Samsung unveils Galaxy S6 edge+ and Note 5


Note 5 will not be released in Europe as Samsung pursues odd marketing strategy

Samsung has launched the third device in its new S6 family, the Galaxy S6 edge+, bringing a bigger screen and enhanced features to its sexiest smartphone range. The device has been launched to rival the iPhone 6 Plus and also whatever device Apple comes out with next month, according to analysts.

Yesterday Samsung unveiled two new handsets at its Unpacked event in New York; the Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5, but just the Galaxy S6 edge+ in London. Both phones have similar hardware, including the same processor as the Galaxy S6, a Samsung Exynos octa-core chip, as well as the same modem, the Samsung Shannon 333. Also, both also have 5.7 inch quad HD displays, but the S6 edge+’ screen is curved, while the Note 5 has the Note range’s stylus pen.

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 edge+ builds on the success of Samsung’s S6 range, which was launched earlier this year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. At the London launch event, Smart Chimps was impressed by this 5.7 inch 4G LTE Cat 9 device, which features strong multimedia capabilities with deeper screen contrast and details through Samsung’s Quad HD Super AMOLED display.

Samsung is launching the Note 5 in North America initially, with no comment on when or whether it will be available in Europe. Meanwhile, the S6 edge+ will be sold in Europe and Asia.

On the decision not to launch the Note 5 in Europe, Daniel Gleeson, senior analyst, IHS Technology, surmised in a note that “it is possible this decision is solely to allow Samsung’s regional marketing departments to focus on one product, given the significant difference in the propositions for the Note 5 and S6 edge+”. However, he added that “this decision denies many countries from benefiting from Samsung’s differentiated stylus-based flagship because the S6 edge+ does not include one”. He also proffered the idea that “a more likely possibility is that the accelerated timetable and earlier announcement has prevented Samsung from having the required levels of stock for a simultaneous global launch for both handset models. If this is true, then it negates part of the benefit of announcing early.”

Yet Gleeson added that IHS believes both Samsung handsets can coexist in the same market as they serve different niches despite having quite similar hardware. “The Note 5 is an excellent device to market for “prosumers” and enterprise due to its stylus and keyboard attachment, he said, while the S6 edge+ is a much more fashion-forward device and is likely to appeal to a younger, hipper market than the Note 5,” he said.

On the effect of Samsung’s devices in the market, IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows that from April to June smartphone shipments show Samsung at the top with 73.2 million, yet down 2.3% on the same period year on year. Samsung is struggling against Apple, in second place with 47.5 million shipments in the period is up 34.9% year on year, while Huawei in third place and Xiaomi in fourth with 17.9 million and 16.2 million shipments respectively were up 29.4% and 11.6% each.

However, Samsung is attempting to steal a lead on Apple with the launch of the S6 edge+, claimed Gleeson, who pointed out that the timing and details of the launch are notably different compared with previous years, which has normally been made around the time of the IFA conference in late August to September. He said: “By launching a couple weeks earlier, Samsung is hoping to steal a march on Apple’s new iPhone announcement which will likely happen in early September. The Galaxy Note 4 was hit by direct competition from the larger screen iPhone 6 Plus during the year, which likely had a significant impact on the Note 4’s success. Now, under competitive pressure, Samsung is looking to launch its devices into the market before 2015’s new iPhone models again overshadow the market. With Samsung’s shipments coming under increasing pressure from not just Apple, but other Android brands as well, Samsung management looks to eke out any advantage possible.”

Andy Griffiths, president, Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland, said at the London launch: “Good looks certainly run in the S6 family. We launched the S6 edge earlier this year because we wanted to do something different and now we have created the S6 edge+. Smartphone saturation is a reality; in the UK it is already above 73%. But Samsung has categorically bucked this low growth trend thanks to the launch of the S6 and S6 edge, and we are continuing to push boundaries with our smartphone design, including curved glass and the most advanced LTE technology. In particular we’ve been blown away by the response to the S6, and 42% of S6 edge sales are due to the under 24 year old category.”

Useful for business users on the go, the Galaxy S6 edge+ features Samsung’s fast wired and wireless charging technology and the embedded wireless charging technology is compatible with virtually any wireless pad available. With wired charging, the device can be fully charged in approximately 90 minutes, and through wireless, just 120 minutes.

The device has also been upgraded to support SideSync, which offers both wireless and wired PC-smartphone integration for seamless connections across devices. Thanks to auto-detection, people can connect their Samsung device to their PC or tablet for easy access to files and data across all platforms and operating systems.

The larger size of this device has not made it weaker; according to a Samsung spokesperson at the London launch event, the device is 70% stronger than Apple’s large device, the iPhone 6 Plus, thanks to aircraft-grade aluminium and gorilla glass on the front and back. The spokesperson added: “It definitely won’t bend in your back pocket!”

Making the most of the edge of the S6 edge+, Samsung has enhanced the ‘People edge’, providing colour coding for quick communications, helping users to easily connect to close contacts. The smartphone also features a new ‘Apps edge’, which provides instant access to the user’s favourite apps with a swipe of the edge display.

Additionally, the device will be ready to use with Samsung Pay that uses near field communications (NFC) and magnetic secure transmission (MST), which will enable users to ‘swipe’ their phones at checkouts, much like a credit card. A beta trial of Samsung Pay will debut on 25 August for use with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, with the official launch of Samsung Pay on 28 September.

Dan Wagner, CEO at mobile commerce company, Powa Technologies, commented that the launch of Samsung Pay represents a step forward for the international mobile payment scene, adding: “Samsung’s inclusion of magnetic strip recognition alongside NFC puts it ahead of Apple Pay, bringing more versatility for users and merchants alike, especially in markets where magnetic strip readers are still the main payment method.”

At the launch, Samsung also mentioned its first round smartwatch, the Gear S2. More details will follow on the smartwatch at IFA in September.



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