Living with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, week 2: Can you handle it?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Living with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, week 2: Can you handle it?

Hello and welcome to our second week's entry into the "Living with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge". In case you've missed the first article in the series – we are basically taking the Galaxy Note Edge on a 4-week journey as a daily driver, taking a look at everything, from its evident specs, form, and function, to the smallest intricacies and quirks that pop out and shape up to make or break a handset experience.

Last week was more of an introduction to the device in general, as I was acquainting myself with its most obvious or often used functions. This week – let's dive deeper into a couple of specific topics. We noticed that the device's peculiar shape still creates a lot of questions about its handling, so in this article – I will go in-depth about the curved Edge screen – from how it looks, to how it feels, handles, and every TouchWiz function associated with it, together with how useful it actually is.

Week 2: A double-edged sword


As previously mentioned, the Edge Screen does add beauty and “wow” factor to the Galaxy Note Edge, together with some multi-tasking functionality (more on that later), but does add an inconvenience in handling. Compared to the Galaxy Note 4, the Edge is slightly shorter, and slightly wider, and with a “missing” right bezel – a lot of people still wonder how it would handle. So, let's start from there.

Handling the Edge


Let me start by saying that I generally hold the Galaxy Note Edge – or any Note (any phablet, really) device – with my left hand. I suppose it's an intuitive thing – a right-handed person is expected to operate the S Pen, or the large screen for that matter, with their right hand – so that gets the question of “Which way is the Edge Screen supposed to face?” out of the way. Fear not if you are a leftie, or just prefer to hold the phone with the Edge Screen towards your palm – either position creates drawbacks and benefits of its own. And, if you are dead-set on wanting the Edge Screen to face left – Samsung has released a software update, which allows the user to turn the Note Edge every which way they desire – yes, upside-down, too (check here for more information on how that works). I've spent some time operating the device in any position, so let's check them out.

  • Edge Screen opposite palm
    Gripping the Note Edge is not hard or unstable, but doesn't feel as good in the hand as a fully-framed handset

    Gripping the Note Edge is not hard or unstable, but doesn't feel as good in the hand as a fully-framed handset

When I hold the Note Edge in the left hand, one side pressed against the palm, with fingers wrapped around the right bezel, the lack of a metal frame is evident – the device's right edge jabs softly against the fingers and, while the grip doesn't feel loose – it's not as comfortable as with a fully framed device, and one sometime misses holding just a "regular" Note 4 in their hands.

The Note Edge may be only slightly wider than its sibling (by 0.15”), but the difference is definitely felt, as trying to reach the furthest parts of the display is often accompanied with changing your grip on the
People with larger hands will be able to touch the Edge Screen with their thumb after some hand gymnastics and risk of dropping

People with larger hands will be able to touch the Edge Screen with their thumb after some hand gymnastics and risk of dropping

handset and stretching the thumb out, especially when trying to reach the Edge Screen. Yes, there is One-Handed mode available, though, I can't say I feel safer when using it – first, the gesture to activate it requires the user to quickly swipe in and out of the display with their thumb, which leads to some shaky handling during the process; secondly – even in One-Handed mode, you're still holding a device, a tad too wide for comfort. If I am to compare the Note 4 experience to this – the latter is a taller device, yes – and it involves just as much shimmying the handset around your palm, when operating with one hand; but, when it One-Handed mode, it adds a smidgen better handling, due to the narrower body and flat frame on both ends of it.

Of course, if one buys a phablet, they do it knowing full well that single-handed operation is not what these devices are meant for. Still, let's check out how the device handles when the Edge Screen is up against the palm.

  • Edge Screen in palm
    Living with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, week 2: Can you handle it?
Holding the Note Edge in the right hand gives the user a very direct access to the curved secondary display. However, since the thumb can only bend so much, this specific scenario allows us to circle through Edge panels with ease, but not operate their entire length. I'd also say it feels a bit more uncomfortable, as it doesn't leave a feel for a solid grip inside the palm, and it increases the chances for accidental taps.

