After disappointing sales of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung is looking to revive its mobile division with two new phablets -- the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge+. The devices were unveiled Thursday during a media event at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York.
Both devices take their design cues from the S6 and the S6 Edge, with their glass and metal edge construction. The Note 5 comes packed with an Exynos 7420 64-bit octa-core chip, 4GB of RAM and 5.7-inch Quad HD (2560x1440 pixels) Super AMOLED display. It’s also equipped with a 3,000 mAh battery and an S-Pen stylus stored in a click-to-eject slot at its bottom right corner. Samsung’s curved smartphone -- the S6 Edge+ -- comes packed with nearly identical specs. The main difference is it comes with a dual-edge curved display and doesn’t come with an S-Pen.
“At Samsung, we believed in the promise that big screen smartphones could actively address some major consumers pain points by providing users with a better viewing experience and more productivity on-the-go,” JK Shin, CEO and President of IT & Mobile Division, Samsung Electronics, said in a statement. “With the launch of the Galaxy S6 edge+ and Note5, we’re reemphasizing our commitment to bold, fearless innovation that meets the needs of our consumers.”
The Note 5 and the S6 Edge+ are also equipped with 16MP cameras with an optical image stabilizer and 5MP front camera. The devices’ camera can film in 4K and also broadcast in full HD to contacts or the public via YouTube.
Though the battery is not removable in either phablet, they do support fast and wireless charging. But a separate accessory must be purchased to use the wireless charging feature.
Both phablets also feature near-field communication (NFC) and magnetic secure transmission (MST), which will be used for Samsung Pay. Samsung mobile payment system will be able to work with contactless readers at hundreds of thousands of retail stores in the U.S. and South Korea. If a shop isn’t equipped with the tech, it can use MST to simulate a traditional magnetic card swipe instead. Samsung Pay software will be preloaded on Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5 devices. A software update to enable the payment service will be provided by S6 and S6 Edge customers in mid-August. Samsung Pay officially launches in South Korea on August 20, followed by a U.S. launch on September 28. The service will expand to the U.K., Spain and China at a later date.
Though the Note 5 and the S6 Edge+ gained a couple new features, they lost a couple as well. Absent is the SD slot for expandable storage, so customers are only left with choices of 32GB and 64GB models. Additionally, the 3000 mAh battery in both devices is non-removable -- a feature once touted as an advantage of Galaxy devices over Apple’s iPhones.
Retailers and carriers will announce S6 Edge+ and Note 5 pricing at a later date. Pre-orders begin Thursday, followed by an official launch on August 21.
The Note 5 and the S6 Edge+ are the latest attempts from Samsung to bump up its mobile division in the wake of the company’s fifth consecutive quarter of declining profits. Samsung was positioning the S6 and the S6 Edge to turn things around. But their sales proved disappointing.
“I think overall [the S6 and S6 Edge] were a good evolution from previous models, especially from a design and materials perspective,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “The main issue I think was price and what consumers were prepared to pay the premium for the improved design and materials.”
Whether or not Samsung can convince consumers to jump on board with the Note 5 and the S6 Edge+ remains to be seen, especially since its phablets are expected to face off next month against Apple’s next iPhones -- the anticipated iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.