Samsung prompted a few gasps of surprise at its Unpacked event, hosted at IFA in Berlin, when it announced not one new Galaxy Note, but two. The South Korean tech giant also took the opportunity to introduce its new smartwatch, the Gear S, and its virtual reality goggles, called Gear VR.
In truth, many of us expected the inevitable unveiling of Samsung Galaxy Note 4, as its precursor now has a yearlong lifespan. Nevertheless, did we see a new, curved variant of the Note showing up at Samsung Unpacked? No, we did not.
Let’s start with Samsung’s portfolio lead.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
With a 5.7-inch Quad HD super AMOLED screen and a resolution of 1440 x 2560, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is set to rival the pioneering display of LG G3. A pixel density of 515 means that users will be able to view images and videos in a level of detail so high, we have to question whether the human eye will actually be able to appreciate it.
The Galaxy Note series has certainly taken on a new design with its strong and stylish metal frame, much in the same way as the recently announced Samsung Galaxy Alpha has. However, in keeping with the traditional Note look and feel, Samsung has kept the high-quality, soft texture back cover. The build is impressively slim, at just 8.5mm, and the edges of the device have been chamfered for a curvaceous look and feel.
Running on the latest Snapdragon 805 chipset with a quad-core 2.7GHz Krait 450 CPU, Adreno 420 GPU and 3GB of RAM, Galaxy Note 4 is one of the most formidable smartphones to date.
The efficiency of this processor will allow Note 4 to conserve much more power, and extend the battery life considerably, despite just a small increase in battery size from Galaxy Note 3. Samsung revealed that users will be able to charge the Galaxy Note 4 from 0-50% in just 30 minutes, thanks to ‘fast charging’. Take this technology away and Galaxy Note 4 would reach the same power level in a more time-consuming 55 minutes.
With a 60% brighter 16-megapixel front and 3.7-megapixel rear camera, the latest Galaxy Note will allow users to take fantastically clear photos even in moments of low light. Optical image stabilisation will ensure that shaky hands and sudden movement don’t spoil your photos and videos.
Of course, selfies have never been more practical, as Galaxy Note 4 boasts a widened front camera, from 70 degrees to 90. It even features a ‘wide selfie’ mode, which acts like a panorama that will capture up to 120 degrees.
Rachel Riley, from Channel 4’s Countdown, was co-presenting Samsung’s Unpacked event, and coined the phrase ‘wefie’. A ‘wefie’ is just like a selfie, but for groups. Let’s hope that one doesn’t catch on too, Rachel.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is available to pre-order in black and white now.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
As I alluded to earlier, this second announcement caught the majority of us off guard. In this industry, which tends to be about as watertight as a sinking ship, that is an impressive feat.
In terms of its specs, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is identical to the Galaxy Note 4, minus the screen size, of course. This revolutionary smartphone sports an extended, curved display that runs seamlessly from the right hand side of the main screen. Both are Quad HD.
Measuring 5.6-inches, Galaxy Note Edge boasts a resolution of 1600 x 2560 and a pixel density of 539, making it one of, if not, the highest quality screen to date.
So what’s the purpose of having a little bit on side? The extended screen serves as an extra platform for several tools, shortcuts and neat little features. Users can access certain apps and smartphone functions quickly, like the camera, torch and web browser, as well as displaying information like stock prices and reminders. There are also seven scrollable panels with different information and functions stored on them. It’s a very nice addition to what is already a fantastic smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is available to pre-order in black and white now.
Spectators of Samsung’s Unpacked event also got a look at the next generation of smartwatches, with Samsung Gear S, which ‘brings a powerful smartphone experience to your wrist’.
Running on Tizen, it features a 1GHz dual-core processor and 512MB RAM, as well as a glossy curved Super AMOLED display, which boasts a resolution of 480 x 360 pixels. Samsung Gear S is also IP67 certified, making it both dust and water-resistant.
The user interface looks pretty slick and users can voice-control Gear S. It features a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard that isn’t at all bad considering the two inches of screen users have to work with.
Gear 2 can be used completely independently from your smartphone and even has a slot for your SIM card. It will launch in October.
Samsung’s Gear VR is an interesting one, as it marks the beginning of virtual reality hitting the mainstream.
Whilst it is very limited at the moment, Gear VR works with Galaxy Note 4 to create a (rudimentary) virtual reality experience, giving users the sensation of removing themselves from their environment, and being immersed in something completely surreal. It will be intriguing to see how this technology develops now it has bubbled to the surface.
An in-depth review of both Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Samsung Galaxy Note Edge are to come in due course.