  • Wait, am I upside-down?
    Living with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, week 2: Can you handle it?
The amount of user inquiries and complaints about the Edge Screen being on the “wrong side” of the device prompted Samsung to release an OTA patch, which allows the user to turn the handset around, and have the screen flip to accommodate the new position. A drawer, holding software navigational buttons, appears in the bottom of the screen, and while not exactly a very rational way to hold your phone – it may offer just what some people need. In my experience – holding the phone upside-down just felt way too weird and disctracting, and accessing the software keys at the bottom was a chore, as it required me to first “pull” the drawer out, before touching the desired button. Not to mention that to receive or make calls, the user, naturally, still has to flip the phone around, so that adds a bit more confusion, and detraction from user experience.

  • Accidental touches
I've got to say – by the end of week two, I've already accepted the fact that handling the Galaxy Note Edge in ways like changing hands, or picking it up from a flat surface, will more often than not result in an accidental screen tap, so the best way to deal with it is to just grab the device in the most secure way you can, and then close any app that might have opened in the process. Samsung did add a touch-ignore function of sorts to the Edge screen – if you keep your finger on the same spot for 0.5 seconds, the screen ignores the input. So it's really best to just plant your grasp in one spot and move the phone to wherever you wished, trusting that the touch-ignore will do its job.

On the software side of things


Now that we've got handling out of the way, let's take a deep, detailed look of all the little things that TouchWiz does with the Edge Screen, in order to make it worth our trouble.

First of all, do know that the Edge panel is only visible, the way you see it in pictures, when the phone is on a home screen. Launching an app, or even going inside the apps drawer, causes the panel to hide from view – this gives us some more real estate to work with and prevents accidental operation. Should the user desire to use a panel – they need to “pull” it in by swiping right-to-left.

  • Edge Panels and Tools
As touched upon last week – there aren't that many Edge panels available for download yet, much less ones that were actually of any significant use, but after some careful vetting, I ended up with a combination of “Favorite Apps”, “Task Manager”, “S Planner”, “Data Meter”. In this combination, the Edge Screen provides quick access to most often used apps, quick, alt-tab-like multi-tasking, easy view of the user's daily agenda, and much needed info about how our monthly Data usage is going.

Additionally, the Edge has an ever-present drop-down menu, which houses some nifty tools – a ruler, which turns the handset's curved bezel into a... well – ruler; a timer, stopwatch, and torch controls, and an S Voice shortcut, which allows the user to quickly record whatever audio they need to. All of these panels launch on the Edge Screen only, leaving the main screen free for whatever you were doing. Pretty nifty, and while I found myself rarely in need of these functions, it's reassuring to know that they are at a swipe's distance, and don't need their own shortcut somewhere on the home screens.

  • Notifications and calls
As far as notifications go, the Edge Screen pretty much doubles with the top-side Notifications tray – you get a logo of the respective app, along with as much of the actual message's text as can fit on the display strip. Yes, a bit anticlimactic, though, the Edge notifications do display a bit more text, if that makes it sound any better.

This can be a little distracting when in a full-screen app – as mentioned above, the Edge detracts itself when you are operating the phone, providing some extra room on the side of the screen – so, when a notification pops up, you suddenly feel as if the screen gets cramped. This could certainly become a problem if someone spams you on a messaging app, for example, though, thankfully, the most popular ones are “smart” in that aspect, as they only show you a notification once, even if an overly zealous chatter is punching out 47 lines per minute. As far as accidentally touching a notification that just popped up on the Edge – I can say that this doesn't happen, though, to be perfectly honest – I often find myself waiting for one to disappear, or reaching to close it, before proceeding with whatever I was doing (thankfully, Samsung added a little X, which appears at the bottom of the Edge panel with each notification, allowing the user to quickly dispatch it).

The way TouchWiz handles calls is here to make amends – when you are operating any app on the phone, and it happens to ring – the caller info, together with the accept / reject buttons appear on the Edge, rather than minimizing your app. Whenever you are in-call, tapping an icon, which appears in the top-right of the screen, will send the call status to the Edge panel, freeing up the main screen for whatever you need to do (take a note, for example).

