Summary

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Samsung Galaxy Edge First Impressions

Never one to shy away from the different and the quirky, Samsung has taken its brand new Galaxy Note 4 and bent the screen a little to form the Samsung Galaxy Edge. A concept the company has been discussing for years, this edge-incorporating screened phone is now heading for a consumer release.

It features the same bevy of high-end components as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of RAM, S-Pen stylus – while mixing things up with a screen that continues around the right-hand side of the handset.

We’ve had an early play out at IFA 2014 to see if the Edge is anything more than a high-specced novelty.

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Samsung Galaxy Edge Design and Screen

As impressive as the Galaxy Edge is under the hood, this phone is all about one thing – its curved edged screen.

First up, visuals. The Edge runs a 5.6-inch QHD, Super AMOLED panel which is extremely easy on the eye. This display offers a stunning detailed 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution and an image density greater than 500 pixels-per-inch. In this regard it is a rival to the LG G3.

Using the device, colours are vibrant, images are super sharp and pixelisation is - if it wasn't already - a thing of the past. Text is crisp, viewing angles are strong and the phone’s contrast ratio is stunning. It is hard to pick any fault in the quality of the Edge’s screen after early use.

That’s the front of it though, around the side, things are a little different. Quality and detail is not the issue as the curved screen is formed from a single panel. It’s more the need for the edge which we are struggling with.

Samsung Galaxy Edge

As well as using the edge to host shortcuts to your favourite apps – freeing up space on the home screen – you can customise what appears there. From fitness tracking data and music player shortcuts to settings menus and tools, all can be displayed on the side of the phone.

While this helps with convenience in some situations, we can’t see the long-term, everyday benefits just yet. For instance, swiping the Edge’s ‘edge’ to see the time is no quicker than simply hitting the wake button. In fact, given the intermittent registering of swipes we suffered during our early play, it is slower and more annoying.

There are undoubted benefits, however. One use of the Edge we liked was in the video player. Instead of video controls popping up to block the content, they instead feature in the side panel. Sadly, given that developers are unlikely to offer widespread support for a single device, we can’t see too many of these features being introduced in other apps.

Samsung Galaxy Edge

Despite are scepticisms over the Edge’s long-term benefits, swiping the side of the phone quickly felt like a natural extension of the traditional smartphone experience.

Design wise, the Galaxy Edge is a success. Sleek and svelte, the 8.5mm thick handset looks futuristic in a mature, sophisticated fashion.

More refined and elegant than the Samsung Galaxy Round and the LG G Flex of last year, the Samsung Galaxy Edge simply looks like a premium product. It echoes the finish of the new Note 4, but substitutes the metal framing for a plastic finish which allows for the curved screen.

With the edge display responding to screen orientation, the extra chunk on the side sees the phone adopt an unusual 16:10 aspect ratio.

Samsung Galaxy Edge

Samsung Galaxy Edge Features and Software

Party-piece aside, the Galaxy Edge is a hugely impressive smartphone in its own right. Running Android 4.4 and Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, it is easy to navigate.

With a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor running the show alongside 3GB of RAM, the Galaxy Edge has all the grunt it will ever need. This mass of processing power is ideal for the phone’s impressive multitasking abilities, too.

With split screen mode and pop-up apps able to sit over other content, the Edge is a high-performance tool for both business and pleasure. During our time with the device, the Edge comfortably tackled everything we could throw its way.

Like the Note 4, the Samsung Galaxy Edge features an S-Pen stylus and all the accompanying note taking and annotation-based additions. With the S-Pen having doubled its sensitivity – now at 2048dps – we found the stylus to be highly responsive and detailed. With slight nuances coming in to play between holding the pen flat and at an angle, it is one of the closest attempts at digitally mimicking the use of traditional pen and paper we have seen.

Samsung Galaxy Edge

Further features include the same fingerprint reader and heart rate sensor as found on the Samsung Galaxy S5. Unfortunately we were unable to test these during our hands-on with the device. Our full Samsung Galaxy Edge review – coming in the near future – will full address these additions.

With a 3220mAh battery offering a day’s use on a single use – and with quick charge capabilities taking you to 50 per cent power in just 30 minutes – the Edge has satisfactory but far from exemplary staying power.

On the camera front, a 16-megapixel OIS enabled primary camera is joined by a 3.7-megapixel snapper on the front.

From first use, we have been impressed with the detail and depth of shots from the Edge’s lead camera in difficult, artificially lighting. Due to the limited options in the test room, however, we must reserve judgement on the phone’s camera capabilities until we have conducted further testing.

Samsung Galaxy Edge

First Impressions

While we are impressed with the engineering, after first use we are still struggling to see the long-term end-user benefits of the Samsung Galaxy Edge. This is a phone more focussed on headlines than handset sales, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t clamouring for another play.

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