Samsung has been showing off its flexible display technology for years, but now we’re actually seeing these panels appear in everyday smartphones.
Samsung’s new Note Edge, which the company unveiled Wednesday, may look like an ordinary smartphone at first glance, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice the curved secondary screen that gives the device its name.
The curved portion of the screen works independently of the main display. Other than its rounded screen, the Note Edge is identical to the new Galaxy Note 4 in terms of hardware. That means it has the same sharp 2560 x 1440 resolution display and the S Pen stylus.
Samsung has shown prototype devices like this in the past, but this is the first time we’re seeing such a device that will actually launch.
The Note Edge will be available on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile later this fall, but pricing has yet to be announced. Samsung said it will be priced the same as its premium handsets, hinting it will probably cost around the same as the Note 4. (Previous Note phones went for about $US300 with a carrier contract.)
The curved portion of the Edge has two main benefits, according to Samsung. First, it can provide information such as the time, alarms, and news headlines while the phone’s main screen is turned off. Second, it supposedly makes it more convenient to use certain apps since the curved sidebar changes depending on which app you’re using.
For example, if you’re using the phone’s camera, controls such as the capture key and various mode buttons would appear on the rounded edge. This, according to Samsung, gives you more real estate on the main screen.
While this may be true, there were also instances in which it became an annoyance. In some cases the curved part of the display overlaps with the main interface and cuts off certain buttons.
During a product demo, we also noticed that the orientation didn’t change when the phone moves. Samsung said that the orientation switches to face you when the main screen is turned off, and you’ll be able to interact with the curved screen when it’s in this mode.
So, theoretically, you’ll be able to conserve battery power by turning your phone’s main display off, and scrolling through news headlines, stocks, and checking the time on the Edge’s rounded secondary screen.
Samsung says it’s already working with companies like Yahoo to provide information that can be viewed across the Edge’s secondary display. The company hopes to rope more developers into incorporating this functionality into their apps.
For what it’s worth, the Note Edge’s second screen was extremely responsive.
It was easy to flip through different app icons and home screens on the phone’s rounded display. If you flick too hard when you’re trying to scroll through screens on this smaller display, however, you’ll accidentally launch apps.
It’s interesting to see Samsung launch more consumer products using its curved display technology, but it’s unclear if the Note Edge will be a hit or just a niche product.