Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Review

User Experience and Software

While the Galaxy Note Edge doesn’t yet have Android 5.0, it’ll almost certainly come in time. For now, it’s equipped with the latest version of KitKat (v4.4.4), along with a few customizations from Samsung. The list of specifications (2.7GHz quad-core CPU, 3GB of RAM, and an Adreno 420 GPU for starters) ensures that the overall user experience is superb.

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As you would expect a $950 smartphone (off contract) to do, it handles pane transitions, app launches, demanding games, and multitasking with aplomb. There’s really little more to say than that: everything that you’d expect to happen quickly, happens quickly. Instantly, actually. If you’re looking for system lag, you won’t find any here.

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Being that it’s a Note, the typical Note tricks are here too. There’s a fingerprint scanner on the home button, S Pen for writing, and there’s support for S Voice (voice activated phone control), S Health (with a built-in heart rate monitor), Multi Window (for operating two apps at once), and plenty more. But these are all elements already seen on the Note 4, and given the similar underpinnings, it’s safe to say that you’ll get the same quick, enjoyable experience here.

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What’s dramatically different is the software tweak that enables the implementation of the 160 pixels on the right edge. Samsung calls it a Revolving UI, and it’s ability to morph is really impressive. While the stock UI offers up shortcuts to a variety of commonly used apps, it’s capable of far more. You can easily toggle Settings, cue up a ruler, activate the camera’s LED as a flashlight, or activate the camera. There’s a weather widget, and a nifty night clock mode that displays the time in a soft tone. For those who lay their phones flat on a nearby nightstand, the view of the curved portion of the display works out perfectly.

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Perhaps the most beautiful use of the curved display is its ability to show notifications. You’re able to operate the phone as usual, while still keeping an eye on notifications there on the side. It takes a short while to get used to looking in an atypical spot for missed notifications, but once you’re accustomed to it, it’s an appreciated touch.

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There’s an app store devoted to the Edge’s side screen, but as of now it’s fairly light. There’s a quaint burger stacking game for those with time to kill, but there’s the opportunity for developers to think of more creative uses as well. One has to wonder, however, how popular the Edge's additional screen will be. To make software development worthwhile, you need a wide audience. The Note Edge is only on a single carrier in the U.S., and it’s one of the most expensive phones on the market globally. Put that together, and you get a pretty small user base — the kind of user base that doesn’t really lend itself to development. That said, it’ll be interesting to see if Samsung itself crafts more useful ways to take advantage of the side screen.

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