HolidayBuyer's Guide

Here comes the curve: Galaxy Note Edge hits US on Nov. 14

Samsung's more innovative devices don't always reach the US, but the curved-edge smartphone is coming to a wide range of carriers.

The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, with its curved screen.Photo by CNET

In rock music, the Edge is the watch-cap-wearing guitarist for U2. In smartphones, the Edge is the latest curveball that Samsung is bringing to smartphone design.

Samsung said Monday its big-screen Galaxy Note Edge smartphone will be available in the US starting November 14.

The electronics giant unveiled the new phone in September, offering up a 5.6-inch display that curves around the side of the device. Users can see quick notifications along the right edge of the screen, such as sports scores, or click on app shortcuts, even while watching a video on the main screen.

The Galaxy Note Edge is one of the first major smartphone design gambles Samsung has taken that it is releasing globally. Typically, it introduces new features -- such as a concave display in the Galaxy Round or metal frames in the Galaxy Alpha smartphones -- in only a limited number of test markets, such as its home country of South Korea. Many of its more innovative devices have never reached the US.

Samsung's marquee line of big-display Note smartphones, known as phablets since they are almost big enough to be tablet computers, faces increased competition from its primary rival Apple, which this fall came out with two larger-screen iPhone smartphones. Samsung pioneered the phablet design in 2012 with the Note and was mocked at the time for offering a phone many considered too big. Since then, many other handset makers have joined in with their own phablets, making it harder for Samsung to stand out on display size alone. With the Edge, Samsung may be trying to spark yet another new trend in smartphone design.

Samsung, the largest handset vendor in the world, has been focused on innovating in hardware, though it's been criticized for not doing as much on the software side, where its smartphones are mostly powered by Google's Android operating system. Despite being the world's smartphone leader, the company has had a rough few quarters, last week reporting a 74 percent drop in operating profits in its mobile business as it faces competition from above and below.

The Galaxy Note Edge will be available through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular. Samsung Experience Shops in Best Buy stores will also carry the device. Retail partners and carriers will provide specific pricing and availability, Samsung said.

AT&T said Monday the Galaxy Note Edge will be available for $400 with a two-year contract or $946 off-contract. It's available for no down payment on the AT&T Next plan, then $39.42 to $47.30 per month, depending on what plan is chosen.

With the Sprint Easy Pay plan, customers can buy the smartphone for nothing down and 24 monthly payments of $35, equaling $840 total, excluding tax. T-Mobile's similarly structured plan is for $36.25 a month, for $870 total, also excluding tax.

While the cost of $400 even with a contract is "pricey," Current Analysis research director Avi Greengart said, a bigger concern is whether developers will want to make programs for the unique display.

"If developers are not confident that enough Note Edges will be sold, they won't create the software experiences that make it more than a gimmick," he said.

The Note Edge was announced along with the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4, which doesn't have a curved display and became available last month. The Note 4 sells for $300 with a two-year contract on AT&T, $100 less than the Note Edge.

Updated, 1:22 p.m. PT: Adds analyst comments and Note 4 pricing.

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