Living with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, week 2: Can you handle it?
This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
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
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
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
- Wait, am I upside-down?
- Accidental touches
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
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
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).
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
My personal choice? I'd go with the Edge.
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!