Samsung Galaxy Note Edge vs LG G3: first look
Unlike phones with advanced display solutions, like the Samsung Galaxy Round and the LG G Flex, the newly-released Note Edge is on its way to not one, but all four major carriers in the States - AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. With that in mind, it's probably safe to say that the Note Edge won't be the niche, hard-to-get device like the aforementioned duo above, and will actively compete for your hard-earned cash.
One of the biggest obstacles on its path to the hearts of consumers is neighborhood rival LG's very solid G3. Obviously, the Note Edge has a hand over it in terms of specs as the G3 is now maturing, but we asked ourselves a question: Does that make this a clear-cut choice? Let's find out.
Right off the bat, we're faced with a pickle. Admittedly, the new Note design language is more refined and attractive than ever before in our eyes, but the LG G3 has also won itself a special place within our hearts. Put next to each other, we're starting to see where they differ, though.
For one, the LG G3's basic shape is far more aggressively rounded, while the Note Edge is just slightly rounded to avoid sharp corners. This alone will play a major part in deciding for some. Where the Edge objectively comes ahead is the use of materials -- Samsung has finally listened, and while the device is not made out of a singular piece of metal, it does sport a metal frame. In comparison, LG has only used polycarbonate with the G3, but what polycarbonate it is! Indeed, the metallic finish with the rear of the LG flagship is one of our favorite parts about the phone, and while a closer inspection does reveal that it is just an imitation, it does feel very good in the hand. Speaking of imitations, the Note Edge has one that mimics leather, and we generally like the updated pattern (from the Note 3) sans the stitches.
In terms of ergonomics, we definitely like the G3 better -- its back is curved so it fits your palm very well. In comparison, holding the Note Edge is uncomfortable, as the edge screen on the right leaves very little free space for your hand, and we've already unintentionally clicked stuff that shows up there on several occasions. We won't rush this, though, and admit that we'll need more time with the Note Edge before we're sure if it's truly a weird device to hold, or if there's simply a knack.
When we talk ergonomics, however, we obviously have to mention the dimensions of the two devices, too. The LG G3's smaller screen means a smaller footprint, and its body measures in at 5.76 x 2.94 x 0.35 inches (146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm) and weighs 5.26 oz (149 g). As for the Edge, its dimensions read 6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches (153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm) and its weight comes in at 6.21 oz (176 g). Score LG.
LG outed the G3 as the world's first globally-available smartphone with a super-crisp, Quad HD resolution (1440 x 2560 pixels). The 5.5-inch (534 pixels per inch) IPS panel on board is, obviously, extremely sharp, even to the point that we can't really tell the difference from a conventional, 1080 x 1920 screen.
As it turns out, Samsung wasn't planning on missing out on this latest advancement, and outed the Note Edge with its own 5.6-inch Quad HD AMOLED Display (524 ppi). As for the screen on the side, it's got 160 pixels, though its size remains a mystery (our guess is 1 inch).
This extra screen is actually the main selling point of the Note Edge, so it's worth explaining what its purpose is. Simply put, the edge screen is sort of an addendum to the main one, and serves you extra information, like the weather and time, or sports scores. It can also house a list of your favorite apps, double-up as a ruler, or be used for controlling main settings in the camera app. Best of all, the screen isn't cut-off from the main panel, and we only refer to it as a separate entity so that the message is clear. In reality, however, the screen is monolithic -- it just slopes downwards at the edge, where the side bezel would usually be.
Moving on, we can't fail to mention the new, improved S-Pen that comes with the Note Edge. Samsung bragged that the screen on the Edge is even more sensitive to the stylus than before, and, true enough, input lag has been reduced. The company has also tweaked the amount of surface pressure you need to exert when writing with the S-Pen so that it feels more alike to doing the same thing with real pen and paper.
Obviously, the G3 has no counter for the Edge's screen, nor the S-Pen, so it has to concede this one. If, however, you're one of the (apparently many) people that don't really care for stylus input, this category might not be as clear cut, at least if the Note Edge's extra screen turns out to be of little use in the long run. Right now, we can't really tell if it is or not.
For the longest time, both LG and Samsung have had two of the most aesthetically-displeasing custom skins -- Optimus UI and TouchWiz. And while they're still not up for an award, the two layouts have been updated and are now more attractive than ever. Unfortunately, interface lag isn't gone, though the Note Edge is holding up better due to its newer processor.
As most techies would know, the Android 4.4 KitKat-based UIs of the two devices are, without a doubt, the two most feature-rich solutions on the market right now. Sure, Samsung's TouchWiz still is the undisputed king, but if anyone can challenge its title, that would be LG. Now that that's been established, let's talk specifics
By far one of the coolest features with the G3 is the ability to wake and put the device to sleep by just tapping twice on the screen. In comparison, with the Edge you have to reach for the power button on top. Also cool is Dual Window, which allows you to run two apps side-by-side, though Samsung has had that feature for a while -- it just calls it MultiWindow, and it is now available right through the Recents key. Other standout features of the Note Edge include its fingerprint sensor, which can be used to securely pay through PayPal, and its built-in heart rate monitor. Unfortunately, that last one is rather useless.
Processor and memory
When LG launched the G3, Qualcomm apparently wasn't yet ready to mass-produce the Snapdragon 805, which is far better-suited to handle as pixel-dense screens as the one on the G3. So, instead, the G3 stuck to a quad-core Snapdragon 801, with four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.5GHz and an Adreno 330 GPU.
The Note Edge, being a newer device, had the advantage of being able to pick up the Snapdragon 805, which makes use of four even faster Krait 450 cores, ticking at 2.7GHz, and an even better Adreno 430 GPU that promises console-grade graphics to developers that are willing to take advantage of them.
In terms of memory, both devices have 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM on board and offer microSD expansion.
Packed within the Note Edge's body is an impressive-sounding, 16-megapixel, 1/2.6'' sensor with f/2.0 lens, an LED flash, and what the company is calling "Smart OIS". What Smart OIS is in reality is the result of the work of both an optical image stabilizing gizmo and DIS (Digital Image Stabilization), the idea being that the setup will stabilize footage during video capture at no cost to render speed, as the DIS algorithms will help with the compensating calculations.
Looking at the G3, it's not far behind. It's got a 13-megapixel, 1/3.06'' sensor with f/2.4 lens, a two-tone LED flash, optical image stabilization (OIS+), and a laser beam that's used for focusing super fast.
Obviously, we don't yet know how these two compare, and will have to wait until we can test them out.
Being the newer device, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge definitely has the upper hand in general, at least in terms of the specs. Its extra side screen also scores the Edge a whole lot of cool points, even though we're sure non-techies may not be willing to forego ergonomics and the symmetry of the device just to have an extra screen. They may not want to be seen with something as outlandish in their hands, too.
For them, and anyone else that just doesn't dig the looks of the Note Edge, there's always the LG G3, which is a very worthy contender, especially since it'll likely be considerably cheaper by the time the Note Edge launches in October.