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New Samsung Note 4 is better but lacks the wow factor of the Note Edge

*Steve Makris is a technology expert who does a weekly Tech Talk segment during Edmonton’s Sunday Morning News.

Sandwiched between a maturing smartphone market and next week’s much anticipated iPhone 6 launch, Samsung revealed its new incrementally better Galaxy Note 4, available in October. But for a wow phone, the Korean giant showed the Galaxy Note Edge, with no delivery date.

The Note 4, a combined large phone and small tablet, better known as phablets, has been one of Samsung’s success stories, worldwide.

How does the Note 4 stack up?

Its best incremental features over the current Note 3 are a much sharper 5.7 inch QuadHD 3.7 million pixel screen and a functionally improved stylus S PEN coupled with smarter multi-windows features. An impressive front f1.9  3.7 megapixel camera can be easily fired by touching the rear heart monitor. It has a wide angle lens which also shoots panorama selfies covering 120 degrees. The rest will disappoint some folks looking for a reason to upgrade from a Note 3. But new users will delight on the things they can do with the S Pen stylus.

Appeasing techie types, the upcoming Galaxy Note Edge does have cutting edge features like a curved right side screen that even shows sideways from the new cases designed for it. This means you can see ticker tape-like notifications, from the side and when looking head on. Disappointedly, there is no delivery date announced and Samsung Canada is talking with the cellcos. Surely, the price of the special edition Edge will keep budget minded users at bay.

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HangZhou Night Net

The simultaneous three city Samsung launch in Beijing, New York and Berlin is clearly aiming the Note 4 to global shoppers, especially developing countries. Research firm IDC said emerging markets have accounted for more than 50 per cent of all annual smartphone shipments since 2011, while mature markets will continue to slow, currently at five per cent growth. Samsung sees a stylus-armed smart phone attracted to Asian language users as an alternative to keyboards.

In an impatient market that can quickly disfavour any company that misses a beat, including Apple and Samsung, phone makers are churning more models and features at a record pace. Motorola Mobility, recently purchased by computer maker Lenovo, is planning to release eight new phones before the holidays.

Coupled with several new mid-price smartphones designed and made in China, poised to hit the North American market later this year, the choices for repeat and first-time customers are many.

Samsung also showed the next stage of wearable smart devices. The Gear S smartwatch differentiates itself from competitors by being 3G data ready. This means an additional SIM card and no reliance on the smartphone other than upgrades and new apps. It is a rather large but thankfully curved smartwatch with sharp screen whose watch face view with moving arms looks like the real thing. Typing on its screen was a challenge so don’t expect long article typing on this phone…just short social messages.

Many were surprised by Samsung’s last offering, the Samsung Gear VR, a virtual reality headset that lets viewers take in a 360 degree games or scenic tours by simply turning their head at any angle. An appearance by Oculus Rift VR headset creator John Carmack announced a new partnership with Samsung on supplying its five-times faster AMOLED screen technology for Oculus.

Like Apple whose older 4s, 5 iPhones remain popular, Samsung is challenged by consumer calls for something new and different. Past Samsung S3 and S4 models have sold better than the new S5, but the new incrementally better Note 4 stands out amidst smart phones with its useful hand writing and drawing ability.