Life on the edge: Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge reviewed

Overall, the Galaxy Note Edge is the Note 4, except for that edge, making it totally unique.

If the descriptions we’ve used thus far haven’t really made the case for the phone, Samsung has basically provided a curved screen that wraps past the right edge of the display, stretching to a little of the side, with all of this protected by a piece of curved Gorilla Glass 3.

In kind of looks like two screens stuck together, but the reality is that this is a curved display, and for the most part, Samsung is using it as a notification and dock system, which basically replaces the top of your screen for information.

For the dock, you’ll see an extended version of the shortcut dock you would normally have at the bottom of the screen, and it works well here, allowing you to run apps and show more of the shortcuts to apps you want, while always leaving a phone icon at the bottom left of the display.

More edge notification bars can be swiped in and out, with one for Samsung’s S Planner event calendar, one for tweets, one for notifications and weather, and even one for games.

There’s even a small tools slide out menu you can pull out from the top of the dock, one that gives you easy access to a torch, stopwatch, voice recorder, timer, and a most useful ruler which offers an easy way to measure something in either centimetres or inches.

That’s a great use of the edge of the phone, it really is.

But our favourite has to be what happens when it’s time to go to bed, with a small bedside clock appearing, showing the time, date, and weather on the edge, which is especially handy when you realise if you leave the phone flat on a night stand, you’ll be able to look at the phone while it’s lying down and still see the text. Awesome work with that one, Samsung.

But there are also problems with having an “edge” to a screen, or rather a curved display, because as nice as having a ruler is (which is a pretty cool feature), and scrolling Twitter updates, and news feeds, and all that jazz like your phone is some personal kind of news network, there are plenty of apps Samsung hasn’t thought about.

Primarily all of them.

Yes, if you load an app where the edge isn’t needed, it will just go to black and pop up with either a present message or — if you’ve modified it — whatever the modification is.

By default, the Note Edge is set to display “Samsung Galaxy Note Edge” almost as if to constantly inform others of the phone you’re using when you’re using the bus, but we decided to set it to “The edge doesn’t do much” to show off basically what it’s doing — or not doing, even — when we’re out and about, and taking screenshots for this review.

For instance, it is pretty much useless in Chrome, Instagram, TripView, Evernote, Twitter, Email, Gmail, Inbox, the phone dialler — oh hell, let’s just say it doesn’t show anything a good 90 percent of the time, revealing itself only when you want it to pop up by sliding it in.

On the one hand, this is kind of a neat thing as it means your screen is totally yours, revealing only the app you wanted at the time, but on the other hand, Samsung has included soft buttons on its devices for so long that this only becomes an issue on the home screen, and unless you care about a full screen front page, it’s not a huge benefit anyway.

That lack of use, however, is one of the problems with the Galaxy Note Edge, because you’re paying an extra sum for a really neat display that just doesn’t really do anything for most of the phone, and we’re not even sure how much use we’d get for long out of anything other than the dock.

Would we use the appointments drawer on the edge screen? Probably. The notifications? Maybe. The shortcut dock? Definitely, and when we’re playing music, it’s nice to see the information pop up here, too, but anything else just seems like a waste, and we’d be happy to keep it in our regular drop down menu on Android which is where we’re used to using it anyway.