Samsung is in a pretty complicated situation right now. While the firm is still making money with its products, it has also lost quite a bit of market share over the past few months. She therefore decided to innovate last year by launching a phablet equipped with a flexible screen: the Galaxy Note Edge . A totally atypical device, which has been with me for two weeks now and… which really appealed to me.
I'm not going to lie to you, the press conference held by Samsung on the occasion of the IFA 2014 did not particularly convince me of the interest of the Note Edge. For me, it was mostly a technical demonstration.
But to get a real idea of a product, you have to take it in hand, you have to use it, you have to handle it. And I'm not ashamed to say it, these few days spent in the company of the device pleasantly surprised me.
Before explaining to you what makes the Galaxy Note Edge so interesting, it is best to start by listing its technical characteristics so that you have them in mind.
If you already know them, nothing prevents you from moving on.
- 5.6 inch Super AMOLED display. 16 million colors.
- Definition in QHD +: 2560 x 1440 (+160).
- Quad-Core processor clocked at 2.7 GHz.
- 3 GB of RAM.
- 32 GB of storage + micro SD (128 GB maximum).
- 16 million pixel sensor.
- Captures 4K (3840 x 2160) video at 30 frames per second.
- Front camera of 3.7 million pixels.
- WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac MiMo, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, ANT +, 4G.
- Micro USB 2.0 port, S Pen stylus.
- Fingerprint reader, heart rate monitor.
- 3000 mAh battery.
- Dimensions: 151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3 mm.
- Weight: 174 grams.
- Price: 849 €.
In short, you will understand, the phablet is positioned on the high end, and it is entitled to a technical sheet capable of competing with all the “superphones” of the moment.
However, all is not perfect. Samsung has effectively made the choice to go back to USB 2.0 and it's a shame for all those who spend their time transferring data between their computer and their cell phone. On the other hand, the good side of the thing is that the terminal battery will recharge faster.
But the thing that is ultimately missing is DLNA. Casually, it's practical.
Packaging, Design & Ergonomics
The Note Edge comes in an elegant and stripped-down box , without any visible visuals. The box is effectively content to recall the name of the device, and part of its technical sheet.
Inside and outside the terminal itself, we will find a lot of pretty things and more precisely:
- The Quick Start Guide.
- A battery.
- The sync cable.
- The charger.
- Headphones, with several tips.
The routine, in short. Note that I found a second battery in the box of the copy that was lent to me by Samsung, which made me smile a little.
The Note Edge is imposing, but it is also very light thanks to its plastic shell. Do not expect to use it with one hand, however. At the same time, when you buy a phablet, you know what you are exposed to.
Unsurprisingly, the terminal amazes by its screen, and more precisely by the fact that it continues its course on the right edge of the device. It must be admitted, at the beginning, it is a little unsettling. Especially aesthetically, in fact, since the terminal seems to be unbalanced.
This particularity prompted the manufacturer to make some adjustments to the ergonomics of his phone. The two buttons dedicated to the volume control are thus found on the left edge of the device. They will therefore fall under the thumb. Yes, well, you will still have to go get them since they are placed high enough.
The power button is found on the upper edge, next to the headphone jack. It will therefore be necessary to use both hands to hope to reach it. Not very practical, especially since Samsung has not thought of integrating a function to wake up the phone by tapping on its screen.
Otherwise, the sensitive buttons are still there, and they frame the traditional physical button specific to the brand. A button that conceals the fingerprint reader. The micro USB 2.0 port is placed on the lower edge, not far from the slot for the S-Pen.
Samsung has covered the back of the device with a plastic texture imitating leather. I don't really like it but this coating will at least have the merit of preventing slips. The photo module stands out a few millimeters from the hull , and it comes with both a flash and a heart rate monitor inherited from the Note 4 and S5.
The back cover of the Galaxy Note Edge is removable and it will have to be removed to access the battery (also removable) and the various ports of the device. Good point on this side, it will not be necessary to remove the battery from its slot to change the micro SD card. And that is really very practical.
The Galaxy Note Edge is not a product like the others, it is a fact, but it is precisely what makes all its interest.
