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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review: Samsung supersizes its sexiest phone's screen -- and price tag

The Edge , in silver, blue-black, gold and white. Josh Miller/CNET

Buttons and ports dot the Edge+'s metal frame, starting with the power/lock key on the right, the micro-USB charging jack and headset jack down below, volume rocker on the left, and SIM card tray along the top. There's no removable backing (or battery), and no space for a microSD storage card.

We get neutral colors for this series: black, white, silver and gold, though not every region may sell every color.

What you can do with the edge screen

  • Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • New Apps shortcut
  • Customizable position for "edge screen" tab

Those curved sides are fun to look at, but they aren't merely for show. Two previous designs -- 2014's Galaxy Note Edge and the S6 Edge from earlier this year -- gave Samsung the chance to experiment with things you can do on a narrow vertical display. It's forced functionality, but one that makes more sense this time than before.

The Edge, left, is a lot larger than the original S6 Edge, but is otherwise shaped the same. Sarah Tew/CNET

First, let me reiterate that the special display hides from view until you pull it out, so most of the time, you don't see it. When you do want to summon the edge display (which you can now do from any screen, not just the home screen, as was the case with the original S6 Edge), you grab a slim onscreen tab that tastefully lies low on whichever side you put it, and swipe to reveal the full menu.

There are now two revolving screens to swipe through by default. The first is a shortcut hub for five of your go-to contacts. You can see their missed calls and texts, and tap their names to reach them by phone, text or email. Swipe again and a different shortcuts menu appears, this time one you can customize for your favorite apps.

The settings menu also lets you turn on a newsfeed, so you can see various alerts and news headlines in the sidebar as well as through the customary notifications tray up top. The benefit here: the edge screen's longer window lets you see more text, without expanding the alert the way you would with the notifications shade.

You'll be able to quickly access the apps and people you care about most. Sarah Tew/CNET

Flexibility means you can place this edge display on either left or right sides of the screen, and can now also position its menu-opening tab anywhere along that strip. I put mine near the bottom of the screen to make it easier for my shorter thumbs to grab.

The Edge+ also keeps one of my favorite secondary features in this curvy family: the night clock that dimly glows from the strip to tell you the date and time.

Get to know the hardware inside

Samsung bestowed the Edge+ and Note 5 with the same internal specs, all laid out below. For full details and camera test, read my Note 5 review .

  • 16-megapixel camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 4K video resolution
  • Samsung Exynos 7 octa-core processor (2.1GHz quad-core, plus 1.5GHz quad-core chips)
  • 32GB/64GB storage options
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 3,000mAh battery (nonremovable)
  • No microSD expansion slot
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Automated content-syncing to other screens

Do we need a bigger S6 Edge?

The Edge is expensive, and it's that curved screen you're paying for. That already limits buyers, and rightly so. The Edge display, while neat, doesn't offer anything novel or ultraconvenient that you can't live without.

Do we even need a larger S6 Edge version? Sure, why not? But I'm not sure we need it right now alongside the Note 5 and only a few months after releasing the S6 Edge and S6. I see this bigger Edge+ as Samsung's way of trying to turn around a period of slumping sales, especially since it couldn't keep up with S6 Edge demand.

If you're debating which of the quartet to buy, it shakes out like this: Get the Note 5 if you want the latest and greatest with that multitasking stylus; the Edge+ if you thirst for a larger screen but don't need a stylus (and don't mind paying the extra price); the smaller S6 Edge if you love the dual-curve design and a more pocket-friendly size; and the Galaxy S6 if you're looking for an all-around premium Android handset.

The night clock makes the edge of your Edge softly glow. Josh Miller/CNET

Buy it or skip it?

If you're intrigued by a curved-screen phone, the Edge+ has all the hardware you need to take great photos and enjoy viewing videos, pictures and articles on that extra-sharp, clear screen. It's fast and that edge display does give you features you won't find on most phones.

However, if saving money is a priority, and if you couldn't care less about fancy design, skip the Edge+ and shop for something else instead.

There's no shortage of competition for handsets whose screens measure over 5.3 inches, and many are priced a lot better than the Edge+, creating fierce competition. In this landscape, the curved Edge+ is a novelty.

Apple's iPhone 6 Plus and LG's G4 -- both with 5.5-inch screens -- are the logical comparisons. The G4 shares the Edge+'s Android version and camera and battery specs, though it has a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (that's six cores, by the way). Unlike the Samsung phone, LG's big phone can boast a removable battery and a microSD card slot that can accommodate cards of up to a mammoth 2TB (terabytes) of data.

Those gleaming gold edges are pretty great. Josh Miller/CNET

Apple's iPhone 6 Plus is just about a year old, which means it's due for an upgrade, so it's hardly fair to compare the Edge+ against an older model. If you're interested in the 6 Plus at all, it's best to hold off on preordering the S6 Edge+ until you can fully scope out the competition. You won't have to wait long, either -- credible rumors peg Apple's next iPhone announcement hitting the second week of September.

I also expect great things from Motorola's forthcoming 5.7-inch Moto X Pure, which includes a 21-megapixel camera and options to customize the body colors and materials. It also starts at $400, £279 and AU$1,990 ( for the Style), which is significantly less than the curving Edge+.

Another Android "deal" is the 5.5-inch OnePlus 2, which comes with a nice 13-megapixel camera, fast octa-core processor, equivalent battery, metal frame and Kevlar and wood backings (these cost a bit extra), for a lot less. The 64GB version, which I recommend, comes in at $390 (roughly £250 and AU$535). The major downside here is that you'll need to score an invitation to buy the phone directly from OnePlus -- your carrier and retail stores won't stock it.

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