The Samsung Galaxy Note series got upgraded in a major way this IFA expo with not one, but two new devices: the Note 4 that everyone expected, and the surprise in the form of the Galaxy Note Edge, a smartphone with a screen that wraps around one of its sides. We are certain that the latter has piqued your interest, that's why we are pitting it against one of the current flagships, Sony's Xperia Z2.
Galaxy Note Edge vs Xperia Z2 - first look
There is no arguing that Samsung did a fine job with the Note Edge's design, keeping the chassis fair for the screen size, while at the same time preserving the signature removable back cover that gives you access for a battery swap, or a storage expansion. The Note Edge, however, stands out mostly with its curved screen, sloping around one of the edges. This unique design comes with three main advantages: first, you can save battery life by just looking at your missed notification on the edge of the display, without firing the whole screen; second, you can easily see your social network and other app updates quicker and straight away; and lastly, you have additional level of control over your device with new buttons and other customizable features. The Xperia Z2, on the other hand, offers a premium all-glass chassis with a metal frame, which looks and feels luxurious, aided by the metal frame. It's a unibody design with a sealed battery, and the phone is more manageable in the hand than the Edge. Samsung's flexible screen phablet, however, can brag with the abilities brought around by the S Pen stylus, whose precision drawing on the QHD display is a sight to behold.
The Galaxy Note Edge is also a true phablet, just like the Note 4: it's got a 5.6-inch display with a Quad HD (1440 x 2560) pixel resolution, and an additional 160 pixels for the edge. This gives you a larger canvass to work on, and wield the S Pen stylus, but adds to the Note Edge's dimensions in a significant way, compared to the 5.2" 1080p screen on the Z2. Samsung is getting the oversaturation of its gaudy AMOLED display colors in check recently, and the Edge isn't an exception, offering several screen modes to choose from, similar to the S5. The Z2 display can also exhibit popping colors, but only while watching media, thanks to the X-Reality engine. Both screens have very good viewing angles, but Samsung's phone has an edge (pun intended), when it comes to viewing from the side.
The TouchWiz editions on the Edge sports the modern flat look at places, while looking totally different in others - inconsistency we already wrote about numerous times. Still, Samsung's Android overlay remains one of the most functional and feature-rich interfaces out there, with a smorgasbord of options that put even battle-hardened Samsung users to the point of confusion at times. There are, of course, a few new wallpapers that are consistent with the QHD realities of the Note Edge's screen, and the S Pen apps paraphernalia, as well as the unique interface elements brought along on the edge display. Sony's Xperia UI has never been very complex, like, say, HTC's Sense, or Samsung's TouchWiz, providing fewer unneeded options, and keeping the balance between stock Android looks, and a branded UI imagery.
Processor and memory
The Note Edge wins this round hands down, as it sports the newest commercially available Snapdragon 805 processor, clocked at 2.5 GHz, while the Z2 makes do with the previous-gen 801. The 805 brings a bunch of 4K-related optimizations, namely fluid encoding, decoding and streaming of the high-res imagery. It's not that the Z2 feels underpowered, but the Quad HD display, and the mighty 16 MP camera with OIS of the Note Edge are better served by Snapdragon 805. Both handsets sport 3 GB of RAM, and expandable storage.
The Edge shares the same rear camera resolution - 16 MP - with the Galaxy S5. If that's indeed the same module, it might on the whole saturate the colors a bit, exhibiting some lively visuals. It produces sharp, well-defined photos with plenty of detail, and has the S5 rank consistently at the top in our camera comparisons, even during nights. The Note Edge and Note 4, however, take this torch, and pass it further, adding optical image stabilization tech. The OIS kit, along with the more powerful image processor allows it to use slower shutter speeds and soak more light in without blurring the scene, as well as apply effects, and switch between stills and 4K video in a jiffy. The Z2 has a 20.7MP sensor with a single LED flash, which typically produces great outdoor photos with plenty of detail, but in low-light scenarios hasn't been up with the best in our camera comparisons. Only a proper shootout will demonstrate which one will prevail.
Samsung's Note Edge is a unique handset that fuses all the futureproof specs of the Note 4, and raises them a futuristic wrapped flexible screen that is hard to go unnoticed. Sony's Xperia Z2, however, also sports great specs, and is more manageable in the hand, plus it has the longest battery life in our tests from all other spring flagships, and will most certainly outlast the Note Edge, too. It's hard to pass on the uniqueness of Samsung's handset, however, in this day and age of cookie cutter approach to handset building, so unless you are willing to save a few Benjamins, the Note Edge deserves your long, hard stare.