Unveiled in September, Samsung's (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) Galaxy Note Edge is undoubtedly a novelty. The phablet has a curved display that wraps around the edge, offering a new way to view information from a peripheral angle. The company hopes this new feature will facilitate a new wave of third-party developer innovation and differentiate the device from the plethora of smartphones on the market.
One of the biggest unknowns since the device was announced has been its price. Well, the South Korean conglomerate has just detailed pricing and availability, and the Galaxy Note Edge lands this month but will also cost a pretty penny.
Galaxy Note Edge costs $400 on contract
The Galaxy Note Edge launches Nov. 14 on all four major U.S. carriers. With a standard two-year contract, the device will cost a whopping $400 subsidized. That represents a $100 premium over the very similar Galaxy Note 4, which costs $300 on contract. Off-contract prices vary by carrier: AT&T is asking for nearly $950, while Sprint will sell you a Galaxy Note Edge for $840 without a contract.
The Galaxy Note Edge's high price point might not come as a surprise: Samsung mobile exec Lee Young Hee teased earlier this year that the company would release a smartphone with a wraparound display, adding that Samsung was targeting consumers "who want more professional use" and are "willing to pay more."
The Note 4 and Note Edge are nearly identical in terms of technical specifications, so that $100 premium just pays for the wraparound display. Is that novelty worth $100 extra? Not likely, at least until there's a compelling use case for it, which Samsung is counting on developers to deliver. But developers probably won't dedicate the time and energy unless there's consumer adoption. It's a classic chicken and egg dilemma. Right now, there are an underwhelming two specialized widgets for the edge in the dedicated app store for the Note Edge.
But at what cost?
Asking $100 for a single feature is akin to Apple's newest iPad mini 3, whose only upgrade was the inclusion of Touch ID. That's poor value for the consumer, even if Touch ID sports incredible underlying technology. The Galaxy Note Edge is no different.
Part of that premium is inevitably connected to the added manufacturing cost associated with the wraparound display. One advantages of the OLED displays that Samsung uses is flexibility, but that still comes at a cost. Due to the high price point and niche appeal, the Galaxy Note Edge is unlikely to help turn around Samsung's struggling mobile business. The company continues to lose market share in the high-end smartphone space, and it needs more than a wraparound display.