Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: first look


Let's say you're not a techie, but you've heard that a new Note phablet is coming up. You're excited, and expect it to be great -- just like all previous models were, for their own time. But then Samsung comes up and announces not one, but two Note models -- the Note 4 and Note Edge -- the second of which looks like something taken out of a Sci-Fi flick. You're bewildered by just looking at this thing -- it's got a screen that slopes to the side after all! What's even more surprising is that the techie next to you is equally as surprised, despite the occasional rumors of something like this brewing up, and despite knowing that Samsung has been working on advanced display solutions for a while.

Indeed, us too were surprised to see Samsung execs whip out the Note Edge during the company's presentation at IFA 2014. What was even more surprising was to hear that this isn't going to be some niche, limited-edition gadget -- all four major US carriers have already made it clear that they will be picking up the Edge alongside the Note 4. In other words, the millions of people that will flock to carriers' local brick and mortars will have a tough decision to make: Do I choose the Note 4 or the Note Edge? A tough question, but let's see if we can be of any help.

Design


The two new Note models are obviously cut from the same cloth that is Samsung's refreshed design language for the premium line. Indeed, the two devices are very much alike to each other and share a near identical basic shape when looked from the front -- a rectangle with slightly curved edges to ensure the devices are pleasant to hold. Their backs are the same, too, and both are made out of soft-touch plastic imitation of leather. So are they the same thing? Not really.

Perhaps the biggest differentiator between the two is the highlight feature of the Edge -- its screen that encompasses the near entirety of the front of the device, but also its right side. Beyond that, the two also differ in terms of their dimensions and weight -- the Note 4 measures in at 6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches (153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm) and weighs 6.21 oz. (176 g.), making it slightly taller, but narrower, and even a tiny bit chubbier and heavier. In comparison, the Note Edge's sides and profile come in at 5.96 x 3.24 x 0.33 inches (151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3 mm), and it weighs 6.14 oz. (174 g.).

There are two key-takeaways from the above when talking about the handling experience and overall ergonomics. One, the Note 4 is definitely easier to handle, as it isn't as wide, and two -- the addition of an auxiliary screen on the side of the Note Edge makes it kind of hard to grip, not to mention that occasionally clicking on active elements on it is not so easy to avoid. We can only theorize for now, but we're willing to bet that the Note Edge will also handle accidental drops far worse.

Display


When looking at the massive displays on the two devices, an analogy comes to mind. Dial back a few years, and tell people that, in the future, people will be buying phones with screens over 5.5-inches in droves, and you'll be tagged crazy. But Samsung didn't care, and essentially pioneered the phablet category with the first Note. Looking at the two Quad HD resolution (1440 x 2560) Super AMOLED displays on the Note 4 and Note Edge, we can't help but feel like the company is trying to pull off the same thing again, betting that after a period of inertia, consumers will eventually come around and consider QHD the new standard for flagships.

While we don't necessarily disagree that the above is inevitable, we're having a hard time justifying the jump in pixel count for three main reasons. For starters, spotting the difference in clarity on even a phablet display is, in our experience, a fool's errand -- unless you're planning on using the device an inch from your face. What's more, such an insane amount of pixel density affects the level of performance you can expect from any one processor as it has to work harder, and thus, in the process, also drain more battery.

Anyway, it is what it is. The Note 4 and Note Edge are here to stay, and both of them boast the extra high resolution. So where do they differ? Well, first off, there's a difference in screen size, at least if you consider the main panels -- the Note 4 has a diagonal of 5.7-inches, while the Note Edge's measures in at 5.6-inches. That said, the extra screen real estate on the right side of the Edge (which we guesstimate to be about an inch) actually levels the playing field, and perhaps even gives the Note Edge... well, an edge in terms of total screen real estate.

Speaking of the extra screen on the Edge, Samsung has come up with a number of applications for it. For example, it can house your favorite apps, show you stock and news updates, serve as a ruler, or even display a custom message. Those all sound handy, but it's really too early to tell if this will end up as a gimmick or not.

Interface


When it comes to Samsung's custom TouchWiz interface, we usually have something to say, and most of it isn't flattery. That said, we're happy to see the Note series finally make the transition towards the company's latest version of the layout, which is flatter than before, and far more colorful, especially when compared with the aged looks of the UI loaded on their predecessor, the Note 3.

