Samsung Group's Galaxy Round curved phone falls flat, price flies: Review

Oct 30 2013, 13:56 IST
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Galaxy Round's curve is so subtle it is not apparent without a close look - Read full caption at end of story. AP Galaxy Round's curve is so subtle it is not apparent without a close look - Read full caption at end of story. AP
SummaryWhen Samsung Group first announced it, Galaxy Round created a buzz.

The Galaxy Round created some buzz in tech circles when Samsung Group announced it earlier this month, but no one in the downtown Seoul cafe where I played with the curved screen smartphone asked me about it or even gave a curious glance.

That is likely because the Galaxy Round's curve is so subtle it is not apparent without a close look.

Samsung Galaxy Round launched, world gets first smartphone with curved screen

At first glance, the Galaxy Round appears similar to the Galaxy Note 3 phone, which also has a big display measuring 5.7 inches diagonally. I could see the Galaxy Round's left and right edges were raised slightly only when viewed from the top or from the bottom.

After handling the device for about 20 minutes, it became clear why Samsung Group shied away from putting a more dramatic curve in the display.

Reading news articles and Twitter messages made me feel light-headed after just a few minutes, especially with the phone in an upright position. Sentences weren't level and looked skewed, hampering my reading experience.

It's less of a problem, but still one, with the phone placed horizontally.

Perhaps this is an optical distortion that I'd get used to after a while. But given that computer screens, laptops and smartphones are mostly flat, I wouldn't want to constantly switch my eyes back and forth between a curved display and flat screens everywhere else.

Aside from the price tag of more than $1,000, the mobile reading experience was the chief problem I found during my brief hands-on. When watching videos or browsing pictures on the Galaxy Round, I noticed little difference compared with flat displays.

According to Samsung Group, curved displays are a step toward mobile devices that are foldable like a map, which explains why the Galaxy Round generated excitement in tech circles.

It says inflexible curved displays have benefits for users. None of them, however, seem transformative.

Samsung Group's promotions for the Galaxy Round say the curve makes it easier to grip the giant phone. But when answering calls, I could barely notice a difference from a flat screen.

Two new features make use of the display's curve only when the Galaxy Round in screen-off mode is placed on a flat surface, allowing it to be rocked like a cradle. Tilting the device to one side displays its battery status, time, missed calls and unread emails.

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