Apple is days away from announcing its new iPhones, and we’re expecting larger-screen models. Samsung is trying to get ahead of this announcement with two new giant handsets. Meet the 5.6-inch Galaxy Note Edge and the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4.
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Galaxy Note Edge
The Galaxy Note Edge is a first-of-its-kind smartphone with a display that wraps around the phone’s right side. The screen looks as though it’s cascading off the phone’s edge, hence its name.
The curved part of the Note Edge’s display is independent of the main screen, but it’s also a fully functional touchscreen. In fact, Samsung has moved the traditional apps shortcuts found on the bottom of its phones’ home screens — such as the dialer, your contacts, Web browser, camera, and others — to the Edge’s side screen.
As a result, you get more room to view your screen, as the lower portion of the display is no longer obscured by app icons. What’s more, you don’t have to back out of an app and go to the phone’s home screen to get to your favorite apps. Despite the Edge’s large size, I found it rather easy to navigate the side screen with one hand.
The Edge’s side screen works with a variety of different apps, too. So you swipe through to see things like Twitter updates, the number of steps you’ve taken in a day, the latest sports scores through Yahoo Sports, news updates through the Yahoo News app, and a host of other notifications. (Yahoo produces this site, Yahoo Tech).
Unfortunately, the Note Edge’s side display takes up the space Samsung traditionally reserves for its phones’ power buttons, which have been repositioned to the top of the handset. It takes a stretch to reach them now.
Beyond its side screen, the Note Edge features a QHD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 × 1440 pixels. That means it’s bright and detailed, and far better than the 1920 × 1080 resolution screens found on most smartphones. Text, photos, and videos you view with the Edge look incredibly sharp.
There’s one catch, though. Apps, TV shows, and movies are made to be shown at 1080p. The Edge actually has more pixels than a giant HD TV. So if you watch Game of Thrones on the Note Edge, you won’t see any major difference in image quality versus a standard smartphone with a 1080p screen like theGalaxy S5.
In order for you to see any difference in image quality, app developers and TV and movie studios will have to start producing their content for higher-resolution screens.
Like the other members of Samsung’s Galaxy Note family, the Note Edge gets Samsung’s S Pen stylus. Using the pen, you can do things such as capture images off the screen and edit them on the fly, take handwritten notes, and more.
Samsung says it improved the S Pen’s pressure sensitivity, making it more responsive when taking handwritten notes.
One of the best parts of the Note Edge, though, is its enhanced multitasking. Instead of being able to open only two apps onscreen at once, you can now open several and resize and reposition them as you like. At one point, I had as many as four Chrome browser windows open at the same time.
It’s not all that practical, but it’s definitely fun.
Galaxy Note 4
The Galaxy Note Edge might have stolen the show at Samsung’s press event, but the Note 4 gave it a run for its money. The follow-up to the Korean tech giant’s hugely successful (and just plain huge) Galaxy Note 3, the Note 4 features an improved design and a sharper 5.7-inch display.
Like the Galaxy Alpha that Samsung unveiled in August, the Galaxy Note 4 features a metal frame design, a big step up from the all-plastic Note 3. The Note 4 also gets a revamped soft touch rear panel that feels far better than the Note 3’s faux leather.
Together, the Note 4’s metal frame and new back panel combine to give the “phablet” (or phone/tablet, as such in-between-sized devices are sometimes called) a more premium design than its predecessor.
The Note 4 also gets an improved 16-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and an 8x digital zoom. Optical image stabilisation keeps a phone’s camera from shaking when you hold it while taking pictures or shooting videos.
A Samsung representative showed me an example of OIS’s capabilities by filming with both the Note 4 and Note 3 at the same time, and while the Note 3’s video bounced around, the Note 4’s was solid and unmoving.
Selfie fans should also be excited to know that the Note 4 includes an improved front-facing camera that can capture more subjects in the frame. Samsung says the camera also offers 60 percent better low-light performance.
And to make taking selfies easier, you can now move your finger over the Note 4’s heart-rate monitor below its rear camera to take pictures.
If you want to take really detailed selfies, you can use the higher-resolution rear camera’s touchless capture mode, which lets you line your face up with the lens and takes a photo of you and your friends automatically.
Both handsets look like they could be some of Samsung’s best smartphones to date, and if you’re looking for phones with huge screens, these could be the ones to check out. Stay tuned for our full reviews.