  • Clocks
And finally, the curved screen has two ways to work as a clock, having it glow even if the main screen is off. The first way to achieve this is by turning the Edge panel on autonomously – without waking up the main screen. To do this, the user has to swipe their finger up and down the Edge – just once per direction is enough – however, it takes a while (sometimes – quite a while) for the screen to go on, and the user is often left wondering, whether the command registered.

Alternatively, the Edge has a Night Clock setting, which, when on, leaves the panel constantly on, albeit at the lowest brightness, with a digital clock, displayed in white numbers on black background. A pretty cool function, which can, unfortunately, only be set to be active a maximum of 12 hours per day – Samsung meant it as a night clock only, after all, and didn't give the user to decide whether they want to have it on permanently, which is just a bit disappointing. To be fair, at minimum brightness, the clock is pretty hard to spot during daylight, so let's say the lack of user choice here is not the biggest of crime on Samsung's part.

Last words on the Edge Screen


Living with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, week 2: Can you handle it?
So, what's the final judgement on the Edge Screen and its functionality? Well, the secondary screen offers quick-access to multitasking, frees up some space, and looks undeniably cool, while the phone's wider display (than the Note 4) allows the user to fit a couple more characters per a line of text. Does that make it worth the extra price? Well, if you are looking to get your money's worth in the form of functionality – the answer is "no" – the Note Edge doesn't offer $120 (the usual difference between Note 4's and Note Edge's retail prices) worth of pure productive function. However, if you factor in the "cool" and "fresh" – not even to impress others with the handset, but for your own, personal user enjoyment of holding something different – you will find it hard to convince yourself to buy the "cheaper" Note 4.

My personal choice? I'd go with the Edge.

Next week


Now that everything about the Edge Screen has been said, next week, we'll take a look at the handset's Note-esque features – TouchWiz, the Display, and the S Pen. Tune in to see how the Note Edge fares as a regular daily driver, and whether / how much the S Pen's features in the Note 4 / Note Edge enhance user experience!

Related phones

Galaxy Note Edge
  • Display 5.6" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 3.7 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, Quad-core, 2700 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(18h 3G talk time)

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21 Comments

1. wando77

Posts: 1166; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

When are people going to realise that two handed use is fine and becoming more and more normal? I have used two hands since the original galaxy s as it is a far more natural way to use larger screen touch phones. Deal with it

2. nemo66

Posts: 5; Member since: Dec 04, 2014

Don´t deal with it. For what reason should we, wando77? As long as there are alternatives i don´t see why. Simply as that.

3. hunted

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 21, 2011

Is articles like these are just fan made for Samsung? These should be done for other phones as well.

4. DONUT

Posts: 436; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

6. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

What other phone has an edge like this? The only reason the Edge is getting this week by week write up is because it is the first and only phone with a curved edge (Dont quote me on that because i could be wrong. You never can tell what phone will creep out of some obscure chinease company.) Its in its own unique class.

7. Neros

Posts: 1016; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

Other phones aren't worthy and innovative enough. Sorry, bro.

18. Niva.

Posts: 440; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

There was quite a bit of critique here to consider this "fan fiction." If anything, this article has made me realize the edge is a gimmick and that I really don't want a phone like that. Though I admit it looks cool.

5. inyourdreams

Posts: 11; Member since: Dec 16, 2014

This article is BS. Firstly, the left handed use of the edge has been there ever since the phone was released. The guy is trying too much to hate on the Note edge. If you don't like the note edge fair enough but don't make up lies. Watch the real review by Flossy Carter, Pocketnow, MobileTechReview who are open minded. I've owned this phone since day one and i'm loving it. I can't see myself using another phone.

9. paul.k

Posts: 287; Member since: Jul 17, 2014

The 180 degree flip came with the XXU1ANK4 update, which may come pre-installed on a lot of units now, but was not present on some models that were sold before the October OTA update. I present to you a forum post from the depths of the Internets as proof:http://crowdsupport.telstra.com.au/t5/Device-Updates/Galaxy-Note-Edge-OTA-update/td-p/399989 Quote: "Hi I just found out that the unlocked Australian versions from **bleep** smith are getting an OTA update to the Galaxy Note Edge to get the option to rotate the edge and main screen 180 degrees or flip the screen option." On the other points - I am sorry you feel this way. I am actually quite fond of the Note Edge.

