Samsung announced on Thursday about a new Galaxy Note 5 phablet and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus smartphone, both having 5.7-in screens.
This was followed immediately by wireless carriers announcing off-contract prices for the gadgets that begin at $720, which is sufficiently high enough to raise eyebrows.
These two gadgets went on pre-order at 3 PM Eastern Time Thursday on different websites and will go on sale in stores in the US and Canada on Aug. 21.
Sprint promptly announced off-contract costs of $792 for the 32GB Samsung Edge Plus and $888 for the 64GB version. For the Note 5, the off-contract cost was set to $720 for the 32GB model and $816 for the 64GB.
Meanwhile, AT&T’s no contract cost were somewhat higher. Samsung Edge Plus 32GB is at $815 while its 64GB is at $915. Its Note 5 is at $740 for the 32GB and $840 for the 64GB model.
The two devices have strikingly similar features and don’t enormously extend past the previous Note 4 or S6 Edge.
Every gadget runs on the Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop) operating system and are fitted with the Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa-center 64-bit processor. Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Note 5 have a 3,000 mAh battery that could sustain 28 hours of talk time. Both devices also have a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 4GB of RAM.Carolina Milanesi, chief of research for Kantar WorldPanel said that “pricing will be key for these devices.” She also said that Samsung needs to go up against the iPhone 6 Plus with the Note 5, which could mean buyers will pick the one with the lower price. Carolina added that the high price of the curved display with the Edge Plus might not give Samsung “enough wiggle room on pricing.”
However, Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen said the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Galaxy Note 5 prices are intended to categorize the gadgets at the high end of all smartphones. He termed them “halo” products.
Nguyen said that “Samsung is going to appeal to the very high end of the market with those prices.” He added that “Samsung’s purpose in keeping them high end is to make them seem interesting and viable, but that doesn’t bring a horde of consumers over to buy them.”
Moreover, Tuong Nguyen said Samsung made the right move when they made the 5.7-in. Galaxy S6 Edge Plus screen bigger than its predecessor, which only has a 5.1-in. screen. He said that “there’s consumer sentiments towards larger screens and there’s definitely opportunity there.”
Apple’s choice to present bigger displays on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have helped their sales, Nguyen said. In the second quarter, the iPhone was the highest selling phone in the US, while last year’s Galaxy S5 was the second-best seller, followed by Galaxy S6, which first went on sale in April.
Samsung presented both of its new gadgets by taking note of the fact that it initially spearheaded bigger screen smartphones in 2011 with the first Galaxy Note.
Samsung deferred a full announcement of its most recent round-confronted smartwatch until September 3 at the IFA trade show in Berlin, Germany. Samsung flashed photographs amid a presentation in New York that was webcast, showing the device with the name “Gear S2” instead of the rumored Tizen-powered Gear A.
J.K. Shin, CEO of Samsung Electronics, likewise announced the Samsung Pay mobile payment solution, which will debut in South Korea on Aug. 20 and in the U.S. on Sept. 28.
Samsung Pay will work in the two new Samsung smartphones with in-store terminals that have Near Field Communication similar to Apple Pay and others. Additionally, they will work on older magnetic stripe readers and barcode scanners — tech that will significantly expand its use in many places. Injong Rhee, executive vice president of Samsung Pay said that “it’s simple, safe and accepted virtually anywhere.”
Likewise, Samsung Pay works in Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones, which were initially delivered in April. To work with magnetic stripe terminals, the latest Samsung smartphones have a copper ring installed that gives the magnetic transmission technology that Samsung acquired from startup LoopPay.
Notwithstanding Samsung’s enthusiasm for Samsung Pay, customers don’t pick a smartphone based on its ability to make mobile payments. Milanesi noted that “Samsung Pay is more about keeping customers versus winning over customers, giving users who might want mobile payments a reason not to go over to Apple. Remember, mobile payment thus far is not something people have craved for in phones.”
Samsung also showed a combination physical keyboard and cover, relevantly named the Keyboard Cover, for the Galaxy Note 5 that will ship at a later date. In addition to the Note 5’s SPen digital stylus, Milanesi points out that the Keyboard Cover was “slightly confusing.” She added that “if you buy the device because of the SPen, then the keyboard is not something you need or want.”
James Moar, an analyst at Juniper Research, noted that the absence of a stylus in the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus shows it is more of a device for games, consuming media and other content that it is for creating content. He said “they are trying to be more friendly to general consumers” and noted that there are already “quite a few consumer phablets to choose from.”
Samsung said both of its gadgets will benefit from a new wireless charging device that will decrease charging time to two hours on both gadgets, down from three hours. Details on the wireless charging gadget weren’t immediately available.
Meanwhile, Sprint offers to sell the 32GB Edge Plus with a two-year service agreement for $349.99, and $449.99 for the 64GB version. On the other hand, the 32GB Note 5 with contract will sell for $249.99, and $349.99 for its 64GB version.
AT&T’s offer for the two-year contract is $300 for the 32GB Edge Plus and $400 for the 64GB version. For the Note 5 with a two-year contract, the 32GB model will sell for $250, and $350 for the 64GB version.