Of course, as you would expect, the Android 4.4.4 KitKat-based interfaces on the Note 4 and Note Edge are as feature-rich as ever, and though we wish Samsung invests some more resources into making it better-organized, we can't argue against the fact that this is the most functional custom skin that you can get out of the box from a major manufacturer. 

The version of TouchWiz loaded onto the Note 4 shouldn't be confused with the one available with the Note Edge however, as while very similar, it is its own thing. The homescreens, for example, are kind of different, as Samsung has optimized the Edge's software for use with the side screen. Quite frankly, we tend to like the looks of the Note Edge's UI better, though we obviously need to explore it further.

Processor and memory


Depending on the market, the Note 4 and Note Edge will come in two flavors -- one powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 805 chip, while the other will make use of the company's home-grown Exynos 5433 silicon.

Looking at the quad-core Snapdragon 805 first, we're talking about a quad-core chipset with four Krait 450 cores ticking at 2.5GHz, along with an Adreno 420 GPU that is not only faster than the Adreno 330 found on the Snapdragon 801, but also has support for hardware tessellation among other goodies. This will allow game developers, for example, to provide you with "console-grade" graphics, as Qualcomm puts it. What's more, the chip is built with ultra high-resolution screens and content in mind, so that ties in nicely with the QHD screen available on both devices.

As for the Exynos model, things are a little less clear, as the 5433 hasn't actually been officially announced just yet. From what we know, the octa-core chip will utilize two clusters of four cores arranged in a big.LITTLE configuration -- one with efficient ARM Cortex-A7, and another with powerful ARM Cortex-A15 ones. Depending on the task at hand, the silicon will cycle between the two clusters, but can, if needed, switch on all eight cores at once for maximum performance. As for the GPU, we're looking at a Mali-T760.

In terms of individual performance, we were happy with what little we saw out of the Note 4 and Note Edge, and there was no apparent lag during navigation. That said, we should point out that our preliminary benchmarks indicate the Note 4 is the better performer of the two, especially when it comes to handling graphics. Whether that has something to do with the novel screen on the Note Edge, or we're simply talking about non-final software on the demo unit, we cannot know for sure at this point.

Camera


The one way in which the Note 4 and Note Edge are exactly the same is the imaging hardware packed into both. We're looking at a 16-megapixel, 1/2.6'' sensor (supposedly by Sony) with f/2.0 lens and what Samsung is calling Smart OIS. 

From what we're told, the above moniker simply refers to the availability of an optical image stabilizing gizmo, which apparently works in concert with DIS (Digital Image Stabilization) software. The reason for this is that, according to Samsung, all the compensation calculations can slow down the speed at which images and video are rendered and saved. In any case, the solution should provide you with less shake during video capture, and also allow the unit to go for longer exposure times when shooting in low light environments. If Samsung is to be trusted, that last part will give you night shots that are up to 40% brighter than without Smart OIS.

Perhaps the only difference between the two devices in this category is the way the camera app's UI is arranged. For example, while the Note 4 has a standard layout, the Note Edge has its controls up on the auxiliary screen on the side. This is actually handy when shooting landscape mode, as your fingers naturally look for support there.

Expectations


In conclusion, it simply is wrong to treat the Note 4 and Note Edge as the same thing. Yes, they're very similar, but also oh so different! Obviously, this is mostly on account of the novel screen on the Edge, but its physical footprint is also different, and so is the software (and, for now, performance). This will give quite a lot of folks some serious food for thought, should carriers really launch the Edge alongside the Note 4 come October.

Of course, if there is one factor that can usually swing a comparison in either direction, that would be price. Unfortunately, Samsung was mum on this front, so all we can say with any amount of certainty is that the Note 4 will likely take up the $299 on contract slot, just like its predecessors did. Talking about the Note Edge, however, obviously involves guessing, though it's probably sensible to expect that it will cost extra -- screens like that don't come for free, and Samsung likely has budget holes to plug in its R&D department already. In other words, depending on the price difference between the two, this can go either way.

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)
Galaxy Note 4
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 3.7 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3220 mAh(20h 3G talk time)

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29 Comments

1. smarttechbadworld

Posts: 74; Member since: May 07, 2014

The gold version is sexy

6. smarttechbadworld

Posts: 74; Member since: May 07, 2014

Golden*

9. Vexify

Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

People like you make me want downvotes back.

12. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Care to explain?

20. Ashoaib

Posts: 3276; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

he cannot bcoz he bash samsung out of a habit instead out of a reason

21. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

phones dont look good, they alright, but not good looking, so now if he wants the phone he have to think about getting a case instead of rocking it naked like he use to

13. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2277; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Some users actually love getting downvoted. I'm against the feature.

14. Vexify

Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

They need to have it where it auto deletes the comment after a certain amount of down votes, just like a lot of subReddits. Miss it.

18. gregoryyy3 unregistered

no correction needed there

2. JMartin22

Posts: 2369; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

Unless they really thought the application of uses of the Note Edge and what type of demographic they could aim it towards, then I honestly think this is going to take a permanent backseat to traditional phones like the Note 4, anyway.

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 30964; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You shoulda put an "out" in there. Your post didn't make sense.

23. JMartin22

Posts: 2369; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

Anything you say is a cacophony of self-indulging stupidity. Go put your "stamp of approval" on another iOS product, will you? I'm sure that counts for, you know, something..?

3. rockers123

Posts: 137; Member since: Sep 08, 2013

Edge for me

4. anleoflippy

Posts: 596; Member since: Jan 03, 2013

In my opinion, the Note Edge has an 'Edge' in this one. . . . . . . . I'll leave now.

5. buraq

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 06, 2014

the loudspeaker should have placed same as they done in note3

8. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

I agree... I also feel that this loud speaker needs to be better than the note 3. For a big phone the note 3 lacked in the loud speaker department imo. It was very tinny sounding. Well one of these two will be mine, which one will it be? Who knows

7. Sprissy

Posts: 193; Member since: Feb 11, 2012

The Edge is an awesome looking phone but doesn't have sapphire glass so what kind of case is actually going to protect the Edge, seems to me it would just cover it up rendering it useless unless taken out of the case.

11. GoBears

Posts: 456; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

The Edge will definitely be mine. Wait until all the devs get cracking at it. That extra display will be completely awesome. I could see my sports scores ticking across it now while I'm at work. Can't wait.

15. steodoreben

Posts: 379; Member since: Sep 26, 2013

Great concept, but ugly design. Why is the edge screen faces left, rather than outward? I'm a leftie but I find it difficult with that inward orientation. Can it be rotated? Still, I commend Samsung for creating flexible/bendable YUOM display technology like what's in GALAXY Note Edge.

16. gadgeteer

Posts: 45; Member since: Sep 06, 2014

Now, this is innovation ! Are you watching Apple ? ;)

17. supermario

Posts: 5; Member since: Sep 06, 2014

This articles misses out another key difference - battery. Note 4's is 3220, while Note Edge's is 3000, 220 less than the Note 4's. A smaller battery combined with a larger display overall (the main display + the "edge" display) probably leads to worse battery life. Also, right now the edge doesn't seem to give that much of an advantage. I like how its handles camera controls, S Pen controls in SNote and the clock feature when the main screen is off, but the rest are kind of pointless in my opinion.

25. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

The edge display will only get better and better over time, though, as more apps support it.

19. chaosnightmare

Posts: 182; Member since: May 20, 2010

acording tho thishttp://www.androidcentral.com/samsung-galaxy-note-edge-hands Edge uses plastic frame instead of metal, can anyone confirm? also as far as i know only standard Note 4 is gear VR compatible

24. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Most articles have said plastic, so it is probably plastic.

22. alizee

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 08, 2014

nice :)

26. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

27. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Why couldn't Samsung place the speaker on the bottom, and have another one at the top, similar to their Tab S series' speakers? Sure it may be side firing, but at least its stereo, and not at the back. Anyways, both phones are really sexy. Edge especially.

28. ClickaPhone

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 14, 2014

I have the Note 2 and love it, I wouldn't say no to a Note 4, yes please.

29. swaguire

Posts: 21; Member since: Apr 26, 2014

The only thing holding me back from getting any Android device is Imessage, even though you all might think it is not important I use it so much and would rather use imessage than text,and Imessage has so many more features so if Android came out with something like Imessage I would definitely get an Android phone.

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