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Samsung’s new devices – what consumers and competitors need to know

Samsung’s new devices – what consumers and competitors need to know

The early launch of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus helped give Samsung a headstart on Apple, says research analyst at IDC MEA Saad ElKhadem

The devices

During a recent event held in Dubai, Samsung unveiled two big new products – the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. These two feature-packed Android devices share a lot in common; both sport 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screens, 4GB of RAM, and an 8-Core Exynos chip. They also both boast fast-charging and wireless-charging capabilities and feature a 16MP camera on the back and a 5MP one on the front.

With the all-new Samsung Galaxy Note 5, the company has upped its game in terms of build quality. The faux leather back is gone, replaced with a sleek glass and metal body. The famous S-Pen is still there, although it has been redesigned and is now accessed via a new pop-out mechanism. There are also a number of software enhancements, including the ability to take notes on the screen even when the screen is turned off. But unlike the previous installment, there will not be a curved variant of the device.

The S6 Edge Plus will look familiar to most consumers, as it shares an identical design to the S6 Edge that was released a few months back. However, the ‘Plus’ version is larger than the original and the ‘Edge’ showcases a few added features, such as the ability to not only include contact shortcuts but apps as well.

Non-removable batteries

Many had known this was coming, but most still hoped that it wouldn’t happen. Just like the S6, the two newly announced devices from Samsung do not feature a removable battery or expandable storage. This will be more inconvenient for Galaxy Note 5 users as the device is geared towards users who typically appreciate the added benefit of having those features handy when needed.

What about Europe?

One of the more unexpected tidbits to be released during the event was the fact that the Galaxy Note 5 will not be released in Europe at this stage, apparently due to marketing reasons. However, the company may have a change of heart sooner rather than later, as such a risky strategy will likely compound already faltering profits and shares at a time when Samsung could really use all the help it can get.

New additions

Other interesting features unveiled during the event include Live Broadcast and Samsung Pay. The former allows users to stream video content directly to YouTube from the camera app, while the latter is the manufacturer’s answer to Apple Pay. The advantage with Samsung Pay is that stores will not need to install special NFC readers as the feature will work with most existing magnetic strip readers. The rollout of the new payment system will be gradual across geographies. Samsung also unveiled a keyboard that can be snapped on to the devices to provide a full keyboard experience for those who appreciate such capabilities.

Timing

Samsung is credited with driving the phablet market; however, the company has seen its market share fall in recent times as a result of strong competition on all fronts. IDC research shows that Samsung controlled 45 per cent of the Europe, Middle East, and Africa smartphone market in Q1 2014, but fast forward to Q2 2015 and that figure has fallen to 32 per cent.

Historically, Samsung has unveiled its Note devices at the annual IFA tradeshow in Berlin, which is in early September. However, as a result of Apple’s foray into the larger screen market, Samsung decided to steal some of the spotlight from its rival’s upcoming event in September when it will be unveiling its latest generation of iPhone variants. Bringing the launch of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus forward not only helped give Samsung a headstart on Apple, but also prevented the new devices from being overshadowed by big announcements from other competitors during the upcoming IFA event.

Watch out

In one final surprise for those who attended the event, there was a glimpse of Samsung’s soon-to-be-released smartwatch. Dubbed the Samsung Gear S2, the new device will mark the first time that the company has released a round smartwatch, and it is expected to run on Tizen rather than Android. Full details of the Gear S2 will be unveiled next month. Until then, the new Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus devices will be enough to keep us occupied.

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