Early yesterday, Samsung made a surprise announcement that they would be releasing two new oversized smartphones, the Galaxy Note Edge and the Galaxy Note 4. The Android-based Samsung Note phones have already been pushing the boundaries on phone screen size since the very first Note in 2011. Their comically large screens led to the phones being called “phablets,” a portmanteau of the words phone and tablet (more about portmanteaus here). Despite their steep retail price, the Galaxy Note series has sold over 10 million units worldwide. You have more than likely done a double take when you saw a stranger talking on what looked like a small table, I mean tablet.
Before becoming an intern at Catchword, I was a high school biology teacher, where I would occasionally confiscate one of these monstrosities from a surreptitiously texting student. “Wait, is this a TV?” I’d ask in disbelief. It was larger than the sandwich waiting beneath my desk. I imagined phone calls that blocked peripheral vision. “So it’s a phone?” And as if my student were planted in the classroom by the makers themselves, “Nah, bro, it’s a Samsung.”
What really sets apart the Galaxy Note Edge, though, is that it incorporates a curved screen on the right side of the phone – think infinity pool – that allows it to display content when the phone is viewed from the side. It also functions as a permanent toolbar and notification center. Never again will your notifications block out the top centimeter of Breaking Bad!
But I’m not here to poke more fun at the size or the flashiness of the phone (I’m sure the Galaxy is already insecure enough), I’m here to talk about the name. Galaxy Note Edge is quite a lot of chunky syllables to rattle off every time someone asks you what type of phone you have, but let’s unpack this name.
Galaxy has its literal meaning: a collection of millions of stars, such as the Milky Way. This connotes feelings of enormity, but also togetherness, a useful combination for a tool that’s meant to keep us connected to everyone we know. However, there’s a second, more figurative definition of galaxy: a large or impressive group of people or things. It seems they really hit the nail on the head with Galaxy, because I really can’t think of a better way to describe a group of 10 million giant flashy cell phones.
What about Note? In writing, it connotes simplicity and precision. “Buy milk,” “Practice @ 5,” “Park better next time, doofus.” In music, notes are the fundamental elements of songs. But primarily, the word Note has come to connote that the phone includes a stylus holstered in the side of the phone. It can be used to take hand written notes, draw, and control the phone.
And finally, the addition to the established Galaxy Note name: Edge. I think frontier, cutting edge, sharp, but I also think edging in. The phone wants to be noticed. Even with these abstract connotations, edge is also the most descriptive word in the phone’s name: It’s the elegant curve that transcends the geometry of technology. When you see this phone next to one with a screen confined to a rigid rectangle, which will you grab first?
Samsung has combined three evocative names for their phone, and managed to edge themselves into new tech-territory. But is this triple whammy name really equivalent to the sum of its parts? Read it one more time: Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. Is size really everything? Did they purposefully name their phone a short sentence to keep us focused on just how big it is? Even as I tried to steer away from making fun of the size of the phone and review the name, I was brought back to its size. Samsung chose to keep Galaxy and Note in front of Edge. As I said, these three names work well for a smartphone. But I could think of 5 more evocative names for a phone and just because I smash them all into one doesn’t mean my name is now 5 times better, quite the contrary. We already know the product is bulky, but the name doesn’t have to remind us. Why not just Galaxy Edge? Ostensibly, the name Note tells us that a stylus is included, but its inclusion in the name distracts from the real star, Edge, the new curved screen. Will customers embrace this name of galactic proportions? We’ll just have to wait on edge.
Galaxy: Enormous, impressive, connected. Great cell phone name.
Note: Brief, elemental, describes the function of the included stylus. Perhaps contradictory because the phone is so big.
Edge: New, prominent, describes the added screen. Nice name.
Galaxy Note Edge: Too clunky. Galaxy Edge would have been better.