Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 4 phablet aims to continue its battle with Apple – and smaller smartphones – by adding fingerprint scanning and handwriting recognition.
Alongside the Note 4, the company also revealed the Note Edge phablet, a spin-off from the main line with a curved display that goes right up to – and even around – the right-hand edge of the device.
The Note 4 is the follow up to the popular Galaxy Note 3 and the latest in the Note series, which Samsung used to pioneer the “phablet” category, expanding the size of the smartphone to a halfway house between a tablet and a phone.
“We started the large screen smartphone movement, and we will continue to lead in this area,” said Samsung’s director of marketing, Rory O’Neill.
Dell Computer was the first company to offer a 5in Android smartphone with its Streak in 2010, but the category did not see commercial takeoff until Samsung’s first Galaxy Note in September 2011.
The Note 4 has a 5.7in quad HD Super AMOLED display, following the LG G3’s lead. The large screen will be optimised for stylus use with Samsung’s latest iteration of its S Pen, focused on improved handwriting recognition for taking notes and entering text without a keyboard.
It has similar specifications to the Korean firm’s leading smartphone, the Galaxy S5 with a 16-megapixel camera, but the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor, which is expected to prolong battery life through improved efficiency.
Internally, the Note Edge is identical to the Note 4, but the new screen, an evolution of 2012’s prototype Youm phone, is unlike anything else on the market. The screen is 160 pixels wider, extending to the edge of the screen and beyond, with the curved display visible even when the phone is held on its side.
“After a couple of years of uninspiring flagship phone launches, Samsung today introduced a product that looks to be a genuine innovation,” said Jason Jenkins, director of content at technology site CNET. “The Galaxy Note Edge’s curvy second screen looks really cool, and could be genuinely useful for people [who] treat their phone more like a serious computer than something for the occasional calls, tweets and emails. It’s a crazy idea but it might just be crazy enough to work.”
Phablets made up a third of the 279.4m smartphones that shipped in the first quarter of 2014, according to data from research firm Canalys. Smartphones with screens larger than 5in have historically been popular in Asia, but 30% of US smartphones had screens over 5in, Canalys said, while in Europe they comprised 27% of all smartphones shipped in the first quarte