As expected (and amply leaked), Samsung has today whipped back the curtain on a pair of new flagship smartphones, announcing two new phablets: the Galaxy Note 5 (pictured above) and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ at press events in New York and London.
The focus for Samsung here is bigger handsets that can do more with multimedia content, letting the user make use of additional screen real-estate for video editing or live streaming, or multitasking with multiple content windows on screen.
The Korean giant doesn’t normally drop flagship smartphones in August but is presumably hoping to hog the limelight by announcing new kit in what is typically a fallow month for tech news — before the hype cycle spins up again come September, when Apple typically unboxes new iPhones. (In the event, Chinese mobile maker Xiaomi stole a march on Samsung’s phablet new by announcing its own pair of newbies earlier today.)
Here’s a quick rundown of the new additions to Samsung’s handset Galaxy, which will be landing in some 7,000 retail stores in the U.S. for preview starting from tomorrow (but on sale globally later this month):
Galaxy Note 5
The Galaxy Note 5 is the sequel to the 5.7-inch display Note 4, which launched back in September 2014. The display remains the same size (and same quad-HD res), but RAM has been beefed up to 4GB.
The design has also been tweaked to be thinner and slimmer, with a narrower bezel and curved back. The rear camera is still 16MP, but there’s now 5MP on the front. Both are f1.9.
The S-Pen stylus has also had an update — with an “all new” design, and, says Samsung, improved writing capabilities (albeit it said that at the last Note update…), including the ability to jot down info even when the screen is off.
Users can also now annotate PDF files using the S-Pen, and capture a whole website from top to bottom using a Scroll Capture feature. And the pen is easier to extract from its kennel inside the Note, thanks to a “one click” extraction mechanism.
Available colorways for the Note 5 are “Black Sapphire” and “White Pearl”. There are 32GB and 64GB variants (but no microSD card slot — a factor that’s going to continue to grate on long-time Samsung fans).
Galaxy S6 Edge+
The flagship feature of that handset was a screen with curved edges. Those curves spill over now to the S6 Edge+ but the overall size of the screen has also been increased to phablet size — so it’s been bumped up from 5.1 inches to 5.7 inches. As with the S6 Edge, the curved edges can be used as a shortcut from any screen to access top contacts and apps, by swiping along the edge. The S6 Edge already had the contact shortcuts, but this time you’ll be able to pin your favorite apps as well.
As with the Note 5, RAM has also been increased to 4GB. And the rear camera is 16MP, with a 5MP lens on the front.
Available colorways for the S6 Edge+ are “Black Sapphire” and “Gold Platinum” (below). And there are also 32GB and 64GB variants (but again no microSD card slot).
Both devices sport improved video stabilization when shooting from the front or rear camera, according to Samsung. There’s also a new video collage mode that allows users to shoot and edit short videos more easily, adding various frames and effects. And a 4K Video filming feature to record content for 4K TVs.
A full HD Live Broadcast option lets users instantly stream video straight from the phone to any individual, group of contacts, or through YouTube Live — a la live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope. While Samsung touts other camera and audio improvements such as a quick launch feature (by double clicking the home button from any screen to jump into the camera), and support for UHQA for richer audio quality.
Both handsets also support Samsung Pay — the company’s forthcoming NFC and magnetic secure transmission mobile payment tech which it’s lining up as an Apple Pay rival.
There’s also embedded wireless charging on both, but wireless charger pads aren’t included — so that’s an additional accessory you’d have to have or buy yourself.