Just recently, news broke that the Galaxy Round is being released for sale in Korea. While Samsung can claim that they are the first to create a commercially sold curved AMOLED display, Samsung has made phones with curved displays before, although such curves were achieved through curved glass, not curved displays. Smartphone OEMs are no strangers to curved glass, as such designs were extremely popular in 2012, because it made for no detectable ridge when swiping off of the screen, but came at the cost of increased susceptibility of the glass lens to damage.

While this Galaxy Round is not likely to suffer from such issues, this formfactor will likely carry a few idiosyncrasies. But first, the specs. The phone is almost undoubtedly running an MSM8974 SoC with the higher 2.3 GHz bin, as 8974AB seems to be confined to the Xiaomi Mi-3 for now, and the presence of LTE-A means MDM9x25. The back seems to be adopting the same design as the Note 3’s, with a faux-leather texture, although it appears the speaker has been moved to the back of the phone and the Wacom digitizer is gone, most likely due to volume constraints imposed by such a shape, as effective volume goes down compared to a conventional slate like that of the Note 3, which explains why the battery is now a 2800 mAh, 10.64 WHr unit instead of the 3200 mAh, 12.16 WHr unit found in the Note 3. Beyond these changes, the phone appears to be largely identical in hardware to the Note 3. Despite the curve, the AMOLED display should be largely identical in behavior compared to its flat counterpart.

Of course, Samsung has also released new software to take advantage of the rounded design, such as rocking the device to check glanceable information such as missed calls and notifications when the device is asleep. Various other motion features also take advantage of the phone’s design that allows it to roll left and right when placed on a table, such as music controls and gallery navigation. While currently unique to this phone, the Galaxy Round is far from the only smartphone on the market that behaves in a similar manner when placed on a table, with phones like the HTC One coming to mind. While a curved back makes for better ergonomics, such design is not limited to devices with curved displays, as evidenced by both the Moto X and LG G2.

Possibly one of the biggest issues that could happen with this phone is severe issues with screen protectors, cases, and other accessories due to its unusual curve, although it would only be a matter of market demand to find solutions to such problems. Although Samsung should be applauded for being the first to make a curved display, it is difficult to understand the utility of such a device, due to the lack of any killer feature in the device, which was a large reason for the success of the original Note line, as the Wacom digitizer feature arrived during the height of the Draw Something fad. While it will probably fit well in a pocket, and the motion features are neat, neither really justify the reduction in battery capacity nor the deletion of hardware present in the Note 3, which affects core experience for the sake of minor features. While the market ultimately determines what products are successful or not, the fact that this is only being sold in Samsung’s home market speaks volumes. This device seems to be a continuation of Samsung’s strategy of targeting as many formfactors as possible (as well as being an exercise in productizing internal Samsung technologies), in the same vein as the Galaxy S4 Active. It also seems to be that this device is most likely to end up in a similar situation as the Galaxy S4 Active, merely repeated in the Note line. 

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  • WinterCharm - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    I feel like putting this down on the table to type with it would be a major pain.
  • silverblue - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    In addition, the lens would protude to the point that rocking the device may put undue stress on it, meaning it won't be long before it's scratched.

    Now, a BENDY phone... at least if you damaged the lens then, it'd be your fault and not the manufacturer's. Stll waiting for one of those.
  • Crono - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    This is just Samsung finding a use for their flexible OLED screens so they can continue to develop the technology and mass produce it to bring down costs in the interim. What really will be nice for mobile computing is when we see scrolls as opposed to tablets, or smartphones with roll out OLED displays.

    Which Samsung has teased (and other companies have, as well) as being the future they envision, but right now I don't see the need to purchase a curved smartphone with only a few negligible benefits. Displays for decades have been moving towards flat as perfection, which was only really affordably achieved with LCDs in the past two. The Round is a good conversation piece if you are one of those in the Korean market who is willing to pony up the price, but I really only see curved displays as being a potential success in the large television display arena, where a panoramic, wide-aspect ratio can make sense for immersive gaming or movies.
  • DaTanMan - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    Is it just me or are Samsung products as of late getting a bit extreme on the "Gimmicky" spectrum? It's as if they ran out of genuinely good ideas and are now resorting to a shotgun approach in hopes that one idea out of many will be a winner.

    I can't help but feel that Samsung was only able to get to where it is today by looking at where the market was heading a few years back and charged as fast as it could in the same direction. However, now that they're a big player in the mobile space, they don't really have another company to look up to in deciding which way they should go for their new products because they've become a market leader. I personally don't see much innovation in their new products; sure, they get better each and every generation (as does most technology) but there's a serious lack of direction. It's all trial and error it seems.
  • Johnmcl7 - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    I wouldn't say that at all, much of their success has come from devices which went a different way from the rest of the market. The Note is a prime example as it was ridiculed by many reviewers at the time and is now not only one of Samsung's more successful lines but it's created a new market segment.

    Samsung do tend to take a shotgun approach at times but it's certainly nothing different to what they've been doing before with plenty of seemingly bizarre phones in the past. The hone with the builtin projector comes to mind or even further back the phone with a standard phone one side and an mp3 design the other side.

    While I don't think this phone with the curved display is going to take off I think it's good that at least they're trying out different designs as otherwise the market would be a lot less interesting.

  • ddriver - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    Only Samsung? I'd say the entire industry has been coming up with mostly gimmicks and barely incremental updates, with all the products aspects that may be considered "new" being useless or straight up criminally wasteful and inefficient.
  • DaTanMan - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    I'm not saying that Samsung is the only one, but it feels as if they don't do any focus group testing on some of their new products to gauge consumer interest before releasing them. First we had a smartphone with a point and shoot built in, then we had a smartwatch which from what I've read isn't as popular as Samsung hoped, and now this. I do agree that they should have released the wrap-around display phone instead... There are many uses for a curved display but I did not expect this to be one of those permutations that was actually going to be released. Because of this, I also wouldn't be surprised if they released another curved phone except with the curvature in the opposite direction.
  • willstay - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    What happened to wrap around display which can show notifications at all the times?
  • KPOM - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    Yes, that might be a lot more useful, and they had demoed it at CES back in January.
  • Gadgety - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    Trying to see the advantage of this screen, specially if using with an S-pen... Takes up more space in the pocket too. Agree with the "gimmicky" comments. Here's one novelty usage scenario: Leave it out in the rain screen side facing up, and it will collect water - serve as a bird bath.

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