There was never any doubt that Samsung would pull back the curtain on the Galaxy Note 4 today. But the company had a little something extra up its sleeve as well: a Galaxy Note variant with a wrap-around display. Meet the Galaxy Note Edge.
If you want the short version, the Galaxy Note Edge is basically a Galaxy Note 4 with the right side of its screen sloping around the edge of the phone.
... but that isn't entirely the case. First, the Note Edge has a smaller screen: 5.6 inches, next to the Note 4's 5.7-incher. It's also a smidge lighter, with a bit less capacity in its battery.
But that's splitting hairs, as the big differentiator – and the reason to buy the Edge – is that wrap-around display. As you see in our hands-on images, this isn't a right angle, running onto the side of the phone, per se. Instead, the right side of the phone bleeds off into a slope – and the screen follows.
Why on earth would you want this? Well, Samsung's answer is widgets. The company has a series of them made for that narrow strip sloping off of the screen, and there is also an SDK for developers to do their thing.
How does it work? Well, your content lives on the main (flat) part of the display, as it usually would. But a quick swipe on the curved part can bring up things like app shortcuts, recent notifications or things like news and Twitter feeds. The idea is that this bonus strip gives you access to quick info – without interrupting your primary content area.
One area where this seemed particularly useful was the camera app. The flat area of the display shows a live view of what you're shooting (as with any smartphone camera). But the shutter and other buttons live on the curved part. This is likely to be the common theme of all Galaxy Edge apps: the flat area is the main attraction, while the edge is for secondary info.
The big question is whether this is a feature that anyone needs, or if it's just Samsung trying to justify a fancy new piece of technology. I'd imagine there's at least some of the latter there, but it's impossible for us to really answer that based on our short time in the hands-on area. The curved-edge display does, however, strike me as a nice bonus. If pricing were the same, I'd snag this ahead of the Note 4 – at least right now.
Speaking of pricing, there's no word yet on that, but we do know that the Note Edge is set to launch later this (Northern) Fall – apparently following the Note 4's October release.
For more on the Note Edge, you can hit up our hands-on with its fraternal twin, the Galaxy Note 4. And stay tuned for much more on these devices as we move towards their respective launches.