NEW YORK—Korean mobile electronics giant Samsung today unveiled the Galaxy Note Edge and Galaxy Note 4 during a press event in New York City's Meatpacking District, at the very building (837 Washington St.) that will soon house Samsung's Enterprise Customer Briefing Center, the company's new flagship office in Manhattan.
Gregory Lee, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics America, took to the stage to announce that his company is "expanding into a new universe of elegantly designed devices" and to tease "two incredible big screen phones." Following Lee's brief remarks, Ryan Bidan, senior director of Strategy and Operations at Samsung Telecommunications America, introduced the two new Samsung phablets.
Apart from a brief appearance by Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, the new Galaxy Note Edge stole the spotlight. The phone, available later this year, features an AMOLED touch display that curves around the right side of the device, providing room for an interactive, touch-enabled "Edge Screen" that displays notifications and information such as the weather. The Galaxy Note Edge "sets a new standard for usability," said Bidan.
Users can swipe through Edge panels with a flick of a thumb. While switched off, the Edge doubles as an alarm clock, noted Bidan. Also in the works is the Edge software development kit (SDK), enabling Android developers to code Edge-specific functionality into their apps.
In terms of specs, the Edge is similar to the new Galaxy Note 4, which sports a 5.7-inch Quad HD (2,560-by-1,440) Super AMOLED display, "the best screen that you can buy on a phone in the U.S.," said Bidan. A 16-megapixel rear-facing camera features "image stabilization that rivals $1,000 digital SLRs," he added.
A new 3.7-megapixel front-facing camera offers a wide 120-degree shooting angle for group selfies, said Bidan. Plus, the device's speakers and microphones have been improved from its predecessor. The new microphone array, along with a built-in voice recorder app, supports eight directional voice tags, allowing listeners to isolate a single voice from a group conversation. An adaptive charging feature fills the battery to 50 percent in a half hour.
Another of the Galaxy Note's signature features, the S Pen, has also been upgraded. A new, more natural brush effect mimics using a fountain pen. Other features include new friendly Air Command device control functionality and Smart Select, which enables users to grab content from different sources and bundle it for sharing.
The new hardware is an evolution of Samsung's strong-selling phablet, according JK Shin, CEO and head of IT & Mobile Communication at Samsung Electronics. "With the introduction of the Galaxy Note series, we brought the age-old culture of the pen and notepad into the digital world," he said in a statement. "The new Galaxy Note 4 introduces the most refined Note experience to-date by combining all the latest technology that users expect from the Galaxy series."