Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Round: few new features, but posh design

The Samsung Galaxy Round is the first phone to use a curved display

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

These so-called "tilt functions" offer nice shortcuts, but they could also easily be incorporated into any Samsung phone. Perhaps the company will do so in the future, but it's likely that most users will look at the features as novelties, much like how the Samsung Galaxy S4 will track facial and eye movements to help the user scroll through websites. Getting them to work on the Round can also take several tries at first.

In terms of looking at the phone's actual screen, the curvature can also be easy to miss. When facing directly at the display, the arch blends in and seems flat. It brings to mind how the electronics industry is also moving to televisions with curved screens. These TVs can arguably offer a wider field of view over traditional flat screens. But in the case of the Galaxy Round, it's hard to notice any difference, given that the phone already has a superb screen with its AMOLED display technology.

Save for the screen, nothing else inside the phone is curved, according to the company. Like other Samsung handsets, the Round's back cover can be removed, and its 2,800 mAh battery easily replaced. It currently comes in a dark "luxury brown" coloring, but a white version will be available in December.

Samsung is staying mum on the future of its curved displays for smartphones. But Tom Kang, an analyst with Counterpoint Research, doesn't believe that phones like the Galaxy Round will reach major volumes until the benefits of the device become more pronounced.

"To create this kind of product, there are lot of changes you have to make to the production line," he said. "When the consumer benefit is not substantially clear, it's not economic to make those changes to your production line."

Samsung seems to also be aware of the challenges, and is only selling the Galaxy Round in limited quantities. But aside from a few unique features, the phone doesn't offer much new in terms of usability. Perhaps only the phone's aesthetics really set it apart, and make it look appealing. While the handset is nice to hold, consumers outside of South Korea aren't missing much from Samsung's newest phone.

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