Samsung Galaxy Note Edge vs Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The Galaxy Note series of phablets has opened up the market to larger devices, but as we’re seeing more and more of these big-screen phones, the differences between them start to wash out. Samsung, the originator of the category, however, has a few tricks up its sleeve to show there are still ways to improve on the form factor and it has released the Galaxy Note Edge to show such innovation in a one-of-a-kind, limited edition device.
The Note Edge is the new thing, with a fancy, curved rim where the display wraps around the edge of the phone, giving it its name. The rim can act as a totally separate secondary display, or as a complementary one to the main screen - a peculiar new addition. For all else, though, it is nearly identical to the Note 4 - a Quad HD screen, Snapdragon 805 chip, and S Pen.
On the other hand, you have the much more traditional-looking Galaxy Note 3. Samsung stepped up to a 1080p display with the Note 3 last year, and it has also equipped it with a capable Snapdragon 800 chip, and a potent camera. The Note 3 was a device that hit all bases for its time, and we wondered whether Samsung can give its users a compelling reason to upgrade this year.
Is the Note Edge - with its curved rim and powerful silicon - such a reason? Let’s find out.
The Note Edge, with that curved rim, is a bit hard to handle, as you have to be careful to not press something on the edge accidentally. Design-wise, it has a metal frame, while the Note 3 is a less-inspiring plastic affair.
The Note Edge’s curved rim makes for a truly alien appearance of the handset, but save for that addition, the Note Edge is very similar to the Galaxy Note 4. Yes, this means that it features a similar, sturdy aluminum frame, an important advantage over the all-plastic Galaxy Note 3. The back cover of both, however, remains plastic - the Note Edge comes with a more rough, leather-like texture, while the Note 3’s faux-leather casing comes with a finer grain and a seam-like border.
The footprint of the two phablets is very similar, with the Note Edge being just slightly wider due to its edge. The exact dimensions are 5.96 x 3.24 x 0.33 inches (151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3 mm) for the Note Edge versus 5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches (151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm) on the Note 3.
The big difference that you might not be able to tell by just looking at dimensions, however, is in handling. Having the curved rim on the Note Edge means that you have to be careful not to touch it accidentally when you hold the device, while on the Note 3 you don’t have such worries. The Note Edge rim, however, is not completely exposed - the slight plastic bezel at its base prevents accidental touches, and after using the Note Edge for a while, you get used to not touching the side rim.
In terms of buttons, the Note Edge with its right edge occupied by the wrap-around screen, is forced to move the lock button to the top, which is definitely a hard-to-reach, inconvenient position for such an often used button. The Note 3, in comparison, has its power/lock key conveniently on the right. The volume rocker is on the left on both, and up front each has a large physical home key, but the one on the Note Edge comes with a fingerprint scanner.
The Note Edge has one of the best AMOLED screens we’ve seen so far: a sharp, 5.6-inch Quad HD beauty with vibrant, accurately calibrated colors, while the Note 3 features colder colors with overblown saturations.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge comes with a 5.6-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels (Quad HD), with an additional 160-pixel wide section for the edge. This is a step up from the 1080 x 1920-pixel display on the Note 3, as pixel density comes in at 525ppi (versus 386ppi on the Note 3). In reality, both appear very sharp, but when you look at tiny text from up close you may see a slightly sharper picture on the Note Edge.
After years of misfortunate AMOLED color calibration for Samsung, the Note Edge comes as a welcome change with its very color-accurate AMOLED screen. In its Basic mode (which happens to be the most natural-looking one), color temperature comes in at 6800K, very close to the reference 6500K value, and more importantly, grayscale comes with no major imbalances, resulting in clear whites that are only very slightly on the cold side. The Note 3, on the other hand, is a member of the dark past of not-so-well-calibrated AMOLED displays, and comes with a color temperature of the very cold 7972K (way above the reference 6500K value), plus a grayscale balance lacking sorely in reds. Color saturations on it are also way off, resulting in an artificially oversaturated screen. Some may like that look, but it’s far from the one media creators wanted users to see in their creations.
The Note Edge display has also been improved in terms of peak brightness, as it scores a very respectable 496 nits, while the Note 3 is noticeably dimmer at 360 nits. Since both do a similarly good job with screen reflections, the Note Edge is the one that is easier to read outdoors. At night, you can also reduce screen brightness all the way down to 1 nit on the Note Edge, so that the screen does not tire your eyes with excessive glow, while the Note 3 can go to a still very good, but not on par 4.6 nits.