Following the recent launch of Samsung's Korea-only Galaxy Round, it was only a matter of time before this eccentric concave phone made its way to specialist stores in Hong Kong. Tofu-keitai is one of the few shops that are offering said product in Sincere Podium (where the going rate is above $850 to capitalize on early adopters), and our contacts there were kind enough to let us play with one briefly.
As you can deduce from the appearance and specs, the Snapdragon 800-powered Galaxy Round looks and feels just like a Galaxy Note 3 that you accidentally sat on. Even the plastic back cover channels the same stitched leather look, and underneath it you get the usual microSD slot plus a removable battery, albeit with a slightly smaller capacity -- 10.64Wh instead of 12.16Wh. Other notable differences include the lack of stylus and grip grooves on the faux metallic frame.
While the left-to-right curviness seems subtle in the photos, it was made more apparent when we started scrolling content sideways on that vibrant 5.7-inch, 1080p AMOLED panel. The outer curve made it instantly pleasing while holding the phone with a single hand, and the concave nature of the screen made it just a tad easier for our thumb to reach the other side. On a similar note, this Android 4.3 device felt expectedly nice in our trouser pocket.
We only found one application that takes advantage of the Galaxy Round's unique shape, which is the "Roll Effect" notification display. When the phone's on standby and facing upwards on a table, you can take a quick peek at the time, date, number of missed calls, number of unread messages and battery level by simply holding down one side of the phone.
Obviously this function alone would struggle to convince everyone that curved phones is the way forward, but our understanding is that this small-scale release of the Galaxy Round will somehow help Samsung explore more potential usages with curved touchscreens and form factors. With LG joining the stage with its G Flex (which is curved in the other orientation), it'll be interesting to see what could come next. Perhaps Pantech could combine the best of both worlds and release a bowl-shaped phone?