking into a room with the latest BlackBerry. We say that partly in jest, but the Note Edge really does exude quality. It’s ambitious design probably lends itself to that, and regrettably, so too does its lofty price tag.

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It’s tough to find any faults in the design, but there’s one quirk worth pointing out. The curved display is on the right edge. For lefties, or those who prefer to handle their phones primarily in their left palm, this is a problem. The phone’s size makes it practically impossible for southpaws to reach their thumb over the curved edge in order to swipe up or down. To use it, you’ll need to cradle the phone with two hands and touch the curved edge with your right thumb. Globally, there are more righties than lefties, but keep that in mind if you’re in the minority here. It’s technically possible to flip the phone upside-down, placing the curved edge on the left, but at that point your home button is awkwardly at the top — it’s not a great solution in practice. Given that this is already a unique phone serving a small sector of the buying populace, we wouldn’t hold our breath for a Note Edge that places the curve on the opposite side.

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