Last year Samsung's Galaxy Note Edge was a more limited, almost experimental variant of the Note 4. But this year Samsung is giving the Galaxy S6 Edge+ a more prominent role next to its stylus-laden equivalent, the Galaxy Note 5. We spent some hands-on time with Samsung's new curved phablet at today's NYC launch event.
Based on our demo, we think the Note 5 is the more interesting of the two handsets. Since they're almost identical, your decision comes down to curved screen and no S Pen vs. flat screen and S Pen. And considering Samsung improved its stylus (again) in the Note 5, and threw in some new pen-based software to go along with it, the decision seems like a no-brainer.
... the pen is mightier than the curve.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is still, however, a very nice handset. 5.7-inch AMOLED screen with Quad HD resolution, 4 GB RAM, octa-core CPU and the same excellent cameras found in the GS6? That's not a bad formula at all.
If it weren't sitting next to the Note 5, we'd be making a much bigger deal about this phone. It's the first tier-one Samsung phablet that isn't part of the Galaxy Note lineup; it's also Samsung's most direct rival yet to the iPhone 6 Plus:
The selling feature, at least in theory, is that curved screen that slopes off on both sides. In our review of its near-identical baby brother, the Galaxy S6 edge (maybe we can start calling it the "Edge Minus?"), we found the practical aspects of the Edge Display to be minimal. It was a serious cosmetic perk, but anything more than that? Nah, not for us.
It's the same deal here, with the 5.7-inch Edge+.
Those supposed practical benefits include a swipe-in gesture to fire up contact or app shortcuts. There isn't much to say about this: swipe across the upper-right edge and get a shortcut pop-up. Cool enough, we suppose. But hardly enough to justify skipping the S Pen – and possibly throwing down some extra loot.
Our biggest surprise in handling the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is how light and thin this sucker is. At just 6.9 mm (0.27-in) thick and weighing a mere 153 g (5.4 oz), it's better in both of those categories than the Note 5. The Edge+ is missing the sloped back that the Note 5 has, but otherwise is even better-feeling in hand. Both feel terrific, but the Edge+ has the, erm, edge.
We could go into more detail about the S6 Edge+, but we'd just be repeating ourselves from our Galaxy Note 5 hands-on. Check out those impressions, subtract the bits about the S Pen and S Pen software, shave off some thickness and weight, add some Edge Display shortcuts of questionable value, and you have the Galaxy S6 Edge+.
We'll need to spend some extended time with a review unit before jumping to any conclusions about the Edge+, but remember that as pretty as curved displays are, that novelty will likely wear off long before the S Pen's utility does.