Screen, Power & Autonomy
The screen of the Galaxy Note Edge looks huge and we must admit that it is very impressive. Especially with its incredible definition. If you happen to watch videos in high definition from time to time, then for sure, you will have plenty of fun.
For the colors, it all depends on your tastes. Super AMOLED technology has its followers, of course, but it has always left me a little bit hungry. It sometimes lacks naturalness, with colors that are too saturated.
I much prefer the rendering of the Xperia Z3's screen and the Note Edge didn't change my mind on this point.
However, we must admit that the viewing angles are really very good. No need to be in front of the camera to watch your film or series in the best possible conditions. In full sun, the situation is quite mixed. The reflections tend to affect its readability and that's a shame.
As usual, I ran several benchmarking solutions on the Note Edge to determine its raw computing power. Here are the results obtained by the terminal:
- BenchmarkPi: 158.
- Quadrant: 42,542.
- An3DBench: 7,957.
- Geekbench 3: 1,106 / 3,189.
- AnTuTu: 48,797 .
These scores are given for information only, and only so that you can compare them to your own terminal.
Afterwards, in terms of feelings, there is nothing in particular to say. The Note Edge is able to run any game without any difficulty. It is also very comfortable with movies in high definition but this is not much of a surprise considering its processor.
Power isn't everything, however, and some of you may be wondering what the terminal is worth in terms of autonomy. Again, I was pleasantly surprised since it can easily last a day and a half without forcing too much, and having activated 4G. I think that by being more careful, we should be able to reach the two days without too much difficulty.
Also note that the super power saver introduced with the Galaxy S5 is present. It is also very effective and it will allow you to last more than a week with a single charge … provided you limit yourself to the strict minimum. Finally, it's a way of speaking because you can still enjoy Twitter, Facebook or even Whatsapp.
Photo, Video & Sound
If sales of digital compacts are not doing well, it is not completely by chance since they have been replaced by our smartphones. It must be said that the latter have a definite advantage over the latter: we always have them on us.
For its phablet, Samsung therefore opted for a 16 million pixel sensor crowned with stabilized optics . The terminal is also equipped with an ultra fast autofocus and it can even capture videos in 4K.
On paper, it has everything to be great, but what about the facts?
He does it with all the honors on the photo part but everything will obviously depend on the light atmosphere. In broad daylight or with strong artificial light, it will be able to deliver very good quality shots, with a sharpness to make expert compacts green with envy. Nothing to say either on the restitution of the colors.
As often, everything changes when the light goes down. It does better than the Note 3, of course, but it doesn't have to be too demanding either. Good point, however, its flash is quite soft and it will not distort the shots too much.
The video literally blew me away, however. Especially in Full HD elsewhere. The stabilizer actually works miracles and it will be perfectly possible to shoot handheld without fear of the worst. It will be necessary to deal with some tremors, of course, but it's still very correct given what the competition offers.
The only downside concerns the focus of the camera, finally. There, the Note Edge is clearly below an LG G3 ( tested here ). Note, this is not surprising since the latter can rely on its laser autofocus. Also pay attention to the aliasing on the video part.
As is often the case with Samsung, the application provided is extremely comprehensive. If the mood takes you, you can play with the exposure value, with the sensitivity, with the white balance or even with the metering modes. You are free to activate HDR, grid or even voice control. Behind, it will also be necessary to rely on several editing tools to retouch your images after having saved them.
Fun fact, the application exploits the particularity of the Galaxy Note Edge rather well since the virtual buttons are placed on the edge of the device.
But what about the sound then? I'm not going to lie to you, the results are quite mixed on that side. The handset speakerphone does its job well, that's for sure, and so does the headphone output. No, the one that poses the problem is the second speaker and therefore the one placed at the back of the device.
It is sorely lacking in power and this is all the more problematic as we often tend to cover it with the palm of the hand when playing a game or watching a video.
Functions of the overlay
I will not teach you anything by telling you that Touchwiz is far from being unanimous. In fact, the Samsung overlay has even often been singled out by users, and also (a little) by blogs and the trade press.
