The idea of a curved screen isn’t particularly new: Sony, LG and Samsung have all unveiled curved OLED televisions at past CES events, but it appears the trend hasn’t quite caught with the general market. So will shrinking the technology down to a phablet-sized device finally excite the market?
That’s exactly what the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge hopes to do by adding a gentle curve that wraps around the right side of a Note smartphone. The extra strip of screen real estate, also known as the Edge Panel, lets you customize tickers for notifications, such as weather and time updates, sports scores, or tweets.
To start, all you have to do is swipe left and right to scroll through the ticker options. You can also use the Edge Panel as a shortcut to frequently used apps, like camera, voice recording, timer, email, contacts or Web browser.
By acting as a side panel, the curved strip also acts as a contextual tool bar for different apps on the Note. For example, when the camera app is active, the curved screen turns into a settings bar, while the S Note app opens up editing tools. This allows for more real estate dedicated to the app itself without menu items getting in the way (or having to tap to reveal those tools).
You also have the option of turning on the night mode, which leaves only the curved portion of the screen on when the phone is asleep. The idea is that users can double the Note Edge as a ‘smart’ alarm clock of sorts to display time, notifications and alarms on their nightstand.
There is one small gripe I had with the Note Edge, however. As a left hander, I am used to holding smartphones on my right hand to keep my left hand free. This creates a slight awkwardness with the curved edge sticking into my palm.
There is definitely less grip on the device, but the advantage you gain here is the ability to use your thumb to swipe across the Edge Panel to scroll through widgets. It will likely present less of an issue for those with larger hands who can hold on to the Note Edge’s 5.6-inch screen more firmly.
Samsung has always promised innovation, and we think it does so elegantly with the introduction of the Note Edge. The curve screen here doesn’t seem gimmicky; the Edge Panel serves a purposeful integration into the device and offers a subtle user experience that isn’t entirely novelty. There’s value here, though we’re still unsure if the addition makes the Note Edge a must-have as oppose to just… cool and different.
With an SDK for developers to develop more functionalities for the Edge Panel, we’re looking forward to how others will help Samsung innovate the curved display.
Pricing and availability is not currently announced, but we’ll update as soon as we hear more.
Check out our hands-on of the other devices Samsung announced today:
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4 hands-on: More of the same, but that might not be a bad thing
- Samsung Gear VR hands-on: The secret lies in a really big smartphone
Published September 3, 2014 — 14:57 UTC