The OLED technology lends itself to flexible screens, which is a lucky coincidence - or part of the master plan - for Samsung since Super AMOLED is its calling card. The screen spans 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, in other words QHD with a 160px strip on the side, the Edge screen.
As we already said, it's a single screen unit, not two joined together even if the software treats them like that sometimes. A curved Gorilla Glass 3 is placed on top for protection. It has chamfered edges, which makes its sides pleasantly smooth, but the metal rim of the phablet is a sharp edge you feel with your fingers as you swipe from the side.
The exact pixel density number is a bit unclear, but the Galaxy Note Edge screen is as sharp as the Note 4 screen in practice. The Super AMOLED is arranged in a diamond-pattern PenTile matrix, but at this pixel density it makes no difference.
The process of bending the screen did have an effect on some of its qualities, but it still has bright colors, stunning contrast and great viewing angles. The viewing angles are important in a unique way - normally you view the screen dead on, but the curved Edge screen covers a good 60° worth of viewing angles in a very small area, so any imperfections will be painfully visible.
That said, the Gorilla Glass does reflect light, which can make the curved section difficult to see in certain lighting conditions.
The screen isn't very bright, slightly darker than the already relatively dim Galaxy Note 4 screen. That's a common disadvantage of OLEDs, but we've seen much brighter ones and they compete with bright LCDs just alright.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
While the Edge screen presents some issues with reflectivity, the main section of the screen keeps them to a minimum and the Galaxy Note Edge has one of the most legible screens on the market.
Colors are punchy as usual, which may not be to everyone's taste so Samsung has included the usual setting menu where you get a choice of several saturation/white balance presets.
Like every Note, the Galaxy Note Edge features an S Pen. For this generation, Samsung redesigned the stylus a bit - it's now slimmer (to fit into the thinner phablets), but grooved for improved grip. The S Pen has a similar handling to previous editions, especially if you hold it at its wider side.
Changes under the hood include a new digitizer, which doubles the pressure sensitivity to 2048 levels. This makes handwriting feel more natural. The notes you jot down can be synced to Evernote to view on other devices.
The Galaxy Note Edge will unlock and activate the Air command menu when you pull out the S Pen, which really cuts down the time between grabbing the device and using it. The phablet will remind you if you walk away without putting the stylus back in, so you don't forget it on a table somewhere.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is armed to the teeth in connectivity terms. The mandatory 2G/3G/4G LTE is present with Cat. 6 downlinks thanks to Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 805 chipset. This gives you download speeds of up to 300Mbps, with 50Mbps worth of uploads. If you missed it in the hardware section, the phablet uses microSIM cards.
In terms of local connectivity, there's dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, so you can make the best of your home's Internet connection. DLNA is supported in the multimedia apps for sharing content across compatible devices.
Speaking of sharing, the Galaxy Note Edge makes it easy to share the Wi-Fi hotspot info with nearby devices (detected with Bluetooth) using the Quick Connect feature. This saves you the trouble of typing in the Wi-Fi password.
Bluetooth has been bumped up to version 4.1. There aren't any easily noticeable changes since 4.0 but, among the more important ones, Low Energy mode is now supported for connecting to smart watches and some sport sensors. ANT+ is available for such sensors too, so the Galaxy Note Edge will happily talk to whatever sports sensor you have.
NFC is on board for quick pairing and sharing and there's an IR blaster for controlling electronics at home. Samsung's default app mostly handles your AV setup, but third party apps can be used for a wider range of devices.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge features a microUSB 2.0 port. It's slower at transferring data than the USB 3.0 port used in a few Samsung devices, but it has a standard size plug and it offers Quick Charge 2.0 and MHL 3.0. With the right adapter, you get 2160p@30fps output so you can watch videos you shot with the Edge in their full resolution. Up to 7.1 surround sound can be output, if the video player supports it (and the pre-installed one does not).
Finally, there's GPS, GLONASS and Beidou receivers. GPS alone is enough on its own but GLONASS provides extra precision, especially in dense urban settings. Beidou is currently available only over China and neighboring regions, but China is an important market for Samsung so it's a nice thing to have on board.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge has a 3,000mAh Li-Ion battery (11.55Wh). That's about 7% smaller than the 3,220mAh (12.40Wh) battery of the Galaxy Note 4.
It supports Quick Charge 2.0, which promises to fill up half the battery in half an hour with a 2A current. Note that the speed depends on the starting charge - it works best on a nearly empty battery and slows down as the charge percentage climbs up. Which is fine, as this feature is intended for quick top ups on the go.
A bigger problem with the battery life seems to be the rest of the hardware and the software - it's not as finely tuned as that of the Galaxy Note 4, because the differences in battery life are quite major. Turning the screen on has a definite effect, but things like the bespoke video player made an even bigger difference - video playback time is nearly 7 hours shorter. For comparison, the web browser is not customized for the Galaxy Note Edge and takes a much smaller hit.
Update, November, 17: We reset the phone and reran the tests because the standby results were suspicious. This time around the Galaxy Note Edge used noticeably less power just sitting around, which improved its endurance rating - it's still behind the Galaxy Note 4, but the improvement is tangible.
Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.