Fortunately, the manufacturer has made great efforts in this area and I was pleasantly surprised by the functions of the Galaxy Note Edge.
The side panel
Samsung was one of the first manufacturers to launch a flexible display. The Galaxy Round had also caused much ink to flow in its time, however struggling to seduce the general public.
The South Korean giant has however put the cover back with the Note Edge, going a little further. This time, it effectively left on a screen continuing its course on part of the side border of the device. Fun fact, this side panel works as a freestanding screen and that's precisely what makes it so charming.
The first thing that we notice is that he knows how to be discreet. It is indeed able to retract when inactive. Which is rather handy when relaxing in front of videos, or even a (good) movie.
I was obviously very afraid to activate this screen unexpectedly while holding the device in my hand. Samsung has planned the blow, however, and the touch layer is automatically disabled when the panel is inactive. It is then necessary to perform a horizontal sweep with one finger (and only one) to get it out of its torpor, and to display the different bands.
Different headbands? Yes, because the side panel can also be personalized. By default, it will display shortcuts pointing to our favorite applications (fully customizable) but it will also be possible to add additional banners. There are about ten in all. One will show notifications, another will show content from Yahoo! News, yet another S Note specific buttons, yet another S Health specific buttons, and so on.
The shortcuts panel can accept icons, or folders. Casually, it's very practical on a daily basis since it frees up space on the home screens… and therefore for widgets.
Samsung has also implemented a dual navigation system. By swiping vertically from top to bottom, another bar can appear, this time grouping together several tools specific to the platform (stopwatch, ruler, lamp, dictaphone, etc.). Very practical, again.
The opposite gesture will return us to the previous banner. By insisting, we can also display a button giving direct access to the parameters of the side panel. They will allow us to do a lot of different things: add banners, remove them, customize the appearance of the panel when it is inactive or… activate the mode intended for left-handers.
No need, however, to slash the champagne since the latter will simply activate the automatic rotation of the elements located on the touch screen of the device. When this is done, all you have to do is turn the Note Edge over to use it like a left-handed person.
Not terrible, but not the biggest flaw in the side panel. What's really a shame, at least from my point of view, is that the latter is not (yet?) Supported by third-party apps. And that's a real shame because it wouldn't take much to make it formidable.
I think the most telling example is Chrome. I would have liked to be able to scroll through the content of a site by stroking the side border of the device with my fingertips.
It's frustrating, especially since the applications developed by Samsung take full advantage of this feature. I mentioned the utility in charge of the camera a little earlier, but the same goes for S Note , which brings up function shortcuts on the side panel.
It doesn't look like much but it's really very practical since it frees up space for the document, and therefore for the workspace.
Either way, one thing is for sure: the Galaxy Note Edge's side panel is far from a mere flirtation and it can really come in handy on a daily basis.
The stylus has always been one of the strengths of the Galaxy Note range. That of the Edge is obviously no exception to the rule, but it looks like two drops of water to that of the Note 3. Samsung has, however, thought to cover it with an anti-slip texture in order to improve the grip. A particularly judicious initiative, if you want my opinion.
What about its functions?
Air Command is still there, of course, and that little wheel will appear onscreen as soon as we remove the stylus from its housing. It will give us our hands on no less than four shortcuts leading to the memo tool, the smart selection, the image clip function and the capture tool.
Smart selection and image clip function are very close to each other. They will allow us to select an element on the screen to put it aside and then integrate it into an email or even a document. Best of all, if the selected element contains text, then these two tools will be perfectly able to extract it.
Not bad, but it's really with S Note that the stylus reveals its full potential. It is indeed very precise, and very pleasant to use. It doesn't matter if you have to take notes during a meeting or do a sketch / drawing, it will give you complete satisfaction.
This function is not new, but it is nonetheless useful since it will allow you to make several applications coexist on the same screen.
How? 'Or' What ? In reality, you have two solutions.
The first is to go through multitasking and click on the icon on the tile of the application of your choice, on the right. There, the Note Edge will automatically display it on the upper part of the screen and you will only have to select another application in the lower part to open it.
