At its event, Samsung seemed to treat the Note 4 with much more care – and even reverence – than than it gave the Galaxy S brand. Currently Samsung holds its own with the Galaxy S, and it needs to expand. That’s the key in this industry: expand, or die. If you’re not making new products in new product lines, which helps to pull in new customers, you’re not going to be around long. Samsung has been in business long enough that it knows this, and is applying that concept to its mobile technology offerings.
That’s where things get a little odd.
Samsung has announced two products that differentiate themselves from the crowd: the Gear S and the Galaxy Note Edge. One is a wearable (which, if I were a betting man, is where I’d put my money), and one has a curved screen (the likes of which we haven’t seen before).
Sure, the Note 4 looks and feels much better than before. The changes are small but, according to Pocketnow’s Taylor Martin who has gone hands-on with the device, they were in all the right places. That’s where the Galaxy Note Edge comes in to play. This phablet is essentially the same device as the Note 4. It’s got the same processor, and the same amount of RAM and storage space. Its battery is slightly smaller, but still respectable at 3,000 mAh, and the power button had to be moved to the top (rather than the right side) because of the curved screen. The question this leaves me with is why wouldn’t Samsung simply roll with the Note Edge as the Note 4?
As it stands now, the Note 4 is “more of the same”, or simply an “incremental upgrade, a la Apple”. The curved screen on the Note Edge is a huge advancement and definitely sets the product apart from… well, anything!
Making predictable (incremental) upgrades to the previous model makes sense. People who liked the Note 3 are going to feel right at home with the Note 4. There’s nothing new, noteworthy, revolutionary, or potentially off-putting about it.
The Note Edge, on the other hand, is different. And in more conservative circles, “different” can be “scary”. “Scary” can turn into critical or negative industry reviews, which then may result in fewer sales. (Keep in mind that’s a lot of “conditional” terminology.)
That’s how things go in this industry. The Note Edge has some pretty fancy new features in it, but they’re yet to be proven. Until they are, the product is a novelty – an experiment. If it does well, the lessons that can be learned from it will be applied to other brands. If it doesn’t do well, those lessons will be learned and applied as well – and the brand may be shelved.
Nonetheless, I can’t help but think that Samsung is missing the boat with the Note 4, and that the future is with wearables (like the Gear) and devices that push the envelope (like the Edge).