Samsung announces Galaxy Note 4 and the crazy strange Galaxy Note Edge

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note is getting not one but two new models this fall—and one of them is a little bit different from what smartphone users might be used to.

Unveiled Wednesday morning at Samsung’s Unpacked 2014 event, the Galaxy Note 4 is the latest iteration of the manufacturer’s popular, large-screen smartphone. It’s what you’d expect from an annual update to a marquee device: more of the same, but better. A better screen, a better camera, better looking, a better stylus (which Samsung calls an “S-Pen”), a better battery, and so on.  This is not a bad thing—the Galaxy Note 3 was a great, high-performance phone, and if it delivers on all the claims made by Samsung during Friday’s presentation, the Note 4 looks like it’ll be a solid update.

And then there’s the new thing, the crazy gamble: the Galaxy Note Edge. Roughly the same size as the Note 4, the Edge’s big difference is its screen. Curving around the right edge of the phone, which slopes downward at an angle to form a sidebar of sorts that’s visible when the phone is placed on a flat surface, it’s a striking design for sure—but it’s also functional. The edge portion of the screen operates independently of the main screen. So, for example, you can have it display the time while it lies on your bedside table and not have to pick it up and press a button to find out how much longer you have to doze off.

While it’ll be interesting to see what practical applications users and developers find for the edge screen, if you’re right-handed, it’s going to feel strange. As review units go out and people get to tinker with the Note Edge for more than a few minutes on a show floor, it’ll become clearer how much of a problem that will be. But it could potentially be a dealbreaker. Also worth thinking about: should you drop it, how much more prone to cracking will the Note Edge’s screen be?

That said, if you abhor big phones, neither of these are going to be for you.

The Galaxy Note 4 goes on sale in October, and the Note Edge will be available “later this year.”

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