EW YORK CITY—We're live in New York, where Samsung has taken the wraps off of its newest "phablet," the Galaxy Note 4. It has also introduced a brand-new type of phone, the "Galaxy Note Edge," which has a curved screen.
The highlight the Note 4 is, of course, the giant screen. This year Samsung has packed in a 5.7-inch, 2560×1440 AMOLED. That works out to a ridiculously high 515 PPI. The back of the phone keeps the faux-leather, soft-touch back introduced with the Note 3, though the fake stitching appears to have disappeared. People who don't care for Samsung's usual plastic can rejoice—the sides of the device are now chamfered metal, not entirely unlike the recently announced Galaxy Alpha. Like other recent Samsung devices, the capacitive buttons on the front of the screen ditch the Menu button in favor of the standard Recent button. The device will launch with Android 4.4.
The rest of the device is pretty standard Note fare. You're getting an S Pen with all the regular hover inputs, pressure sensitive drawing, and circular menus. The phone supports more pressure sensitivity levels than before—2,048, up from 1,024—but it should otherwise be familiar to existing Note users. The design works out to "the usual Samsung rectangle" and, like the Galaxy S5, there's a questionably useful fingerprint sensor and a heart rate monitor. The Note 4 also picks up a UV sensor on the back.
Of all the improvements to Samsung's TouchWiz skin, the biggest one Samsung demonstrated was a modified version of Samsung's multi-window capabilities. Using the S Pen, you can minimize individual apps to take up just a corner of the screen while you poke around at other applications. The old multi-window feature just allows you to split the screen between two apps. A new Smart Select feature works as a beefed up clipboard that can save and retain several pieces of information—pictures, text—for pasting or sharing later.
The Galaxy Note 4 will be available in October.
The Note Edge is a little different. It looks a lot like a Note phone, but it has a bent edge that also houses a strip of screen. The app icon tray looks like it appears on that bent edge rather than across the bottom of the screen as it does on Galaxy S and other Galaxy Note phones. The Note Edge uses a 5.6-inch AMOLED display that retains the ultra-high resolution of the Note 4, but it adds an extra row of pixels to support the edge of the screen—the total resolution appears to be 2560×1600.
For now, the only apps that take advantage of that little strip of edge space will be Samsung's own; using it requires the usage of a new SDK specifically for the Note Edge (and, given Samsung, the flood of bent-edge phones that will surely follow). Samsung uses it to display a clock when the phone's screen is off, for photo and video viewing and playback options, a stock ticker, notifications, and to display other small bits of information that you might want to see updated constantly. Samsung's presentation shows users switching between these different "scrollable panels" to change the information that's being shown.
The Note Edge's spec sheet is reportedly the same as the Note 4's, which means you're still getting a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 16MP camera, the S Pen, and an SD card slot, though it has a smaller 3000 mAh battery. Combine this slightly smaller battery with the slightly larger screen and it seems likely that the Galaxy Edge's battery life will fall a bit short of the Note 4's.
The Note Edge will be available "in select markets" at an unspecified date.
We're live at the show and will have impressions of the Note 4, Note Edge, and the new Gear S smartwatch as soon as we get our hands on them. Stay tuned!
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