The Galaxy Note 5 is the best phablet Samsung has ever made, but more than half of of the world won’t even be able to buy it. Why?
Because it’s just not edgy enough.
Samsung thinks the unique wraparound screen on the new Galaxy S6 Edge Plus is the best antidote to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, so it will only launch the Note 5 in Canada and the United States, while the Edge will be a worldwide superstar. Even though the Note helped Samsung invent the phablet category, and drove it to huge success, the latest version now lives in the cupboard under the stairs, forbidden to work its magic.
The S6 Edge Plus is a virtual clone of the Note 5 with one colossal difference: It trades the helpful S Pen stylus for a mostly useless screen that wraps around the edges, and a comfortable curved back for a flat one that makes it less comfortable to use one-handed. Samsung is intentionally pushing an inferior phone, and that’s not just a problem for you and I, it’s a problem for Samsung.
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The only reason the S6 Edge Plus exists is thanks to the surprising success of the smaller Galaxy S6 Edge. The dual-edged version of the flagship is outselling the standard Galaxy S6 by a wide margin, a fact that caught Samsung completely off guard.
The novelty factor will sell plenty of Edges this year, but nobody’s going to make the same mistake twice.
Thanks to the financial success of these Edge phones, Samsung may (hypothetically) decide to abandon its flat-screened alternatives all together. The problem is that its flat-screened phones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5, are a lot better than their Edge counterparts, which put flash over substance (and comfort).
Edge phones are just not meant for the long haul. Like a relationship that just isn’t working, after a few weeks or months, a lot of Edge owners are going wake up in the morning with the Edge and regret their choice. When it comes to the Galaxy Note 5, though, true love like that can last a lifetime.
Samsung’s decision to promote the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus at the expense of the better Note 5 is a poor long-term marketing decision. Although the S6 Edge Plus will undoubtedly sell well around the world, most customers will quickly become disillusioned with the gimmicky edge. The novelty factor will sell plenty of Edges this year, but nobody’s going to make the same mistake twice.
The problem with living on the Edge
The Edge is beautiful, but the thrill of the curved edges lasts about a week before you realize Samsung hasn’t found a good use for them yet. The edges are also uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, and with a big-screened phone (phablet), that’s a death sentence.
The reason why so many people avoid phablets is that they find them too unwieldy and uncomfortable to hold. Samsung’s S6 Edge Plus exacerbates that problem while the Note 5 solves it. Thanks to slightly curved edges on the back of the Note 5, it is the most comfortable phablet Samsung’s ever made, and it will convince those who call jumbo phones “too big” to spring for that extra screen real estate.
The Note 5’s S Pen is also far more useful than those edges. Like millions, I’ve always loved the Note series. I enjoy writing notes by hand, diagraming things, and drawing on the fly. The S Pen is useful to both power users and artists alike. With each successive Note, Samsung has refined the stylus experience, and now, it’s perfected it with the Galaxy Note 5.
The new scrolling screen capture mode and the ability to jot down notes instantly, even when the screen is off, are brilliant additions to the Note experience that are sure to delight Samsung’s loyal S Pen users. Also, the new S Pen feels more like a real pen that ever before — it even clicks!
Why is Samsung abandoning the Note?
So if the Note 5 is that awesome, why isn’t Samsung selling it everywhere? The official word is that Europeans don’t care about the stylus; they just want a pretty, shiny phone. But the word on the street is that Samsung is scared silly about the iPhone 6 Plus, and thinks the unique screen on the Edge will convert more consumers on the cusp of going with Apple. The company even moved its phablet launch date up to August to beat Apple’s upcoming iPhone to stores. Well, if Samsung’s worried about competition now, just wait — The absence of the Note won’t help it any.
Samsung needs to show what sets its phablets apart from the iPhone 6 Plus. The S Pen is different. It means something. The edges are merely aesthetic. And I don’t know if they’re different enough to sway would-be iPhone buyers to the S6 Edge Plus anyway. Maybe the Note and its S Pen aren’t enough either, but Samsung stands a much better chance of trouncing Apple if it sells both the Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus everywhere, before the iPhone steals its thunder.
And as for the future, those who buy Samsung’s Edge phones may spend the next two years wishing they bought a different phone, or worse, a whole different brand.
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