Samsung Doubles Down on Galaxy Phones

Samsung on Thursday unveiled two new devices, the Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note5.

The smartphones reportedly will be available in the United States starting Aug. 21.

Samsung also announced its NFC mobile payment service, Samsung Pay, will launch in the United States Sept. 28.

The Note5 reportedly incorporates many of the Galaxy S6’s features and design elements. It has a glass front and rear, a solid metal frame, a fast octacore Samsung Exynos processor and a high-quality camera.

Unlike earlier versions of the Note, however, the Note5 has a fixed battery, and it no longer supports microSD cards.

These changes may not be a problem for consumers, but “you’ll probably hear an uproar from the tech community,” said Tuong Nguyen, a principal analyst at Gartner.

“You’re getting rid of the phone in two years anyway, so who cares? People are comfortable with upgrading to the latest and greatest device because product releases are so frequent,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Specs for the Galaxies

The Note5 is slightly larger and heavier than the S6 edge+. Both have the Exynos octacore 64-bit processor and 4 GB of RAM. They also both have a 5.7-inch Quad HD Super Amoled 2,560 x 1,440 screen with 518 ppi resolution — but only the S6 edge+ has a dual-edge screen.

Both devices have a 16-MP OIS rear camera and a 5-MP front camera with a focal length of 1.9.

They use a 3,000 mAh battery that offers fast wired and wireless charging.

Both devices offer 4K video filming and let users live-stream YouTube videos in full HD to any smartphone, tablet, PC or smart TV.

Power and Price

One of the most frequently voiced complaints about Samsung smartphones is that they are power guzzlers, but the new models might just resolve that issue.

The Exynos processor uses Samsung’s latest 14nm FinFET process and “goes a long way to reduce power consumption,” said Wayne Lam, a principal analyst at IHS.

However, the Note5 and S6 edge+ “are still large and relatively expensive,” Lam told TechNewsWorld, “definitely more expensive than the base model iPhone 6 Plus, based on pricing I’ve seen from AT&T.”

Taking On Mobile Payments

Both the S6 edge+ and the Note5 support NFC and Samsung-owned LoopPay’s magnetic secure transmission.

That combination means Samsung Pay will not be restricted to NFC point-of-sale terminals, as MST will work with any POS terminal.

Samsung reportedly will run an invitation-only beta of its mobile payment technology in the U.S. later this month, and it will fully launch the service Sept. 28.

Samsung Pay initially will run only on the S6 edge+ and Note5. Samsung reportedly will release a free software update for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge later this month.

Nibbling at Apple

The release of the new Samsung phones “is clearly a preemptive move to capture as much attention and press as possible before Apple releases the update to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus,” Lam said.

Apple’s unveiling is expected next month.

Samsung’s Note line “has suffered in the past year with the overwhelming success of the iPhone 6 Plus,” Lam observed, and the new devices “are aimed squarely at taking back the market leadership [Samsung] established on large format smartphones.”

The Note5 and S6 edge+ are both available in 32-GB and 64-GB versions.

“There’s an opportunity for 128-GB models for both devices, but that’s not in Samsung’s strategy for now,” said Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI Research.

“It’s a different Samsung now,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“They no longer go make a product for a niche market, knowing full well they’ll have to cut back at some point,” he said. “They don’t want to be everything to everyone but want to maintain their brand and their products, and deliver on continuous innovation.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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