Fantastic, but be careful not to rejoice too quickly because this display mode is (unfortunately) not compatible with all tools.
The second method is not very complicated either. Just bring up a compatible app and then slide your finger from the top left corner to inside the screen. The tool will then appear in a flyout window that you can resize as you wish.
In both cases, it will be possible to display a small toolbar by pressing a gray ball acting as a button. There, we can reduce the associated window or even open it in full screen. If you often juggle the same programs, you should like it.
The super energy saver
It made its appearance with the Galaxy S5 and it is not in the lace since it will allow you to easily last a week with a single charge. Crazy, right? Yes, but be careful not to get confused because it will not give you access to all the functions of your phone.
To begin with, it will ignore the colors and the entire interface will then switch to fifty shades of gray (sorry), with a definition far from QHD, necessarily. Then, well it will only give you access to six applications : phone, messages, web browser and… three other user-defined applications.
All the tools available on the Play Store are not supported, but you can perfectly choose from Twitter, Facebook or Whatsapp if you feel like it. Contrary to what the competition offers, the Note Edge's power saver is therefore not going to cut you off from the world and that's rather good news in the end.
Like all of its competitors, Samsung has made a habit of delivering its phones with dozens and dozens of different apps. There is something for everyone, of course. From media management to calendar via web browser and email client.
The offer is quite solid. These tools have a neat interface, with colors allowing the different “universes” to be clearly distinguished. Green for the agenda, blue for the media, green for fitness, a certain homogeneity emerges from the whole. The functions are not left out either, but not all tools are necessarily out of the ordinary.
My biggest crush is without a doubt S Note . It is very well designed and it is really pleasant to use. Especially with the stylus. After that, we must not lose sight of the fact that the application is only available on the brand's terminals. You will not be able to enjoy it on your computer, and this greatly reduces its value.
I really liked S Health too, especially with the heart rate monitor built into the Note Edge. If you have any concerns on this side, this is typically the kind of tool that might come in handy.
I've been forcing myself to use S Voice these past few days too, without much motivation. It's a bit silly to say but I find it too mechanical, too… artificial. Well, at the same time, there is nothing very natural about a virtual assistant, necessarily. However, Siri and Cortana are at least able to understand natural language. Casually, it changes a lot of things.
And after ?
I realize that I am nearing the end of this article, and that I have not yet mentioned the fingerprint reader. Shame on me! On this side, no surprise, Samsung has taken exactly the same drive as that of the S5 and that also means that it is very … perfectible.
Let's be clear, it is not at all practical to use. You only need to tilt your finger – or your thumb – slightly to one side for it to be unable to identify you. Fortunately, it is quite possible to correct the situation by cheating a little.
Touchwiz is not as psychorigid as one might think and thus allows the user to register three different fingerprints . Nice, isn't it? Of course, and if you want to improve the system, the best thing to do is to register three times… the same fingerprint. Yes, but from a slightly different angle, of course.
This is what I did with my thumb and I must admit that the experience has paid off.
I also had the opportunity to test – finally – the Download Booster introduced with the S5. If you do not put it back on, be aware that this mode relies on the terminal's WiFi and 4G to accelerate the speed of downloading files. Yes, and it works really well. Almost too much besides because your data plan is likely to take a small blow behind the head.
I'm probably forgetting a lot of things, but I think this overview should help you see it a little more clearly.
There you have it, this test is coming to an end. It's sad, but between the article and the videos that illustrate it, you should have plenty to do.
Anyway, one thing is certain: this Galaxy Note Edge really surprised me. It might not be perfect, but at least it has the merit of thinking outside the box and it feels so good to be faced with a phone that is unlike any other.
Would I buy it? I admit that it is not easy to answer this question. The design of the device still left me on my hunger. However, if I needed to change my phone and if I had the budget, I think I would wait at least a fortnight before I make up my mind, if only to see what the Galaxy S6 offers. and the Galaxy S6 Edge. P
Because, if half of the rumors that have been circulating since the beginning of the year are true, this one could hurt a lot too.