11. inyourdreams

Posts: 11; Member since: Dec 16, 2014

You're not fooling anyone. We all know the Note edge you're using isn't an Australian one. You had no reason to include that statement there. Also you can't accidentally launch an app from the edge no matter how hard you try to. There's so much BS in your article its very sad. How do you expect us to trust your next reviews when you make up lies like that.

16. jckncoke

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 09, 2015

agreed! I've had my Edge since the first day it was available to AT&T and the flip has always been there. Also the review keeps bringing up accidental launches and anyone that's had it for 2 weeks or more should know that it's very hard to do. It also makes it sound like it happens a lot and just to live with it. What he should have pointed out is what the Edge does to prevent accidental launches. 1. If you're on the main screen and actively clicking on it, it prevents the Edge from activating. Go try it; activate the Edge screen then tap the main screen, the Edge goes back to the "Express Me" panel. 2. it only works with a small single touch, like a single finger or thumb. Putting 2 fingers together, using your palm, or using multiple fingers to try and activate the Edge won't happen. Go ahead, try that too. I'm not going to say accidental launches don't happen because it's happen 2x since I've owned mine (over 2 months) but like any phone, accidental launches happen even on my old phones. I mean I've picked up my old iphone 3, 3s, 4, galaxy s3, s4 and HTC One before and have accidentally launched an app that had a shortcut on the screen more than I have accidentally launched an app on my edge.

17. jckncoke

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 09, 2015

Additionally, since you're actively using your main screen and the Edge panel goes to the "Expree Me" Panel, in order to launch an app off the Edge, you have to activate it then select the app you want to launch. My Edge screen is on the "Express Me" panel 90+% of the time since I'm working on my main screen. If I put my phone down and then pick it up, my Edge screen is on the Express Me panel. There's no way that I'd accidentally launch an app until I activate my Edge screen and scroll to a panel that has icons for apps.

8. Apartments

Posts: 17; Member since: Jun 21, 2012

Well said wando77 and inyourdreams...another Samsung hater

10. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

Why don't you all do this more often? I loved the After The Buss-ish/Living with [smartphone] series from a while ago.

12. DnB925Art

Posts: 1167; Member since: May 23, 2013

I think if the Note Edge had dual speakers ala HTC BoomSound and no hardware button, then with the update to rotate in any direction would have made the phone perfect for either left or right hand use. Otherwise it is still really cool looking, although I did choose the Note 4 for myself since I am going to be buying the Samsung VR fairly soon.

13. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

My friend who has this phone says it seems to run slower than his prior Note 3. Not all the time but it definitely lags more often.

14. ManusImperceptus

Posts: 724; Member since: Jun 10, 2014

Most people hold their phablets with their left hand? Most people hold (and operate) their phablet with their right hand, and only switch when two-handed use is absolutely necessary; that is, about 10 % of the time spent with the device in hand.

15. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I think it depends on how big is your phablet. I have the Sony Xperia Z Ultra with 6.44 inch screen so pretty much everything is a two handed operation. My thumb can just reach far enough to move the slider to answer a call one handed. I do hold it in my left hand most of the time except when I am on a call then it is usually right hand.

19. boriqua2000

Posts: 242; Member since: Mar 11, 2009

If you have the sprint version the screen will randomly dim when the lighting in your surroundings change. I have the auto brightness off and all my settings configured so it wouldn't do that but it still does. I took it to sprint and to the Samsung store so they can check it. At the beginning they said that that shouldn't happen and did a factory reset. After that didn't work and they couldn't fix it they told me that that was a "feature" of the phone to save battery and it couldn't be turned off. Yeah right. They just didn't want to aacknowledge the faulty screen.

20. boriqua2000

Posts: 242; Member since: Mar 11, 2009

Just put your brightness high and cover the sensors at the top of the phone and watch the screen dim. It shouldn't do that. Im using the sprint version

21. johnbftl

Posts: 283; Member since: Jun 09, 2012

I just got mine Thursday night since Verizon finally released it. I don't care what anyone says, I love this phone. I don't find the edge screen an issue at all when unlocking. I've learned some cool customizations already and I think it's highly innovative, not just a gimmick.

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