Samsung Storms NYC with Curvy Phablet and Mobile VR

By Pedro Hernandez  |  Posted 2014-09-04 Print this article Print

NEW YORK—Samsung, already known for its curvy HDTV displays, takes a new approach for its refreshed line of Galaxy Note phablets. During a Sept. 3 press event in the company's new office in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, Samsung debuted the Galaxy Note Edge, a 5.6-inch smartphone with a display that curves over the device's right side. Unlike LG's G Flex smartphone, which bows in the center but adds little to the Android experience, Samsung's curved screen provides added functionality and a way for the company to further distinguish itself from Apple. Although it sports a more traditional form factor, the Galaxy Note 4 impressed with a slightly larger touch-screen (5.7 inches). The bright, saturated AMOLED screen provides enough visual real estate to multitask—with the included S Pen stylus, and without reaching for a tablet or a PC. Samsung also unveiled the Gear VR—the result of its collaboration with Oculus, the virtual-reality (VR) company Facebook snapped up in March. A companion device for the Galaxy Note 4, the Gear VR provides early adopters with immersive 3D experiences on the go, but will they make room in their bags for the bulky, attention-grabbing wearable? Read on for some first impressions.

  • Samsung Storms NYC with Curvy Phablet and Mobile VR

    by Pedro Hernandez
    1 - Samsung Storms NYC with Curvy Phablet and Mobile VR
  • An Early Edge on the iPhone 6

    Less than a week before Apple unveils the iPhone 6, which is rumored to ship in a phablet-sized version, Samsung needed something to counter the deafening buzz coming from Cupertino, Calif. The Galaxy Note Edge and its distinctive curved screen provided the company's mobile portfolio with some much-needed attention.
    2 - An Early Edge on the iPhone 6
  • Smart Curves

    Given the tepid response to LG's G Flex smartphone and Samsung's own Galaxy Round, it's easy to dismiss the device's curved right edge as another ill-fated stunt. But after spending a little time with the device, it charms with a thumb-friendly area that makes it easy to flip though mini app experiences. It's just as at home on a nightstand, where it can act as an alarm clock, as in a conference room, where users can surreptitiously catch up on sports scores.
    3 - Smart Curves
  • Now the Hard Part: Apps

    Ryan Bidan, senior director of strategy and operations at Samsung Telecommunications, said the company is releasing a software development kit (SDK) to help Android developers build Edge-compatible apps. If the company can get them onboard, then the Edge screen may become a signature feature across the company's mobile lineup that is genuinely useful.
    4 - Now the Hard Part: Apps
  • Galaxy Note 4: Not Fancy but Pleasantly Functional

    Also unveiled was the Galaxy Note 4, which was understandably upstaged by the Edge. Nonetheless, traditionalists will appreciate a handsome, fast-performing handset that allows them to multi-task with ease.
    5 - Galaxy Note 4: Not Fancy but Pleasantly Functional
  • No Slouches Here

    No surprise here. Both the Galaxy Note 4 and Edge responded to taps, gestures and other inputs instantaneously and without discernable lag. Both models ship with a 2.7GHz quad-core processor. In some regions, the Galaxy Note 4 will be available with a 1.9GHz "octa-core" processor, consisting of 1.9GHz and 1.3GHz quad-core chips.
    6 - No Slouches Here
  • A Steady 16 Megapixel Shooter

    The rear-facing camera on both the Galaxy Note 4 and Edge is a 16-megapixel shooter with "image stabilization that rivals $1,000 digital SLRs," boasted Bidan. Tethered as they were to demo stations, it was tough to put that claim to the test. Nonetheless, sample pictures appeared sharp and vibrant, undoubtedly aided by the phablets' super-saturated AMOLED screens.
    7 - A Steady 16 Megapixel Shooter
  • A Vibrant OLED Screen

    Just a tenth of an inch separates the Galaxy Note 4 and the Edge (5.7 inches vs. 5.6 inches). In both versions, the "Quad Super HD" AMOLED displays boast a resolution of 2,560 pixels by 1,440 pixels. As is typical of OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays, colors are bright, blacks are inky and visuals refresh without ghosting or smearing. In short, everything from photos, to videos, to Web pages looks great.
    8 - A Vibrant OLED Screen
  • A Handful but Palmable

    Both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Edge are solid, premium handsets that are nice to hold, at least in this writer's medium-sized hands. With a thickness of 0.33 inches and 0.32 inches, respectively, they also strike a stealthy profile. The Galaxy Note Edge takes a slight ergonomic lead with a curved screen that puts one's right thumb to good use.
    9 - A Handful but Palmable
  • Mobile VR Arrives Ahead of Schedule

    Another standout hardware announcement from Samsung was its new Gear VR hardware, developed in conjunction with Oculus. The wearable technology cleverly leverages the Galaxy Note 4's display—the smartphone snaps into the unit—to provide 3D virtual-reality experiences. It's certainly attention-grabbing, but at this early stage, only early adopters need apply. Gear VR goes on sale later this year.
    10 - Mobile VR Arrives Ahead of Schedule
  • Girding for Battle in NYC?

    Samsung's choice of its new flagship digs in NYC doubled as a venue for the Sept. 3 unveiling. Located at 837 Washington St., the new offices are steps from the iconic High Line, a former elevated train route that has become a tourist attraction in recent years. More importantly, it's a stone's throw from an Apple Store in Manhattan's trendy Meatpacking District (on the corner of 14th Street & 9th Avenue) and a couple of blocks from Google's mega-complex. Expect it to host other major unveilings in the future.
    11 - Girding for Battle in NYC?

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